Broadband access in South Africa has more than doubled in the past two years, as mobile operators slashed the cost of data and network roll-out accelerated.
This is revealed in new data contained in the final version of the “Internet Access in South Africa 2012” study, released on Thursday. The study was conducted by World Wide Worx, with backing from online portal Howzit MSN.
The number of broadband subscriptions grew from 3,6m at the end of 2010 to an expected 8,2m by the end of 2012 — representing growth of 128%.
The study found that many users have multiple forms of broadband access — such as a digital subscriber line (DSL) account as well as 3G mobile — while many hop between operators to take advantage of promotional offers. As a result, the number of individual broadband users is substantially lower, but also more than doubling in the past two years. The number has grown from 2,8m to 6,7m — 140% growth in two years.
In addition, the total number of DSL subscriptions is now outnumbered eight to one by mobile broadband subscriptions. Telkom’s DSL service now holds just 10,6% of the broadband subscriber market in South Africa.
Measured by subscriptions, South Africa now has an apparent 15,8% broadband penetration of the population. However, due to extensive multiple-use of broadband subscriptions, especially thanks to the falling cost of data and the proliferation of promotional offers, the number of individuals using broadband subscriptions represents only 11% penetration of the population.
“This may seem small, but it is still light years ahead of where we were five years ago,” says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck. “It suggests that, five years from now, mobile broadband and smartphones will be the conventional means of access, rather than fixed line, which will increasingly be confined to small business.”