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The Telecommunications Industry and Retail of Devices
Although telecommunications formally includes a vast array of sub-sectors, including radio and television, this report emphasises telephony, internet and broadband, and the infrastructure that supports them. With a 2.1% contribution to GDP, telecommunication services were worth R176bn in 2015 and the sector employs some 103,300 people.
A Growing Sector
The local sector is expanding, continuing to grow its subscriber base and improve infrastructure. The industry is also increasingly competitive, with the difference in market share between the largest mobile operators decreasing. However, major operators faced a challenging year in 2015, with local revenue falling slightly as a result of ICASA-mandated cuts to mobile termination rates, generally poor voice performance and constrained consumer spend. The falls were offset by significant increases in data revenue and strong regional performance. Data growth precipitated mainly by an increasing smart device penetration is driving heavy capital expenditure aimed at expanding and upgrading network infrastructure.
Access to Radio Spectrum
Despite telecommunications being one of the fastest growing sectors in South Africa, the industry is plagued by concerns regarding the availability of access to radio spectrum required to meet increased demand for high speed mobile broadband services. While the DoC and ICASA have published regulation covering the procedure for the release of in-demand spectrum, disagreements between the two, combined with the serious delay in digital TV migration have delayed real progress. Access to spectrum is being further delayed because the two bodies disagree whether the valuable 2.6GHz – 3.5GHz frequency should be put up for auction or awarded to an operator by some other means.
The detailed report on South Africa’s competitive Telecommunications sector describes the current market, examines the latest regulatory and corporate developments and discusses factors influencing the success of the sector. The report profiles 72 players in four sub-sectors: Cellular and Fixed-Line Telephony; Infrastructure & Related Services, including Hardware, Networking & Convergence Technology; Cabling and Related Infrastructure; Undersea Cabling; and the Retail of Smartphones and Tablets.