SA internet users pass five-million mark

The number of South African internet users has passed five million for the first time, representing a 10% internet penetration for the country, research group World Wide Worx said on Thursday.

The Internet Access in South Africa 2010 study, conducted by World Wide Worx and jointly sponsored by Cisco, found that the internet user base grew by 15% last year, from 4,6-million to 5,3-million, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in 2010.

“The good news is that we will continue to see strong growth in 2010, and we should reach the six-million mark by the end of the year,” said Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx

Growth in the number of internet users in South Africa was relatively stagnant from 2002 to 2007, when it never rose above 7%. However, this rate almost doubled in 2008, and continued accelerating in 2009, World Wide Worx said.

The group found that the landing of a new undersea cable on the South African coast was only one of a range of factors behind the growth. Of greater significance was the granting of Electronic Communications Network Service licences to more than 400 organisations. “This meant that service providers that were previously required to buy their network access from one of the major providers could now build their own networks or choose where they wanted to buy their access,” it said.

The result was that a market previously characterised by a limited range of providers and services suddenly exploded as small providers were able to repackage the services provided by the large telecommunications corporations in any way they wished. The large providers, in turn, began to offer far more competitive packages to both customers and resellers, the research group said.

World Wide Worx also found an increase in broadband connectivity by small and medium enterprises migrating from dial-up connectivity.

“In the coming year, operators will begin to leverage the combination of new undersea cable capacity and new fibre-optic networks to supply corporate clients and resellers with bigger, faster and more flexible capacity,” said Goldstuck.

“Almost every large player in the communications industry has realigned its business to take advantage of this relentless change,” he concluded. — I-Net Bridge

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