Is a 5Mbps broadband definition of any value?

Summary: ICASA Councilor William Stucke says he has no problem with a broadband definition of 5Mbps, but warns that it may not be economical to connect everyone in South Africa at that speed

The Department of Communications’ (DoC)Broadband Policy for South Africa” 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 on 5 September 2011 in East London, the DoC indicated that they were busy “doing the necessary benchmarking with other countries” and may consider increasing the download speeds to 5Mbps 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.”

Speaking at the 2011 ISPA iWeek, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Councillor William Stucke said that he has no problem by increasing the definition of broadband to 5Mbps.

Stucke however urged people to look at the practicality of providing all people in South Africa with 5Mbps Internet connections. “Can it be provided at an economical cost?” asked Stucke.

The ICASA Councilor explained that it may be affordable to connect people living in a high rise building or other high density areas at 5Mbps, but when it comes to low density rural areas it will be very expensive to achieve multiple-Mbps speeds.

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Is a 5Mbps broadband definition of any value?