Historically Soweto has been neglected when it comes down to laying down of fixed line infrastructure – so it is good news that at last money is being spent to lay fibre that will bring affordable broadband access for businesses in the area.
Not only will businesses benefit but so will households and other public facilities, says BMI-T's Tertia Smit.
"Soweto is lagging 10-fold behind the rest of Johannesburg when it comes to household Internet access, with no wired broadband services.
According to BMI-T, northern Johannesburg, Sandton and Randburg have by far the highest penetration of Internet access at around 35%. It then it drops sharply to below 15% for the rest of Johannesburg, with Soweto having the lowest overall penetration of only 2,7%.
Soweto also has a household Internet penetration rate of just 2,7%, compared to 28% in the rest of Johannesburg.
Household access is broken for into 0,8% broadband access and 1,9 % narrowband (dial-up and ISDN), compared to the rest of Johannesburg which has 16,3% broadband penetration and 11,6% narrowband.
Soweto is the only area in Johannesburg where dial-up penetration is still more prevalent than broadband. This is not only due to affordability but also to the lack of broadband access, says Smit.
The digital divide is not nearly as marked when it comes to voice services, with Soweto having 88% household cellular penetration compared to the rest of Johannesburg with 94% penetration.
BMI-T believes that there is significant potential demand for broadband services in Soweto, driven by business as well as the higher income households, schools, libraries and other public sector institutions.
Although the majority of households might still not be able to afford their own Internet services, Internet cafes and multipurpose community centres could fill this gap if there were adequate broadband access.