High Internet Speeds are Sexy, Affordability is Critical

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Across Africa, from Uganda to Kenya to South Africa and Nigeria, Telecoms are in a race to offer the best Internet speeds possible. Even as some are masquerading as offering 3.75G and other starting to talk 4G, there are some operators truly offering these great 3G speeds not just using the jargon for market hype. Long Term Evolution (LTE) considered a 4G technology has started setting ground on the continent with companies such as Vodacom testing LTE in some areas of South Africa. This is good for Internet in Africa and these High Internet Speeds are Sexy, if I may borrow a generation Y terminology for great appeal but affordability is critical and will be great if data services will be more affordable.

Speed alone is not enough to bring the massive social and economic benefit of internet to the Africa continent on wide scale. In Uganda until recently, telecom operators such as Orange Uganda, MTN Uganda possibly the first with true 3G networks have had data packages that arguably are still on the high side for the average Ugandan to consume Internet services. This is starting to change with the playing field seeing more operators such as Airtel Uganda and Warid Uganda offering 3G services. 3G and 4G very high speed technologies are good but they are not the ultimate thing to bring more Internet to more Africans. With many Africans having phones and modems that cannot make the best use of 3G speeds or 4G technologies like LTE, it remains that the other factor that is of great importance to internet access is affordability. Africans using feature phones or the current generation of modems should have more affordable data packages for internet to sink on the continent.

Very high speeds such as for LTE are good for the current few that can afford sexy iPhones and Samsung Galaxy SIIIs  but if Africa really  needs a big mobile internet market, among the issues to address, rocket fast speeds as some telecoms market them arguably comes second to affordability in importance. Network Operators, should nature the masses to consume more data service by prioritizing their efforts on lowering data costs and then they can boost of rocket fast speeds with pleasure.