Cabinet has approved a broadband policy, opening the way for more cost-effective access to more South Africans.
According to the draft policy gazetted in September, South Africa currently has about 1-million broadband connections, which translates to a penetration rate of less than 2% – compared to global standards of 22,4%.
The draft defines broadband as always-available, high-speed multimedia-capable network services and stresses that it has been identified globally as a powerful transformative force.
The objective of the policy is to facilitate the provisioning of affordable access to broadband infrastructure to citizens, business and government, while stimulating the use of broadband serves at national, provincial and municipal levels.
To increase affordability of broadband services, the draft calls on government to expand networks into marginal areas in co-operation with the Universal Service & Access Agency of SA and the private sector.
It also aims to increase uptake and usage of broadband to help improve education, health and e-government.
Government will lead in the usage and uptake of broadband, according to the draft policy, and will promote its use in both urban and rural areas.
The role of the state in implementing the policy will be to connect the arms of goernment at all levels to enable the distribution of e-government services, and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which it meets citizen needs.
It should also develop national, provincial and broadband strategies and co-ordinate implementation on a continuous and dynamic basis, while creating an environment that will enable the private sector to develop infrastructure, services and applications.
The role of the private sector will be determined by market forces.
A broadband steering committee will be established as an integrated government body on broadband related issues.