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Broadband Infrastructure Sharing Key to Faster Penetration in Africa - The Innovation Dinner, hosted by ITNewsAfrica and sponsored by HP and Ericsson, was the ideal platform for over 60 senior executives and professionals from the IT industry to discuss broadband connectivity in Africa
Broadband Infrastructure Sharing Key to Faster Penetration in Africa

 

PRZOOM - /newswire/ - Cape Town, South Africa, 2010/11/01 - The Innovation Dinner, hosted by ITNewsAfrica and sponsored by HP and Ericsson, was the ideal platform for over 60 senior executives and professionals from the IT industry to discuss broadband connectivity in Africa.

   
 
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The Innovation Dinner, recently hosted by ITNewsAfrica.com and sponsored by HP and Ericsson, was the ideal platform for over 60 senior executives and professionals from the IT industry to discuss broadband connectivity in Africa and new initiatives to further strengthen broadband infrastructure on the African continent.

African governments are working together through the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) to provide broadband fibre optic based inter-connectivity between all African countries and the rest of the world. This is being approached by funding the deployment and landing of submarine undersea cables on African coastlines. "Since private investors and various consortia have already or are in the process of landing similar submarine cables, the strategic approach would be to lease some capacity from these cables to provide the required bandwidth" says Frost & Sullivan's ICT Senior Research Analyst Vitalis Ozianyi. "Fortunately Nepad is considering leasing capacity from various cable providers like in the East African region to optimize on benefits of infrastructure sharing."

Infrastructure sharing presents tremendous advantages like lowering of CAPEX and OPEX for operators and other communications service providers (CSP). Frost & Sullivan believes this approach is key to enabling a faster penetration of broadband in the business and consumer segment in Africa.

Having a fast connection is just an enabler of the benefits of broadband i.e. services that can be delivered over it. These benefits will be more pronounced when Africa positions itself as part of the internet and not mere internet users." Operators can benefit from the untapped demand for digitized services and information by spearheading initiatives for dealing with the day-to-day social and economic activities of large enterprises, SMEs and consumers in urban and rural areas. The digitization of government services, health-care, education and commerce are prime areas of growth in the use of broadband," comments Ozianyi.

In order to gain returns on investments into providing broadband infrastructure CSPs (Communication Service Providers) will not only work on driving higher volumes of data on their networks, but they will also position themselves as key providers of services enabled by the connections. This will be inevitable going by the migration to IP of key revenue earning services like voice and messaging. These services are viewed as free by internet users; moreover broadband will magnify the shift to internet based communications. The popularity of bandwidth intensive applications like video on demand as well as broadcast IPTV is growing, hence creating a paradigm shift from traditional satellite and terrestrial based broadcasting. CSPs will leverage their position in the broadband supply chain to not only benefit from the increased data traffic but also to provide value services like direct marketing embedded in the IPTV media. They can boost customer loyalty by bundling IPTV subscriptions with other key services like VoIP and broadband to create enhanced triple play service offerings. This is already happening in a number of European countries where integrated set top boxes are used as internet modems as well as to access IPTV and VoIP services. These set top boxes also support multiple incoming connections like ADSL, fibre and wireless.

Mobile broadband will play a key role in connecting African businesses and consumers. This translates from the trends observed in the spread and use of mobile communications. Developments in fixed broadband, using existing and new copper deployments and fibre access to premises, will increase gradually. However, the power of mobile broadband lies in devices needed to consume services and data. The number of users with access to smart phones and other handheld devices will grow faster than those with access to conventional computers. It is however critical for operators to push higher adoption rates of smart phones and 3G enabled devices in order to empower more consumers of mobile broadband. An initiative like the $50 smart phones launched in East Africa is one of the examples of consumer empowerment that will be more prevalent in Africa in coming years. Ozianyi notes, "Broadband penetration will face some challenges like affordability of end user devices and connection usage, as well as viable and cost effective deployment of infrastructure needed to cover large geographical regions in most countries."

 
 
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Broadband Infrastructure Sharing Key to Faster Penetration in Africa

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Contact: Christie Cronje 
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