PwC’s report “South African entertainment and media outlook: 2013 – 2017” predicts that South African spend on Internet access will realise a compound annual growth rate of 24.7%. This means that consumers will spend R59.6 billion on Internet by 2017. This figure stands recorded at R19.8 billion in 2012. According to the report, the majority of Internet access and its associated spend is via mobile access. Mobile broadband access comprises 89% of the total market and 81% of total spend. PwC’s report also indicates that the number broadband users within the country is set to increase from 12 million users at the end of 2012 to 16 million users at the end of 2013.
The demand for high-quality, always-available broadband in the country is continually on the increase. The South African press, more often than not, contains news items about the state of the broadband in the country, the increase demand for it, or information about local and international service providers increasing Internet speed or reducing broadband costs. Telkom recently announced a free increase in the speed of its ADSL offerings effective from November 2013. According to Telkom, this comes out of a need to meet the broadband demands of today’s consumer, i.e. increased speed and performance.
The Broadband Commission, an international body set up by the ITU and UNESCO, claims in its 2013 report that South African broadband is substandard when compared to other countries. “The State of Broadband 2013” report positioned South Africa as 11 out of 108 countries on fixed broadband penetration, and 62 out of 170 on mobile broadband. The report also ranked South Africa at 44 out of 128 countries on the percentage of households with Internet, and at 92 out of 192 on the percentage of individuals accessing the Internet.
Whilst broadband in South Africa may be deemed poor when compared to other parts of the world, the individual consumer and business demand is on a par. Mobile broadband usage is extremely high and set to dominate the South African broadband market. Continual increases and improvements in broadband offerings are here to stay, in order to meet the demands of today’s technological consumer.