Home > General > South Africa becoming awash in bandwidth

South Africa becoming awash in bandwidth


In the past, South Africa’s internet connectivity was limited to the few undersea cables we had landing on our shores: SAT2, SAT3 and SAFE. As time went on, newer cables were discussed but little seemed to actually be happening. The people behind the SEACOM cable were the first to get the ball rolling, getting their cable up and running during 2009. They brought massive capacity and price drops to the tables. Other cables had been planned and spoken of, but SEACOM was the first to arrive.

Being first, SEACOM has had the most impact to date. It took a while to filter down, but suddenly “uncapped” ADSL started to show up all over the show. Price wars started and overall costs per GB of bandwidth fell. Our school would be a perfect example of this: we went from 512kb/s uncapped to 1mb/s, then 2mb/s and now 3mb/s for less than what the 512kb/s originally cost. The only downside to SEACOM is that they have had a number of outages and reliability issues, which makes things a bit painful when such an event occurs.

In the course of last year, the EASSY cable landed as well, bringing more capacity yet again. However, this cable has not quite brought about the same revolution as SEACOM, as I am not aware of any ISP’s making use of the cable as yet in South Africa. The old SAT3 cable also got upgraded, but prices are still very high on this cable in comparison.

This past week, the WACS cable landed in South Africa, promising to bring an absolute glut of bandwidth to the country. Though the cable has landed, it will only go into operation next year sometime. Here is just one of many articles about the landing: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/telecoms/19792-WACS-lands-South-Africa.html

From what I’ve read, there are more cables on the way as well, not to mention other cables being planned. While this is fantastic in of itself, the problem now lies in the telecoms network in South Africa itself. Fibre is being laid at an astonishing rate, but it’s never enough it seems. Business customers are reaping the rewards of all this growth, but home users are still stuck thanks to Telkom.

We are in a much better situation than we’ve ever been before, but we still have a way to go until we can truly take advantage of all the bandwidth available to us. Things like video conferencing, video streaming, cloud services and more will only make an impact once broadband truly becomes cheap, reliable and easily accessible broadband.

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