Virus impact over each market - telecom operators, government agencies and regulators' responses - revised forecasts for the next 5 years.
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. With the ongoing migration to fibre, the incumbent telco Telkom expects to close down its copper network in 2024.
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. This regime also encouraged the major mobile network operators to move into the fixed-line and fibre sector.
Other key regulatory matters aimed at shaping the market include the licensing of LTE spectrum in several bands. A multi-spectrum auction has been delayed since late 2016 and this has caused some difficulties for network operators gearing up to launch 5G services. The regulator planned to auction additional spectrum to operators in December 2020, enabling licensees to extend the existing services (based on trial licenses) introduced to manage the spike in data traffic resulting from the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
Vodacom, MTN (MTN Network Solutions), Cell C, Telkom (Heita, 8ta), Virgin Mobile, Neotel, Atlantic Internet Services, Business Connexion, Internet Solutions, Verizon Business, MWEB, Vox Telecom (DataPro), Sentech, iBurst (WBS, Blue Label), Liquid Telecom South Africa (Neotel, Tata), Virgin Mobile, Broadband InfraCo, Transtel, Eskom, SEACOM, Transtel, Eskom, SITA, Sentech, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), FibreCo, eFive, WASACE.
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