In less than two years, the bandwidth of traffic on Internet services provided by Senegal's telecom Sonatel has doubled. By today, Internet services provided by Sonatel are the most extensive in sub-Saharan Africa, second only to those in South Africa, a country of much bigger resources.

This is reported in a press release by the Senegalese telecom company, which explains that "bandwidth of traffic on the submarine cables of Sonatel by 7 September 2006 has passed the mark of 1.24 gigabyte a second."

This bandwidth of traffic is both a key measure of quantity, but also of the quality of Internet services provided to the public, "because it determines the speed of downloading pages, notably from servers based in Europe or the United States, and at bottom line, as this number is increased, the more comfortable your use of the Internet gets," the Sonatel statement adds.

The company further explains that the current extensions were to offer users in Senegal services that are of a superior quality, that come at a higher speed and that will provide for more comfort on the Internet; including improved flow in the downloading of pages and quicker downloads of information, navigation, reception of e-mails, teleconferences and multi-media services.

Bandwidth of Internet traffic to and from Senegal, as operated by Sonatel, has been increasing at a booming speed ever since 2002. It went from 42 to 53 megabytes a second in June 2002. By November 2004, it had already increased tenfold, reaching the level of 512 megabytes a second. By now, it has again doubled, reaching the benchmark of 1.24 gigabytes a second.

Internet use in Senegal has also been booming for the last years, especially in Dakar, but also beyond the capital, where an impressing telecom infrastructure has been created. As prices for broadband installation and services rapidly are going down, a bigger segment of the population uses the Internet at work and at home. Standard broadband subscriptions cost around euro 80 for installation and euro 40 a month, while even cheaper deals can be found.

The real boom in Internet - reaching a large part of population - is however attributed to Senegal's large and ever-growing number of telecentres or cybercafés, which combine telephone and fax services with Internet renting at a low price. Renting a computer connected to the web normally does not costs more than franc CFA 300 (euro 0.45) an hour. Uses vary from e-mail communication to news reading, chatting, games and multi-media usage, and costumers include almost all social layers.

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