As Africa's service providers increase their fixed-broadband investments in order to develop new products and services, the number of subscribers connected via fiber will increase more than 400% between year-end and 2022, according to a report by Ovum.
By the end of 2022, there will be 23.8 million fixed broadband subscriptions in Africa versus 16.6 million at the end of this year, according to Ovum's report, "Africa Market Outlook 2018." Most subscribers, or 14.7 million, will receive broadband via DSL -- laying the foundation for future deployments of VDSL or Gfast -- by 2022 compared with 12.6 million at year-end, the research firm said. Fixed LTE came in second: There'll be 5.6 million subscriptions at the end of the research period and 2.5 million at the end of this year, followed by FTTx which will undergo a dramatic increase, to 2.91 million at year-end 2022 from about 675,000 at year-end 2017 -- a 431% growth spurt, Ovum said.
Of course, individual nations' standings vary. But overall, Africa is the lowest-ranked region in terms of its combined fixed and mobile broadband development, according to Ovum's Broadband Development Index. The continent scored 244 out of 1,000 (North America scored about 750; the Middle East was about 420). Mauritius was the highest-ranked African nation at 306 at the end of 2016. Other highest-rated countries in the region were South Africa, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Algeria, Ovum reported.
While they continue to reap most revenue from wireless, providers recognize they must deploy fixed broadband as the foundation for new offerings to complement voice and data services that are suffering from declining revenue. By 2022, fixed broadband revenue will reach $5.1 billion compared with $2.9 billion in 2016, according to Ovum's report. Fixed voice revenue will decrease, falling to about $1 billion in 2022 from $1.8 billion last year, the research firm said.
Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, African operators are turning to next-generation access networks and technologies. In Egypt, for example, Vodafone tapped Ericsson for network functions virtualization (NFV) and Kenya's Safaricom selected Huawei for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) solutions (see Safaricom Brings Lots More FTTH to Kenya). Liquid Telecom is building a single fiber network that currently covers more than 50,000 kilometers and spans Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho and South Africa. The provider uses multiple technologies including satellites, Wi-Fi, five subsea cables, acquisitions and optical fiber to deliver fixed broadband to customers.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.