Oct 25, 2013
Carrim unveils ambitious broadband planBack
Pretoria|Africa|Building|Environment|Health|Industrial|PROJECT|Research ICT Africa|Sustainable|Wireless|Africa|South Africa|Access Infrastructure|Communication Technology|Internet Access|Metropolitan Fibre-optic Networks|Services|Alison Gillwald|Infrastructure|Laurens Cloete|Yunus Carrim|The 2010 FIFA World Cup|Broadband|Communication Technology
© Reuse this
The much-revised draft plan was unveiled to participants in the final consultation workshop on the long-awaited National Broadband Policy, in Pretoria, prior to its submission to Cabinet for approval.
The DoC last year initiated the development of the National Broadband Policy as part of its move to transform the country’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector’s inadequate policies in an effort to fast-track South Africa’s broadband backbone and access infrastructure, particularly within rural and underserved areas, as well as to meet the country’s vision of broadband for all by 2020.
The draft plan aimed to deliver broadband at a minimum speed of 5 Mb/s to 50% of South Africa’s population by 2015. By 2020, the department envisaged 100% access at a minimum speed of 5 Mb/s, with about 50% of the population able to access speeds of up to 100 Mb/s.
By 2030, 100% of the population was expected to have access to a minimum speed of 10 Mb/s, while 80% was expected to access speeds of up to 100 Mb/s.
The connection of government facilities would follow a similar path, but with 100% of the facilities accessing speeds of 100 Mb/s by 2030.
The plan’s strategy of connecting schools and health facilities was more ambitious, with government aiming for 100% access at speeds of 10 Mb/s by 2015, 100% at speeds of 100 Mb/s by 2020 and 100% at speeds of 1 Gb/s by 2030.
Research ICT Africa director Dr Alison Gillwald, who outlined the new draft policy to the workshop, said that, currently, 33.7% of South Africa’s 50-million plus population had Internet access, while 25% of schools and only 13% of the nation’s health facilities were connected. The current percentage of government facilities connected was not disclosed.
However, citing the success of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) South African National Research Network (Sanren) high-speed network, which had connected hundreds of research and educational sites and was used by over 700 000 people a day, she believed it could be done.
The investment in Sanren had reduced Internet costs for participating institutions by a factor of more than ten. The Department of Science and Technology earlier this year committed about R600-million over the next five years to more than double the international bandwidth of Sanren.
The CSIR was currently evaluating tenders for the provision of services and networks for Sanren Phase 2.3, which involved the further extension of the network backbone and the establishment of metropolitan fibre-optic networks in some smaller metropolitans and municipalities.
Meanwhile, speaking at the workshop, Carrim said the realisation of the policy’s ambitions was not going to happen overnight, but the industry should adopt the proposed plan as a national project, much in the same way that the nation rolled out the preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
He cautioned, however, that the new policy was not perfect, may be too ambitious and funding remained a concern, but it needed to be released urgently and, if needed, could be tweaked in a year or so, as it was not the final strategy or plan.
A broadband plan for a “digital South Africa” was urgently required and the time to talk was now over, he stressed.
“We can’t have endless consultations, we need to move,” he stated, noting that other African countries were moving on their broadband plans at “lightning speed” and South Africa needed to do the same.
The DoC’s earlier draft broadband policy, which was intended to facilitate growth, did not adequately deal with a number of challenges, including market structure and the regulatory environment.
Gillwald said that, since the development of one of the first broadband plans over 20 years ago, the country had seen a shift from an infrastructure approach to a user centric model encompassing a complex ICT ecosystem.
The draft plan would present a long-term strategy that was "immediately institutionable" and would catalyse connectivity in South Africa, leveraging existing networks and their expansion through public–private collaboration.
Meraka Institute executive director Laurens Cloete said that implementing a complicated and costly project required a common roadmap that guided the actions and investments of the public and private sector players over the next 10 to 20 years.
“An environment conducive to private sector investment will be created through enabling policy and regulation and through the certainty and clarity this policy provides,” he said.
Besides various existing provincial baselines, parliamentary appropriations and public and private funding sources, the DoC planned to engage other government departments to explore further funding.
The draft policy was also aligned with enabling open-access at the “lowest possible level”; the pooling and sharing of existing networks; building future networks through a consortium model; developing complementary roles for government and State-owned enterprises; and initiating spectrum-sharing or pooling through the creation of a national open-access wireless network.
The new proposed broadband plan would be realised through four complementary strategies, namely digital readiness, digital development, digital future and digital opportunity.
Digital readiness would lay the foundations for South Africa’s broadband future through policy and regulatory frameworks and institutional capacity, while digital development would see government, through aggregation of public sector demand, address the needs and ensure sustainable roll-out.
To build the digital future, Cloete said, was a roadmap for public and private investment in the next-generation broadband networks.
This would lead to the realisation of digital opportunity, which would ensure that South Africa harnessed the benefit of broadband based on skills, research and development and innovation, entrepreneurship, and the development of relevant content and application.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...