hispeed_internet_cableMr Goldstuck spoke at a recent Neotel NeoForum in Durban, while listening I jotted down a couple of notes on the important points – with permission of course! Prices are coming down, but not as fast as people want them to, rather compare them to the prices of 2 to 3 years ago. We may not pay less, but we do definitely get more in bandwidth and speed.

The SEACOM cable is the beginning of the new revolution in telecommunications in South Africa. Next to come is the EASS cable up the East Coast, and then the West Coast will get the WACS cable (3 times the size of the SEACOM cable).

As a comparison on the connectivity capacity of Africa to the rest of the world:
• At the end of 2008 Africa had 80Gb/s
• At the end 2009 Africa will have 2.1Tb/s
• 2010 it moves up to 5.6Tb/s
• 2011 up to 10.5Tb/s
• And then in 2012 Africa will have 12.5Tb/s and thereafter it will reach a plateau, as the demand will not meet the capacity – so we hope!

The Department of Communications issued 419 telecommunication licenses to Value Added Reseller providers in January this year, but now has informed all new license holders that if they do not use the licenses, they will revoke the license, basically a use it or lose it approach. These new players will help bring down the prices of telecommunication and also should improve the service levels.

The number of internet users in South Africa at the end of 2008 was 4.6 million, the estimation for this year is 5.2 million, a growth that has not been seen since 2001. The internet users will double in the next 5 years, mostly due to the new competition, and improved connectivity to the rest of the world.

Internet penetration (number of users compared to the population) in South Africa is way behind the rest of the world – from being 14th in the world in 1996, to currently occupying 110th position. Greenland is top of list with just over 90% penetration; South Africa currently has less than 12% – _behind_ Zimbabwe at 12% (104th).

Because of the improved connectivity, business will become real time, and just about all aspects of business will be instantaneous – with business heads being answerable in real time.

He mentions that the debate of cellular phones vs computers will still be happening, as the portability of the phone does not lend itself to being a practical tool for things like word processors and spreadsheets.

He spoke about the music industry and how they saw the “next big thing” but refused to adapt their business to meet the needs of the new way of selling music. A good message to all of us in our businesses, don’t ignore the new way of doing business, as when you wake up, not only will your coffee be cold, but the microwave to warm it up will also be missing.

Saas (Software as a Service on the internet) and such like applications will become the dominant way of using applications, as the speed of the internet will make it the most efficient way to work with applications.

The message I took from the talk, was that we have been in the dark ages in telecommunication in South Africa, and all of these changes are the beginning of a very different and speedy way of doing business. The on-line business revolution has now really begun…..hold onto your mouse!

Thanks Arthur for allowing the crib notes!
Arthur Goldstuck is the internet guru of South Africa
World Wide Worx


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