Report: International fibre optic cables are revolutionising Africa’s Internet and broadband sector

16 Oct, 2011

Telecom research agency BuddeComm has launched its Africa – Fixed and Wireless Broadband and Internet Markets and Forecasts report.
It says that “Large parts of Africa gained access to international fibre bandwidth for the first time via submarine cables in 2009 and 2010. In other parts of the continent, additional fibre systems have brought competition to a previously monopolised market. More cables are expected to go online in 2011 and 2012. This has led to massive investments into terrestrial fibre backbone infrastructure to take the new bandwidth to population centres in the interior and across borders into landlocked countries.
Africa’s Internet and broadband sector is set to benefit the most from these developments. Wholesale prices for Internet bandwidth have come down by as much as 90% from previous levels based on satellite access, and the cost savings are slowly being passed on to the retail level as well. Broadband is rapidly replacing dial-up as the preferred access method, and this process is already virtually completed in the continent’s more developed markets.
Most African countries now have commercial DSL services, but their growth is limited by the poor geographical reach of the fixed-line networks. Improvements in Internet access have therefore been mostly confined to the capital cities so far. However, the rapid spread of mobile data and third-generation (3G) broadband services is changing this, with the mobile networks bringing Internet access to many areas outside of the main cities for the first time.
Many fixed-line incumbents have reacted by rolling out fixed-wireless access networks to expand their geographical reach. The technology of choice has been CDMA-2000 which supports broadband data rates with an upgrade to EV-DO standard. WiMAX technology, however, offers higher data rates and has gained ground in Africa with well over 100 networks already in operation. And also traditional copper fixed lines and DSL have seen a renaissance in some markets on the back of an increasing demand for broadband access.”

Top ten African Internet market penetration rates – early-2011
Country and Market penetration
Morocco
49%
Seychelles
41%
Tunisia
37%
Cape Verde
30%
Nigeria
28%
Egypt
27%
Mauritius
25%
Kenya
21%
Senegal
16%
Libya
14%
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU data)

Full report can be found here.

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