Oladimeji Ogunseye Oladimeji Ogunseye Telecoms/Business Consultant (3G UTRAN and BSS Services) - Huawei Technologies

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Driving mobile broadband in Africa

  • The African continent is fast pacing up economically and technologically with the driving train being the telecommunication industry. The possibility of a socio-economic revolution may not be far fetch if the development in mobile technology and ICT industry is further sustained.

    Mobile technology has been key to recent  development in Africa;  mobile payment, e-learning, social networking are all  helping to open up the continent to opportunities that once elude her. Besides, the industry has generated a lot of employment for the teeming unemployed population. For the records, Africa has the largest mobile growth as of now and even yet, making greater stride in the broadband industry through increasing mobile penetration.  This never started until the early 2000 when tele-density jumped up across the African continent.

    In mature broadband markets such as in Europe and America, Internet access is a blend of the wired traditional approach (ADSL, VDSL, and FTTH) with the mobile wireless access such as Wi-Fi, WiMAX, LTE and 3G. It is obvious that mobile broadband is Africa’s best and easiest gateway to connect the world and also open same to better economic opportunities and development. There’s been so much development work of late around mobile broadband globally and this has benefitted the continent. It means Africa can now access the latest revolution in the mobile technology industry.  
    Every now and then, new trans-continental optical fibre cable are been laid across Africa to connect the rest of the world. This shows good business. Massive investment in telecom infrastructure is also helping the boom. Dominant among the lots are Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.
    Mobile broadband adoption seems to be heading in the same direction with major players on the continent: Etisalat, MTN, Globacom and Airtel, towing the same line.
    The result of this growth inevitably is the opening up of Africa to the rest of the world and as a direct consequence, improving the socio economic development through the electronic revolution.

    The broadband revolution started with the deployment of 3G technology mainly the WCDMA R.99; from here, there have been a steady march to 3G HSDPA R5 and 3G HSDPA R6 (R indicate version release).

    Etisalat recently launched its 3.75G HSPA+ network in Nigeria. HSPA+ is the R7 of the 3G/WCDMA technology and has a downlink speed of 40Mbps, far exceeding the 1Mbps standard for mobile broadband. The next few years will see the emergence of WIMAX and LTE (3G/WCDMA R8) as the new choice of wireless standard by telecom operators. Presently, WiMAX is being deployed all across the major cities of Africa, most especially in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa. It’s most likely that LTE will be widely adopted over WiMAX in years to come as a result of lower CAPEX (3G HSPA+ only require software upgrade to meet LTE standard while WiMAX is a new breed of technology entirely different from 3G).

    Whichever of the technologies come first, two facts are inevitable: Africa is the new investment hub of sort and the result will be endless opportunities not only for Africa but also for other continents.

    Oladimeji Ogunseye
    About Oladimeji Ogunseye Oladimeji Ogunseye works as Telecoms/Business Consultant (3G UTRAN and BSS Services) at Huawei Technologies
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