In its document entitled “Broadband Policy for South Africa,” the Department of Communications (DoC) defined broadband as “an always available, multimedia connection with a download speed of at least 256kbps.”
This speed was criticised by industry players as being too low in the long term, especially in the context of the DoC’s recently stated objective to deliver broadband for all South Africans by 2020.
At a press briefing held today (5 September 2011) in East London, after a meeting between the DoC and various players in the ICT sector, the DoC indicated that they were busy “doing the necessary benchmarking with other countries” and may consider increasing the download speeds to 2Mbps in their definition of broadband.
Deputy minister of communications Obed Bapela, confirmed that they want to move away from the current definition of broadband in South Africa and are looking at a minimum speed of 5Mbps for a connection to be considered “broadband.”
Considering that most Internet connections in South Africa, whether wireless or wireline, fall under this speed in terms of actual throughput, this policy shift may make for some interesting hearings at the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.
Jan Vermeulen is a guest of Telkom at SATNAC 2011