SA broadband penetration doubles

Broadband penetration in South Africa has doubled over the past two years as the country records an extensive migration to mobile from fixed-line access, says World Wide Worx.

The study, entitled “Internet Access in South Africa 2012”, was published today, with World Wide Worx revealing record rises in both broadband subscriptions across South Africa and the number of individual broadband users.

Subscriptions grew 128 percent to a predicted 8.2 million by the end of 2012 from 3.6 million subscriptions at the end of 2010, while individual users rose 140 percent to an estimated 6.7 million by year end 2012, from 2.8 million in 2010.

However, despite the strong growth in the number of connections and connected users, the numbers still only represent a small minority of South Africa’s population, with broadband penetration reaching 15.8 percent of South Africa’s population. Factoring in the use of multiple accounts, the true level of penetration in terms of individual users connected to broadband lies at approximately 11 percent of the country’s population.

Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx Managing Director, notes that, despite the seemingly low level of penetration, the survey reveals positive trends in terms of the rate of broadband uptake, particularly with a view to mobile broadband usage.

“This may seem small, but it is still light years ahead of where we were five years ago,” Goldstuck says, adding: “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.”

The difference between the number of subscriptions and users is down to the fact that many users have multiple broadband subscriptions, often using both fixed-line and mobile connections. Equally, as new operators and promotions emerge on the market, users may open new accounts with new operators, thus growing the number of subscriptions in the country without growing the number of users.

While it has been widely speculated that users are moving to mobile to the detriment of fixed-line broadband, World Wide Worx has today revealed that mobile connections now outnumber fixed-line subscriptions eight to one in South Africa. Previously market-dominating Telkom now only holds 10.6 percent of the country’s broadband subscriptions as users turn to a widening range of mobile offerings.

Justin Zehmke, Executive Producer of howzit MSN, which backed the study, said: “The migration from fixed line to mobile represents a profound shift in the way South Africans consume content.

“The 9-5 internet peak, along with the traditional desktop publishing and advertising model that has become the South African standard, will become increasingly irrelevant. Coupled with the availability of cheaper mobile devices, this presents an opportunity for smaller publishing and tech companies to enter a market traditionally dominated by a few major players.”

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