Why South African operators need spectrum now

Akamai recently released its Q4 2014 State of the Internet Report, which shows that mobile data traffic continues to grow at a rapid rate across the world.

Voice traffic, however, remains relatively flat.

This massive growth in data demand needs to be supported by local network operators, but a lack of additional spectrum is making it difficult.

In a mobile network the access medium – spectrum – is shared by different users in the same cell. More spectrum means that you can offer more bandwidth to users.

When spectrum remains unchanged while usage increases, though, the user experience can deteriorate.

To make sure this does not happen, mobile operators have to build new towers. This comes at a high cost, which is inevitably passed on to consumers.

If the government provides additional spectrum to mobile operators it will make it much easier for them to serve the growing data demand. It will also lower input costs, which will mean lower data prices.

The sad truth is that a lot of spectrum is currently unused, and is essentially wasted. It is costing South African consumers and the country dearly.

The following graph shows total global monthly data and voice traffic. It depicts a strong increase in data traffic growth, and flat voice traffic development.

Mobile traffic
Mobile traffic

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Why South African operators need spectrum now