A view of the African telecommunications market - the challenge

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

A view of the African telecommunications market - the challenge

Last week I looked at the reality of the African telecommunications market.  Today I will look at the challenge ahead.  

In Africa, satellite technology, not nearly the speed of fiber or advanced wireless networks, is used often as a communication network and this definitely factors in to the speed of the networks, or lack thereof, discussed last week. So how is this to be addressed?  

One way to help is to apply capacity maximization technologies to the networks.  Dialogic has some excellent voice optimization products that enable a fixed amount of bandwidth to carry more voice traffic, over satellite and many other networks.  Deploying this would enable more data traffic to be carried, thus contributing to increased quality of experience for subscribers.  And as I said in the beginning of this overview, there are cables being laid into many parts of Africa (as you can see from the map below) and this will ultimately obviate the need for the amount of satellite connectivity currently used.

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Ultimately, this will increase the speeds available for the internet users.  Even then though, we expect that total traffic volume will rise because as speeds increase, it’s typical that usage also increases.  Therefore, more capacity is still required and it’s likely that the demand for satellite capacity will still rise, serving as both an offload mechanism and as network backup.  Therefore, capacity maximization technologies would still need to be deployed.  Again, Dialogic can help there. 

On the mobile network, smartphones have made a dramatic impact since they have enabled an on-ramp to the internet even when there isn’t a fixed wireline connection.  According to ITU statistics released in June 2012, “mobile broadband has become the single most dynamic ICT service reaching a 40% annual subscription growth in 2011”.  And while Africa is participating in this, Africa is still lagging behind the world.   Again, according to the ITU, “In Africa there are less than 5 mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, whereas all other regions have penetration levels above 10%.”  

But the times they are a changing.  Next week I will explore why and how. 

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