Mobile technology use balloons in SA
Business Live - May 11th 2012, 08:28
The number of internet users ballooned in SA last year, due to increased adoption of mobile technology, a new study released on Thursday revealed.
The study, named Internet Access in South Africa 2012 and conducted by World Wide Worx with support from Howzit MSN online portal, said that the internet user base in the country had grown from 6.8 million in 2010 to 8.5 million at the end of 2011 which was a growth of more than 25%.
The principals of the study forecast that this growth would continue during 2012, and user numbers would pass the 10 million mark by the end of the year.
The headline findings revealed that a total of 7.9 million South Africans accessed the internet on their cell phones. Of these, 2.48 million accessed it only on their cellphones, and did not have access on computers.
The remaining 6.02 million users accessed the internet on computers, laptops, and tablet computers. However, 90% of this number - 5.42 million - also accessed it on their cellphones. The study said this meant that almost 8 million South Africans sometimes or regularly accessed the internet on their phones.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx said the country was now appreciating the impact of mobile technology.
"The Internet has finally awoken, fully, in SA. Penetration is now approaching 20%, and for the first time we can see the mass market embracing digital tools on their phones," he said.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Justin Zehmke, executive producer of Howzit MSN said that the findings were a powerful signal that the demand for online content in SA was likely to explode in the coming years.
"The spotlight will not only be on online media, but also on social networking and electronic services in general. As the market grows and matures, we are likely to see a diversification in the landscape that will create space for successful niche media, a greater choice in information sources and a maturation of online services," Zehmke said.
The latest study comes soon after the Deloitte 2012 Telecommunication Predictions report said demand for consumer technology products was expected to rise this year with low-cost smartphones and tablets topping the list.
Principal of the Deloitte report, Sharoda Rapeti who heads the technology, media and telecommunications practice at the consulting firm said the tablet "explosion" had shown little sign of slowing down since the format hit the markets in 2010.
The Worldwide Worx study added that while smartphones were the main driver of internet growth, the cost of data use was being driven down by the proliferation of undersea cables connecting sub-Saharan Africa.
The study showed that undersea cable capacity to SA at the end of 2011 was 2.69 Terabits per second (Tbps), and was due to rise to 11,9Tbps by the end of 2012.
"That capacity will double again in 2013," said Goldstuck. "While the industry position is that it won't affect prices, such an excess of supply must result in falling prices, which in turn will further drive up demand. The rapid growth we see this year will therefore be maintained through 2013."
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