Broadband for everyone in SA, but …

The Department of Communications (DoC) is working tirelessly to ensure that no area in South Africa is without broadband infrastructure. This is according to the Deputy Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, speaking at the ICT summit in East London on 9 July 2013.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said that they know that the ICT sector can create more jobs in the areas of broadband infrastructure and services, community sectors and internet services.

“We must work together to ensure that internet services are affordable to all our people. As we work to enrol the young and rural people into the internet world, we must do so consciously giving them such services at affordable rates,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

These words are, unfortunately, nothing new. The DoC has been beating the “broadband for all” drum for many years, but is seen by many people as an obstacle to broadband rollout rather than a help.

One of the biggest complaints from industry is the lack of spectrum to deploy new wireless broadband networks.

The DoC and ICASA have been planning to hand out spectrum suitable for broadband, and specifically LTE, for years. However, to date nothing concrete has come of this.

Jannie van Zyl runs an LTE speed test
Jannie van Zyl runs an LTE speed test

Speaking at the LTE Africa conference in Cape Town, Vodacom’s Jannie van Zyl urged ICASA to hand out spectrum suitable for LTE.

“We are holding the country back by not releasing this spectrum,” said van Zyl.

Vodacom, MTN and Cell C are currently using re-farmed spectrum to roll out their LTE networks. This is a less than optimal solution.

“To roll out LTE with re-farmed spectrum is to buy a Ferrari and trying to run it on paraffin,” said van Zyl.

More on LTE and spectrum

LTE spectrum mess in South Africa

High speed LTE broadband hamstrung by DoC

LTE spectrum for SA: SNAFU

Broadband spectrum licensing delayed, again

Yet another spectrum delay

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Broadband for everyone in SA, but …