BTC cuts internet prices by half


Internet prices are expected to go down as the Botswana Telecommunications Corporations (BTC) Group has slashed its wholesale internet bandwidth prices by 59 percent due to the commissioning of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) undersea cable. The price decrease is effective August 1, 2012, according to a statement from Paul Taylor, BTC Group Chief Executive Officer.

Taylor says the reduction has allowed BTC to subsequently pass on the cost benefit of reliable internet accessibility to its wholesale customers. Broadband access should, therefore, no longer be looked upon as a luxury but a right to be enjoyed by all citizens.

"The expectation is that BTC wholesale customers being Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Value Added Network Services (VANs), Public Telephony Operators (PTOs) including BTC Retail will in turn pass on the cost benefit to the end customer and have them enjoy reduced pricing on broadband services," the communique says.

In June, Botswana and Namibia inaugurated their links to the 14,000 kilometre underground cable system that provides both countries with faster and cheaper internet connectivity. With Botswana having no direct link to the sea, government partnered with Namibia to each raise US$37.5 million (P277.5 million) to "buy into" the project with other countries. Botswana and Namibia thus own 9.2 percent of the project, which will be operated on an open access policy with other stakeholders. WACS becomes the latest submarine cable system to hit local shores since the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). EASSy went live early last year, immediately lowering internet and mobile costs and allowing a five-year plan for further reductions. With a data rate of 5.12 terabits per second, WACS will be superior to EASSy, which at 3.8 terabits per second is already among the fastest in the world.

Although BTC is not the only supplier of internet in the country, it is the  biggest. The decrease in wholesale internet bandwidth prices is therefore expected to seriously affect other suppliers outside its network.