About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

20 July 2007

Cheap Bandwidth?

We are quite used to complaining about the cost of bandwidth in SA. But are we always justified? After a week in Germany, I am no longer convinced.

Yes, when it comes to ADSL, our costs are much higher. But some claims by forums such as Hellkom are myths. For example, line rental. Germany has them too - yes, about 50% of what Telkom charges (using the lowest line rental price), and at a much higher bandwidth - but still it exists. And the cost of a connection is also much lower together with higher caps. But that is to be expected - compared to South Africa, more people in Germany can afford computers, and thus connection to the Internet; and Germany, like most of Europe, has a pretty high population density (on average) when compared to South Africa. All this makes the provision of broadband cheaper.

But where South Africa definitely trumps Germany is in mobile Internet connectivity. The fact is, for travelers and people intending to stay in a city or town for a short period of time (like me), ADSL and other fixed broadband services are impractical. In Germany, it can take 2 weeks or more to get ADSL installed - which makes it impractical for me in Berlin for example. And the cost of mobile broadband is astronomical (when compared to South Africa). Since the phone I am using was locked to Vodafone, I had to get a Vodafone service (or buy a new phone); so I can only confirm Vodafone prices. However, prices between the different operators should not differ widely!

GPRS costs 20 Euro cents per 10Kb! In South Africa, before the recent price cuts, we could get 1Mb for the same price! That's right - that is a full 100 times cheaper! And with recent price cuts, it would make mobile Internet connectivity in South Africa about 400 times cheaper!

The implications are quite interesting. Firstly, mobile broadband is not affordable except for emergency. it also means that mobile network applications such as Mixit or Yeigo have no place, as they are going to be uneconomic.

I am currently investigating other options (UMTS/3G based) but the prices I was quoted by Vodafone were very high (though much lower than just GPRS prices). Will have to investigate more on this. So, for fixed line connectivity, South Africa is behind. But when it comes to mobility, South Africa is far ahead!

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