ISOC-ZA supports a call for a Bandwidth Indaba
[August 24, 2004] In a recent letter to ICASA and the Ministry of Communications, the Online Publisher's Association (OPA) called for an urgent meeting with government representatives to discuss the high cost of bandwidth in South Africa. The Internet Society believes reducing the costs of bandwidth is imperative to stimulate the growth of Internet usage. Government should become actively involved in making this a reality. The true cost of bandwidth is clear from the dramatic slow-down in growth of Internet users in South Africa. According to the annual Internet Access in South Africa report by World Wide Worx, an independent research company, growth slowed down to 6% in 2003. For 2004, World Wide Worx forecasts an increase to 3.68 million Internet users from 3.28 million at the end of 2003. At the current rate of growth, we will only have 1 in 10 people with Internet access by 2006.
South Africa does have problems with basic literacy but the Internet can be used as a tool for Education as well as eventually boosting the economy as it is doing in first world countries. It is often been cited in the media and by industry commentators that a lack of competition to Telkom is the major obstacle to lowering the cost of bandwidth. Even with the introduction of broadband internet access by Telkom and Sentech the costs remain excessively high priced and out of reach of ordinary South Africans.
A comparison with Egypt for example sheds some light on this. The cheapest broadband access from Telkom costs approximately R1.75/Kbps while Sentech's MyWireless is R2.93/Kbps. This is 286% and 480% more expensive then a comparable offering from an Egypt based ISP. In the case of broadband, there is the additional cost of a modem as with ISDN or leased line connectivity used by most companies in South Africa.
It is the view of the Internet Society that broadband can have a significant impact on growing the number of Internet users in South Africa. It can help to bridge the digital divide. The Internet Society supports the OPA's criticism of bandwidth situation and we join them in calling for an indaba with government, ICASA, ISPA, and other related parties to find ways of reduce bandwidth and broadband costs in South Africa.
Issued by Ramon Thomas, Public Relations for ISOC-ZA
Telephone (011) 433-1034 Mobile +27829407137
For more information please visit www.isoc.org.za About the Internet Society: The Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit, non-governmental, international, professional membership organisation. Its more than 150 organization and 16,000 individual members in over 180 nations worldwide represent a veritable who's who of the Internet community. The work of the Internet Society focuses on four "pillars:" standards, public policy, education and training, and membership. The Internet Society South Africa chapter (ISOC-ZA) was formed in 1997. In 2004 the Cape Telecommunications Users Forum (CTUF), which had made numerous submissions on previous telecommunications policy, was disbanded in order to establish the Internet Society Cape Town branch. Today there are over 140 members of ISOC-ZA