‘21 million African converged network subscribers by 2017’
- Published on 23 October 2012
Sub-Saharan Africa subscribers of converged network services - such as Internet Protocol (IP) television - are forecast to increase from 1.1 million in 2010 to 21.4 million in 2017.
This is according to analysis from research firm Frost & Sullivan that says the number of subscribers in nations such as South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria is set to grow as Average Revenue Per User (ARPUs) fall.
Mobile voice tariffs in countries such as South Africa, for instance, have decreased 24% in the last two years, according to the country’s Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
This in turn is forcing telecommunications firms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on the continent to look to other revenue generating channels such as triple play products that include voice, data and television offerings.
The greater accessibility of bandwidth - thanks to undersea cables along Africa’s coastlines and an increasing terrestrial fibre network footprint - also make the prospect of a growing converged network more probable in Africa, say the researchers.
“With improving bandwidth, communication service providers (CSPs) are able to expand their revenue-generating opportunities by providing content-rich offerings such as TV and video services of IP networks,” noted Frost & Sullivan’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) research analyst Lehlohonolo Mokenela.
“This will require investment in network infrastructure so that operators can provide content-rich multimedia services that will boost the uptake of their converged services,” Mokenela added.
However, growth in terms of integrated services could be slow as market prospects for these offerings remain unclear. And operators may react by maintaining stand-alone, rather than integrated, broadband offerings.
“CSPs are still unable to estimate the return on investment (ROI) from deploying a fully converged network, as the business model for convergence in sub-Saharan Africa is still uncertain,” explained Mokenela.
“As a result, the move towards convergence has been gradual, with service providers offering broadband as stand-alone services and not as part of a bundled offering,” he added.
The researchers even go as far as to say that service providers may not want to wait for the market to develop in order to invest in convergence.
Instead, these firms could employ IP multimedia sub-systems (IMS) architecture that can be integrated to their legacy networks. This solution could enable a seamless and gradual migration to an all-IP network in the long-term, says Frost & Sullivan.
Mokenela told ITWeb Africa that Frost & Sullivan calculated its prospective 2017 converged services subscriber numbers for sub-Saharan Africa by speaking to operators. The firm also looked at international trends to forecast what it thinks the percentage of total broadband subscribers could be using converged services by that stage.