Internet usage in SA increases

The number of internet users in South Africa has increased at the fastest rate since 2001, according to a study released on Thursday.

The internet user base increased 12,5% this year and now stands at 4,5-million people, according to the study published by World Wide Worx and supported by Cisco Systems.

“[G]rowth has come largely on the back of dramatic take-up of broadband offerings by small businesses, which alone accounted for half of the growth in the market,” World Wide Worx head Arthur Goldstuck said in a statement.

This shift came in the context of all internet users abandoning dial-up internet connections, which utilise phone lines, for faster broadband connections.

The study followed a recent decision by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri not to appeal a September court ruling that would allow Value-Added Network Services (Vans) to build their own networks.

Previously Vans would need to apply for individual licences from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.

Reshaad Ahmed, a senior manager at Cisco, said in a statement: “We believe these changes will lead to sufficient levels of competition, increase access to internet usage and, in turn, increase global competitiveness and economic diversity.”

He speculated that South Africa could see an explosion of new internet service providers in the coming year.

In addition to this, new undersea cables, providing more internet connectivity, were planned to come into operation from the middle of 2009. One cable, the Seacom, would increase South Africa’s international bandwidth 40-fold, said World Wide Worx.—Sapa

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