The state of broadband in South Africa

The Broadband Commission, an international body set up by the ITU and UNESCO, released its “The State of Broadband 2013” report, showing that South Africa’s broadband performance is poor.

The report showed that South Africa’s fixed broadband penetration rate and Internet penetration rate were poor when compared to other nations.

Some of the performance indicators in “The State of Broadband 2013” report include:

  1. South Africa ranked at number 111 out of 183 countries on fixed broadband penetration (2.2%)
  2. South Africa ranked at number 62 out of 170 countries on mobile broadband penetration (26%)
  3. South Africa ranked at number 44 out of 128 countries on the percentage of households with Internet (25.5%)
  4. South Africa ranked at number 92 out of 192 countries on the percentage of Individuals using the Internet (41%)

When looking at the top countries globally, the report revealed that the top ten countries for Internet use are all located in Europe, with the exception of New Zealand (8th) and Qatar (10th).

The top 5 countries are:

  1. Iceland 96%
  2. Norway 95%
  3. Sweden 94%
  4. Denmark 93%
  5. Netherlands 93%

In Africa, the top 5 countries are:

  • 64 – Morocco 55%
  • 78 – Seychelles 47.1%
  • 85 – Egypt 44.1%
  • 90 – Tunisia 41.4%
  • 91 – Mauritius 41.4%

According to the 2013 edition of the UN report, mobile broadband is the fastest growing technology in human history.

Mobile broadband subscriptions, which allow users to access the web via smartphones, tablets and WiFi-connected laptops, are growing at a rate of 30% per year.

Mobile broadband subscriptions overtook fixed broadband subscriptions for the first time in 2008.

By the end of 2013 there will be more than three times as many mobile broadband connections as there are conventional fixed broadband subscriptions.

The top 5 countries in the world for mobile broadband penetration per 100 inhabitants includes:

  1. Singapore 123.3
  2. Japan 113.1
  3. Finland 106.5
  4. Korea (Rep.) 106.0
  5. Sweden 101.3

At 49, Ghana is the best ranked country in Africa with 33, followed by Zimbabwe ranked at 55 (29), Namibia at 56 (29.7), and Egypt at 60 (26.9).

By the end of 2013, ITU predicts there will be 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions, equivalent to one third of the total global stock of mobile cellular subscriptions.

The ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology.

The top 5 countries in the world for fixed broadband penetration per 100 inhabitants includes:

  1. Switzerland 41.9
  2. Netherlands 39.4
  3. Denmark 38.2
  4. France 37.8
  5. Korea (Rep.) 37.6

For Africa, Seychelles comes in at 62nd with 11.7 out of 100 inhabitants having fixed broadband penetration. South Africa is ranked a lowly 111th, with a 2.2 penetration.

“While more and more people are coming online, over 90% of people in the world’s 49 Least Developed Countries remain totally unconnected,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.

The report highlighted a number of key mobile statistics. Morgan Stanley (2012) estimates that the number of unique smartphone users is around 1.5 billion in 2013, with smartphone subscriptions estimated to exceed 4 billion by 2018 (Ericsson, 2013).

The industry is now shipping 700 million smartphones a year, with around 40% of all handsets shipped in 2012 being smartphones. Looking to the future, mobile broadband is projected to reach seven billion subscriptions in 2018, ITU said.

LongTerm Evolution (LTE) Advanced alone may account for 500 million subscriptions by 2018, while Pyramid (2013) projects that, globally, 4G subscriptions are expected to grow tenfold over five years, from 88 million in 2012 to 864 million in 2017.

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The state of broadband in South Africa