South Africa’s telecom sector boasts one of the continent’s most advanced networks in terms of technology deployed and services provided. Nevertheless, the fixed-line infrastructure for many years suffered from under-investment by the monopoly incumbent Telkom. The poor level of service encouraged the growth of the mobile sector for the provision of voice and data services. As a result, the mobile sector has become a key driver of the overall market. As well as carrying most voice traffic, mobile networks account for 97% of all internet connections.
Under a converging regulatory regime, hundreds of alternative service providers have been able to enter the market to offer a range of services, while the main mobile operators Vodacom, MTN and Cell C have invested heavily in their own backhaul fibre as well as on consumer services based on FttP. In addition, many municipalities, including the country’s largest cities, are implementing their own metropolitan fibre and wireless broadband networks.
The end of Telkom’s monopoly on international submarine fibre optic cables also reduced the cost of telecom services dramatically. A new cable, expected to come online in 2017, with further increase international bandwidth and so improve services generally.
A notable regulatory matter currently shaping the market include mergers and acquisitions, the licensing of LTE spectrum anticipated in early 2017, progress with the transition to digital broadcasting and the reassignment of digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband use, the unbundling of the local loop (ULL, or LLU), and the reduction of interconnect charges.
South Africa’s mature mobile market has seen rapid growth since competition was introduced to the sector in the 1990s. SIM card penetration by late 2016 was approaching 160%, driven partly by the popularity of multiple card use as also by the popular take-up of mobile broadband services. LTE services will be bolstered by the 2017 auction of additional spectrum in several bands. These services will go far to realising the government’s ambitious broadband connectivity program to 2030.
– Regulator seeks to raise ZAR100 billion for ICT projects by increasing USAF levy to 1% of operator revenue;
– Vox Telecom planning national long-distance fibre network in eastern areas;
– Liquid Telecom acquires Neotel for ZAR6.55 billion;
– Work begins on the Modderfontein Smart city development;
– Vodacom contracts Alcatel-Lucent to build a GPON FttP converged network.
– Department of Telecommunications allocates ZAR1.4 billion to pursue broadband initiatives;
– Multisource acquires WBS;
– Vumatel extends open-access network offering 1Gb/s services.
– Regulator forced to push back LTE spectrum auction to May 2017;
– Vodacom and MTN trial LTE-Unlicensed services;
– Vodacom and MTN end mobile money services in South Africa;
– Cell C launches commercial LTE-A services;
– Revised MTRs set to September 2017;
– SMS platform facing stiffening competition from WhatsApp and other OTT services;
Report update includes the regulator’s 2015 market report, telcos’ operational and financial data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.