Significant growth for telecommunications in Africa

16th May 2014 By: Jonathan Rodin

Over the last 20 years, South Africa has achieved better telecommunications connections, and better communi-cations solutions with more cost-effective capacity, owing to innovation, collaboration and the pooling of ideas among key players, people and companies needing to connect in better ways, says information and communications technology company Huawei Enterprise Eastern and Southern Africa director Derek Friend.

“Huawei is playing a significant role in South Africa by providing cost-effective hardware that supports global interconnections and state-of-the-art technology, decreasing latency and driving information across global connections,” notes Friend.

This infrastructure connects the continents, carrying all the countries’ voice, video and other data – basically South Africa’s entire telecommunications infrastructure,” he adds.

Currently, Africa has world-class infra-structures that enable high-speed connections, such as hardware that supports the new West Africa cable system (Wacs) and Seacom cable systems capable of carrying high-definition digital voice and video and is one step closer to bridging the digital divide to a central distribution system. The infrastructure shares knowledge and innovative ideas with the rest of the world and provides a better infrastructure for major important verticals, such as education, hospitality, medical and media, highlights Friend.

“Despite the dynamic telecommunications market in Africa still being in its early stages of development, it is also one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, owing to progressive technological advancements in big data requirements,” he adds.

In the early 2000s, mobile telephony in Africa was only starting to develop, while it was competing with fixed-line telephony. “Pioneering telecommunication and infor-mation and communications technology com-panies in Africa were aiming to connect across any medium that could make the high-priced connections available to anyone at affordable rates,” he says.

Further, Friend highlights that Internet backbones and core infrastructures are still being developed. Hardware that connects Ka-band satellites for mobility networks is a relatively new concept, as the spectrum has not been widely adopted by satellite operators, owing to its susceptibility to interference from the weather conditions.

“Connecting Africa to the rest of the world is Huawei’s key driving factor. For example, work was competed on the Wacs only two years ago and currently connects a 14 000 km cable, linking South Africa to Europe and to the rest of the world.

Its 15 terminal stations, running up the west coast of Africa, provide additional bandwidth for several countries. The Wacs has become the first direct connection to the undersea cable network for Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Togo.” says Friend.

According to the Wacs website, the project is a consortium of
11 leading international telecom carriers.

The new Wacs has increased South Africa’s bandwidth by an estimated 23%, which will result in increased video content, which is projected to increase 262% by 2017, he adds.

Service provider Neotel chief technology officer Dr Angus Hay explained to Engineering News in April 2011 that the $650-million Wacs almost doubled international connectivity capacity in South Africa.