Mysterious SA broadband numbers exposed

The Department of Communications’ (DoC) broadband penetration figures published by the National Treasury in February 2013 were essentially ‘guestimates’ and ‘thumbsucks’. This came to light after questions regarding the issue were posed by DA Shadow Minister of Communications Marian Shinn.

South Africa’s National Treasury released its 2013 budget in February, revealing that the Department of Communications (DoC) met its “percentage of broadband penetration per year” target of 7%.

In the Treasury’s medium term budget policy statement for communications released in October 2012, the report stated that the DoC achieved 0% (zero percent) of its 7% target for the “percentage of broadband penetration per year”.

This astonishing improvement (from 0% to 7% in six months) in South Africa’s broadband penetration rate raised questions about these figures.

Shinn asked the DoC about these broadband penetration stats in a meeting, and the feedback was not surprising. “I asked about these figures and learned that they were basically guesstimates,” Shinn told MyBroadband.

“They are supposed to show the increase (from a thumbsucked baseline) in broadband penetration around the country and the treasury figures were ‘targets’,” explained Shinn.

“Now the department has gathered together information which they will use as a baseline for future measurements. And the increase in broadband penetration – fixed and mobile – will be determined from research gathered from a variety of sources in the sector.”

Shinn added that this means that “we should get a more accurate picture of penetration from DoC in the future”.

MyBroadband asked the Department of Communications for details about their “percentage of broadband penetration per year” statistics in February, but to date the department did not respond to requests for information.

Marian Shinn
Marian Shinn

DoC’s baseline broadband information

The following table show the baseline info that from which DoC’s future targets will be determined.

Measure Penetration (%) Number Definition Data source

General ICT measurements

Households with mobile phones 93% 12,401,275 Number of households with a mobile phone divided by the number of households AMPS Jun2011
Households with fixed lines 15% 1,941,601 Number of households with a fixed line divided by the number of households AMPS Jun2011
Households with PC (computer) 26% 3,521,081 Number of households with a mobile phone divided by the number of households AMPS Jun2011

Broadband penetration measurements

Households with Broadband Internet access at home over a PC 10% 1,324,052 Number of households with a Broadband over a PC divided by the number of households AMPS Jun2011
Mobile phone broadband penetration 17% 8,600,000 Number of PC Smartphones divided by the total population Operator results, December 2011
Mobile PC broadband penetration 4% 2,214,436 Number of PC 3G datacard connections divided by the total population Operator results, December 2011
Fixed broadband penetration 2% 973,914 Number of ADSL, Neotel and IBurst fixed broadband connections, divided by the total population Operator results, December 2011

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DoC spectacularly behind broadband and IT jobs targets

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Mysterious SA broadband numbers exposed