Broadband for SA discussed: 5Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps targets

The Department of Communications (DoC) has tabled a number of broadband targets for discussion in its draft national broadband policy.

A workshop is underway at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria today (25 October 2013) with various industry stakeholders present to discuss the document.

Rather than aiming low, the DoC has proposed very high targets with the following caveat:

“The problem is that if they are set very high, they remain aspirations targets that cannot realistically be met and therefore cannot reasonably be sued for planning purposes,” the DoC said. “If they are very low, user experiences already exceeds them.”

The targets are given in the below table:

Target Penetration measure Baseline (2013) By 2015 By 2020 By 2030
Broadband access in Mbps user experience % of population 33.7% Internet access* 50% at 5Mbps 100% at 5Mbps; 50% at 100Mbps 100% at 10Mbps; 80% at 100Mbps
Schools % of schools 25% connected 100% at 10Mbps 100% at 100Mbps 100% at 1Gbps
Health facilities % of health services 13% connected 100% at 10Mbps 100% at 100Mbps 100% at 1Gbps
Government facilities % of government offices 50% at 5Mbps 100% at 100Mbps 100% at 100Mbps
* Research ICT Africa, 2012 ICT Access and Use Survey

These targets will be reviewed periodically, the DoC said, and the minimum targets will be supplemented by ICASA for pricing and quality of service targets. These will include download and upload speeds, latency, waiting time for installation, and fault clearance.

Addressing the cost of broadband in South Africa, the DoC wrote the following:

The high cost of services on the supply side and the low levels of computer and e-literacy on the demand side together with low levels of advanced technical skills, of R&D and innovation and of application and service development, and lack of government uptake of digital services currently inhibit the diffusion of broadband.

These factors also inhibit the attractiveness of the market, and the realisation of entrepreneurial and innovation potential associated with the availability of high speed broadband.

An audit will be undertaken of existing initiatives addressing this problem, together with a comprehensive gap analysis to assess the needs and costs associated with addressing them.

Opening the workshop, Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim said that the current draft is by far not the final version of the long overdue broadband policy for South Africa.

Once the draft has been discussed and further feedback from stakeholders considered (the DoC said that much feedback from industry has already been considered), the policy has to be taken to SIP15, Carrim said.

He explained that the intention was to get something workable which could be “upgraded” in a year or so, after the national elections.

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Broadband for SA discussed: 5Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps targets