The number of South African Internet users online today is expected to double in the next five years as a glut of broadband capability will make it more affordable than ever.
These are some of the findings of research by World Wide Worx, revealed yesterday by MD Arthur Goldstuck, who says the 4,6-million Internet users at the end of 2008 is expected to grow to 5,2-million this year and to 8,4-million by the end of 2013, then above 9-million during 2014.
This growth will come as South Africa's broadband capacity grows in leaps and bounds with the deployment of a number of submarine cable systems already on the drawing board.
Within a month, users will have access to the Seacom undersea cable, which will offer 30-times the bandwidth available from the existing SAT-3/Safe cable. This will shortly be followed by the WACS (West African Cable System) which will, in turn, offer three times the Seacom capacity.
Some analysts could be surprised at Goldstuck's numbers of Internet users in South Africa, as some statistics show there are currently 10-million Internet users whose primary connection device is the cell phone.
Goldstuck explains that many of these cannot be counted as "deliberate" users. Although they may use the Internet for applications like Mxit, they rarely venture outside of these applications – in fact, Goldstuck says the number of people truly accessing the Internet via their cell phones was 180 000 in 2008 and may grow to 450 000 this year, reaching 1-million by 2011.