New undersea cable part of 100-fold bandwidth increase

The announcement today of a formal agreement for the construction of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) by all South Africa’s major telecommunications operators sets the scene for total international bandwidth capacity coming into Africa growing more than a hundredfold by the end of 2011.

The Internet Access in South Africa 2008 study, conducted by World Wide Worx and supported by Cisco Systems, shows that international bandwidth available to sub-Saharan Africa was a mere 80 Gigabits per second at the end of 2008. This was split between the Telkom-controlled SAT3/SAFE cable and the West African Atlantis-2 cable.

But, according to the report, the capacity will rise to around 10 Terabits per second by the end of 2011, or 120 times the 208 capacity. This growth will be the cumulative result of the existing SAT3 cable being upgraded, three major new cables becoming operational this year, another two in 2010, and the WACS cable in 2011.

These figures exclude capacity available to North African countries that have access to a network of cables criss-crossing the Mediterranean.

Says Reshaad Sha, Senior Manager of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, “It is encouraging to witness and be part of the telecommunications revolution that Africa is currently undergoing. The role that the undersea cable operators will play is crucial to both the developmental and economic agendas that have and are being set by African Governments.”

The confirmed new cables due to serve West, East and Southern Africa are:

  • SEACOM, East and Southern Africa, 1.28Tb/s – Due end June 2009
  • GLO-1, West Africa,640 Gb/s, ready for operations, 2009
  • TEAMS, East and Southern Africa, 120Gb/s – Due September 2009
  • EASSy East and Southern Africa, 1.Tb/s – Due June 2010
  • MainOne, West Africa, 1.92Tb/s, due 2010
  • WACS, West and Southern Africa, 3.8Tb/s, Due 2011

“The WACS agreement puts in place the final spark for the broadband revolution that is about to sweep Africa,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx. “The real significance of all these undersea cables is that they will in turn lead to further infrastructure expansion to bring this bandwidth to end-users, especially in the business world.”

Cisco’s Sha concurs: “The telecoms operators and governments are still required to fulfil the role of delivering this connectivity to their citizens. This will probably be the most challenging role in realising the benefits of the terabits of bandwidth that will be reaching the African coastlines.”

The Internet Access in South Africa 2008 report includes an overview of each of these cables and a timeline for their implementation.

Media contacts

For comment on this press release, please contact Zweli Mnisi, PR Manager: Cisco South Africa

Cell: +27 83 616 6175 Email: zmnisi@cisco.com

For further information, please contact Arthur Goldstuck at World Wide Worx, on 011 782 7003 or 083 326 4345, or e-mail arthur@worldwideworx.com

 

How to choose ISP or consumer Internet access in South Africa

This is a portion of an interview for Huisgenoot magazine from 2007. I’m not even sure if it was ever published because the journalist was forced to redo the initial interview, which focussed on Skype to include a few questions about Internet access.

 

ADSL modem and network cable unpluggedThis is a portion of an interview for Huisgenoot magazine from 2007. I’m not even sure if it was ever published because the journalist was forced to redo the initial interview, which focussed on Skype to include a few questions about Internet access.

1. What are the different Internet access options available to South African consumers?

Dial-up: is the original mechanism used by home users to connect to the Internet access. Your computer connects to the Internet via telephone line. Your operating system like WindowsXP or Linux uses a modem to connect a computer and a telephone line to dial into an Internet service provider’s (ISP) node to establish a modem-to-modem link, which is then routed to the Internet. It is an analogue connection and by comparison the slowest Internet connection. Prices vary from R45 to R145 per month.

ISDN: is a circuit-switched telephone network system, designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in better quality and higher data speeds than
are available with analogue. It was often used in videoconferencing because it provides simultaneous voice, video, and text transmissions. Pricing is a combination of monthly subscription + hours dialed into the Internet.

Broadband: is an “always-on” on Internet connection which can be both over fixed telephone lines (ADSL) or wireless connections. Research by Arthur Goldstuck predictes South Africa will have 1.37 million broadband users by end of 2008.

  • ADSL is the form of DSL of all broadband connections. Telkom launched commercial ADSL in 2002 and prices have come down several times since then. Bandwidth capacity and speed has increased now to where up to 4mbps is available. Most ISPs offer ADSL and prices range widely depending on how much bandwith you use. Beginners should start with 1Gig account and business users 3Gigs.
  • 3G: is the 3rd generation of cellphone standards and technology. 3G technologies enable cellphone network operators to offer users a wider range of more advanced services while achieving greater network capacity through improved efficiency. Pricing varies based on many different packages. You can purchase a contract and get the modem free; you can buy the moden and use pre-paid airtime; or you can use a 3G/HSDPA phone to connect using Bluetooth. HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) is a new mobile data protocol and is sometimes referred to as a 3.5G (or “3½G”) technology. It’s available from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Virgin Mobile.
  • iBurst: is based on IntelliCell technology from ArrayComm in the US. It uses radio frequencies with base stations and modems. Pricing vary from R49 to R1099 per month. They operate on a reseller model like ADSL so you can purchase it from most ISPs.
  • MyWireless: is a form of Internet connectivity that uses “wireless” technology by creating a radio-based connection to the Internet using network of specially erected towers (base stations). As such, MyWireless provides a secure Internet telecommunications platform at speeds of up to 512kbps. It’s similar to iBurst. Pricing varies from R499 to R1500 per month.

All internet connections require a modem unless you are using your cell phone as a modem. There are packages that includes free modems and some that don’t which can be more expensive per month.

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