THE average monthly cost of broadband in South Africa is more than 10 times that in the UK.
However, Britain enjoys broadband speed five times higher than that of South Africa, according to a survey published by the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR).
While the average monthly cost of broadband in South Africa is about R337, it is just R36 in the UK – which also enjoys a speed of 24 megabits a second, compared with our paltry 4.8Mb/s.
SAIRR chief executive Frans Cronje said: “If we were able to secure cheaper and faster broadband internet access in South Africa, we would see a host of economic benefits for the country and much-needed injection into GDP growth in the economy.”
He said consumers would access goods faster and more cheaply, and it would be cheaper to deliver goods and services. Small-scale farmers in emerging economies were able to market their goods more effectively thanks to better internet access.
IT expert Arthur Goldstuck said: “It [is] almost irrelevant to speak about the speed in its own right – you have to [look at] it in the context of quality and availability.
“Once you have affordability and availability, speed becomes the crucial issue.” But there are good signs. Start-up Vumatel has been offering fast fibre-to-the-home broadband, which seems to have given Telkom a wake-up call.
The company has recently connected homes at speeds reaching 1Gb/s, 100 times faster than the fastest copper-based ADSL broadband available from Telkom.
TechCentral.co.za editor Duncan McLeod said: “The more [competition], the better . . . Our prices are too high, and that is down to a lack of competition.”