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Data demand drives SA telecoms

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Demand for data is playing a key role as a driver of telecoms growth in South Africa,
A new study, The Report: South Africa, published by Oxford Business Group (OBG), analyses how operators are adjusting to the shift from traditional voice and SMS services to data, particularly when it comes to rolling out 4G long-term evolution (LTE) services and infrastructure.
The global publishing, research and consultancy firm’s report also looks in detail at the challenges industry players face, which range from a competitive and crowded market to a lack of spectrum.
In September 2014, mobile usage stood at 77,8% of the population, or 42-million users, according to South Africa-based ICT consultancy World Wide Worx. A total of 80,2-million SIM cards were in circulation.
The Report: South Africa 2016 considers the positives for operators as they look for ways of expanding their customer base, led by strong equipment sales and opportunities in value-added data bundles. Other issues given wide-ranging coverage in the publication’s Telecoms and IT chapter include the growth prospects for e-commerce and anticipated digital TV migration.
OBG’s analysis contains a detailed, sector guide for investors, alongside contributions from industry personalities, including Sifiso Dabengwa, the former Group CEO of MTN, and Asher Bohbot, the CEO of EOH Holdings.
In a contribution to the report, Sifiso Dabengwa, the former group CEO of MTN, highlights the need for public and private-sector collaboration if South Africa is to achieve its aim of providing universal access to broadband. “There needs to be a technology mix to reach the rural areas, including things such as Wi-Fi, but generally fibre should be everywhere,” he told OBG in a wide-ranging interview. “A minimum speed must be set out as well.”
The private sector also has a role to play in supporting business process outsourcing (BPO) growth, according to EOH Holdings CEO Asher Bohbot. He notes in his contribution to the report South Africa’s ongoing efforts to position itself as a global BPO centre, which include “reasonably lucrative Incentives”.
However, he says that more could be done. “We need to market ourselves more actively on a global basis. However, to be effectively mobilised, the private sector must get more involved.”