Second edition of BA voice and bandwidth projections forecast large increase in wireless broadband

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According to the second annual edition of Balancing Act’s Voice and Data Forecasts the thirst for broadband is driving bandwidth growth. The rapid take-up of broadband in general and wireless broadband in particular has driven increases in Internet bandwidth and will be the prime driver of  growth over the next five years.

Additional growth from dial-up subscriptions over the forecast period to 2011 will be 689 mbps. But growth from all forms of broadband over the forecast period to 2011 will be 43,529 mbps, almost a tripling of bandwidth required.  Wireless broadband may well be a much larger contributor than ADSL to bandwidth growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Although ADSL dominates demand in those countries already connected to broadband, the most rapid growth will probably come from wireless broadband. It is difficult to identify this demand precisely, there is compelling evidence that it is the largest component of broadband growth. 

The second edition of the Balancing Act Forecasts now include all North African countries as well as those countries from sub-Saharan Africa. A wider range of data has gone into producing this edition as Balancing Act has worked closely with a greater number of carriers on this edition.

Other findings from the forecasts include:  

* International voice traffic continues to grow at rates above the world average. Its  rate of growth 23.4% CAGR for Africa and 13.8% CAGR for the world - is above the  world average.

* Improvements in compression technology and a steady transition to the use of VoIP means that this growth is relatively small in bandwidth  terms in comparison with Internet bandwidth.

* Satellite carried 45.3% of Africa’s international voice traffic in 2006. Although  there are a number of marine and terrestrial fibre projects that will come into use,  the fall in the use of satellite will be relatively small across the forecast period,  dropping to 41% in 2011 if no further international fibre cables are built. However, since at least one will be built to Kenya in the forecast period, the fall in satellite demand is likely to be much greater, particularly towards the end of the forecast  period.

* Total Internet bandwidth supplied by satellite has dropped from 24.1% in 1998 to  11.5% in 2006. 26 countries get 100% of their international Internet bandwidth entirely by satellite

* The bubble for grey market international traffic has burst, but it will remain at around the 20 – 30% in many markets. A combination of rapid price falls in the retail market and improvements in compression mean that the grey market will remain the same  in most countries or decline slightly over the forecast period.    

* Both retail and wholesale prices for international voice traffic have dropped  dramatically. Nevertheless falls in both prices remain uneven with a large number of  countries maintaining incumbent monopolies that allow them to keep prices  artificially higher.