Data Services

Ovum Advises Telcos To Expand Broadband Networks To Capitalise On Data Opportunity

According to Ovum’s Africa Digital Outlook 2019 report, data connectivity has become a significant growth opportunity for African service providers, therefore, expanding broadband networks to take advantage of that prospect entirely should be at the core of their strategy.

The report states that for most service providers in Africa, the network focus should be on improving LTE coverage and capacity. It also adds that advanced African operators should be developing commercial and network strategies for 5G.

Ovum says data access is the reason for the most significant growth in users, usage and revenues, and that service providers are widening the capacity and coverage of their broadband networks to capitalise on that growth.

Many African operators have been making moves regarding expanding LTE networks.
In March, Nokia said it would initiate one of Africa's most massive LTE rollouts as part of a network upgrade deal with Orange that covered seven countries on the continent.
Vodacom declared that over the past year, its operation in SA became the first on the continent to offer 80% population coverage with 4G LTE network.
Airtel said nine of its operations in Africa had introduced LTE  since mid-2018. Many operators are also making use of LTE for fixed-wireless broadband.
Telkom SA has over 500 000 customers utilising its LTE fixed-wireless broadband services.

As Africa moves closer towards the 5G rollout, Ovum believes the first use for 5G will be for fixed-wireless broadband, and then that can be followed by enhanced mobile broadband after the arrival of 5G-capable smartphones.
A number of SA players are preparing to launch 5G as early as next year. Despite these preparations, Ovum believes 3G and LTE will lead the growth of mobile broadband in the continent for the next few years.

According to Ovum forecasts, the number of mobile 3G subscriptions in Africa will increase from 456.6 million at the end of 2018 to approximately 697.6 million by 2023.
Ovum predicts that mobile revenue in Africa will increase from $54.9 billion in 2017 to around $68 billion in 2022. Non-SMS mobile data revenue is expected to grow by more than double over the forecast period, from $13.1 billion in 2017 to over $32.1 billion in 2022.

However, Ovum points out that the cost of access to broadband remains a challenge for many in Africa.
The digital divide also continues to be an obstacle.

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