There are now more than 200,000 local broadband users according to the latest feedback from the various broadband providers. The 100,000 mark was achieved in the middle of last year which means that the number of users more than doubled in the last nine months, goods news for the SA economy.

The broadband market can be categorized under six main services, namely ADSL, 3G from Vodacom and MTN, iBurst, MyWireless and WISP’s. A conservative estimate of the current number of ADSL users is 140,000, but a more accurate figure may lie around the 150,000 mark. ADSL is still by far the most popular broadband connection, but 3G’s popularity is growing.

Vodacom sold 44,000 data cards since its inception in December 2004, with this figure most likely to increase significantly with the launch of their new 1.8 Mbps HSDPA service.

MTN, who also offer a mobile 3G service, has thus far not released any official figures regarding their 3G user base and on the whole not much information regarding this company’s broadband plans is available. But one can assume that their broadband customer base will also grow quickly once their HSDPA service becomes available to consumers.

iBurst has recently announced that they now have 17 000 users, showing good growth since their official launch a year ago. In comparison, Sentech’s MyWireless still have less than ten thousand users which is most likely due to their lack of coverage and poor publicity shortly after their launch in 2004.

It is somewhat strange that MyWireless is lagging behind the rest as they were the first to launch wireless broadband in South Africa and have lately proven to be a very reliable and stable service. And then there is the ‘less-official’ sector of the broadband environment whose numbers are always difficult to trace.

While nobody knows exactly how many consumers are making use of services from smaller Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) like UniNet, many experts place this figure around ten thousand.

Without official user statistics from MTN and Telkom it is not possible to give an exact figure regarding the number of broadband users but the likely estimate sits somewhere around 230 000.

The 100,000 mark was reached towards the middle of last year, which suggests a growth rate of 130% in the last nine months. The new figures represents a local broadband penetration rate of around 0.5 % and a growth rate of just over 0.3% per year.