4G internet is for the “haves” rather than the “have nots”, as it is generally rolled out in areas where people already have access, according to Puleng Kwele, chief technical officer (CTO) at South Africa’s state-owned Broadband Infraco.
Kwele told the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2013, taking place this week in Stellenbosch, South Africa, that infrastructure should rather be built in areas without access.
“We have got to relook at how we do things in this country. The private sector has failed the government so far,” she said. “4G is for the “haves”, because it is putting another layer of data where people already have access.”
She said the focus needed to switch to providing broadband to underserved areas as this would eventually bring costs down for end-users.
“We need to ensure that we build where there is no infrastructure so there is access,” she said.
“It is almost 20 years now that the mobile operators have been licenced. To make it more affordable and more accessible you have to make sure that South Africa is networked.”
Kwele said South Africa was lacking sufficient infrastructure.
“Affordability has got to do with having availability. We also need clarity on the structure of the industry. Once we structure the market properly we allow all these entrepreneurs to do what they are meant to be doing.”