Zambia hints at fifth telco operator

A fifth telco
for Zambia?

Enough room says
industry regulator.

Thursday, Feb 20th

The last mile

fibrepaulshof

Recently I was at the launch of ITWeb Africa and one of the presenters was commenting on the undersea cables being deployed on the East and West coasts of Africa.

These cables are now starting to become a symbol of Africa’s increasing broad based connectivity.

The cables will allow Africa to become ingrained into the world’s internet, providing access to information and services that to now have only been truly enjoyed by the developed world.

However there still remains a fundamental issue: transporting the bandwidth from the undersea cables inland, what is commonly called the 'last mile'.

In many parts of Africa the physical transmission networks are in limited supply, non-existent, or still in the building phase.

In South Africa, however, there are numerous projects underway to across the country to improve the last mile connectivity for your average internet consumer.

When driving out my complex on the weekend to see the scenes of trenches being dug, cable being unraveled and placed in the ground; made me realise more accutely the effects and activities of companies like Ericsson and Dark Fibre Africa to provide last mile connectivity to households around South Africa.

Right now, its an eyesore with our pavements being dug up, but in five years time when we have high speed bandwidth directly into our homes the memories of orange tape and big roles of cable will be gone.

It is truly exciting times with bandwidth costs slowly decreasing, and with uncapped internet packages starting to find their way into market. But with anything, patience is still the order of the day.

It takes time to dig the trenches, lay the cables and switch on the connectivity we have been craving for years. Once that is done (or at a point where its actually noticeable by your average internet consumer) we will start to enjoy the pricing levels and unrestricted connectivity levels experienced in many parts of the world.

Let the construction work continue, because in a couple years time, we will be enjoying services like Netflix and Hulu in our homes without having to worry about killing your bandwidth cap before you have finished streaming an HD episode of Game of Thrones.

We are fortunate in South Africa to see the progress of the ‘late mile' and it is my hope that the same trend continues into the continent.

Jonathan Hoehler is the chief technical officer for Starfish Mobile International as well as Starfish Mobile’s lead business analyst on mobile telecommunications in Africa. Jonathan is also an active committee member of the Johannesburg chapter of Mobile Monday. For more information, follow Jonathan on twitter: @JonHoehler

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