South Africa’s R200 billion broadband bill

An infrastructure investment of around R200 billion is required to ensure that all South African’s get fast, affordable broadband by 2020. This is the view of MTN SA CEO Karel Pienaar.

Speaking at the 2012 MyBroadband Conference, Pienaar said that a R200 billion infrastructure investment is required from all the ICT industry to realise the 2020 vision. “We still have a long way to go on infrastructure,” said Pienaar.

Pienaar said that that South Africa’s 2020 vision of broadband for all is entirely possible, but he cautioned that South Africa is just at the start of the data explosion.

“MTN has seen a growth of 192% year on year in mobile data, and these growth rates will continue towards 2020,” said Pienaar.

“By 2020, it is estimated that LTE and LTE+ technologies will carry more than 60% of total data traffic on the mobile networks in South Africa. Current technologies alone cannot do this and neither can future technologies if employed on their own.”

Pienaar said that it is the combination and scale created by the whole stack of technologies that works. “Without maintaining the integration of the various technologies and the advantage of scale, there is no commercial feasibility,” said Pienaar.

Karel Pienaar
Karel Pienaar

Driving a broadband renaissance for all

Pienaar said that the amount of Internet traffic generated by Africa can still be considered a fragment of global Internet traffic, especially when compared to the US and European markets.

“The question we should be asking is not only how do we light up the African continent more, but more importantly, how mobile operators continue to lead in this space,” said Pienaar.

“The continent has the opportunity to embrace the digital economy and bypass the traditional business evolution cycles of more developed markets.”

Africa currently has almost 20% of the world population, but only about 3% of global broadband subscriptions.

“If we consider that mobile penetration is at 2.7%, but racing ahead, and fixed line penetration is stuck at 0.2%, then the business case is a strong one,” said Pienaar.

MTN believes that moving towards a vision of broadband for all will allow South Africa and the rest of Africa to adapt to changing conditions and design solutions that will enhance the competitiveness of emerging markets.

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South Africa’s R200 billion broadband bill