The impact of International Bandwidth in SA

The impact of International Bandwidth in SA

South Africa’s Internet and broadband sector is growing at a rapid pace. After years of expensive fixed-line and international bandwidth that was underpinned by Telecommunication monopoly holders.

Deregulation has provided a platform for hundreds of licensed companies to offer Internet services to South Africans and compete with the legacy monopoly. There is consolidation in this sector that is expected to continue. Bandwidth can be defined as the amount of data that is transmitted at a fixed amount over a period of time.

Bandwidth is usually expressed in bits of data per second (bps). Communication paths usually consist of a chain of links that each have their own bandwidths. If a link is slow in a communication chain it is said that the data is bottlenecked. The cost of international bandwidth dwindled thanks to the installation of four fibre submarine cables in South Africa between the period of 2009 and 2012.

Additionally, more cables that are able to maintain terabyte capacity are expected to go live this later this year. As of September 2013, 41% of South Africans use the Internet ranking the country 5th in Africa and at 92nd worldwide for individual Internet usage.

According to the Broadband Report released by the UN Broadband Commission, South Africa’s individual Internet usage is above the world average of 35.7%. In the mobile broadband sector which allows for individuals to access the Internet via smartphones, tablets and Wi-Fi connected laptops, South Africa ranks 62nd worldwide. Our current connection rate is sitting at 26 out of 100 which is just above the worldwide average of 22.

Africa’s International Bandwidth

Africa’s international Internet bandwidth surpassed the 1 Tbps mark during 2012 and continued to jump to 1.479 Tbps by the end of that year. International bandwidth has grown fifteen-fold since 2008 seeing Sub-Saharan African networks grow by 127% and North African bandwidth increasing by 50% bandwidth.

According to a report by Hamilton Research, between the period of 2010 and 2013, 16 submarine cables that connected to Sub-Saharan Africa had the overall bandwidth capability of 25.8 Tbps. Through these cables more than 370 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa were within 25 km of an operational fibre network.