SA cable broadband still relevant - Ispa

2011-08-08 14:42

Cape Town - Despite the exponential growth of wireless internet connectivity, cable broadband remains relevant in SA, the Internet Service Providers' Association (Ispa) said.

"The fibre is critical somewhere in the network, so even if I'm now getting an LTE 42mbps service from Vodacom, you're accessing the internet through that; you're getting to the closest base station. What happens once it gets to the base station? Fibre," Dominic Cull, Ispa regulatory advisor told News24.

Cull said that despite the rise in mobile wireless devices, broadband would continue to rely on cable for the foreseeable future.

"There's got to be fibre in your core network, even if your last mile is wireless," he said.

SA has seen an explosion of wireless devices and access to the internet via the wireless networks. Mobile operators have been racing to upgrade their networks as consumer demand for web access has expanded.

Unique position

"I think that it's absolutely correct to say that in South Africa, at the moment, there are more last-mile wireless broadband connections than there are wired," Cull said.

He warned that SA was in the unique position in that cable broadband was still a long way off, yet this medium is ideal to consume rich media online.

"We've got this gap now between the copper which is getting old and becoming legacy and people rolling out fibre to the home.

"Gated developments and businesses are where we'll see fibre last mile, but for actual consumers, we're quite a long way away," he said.

For rural communities, it is unlikely that cable broadband will ever be provided because of the cost factor, but Ispa insisted that the issue is centred on affordability rather than price.

"Time is difficult in this industry as you know. The future of rural broadband provision is wireless - there is no doubt.

"We already have close to 98% coverage of the country through the cellphone networks - but it's expensive. So we don't have an access problem, we have an affordability problem," said Cull.


The Seacom and Wacs (West Africa Cable System) broadband cables have played a major role in reducing broadband data pricing for South Africans, but there are challenges in the local market.

"In the last five years, pricing has come down dramatically. It's now cheaper to send your data to London, than it is from Cape Town to Johannesburg," Cull said.

Telkom and MWEB have been involved in a fight over peering and the cost to transport data since 2010.

The issue received attention when MWEB threatened to cut ties over the costs imposed by Telkom.

"So if you don't want to peer with us, that is it! We will not pay you one single cent anymore," fumed MWEB CEO Rudi Jansen at the time.

The issue remains relevant and Cull warned that it would boil over in the short term.

"That's going to break out into a real fight in the next two to three weeks."

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  • htiek - 2011-08-08 14:55

    5 years and still waiting for an ADSL line to be installed by Telkom - 3g can not compare to fibre...fibre has way faster download speeds (provided you actually have a damn line) - I would say fibre is more reliable but because it is supplied by Telkom I'll hold my tongue!

      wetter - 2011-08-08 15:02

      Ek kan sien jy weet nie veel waarvan jy praat nie

      Kishore Doodnath - 2011-08-08 17:02

      Same here. Applied for an ADSL line at Telkom. Started receiving the bills but no operational line. Five months later I gave up - switched to Cell C 3G network.

  • Rapier - 2011-08-08 15:00

    There is a HUGE gap in "Wireless" technology which is totally unused - "WRAN" - i.e. the band not used by the TV Channels - ONE mast could cover 17 000 sq Km - roughly Jhb and Pretoria combined. What is needed is for somebody in Government to wake up. There are MANY such gaps for private enterprise, including selling the Solar Power generated by private individuals into the Eskom grid. But all they do is politicking and not producing REAL jobs.

      Chris - 2011-08-08 15:29

      WRAN(802.22) is all good and well, but with a channel capacity of only 18mbps it would not be feasible for commercial use. Current wireless(802.11) as we know it have a capacity of up to 600mbps per channel. How many users do you think would connect to one mast, are we going back to less than dail-up speeds? Yes in theory one WRAN mast could cover upto 30 000 sq Km, but more realistic at about 3 500 sq KM.

      Rapier - 2011-08-08 17:08

      @Chris - the FACT is the available technology is not being USED - just think of Sentech....where has that gone? I am supposed to be getting 1024 kbps and most of the time it is only 300 - 500.....The WRAN idea IS going to be used in th USA very shortly. At least we must get the DEBATE going - even if I was TOTALLY wrong, it is better to think about NEW ideas, and MOVE, instead of living in a mortuary of ideas like the present "government"

  • v3 - 2011-08-08 17:16

    Unfortunately, Telkom's only core competency is stalling competition.

  • Atoombom - 2011-08-09 19:14

    Cell-C clearly steal customers' bandwidth with their wireless solution. Open 1 web site and you've used a couple of megs. Download a 100MB file and all of a sudden nearly 300MB disappeared. I used to use 2gig iBurst per month, now I have to use 10GIG from Cell-C to do the same work per month. And to top it all, their absolute USELESS support NEVER comes back. Cell-C STEAL your money

  • BugsyJamesy - 2011-08-09 19:35

    What are you talking about, the internet is so yesterday , haven't you heard about the WUG?

  • Badballie - 2011-08-10 13:26

    Of course its must always be remembered that a line at 1024 mB will not ever actually reach that speed unless no one else is using the facility at the same time, the figures given in most cases are maximum speeds under ideal conditions.

  • Bokfan - 2011-11-10 10:22

    I got the ADSL line at my spot on the coast in record time. Unfortunately every time the wind blows it goes down and Telkom takes three polite days to get it up again. So for us its a mix of cable and 3g. Belt AND Braces is the way to go.

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