South Africa targets 80 percent mobile broadband coverage by 2019

Tue May 10, 2016 1:05pm GMT
 

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa aims to double its mobile broadband coverage to 80 percent of the population by 2019, the telecoms minister said on Tuesday, adding that the government wanted to reduce the high cost of communications.

According to a World Bank report released in February, South Africans paid around $14.10 for one gigabyte of data, the fourth highest out of 17 African countries, compared to lowest-rated Cameroon, where the same bundle cost around $2.10.

Siyabonga Cwele, the telecoms minister, said that a new telecoms policy to be finalised in the next few months would aim to boost competition and increase growth in the industry.

"It will reduce barriers to entry by moving away from monopolistic infrastructure based competition, to open access broadband networks," Cwele told parliament.

Major telecoms firms in South Africa include the continent's top mobile phone operator MTN, Vodacom and unlisted Cell C. The five main firms in the wireless broadband market account for more than 70 percent of the market.

A new policy on spectrum would help consumers by increasing choice and reducing Internet costs, Cwele said.

South Africa is rolling out free Wifi services across the country and it would could cost around 67 billion rand ($4.4 billion) to connect the entire country with broadband, he said.

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