South Africa - Telecoms Infrastructure, Operators, Regulations - Statistics and Analyses


South Africa’s telecom sector boasts one of the most advanced infrastructures on the continent. There is has been considerable investment from Telkom, Liquid Telecom South Africa, Broadband InfraCo and municipal providers as well as from mobile network operators all aimed at improving network capabilities. The focus in recent years has been on backhaul capacity and on fibre and LTE networks to extend and improve internet service connectivity.

The poor historic availability and level of service of fixed-line networks encouraged the growth of the mobile sector for both voice and data services and this segment continues to command most investment and effort among telcos. Under a converged regulatory regime many alternative service providers have been able to enter the market to offer a range of services. Proposed amendments to the Communications Act are intended to improve the ability of new entrants to access networks and further develop a competitive market landscape.

The end of Telkom’s monopoly on international submarine fibre optic cables also reduced the cost of telecom services dramatically. New cables are extending connectivity to India, Brazil and onto the USA, which will further increase international bandwidth and so improve services generally.

Other key regulatory matters aimed at shaping the market include the licensing of LTE spectrum in several bands. A multi-spectrum auction, delayed since late 2016 and which has caused some difficulties for mobile network operators desperately short of spectrum and which have had to rely on spectrum refarming and other measures to increase network capacity, is scheduled for mid-2019.

To develop competition the government created Broadband InfraCo, a national infrastructure company to provide cheap backbone network capacity to service providers. Since late 2017 the government has promoted a scheme to merge Broadband Infraco with Sentech's satellite service to create a national broadband network managed by a single broadband provider.

The major mobile network operators, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C, have also moved into the fixed-line and national fibre sector under a converged, service-neutral licensing regime. In addition, many municipalities in South Africa are implementing their own metropolitan fibre and wireless broadband networks, while several Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments are underway.

Key developments:

  • South Africa to deploy nanosatellites;
  • Microsoft to build two data centres during 2019;
  • Regulator and USAASA seek to raise ZAR100 billion for ICT projects by increasing USAF levy to 1% of operator revenue;
  • Telkom reports strong revenue growth in fiscal H1 2019, continues work on the Modderfontein Smart City development;
  • Vodacom contracts Alcatel-Lucent to build a GPON FttP converged network;
  • Report update includes the regulator's the regulator's March 2019 report on the ICT sector, Telecom maturity Index charts and analyses, operator data to December 2018.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Telkom, Liquid Telecom South Africa (Neotel), Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Virgin Mobile, Broadband InfraCo, Transtel, Eskom, SEACOM, Telkom, Neotel (Tata), Vodacom, MTN, Broadband InfraCo, Transtel, Eskom, SITA, Sentech, SEACOM, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), Internet Solutions, FibreCo, eFive, WASACE.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Historical overview
  • Regulatory environment

    • Historical overview
    • Regulatory authority
    • Telecommunications Act
    • Telecommunications Amendment Act
    • Electronic Communications Acts (2005, 2014)
    • Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2002
    • Electronic Communications Act and ICASA Amendment Act
    • Converged licensing regime
    • New Companies Act
    • Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF)
    • Interconnection
  • Telecom sector liberalisation

    • Overview
    • Privatisation of Telkom
    • Under-Serviced Area Licences (USALs)
    • Number Portability (NP)
    • Carrier pre-selection (CPS)
    • Local Loop Unbundling (LLU)
  • Fixed network operators

    • Telkom
    • Neotel
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
    • National fibre infrastructure
      • Broadband InfraCo
      • Dark Fibre Africa
      • Vodacom
      • MTN
      • FibreCo
    • VoIP
    • International submarine cables
      • SAT-3/WASC/SAFE
      • SEACOM
      • EASSy
      • WACS
      • African Coast to Europe (ACE)
      • SAEx, WASACE
      • Seaborn
    • Satellite
    • Next Generation Networks (NGN)
    • Municipal networks
      • Knysna – Africa’s first municipal network
  • Data centres

  • Smart infrastructure

    • Smart cities
  • Related reports

List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – South Africa – 2018
  • Table 2 – Telecom sector investment – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 3 – Telecom sector investment by sector – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 4 – Fixed revenue by sector – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 5 – Telecom sector revenue by service – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 6 – Telecom and broadcasting revenue – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 7 – Fixed and mobile telephony access by household – 2014 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Telkom Group financial results – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 9 – Telkom Group capex by type – 2017 – 2019
  • Table 10 – Telkom data revenue – 2002 – 2019
  • Table 11 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in South Africa – 2000 – 2018
  • Table 12 – Fixed-line voice traffic – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 13 – VoIP subscriptions – 2015 – 2018
  • Table 14 – International internet bandwidth – 2000 – 2016

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Fixed revenue by sector – 2015 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Telecom sector revenue by service – 2015 – 2018
  • Chart 9 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in South Africa – 2005 – 2018

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In 2009 Paul contacted me and we engaged in the brainstorming sessions that led to the development of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

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