|South Africa Non-profits Demanding Better, Cheaper Broadband|
|Tuesday, 03 March 2009 02:10|
APC, Mark Shuttleworth’s Foundation, and other non-profits are fed up with South Africa’s ranking as one of the most expensive broadband countries in the world. TSA deployment is a fraction of similar middle income countries, and is lower than some poorer countries in North Africa. Telecom is exploiting their monopol on international bandwidth to keep prices brutally high. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions are being siphoned off b senior officials with political connections.
South African National Broadband ForumMar 24 2009 - 9:00am - Mar 24 2009 - 5:30pm: Webber Wentzel Auditorium, 10 Fricker Road, Illovo Boulevard, Johannesburg, South Africa
Broadband for South Africa
National forum on Tuesday March 24 9am–5 pm
Access to broadband is an imperative for the full expression of citizenship in today’s world. With affordable broadband, the potential for socio-economic, cultural, and educational development can be realised in Africa.
In the USA a diverse group of Americans came together to launch a National Broadband Coalition -BB4US– to provide the then President-elect, Barack Obama and the incoming US Congress with a policy framework for a comprehensive national broadband strategy.
President Obama’s technology policy is committed to deploy next-generation broadband infrastructure to ‘get true broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.’
In South Africa, we are on the cusp of a major broadband infrastructure rollout. Seacom, a submarine cable initiative will link South Africa to India and Europe by mid 2009 and break the monopoly of Telkom’s SAT3 cable and bring down the cost of international bandwidth. The judgment in the Altech legal challenge opens the way for anyone to build and operate a high speed broadband network further reducing the cost of accessing broadband internet.
Broadband is not only an issue of high speed networks, it also provides a platform for disruptive Web 2.0 technologies that enable ordinary people to produce and distribute content on the Web – as the success of YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook demonstrate. This poses a challenge for local content industries to generate and distribute content for a broadband world. Content is a critical driver of the demand for broadband infrastructure and services, while broadband provides a new means of content production and distribution.
Improved availability of electric power is a necessary component for rolling out broadband, particularly in rural areas. The environmental challenges of our times demand an exploration of alternative sources of energy to sustain broadband infrastructure.
Broadband penetration in South Africa lags behind countries with a similar level of development such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Turkey. One of the reasons for this is that there hasn’t been a coherent policy framework to guide the development of broadband. The election of a new government provides an opportunity to look at the policy framework with fresh eyes and to consider the inter-related components needed to develop a coherent national broadband strategy.
The forum on a national broadband strategy will bring together a number of constituencies to explore a new framework – internet service providers, communications workers, independent content providers, higher education groups and academics, civil society organizations, alternative energy experts and consumer groups.
Together this spread of interest groups will identify the key components of a national broadband strategy, which will be consolidated into a framework to be presented to the new government.
|Last Updated on Monday, 16 March 2009 06:11|