Zuma mum on telecoms and broadband

President Jacob Zuma delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) today (9 February 2012), focusing heavily on job creation and economic matters. Telecommunications services and broadband access was however sidelined.

Zuma hinted at investments in ‘information and communication technologies’ in five “major geographically-focussed programmes”, but did not provide details about this project.

This is the second year in which Zuma failed to mention communication related matters in his address. Zuma did not mention telecoms prices in his 2011 SONA, but in 2010 and 2009 the president promised lower telecoms prices and better services.

In his first State of the Nation Address (2009) Zuma said that Government “will ensure that the cost of telecommunications is reduced through the projects underway to expand broadband capacity.”

In 2010 Zuma focused on broadband, highlighting that government was working to reduce the cost to communicate, adding that cheaper and faster broadband services are also on the cards.

To date not much has happened to deliver on these promises. Perhaps the failure of state owned enterprises, like Sentech and Broadband Infraco, to come into their own and lead the charge in reducing the price of broadband in SA is partly to blame.

New communications minister Dina Pule is however still punting a 100% broadband penetration rate by 2020 in South Africa although concrete plans as to how this will be achieved remain sketchy.

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Zuma mum on telecoms and broadband