South Africa ranks 23rd in telecommunications development
in the world. The country has approximately 4,92 million installed
telephones and 4,3 million installed exchange lines. This
represents 39% of the total lines installed in Africa.
National operator Telkom has met and exceeded
its roll-out targets of over 1,6 million lines, 175 488 more
than the cumulative target. South Africa has a large transmission
infrastructure, necessitated by the country's vast geographical
area of 1,2 million km. Covering about 156 million circuit-kilometres,
the transmission network constitutes the backbone of all telecommunications
The network is almost wholly digital. Digital
microwave and optical fibre serve as the main transmission
media for the inter-primary network, interconnecting all major
The second network operator license will
be issued in September 2004 to a consortium consisting of
Nexus Connexion, Transtel, Esitel, WIP Investments Nine (trading
as CommuniTel), Two Telecom Consortium and an equity stakeholder.
This will result in competitive pressure
which should drive carrier costs down considerably. South
Africa also has two international cable backbones and far
greater technical resilience than many Asian countries, e.g.
India and the Philippines
Although Telkom's monopoly has expired its
right to provide basic services has simply been extended to
include the second network operator and, in some cases, signal
carrier Sentech. But as the second operator has not yet been
licensed, Telkom remains the sole provider of services by
South Africa, with the operators Vodacom,
MTN and Cell C, is the fourth fastest growing GSM (Global
Systems for Mobile Communications) market in the world and
is growing at a rate of 50% per annum.
Market size was 14,4 million users in February
2003 according to Cellular Online and this could grow to 19
million by 2006. Market Share is Vodacom (7,5 million), MTN
(5,22 million) and Cell C (1 million). It says that the SA
market is currently worth R23 billion and could reach R45
billion by 2004.
Value-adding cellular growth rate network
operators provide services such as Internet connectivity,
electronic mail, protocol conversion, data processing and
access to global databases. Complemented by expertise in network
design, implementation and management, this gives South Africa
one of the most advanced telecommunication systems of all
According to a study released in 2002, 2,89m
South Africans had access to the Internet at the end of 2001.
This number will grow to around 3,1-million by the end of
2002. The Goldstuck Report: Internet Access in South Africa,
2002 reveals that 1 in 15 South Africans had access to the
Internet at the end of last year. This figure is expected
to grow to 11% by 2003. Internet usage in Africa as a whole
is estimated to be 3,11 million.
Telecommunication costs tend to be comparatively
expensive, as Telkom has had a monopoly in this market; however,
since the second network operator license will be issued in
September 2004, competitive pressure should drive carrier
costs down considerably. At present, special concessions allow
for outbound calls to be made to the UK at a cost of ZAR0.45c
per call minute; however, minimum volumes are required. For
lower volume work the rates are high at ZAR2.81 for an off-peak
call to the UK and ZAR3.33 to the USA.