SME's Overtake Corporates in Internet Use in South Africa


More people are accessing the Internet from small medium enterprises (SME's) than from corporate networks, according to the annual Internet Access in South Africa study by World Wide Worx and Cisco.

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says access of the Internet via broadband connections has grown by more than 50% in the past year and that must of the growth came from small and medium enterprises upgrading to ADSL. "This in turn extended internet accesss to more than half a million South Africans working in small offices, who did not previously have access."

The study made a number of interesting findings, including that cellphone access to the internet had passed dial up for the first time and proposed that the access of the internet by the academic community and by cellular users will be a major market driver of internet user growth over the next five years.

Goldstuck said the study also looked at the impact of the new undersea cables off South Africa's coast which are expected to increase broadband substantially. "If all current cable projects from to fruition, by 2011, the total capacity of undersea cables connecting Africa to the rest of the world will have increased 150 fold over 2008."

Goldstuck said the Internet boom South Africa was experiencing would see the present 5.3-million users growing steadily, aided by broadband accessibility and the new generation of users. He believes it takes about five years for an Internet user to become truly comfortable with the Internet, and that SA will only really see the boom by 2015.

The study found that fixed line ADSL was being left behind by wireless broadband access, with a 88% growth in wireless subscribers in the last year while only 15% of fixed lines become ADSL lines. Goldstuck says while ADSL offers a superior experience of the Internet the competition among wireless providers and the lack of competition with regard to ADSL - with only one provider Telkom in that market - has seen it grow faster. "ADSL and 3 G Wireless were level in 2008, but by 2009 we could already see ADSL being left behind. Unfortunately ADSL is linked to fixed lines and we have seen a steady decline when it comes to fixed line applications."

Business Day