Information and Communication Technology Growth in South Africa

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Despite continued dynamic growth in the South African information and communication technology (ICT) sector, most significantly in the mobile sector, this growth has yet to meet the national goals of affordable access for all South Africans to the full range of information and communication services. Access to mobile voice and data continues to grow, however broadband access (in particular fixed-line broadband) remains comparatively and noticeably lower than other lower to middle income countries. Prices of all communication services in South Africa continue to remain high by both global and and most noticeably, African standards.

Growth in the ICT sector has consistently risen at almost twice the national growth rate, and today
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There are now few differences, in use of basic voice and SMS services, between mobile phone users in urban and rural areas, or between those at the top of the pyramid (ToP) and those at the base of the pyramid (BoP).” (RIA South Africa 2012 Household and Individual ICT Access and Use Survey)

The increased availability of the latest smart devices at lower costs, along with some respite in the costs of mobile data services has also sparked the rapid increase of mobile phone usage by both personal and business users. The establishment of a mobile termination rate (MTR) by the seemingly ineffective sector regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has gone some way to dropping mobile phone charges, but is still some way off from making the access truly affordable and competitive by global standards. However, due to the MTR, Telkom Mobile and Cell C, the smallest of the four main mobile operators in South Africa have been able to put some pressure on Vodacom and MTN, leading to more competitive packages being offered on both voice and data across all networks. This is still insignificant when one considers that the cheapest prepaid mobile phone product is South Africa is nearly 750% more expensive than the cheapest similar product in Africa. Despite a drop in South African voice charges since the onset of MTR reductions, the huge drop in voice usage and upsurge in data usage is having a
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