Durban - Broadband speeds in South Africa’s cities fall well below the international average – and Durban is one of the worst.
An international speed index report, released by the Ookla Net Index, shows that South Africa has an average internet speed of 3.99 megabits a second (mbps).
This is the sixth-fastest in the Southern African Development Community, behind Namibia (5.72mbps) and Zimbabwe (5.04mbps) and far below the international average of 13.84mbps.
Cape Town’s speed was clocked as 3.56mbps, slower than Joburg’s at 4.60mbps and Pretoria’s at 3.98mbps. Durban’s was 2.75mbps.
Praneel Nundkumar, of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, referred The Mercury to internet service provider Neotel for informed comment.
Neotel’s Abid Qadiri said there were many reasons for low speeds – the internet had to be commercially viable for providers, and affordable for users. Infrastructure also had to be in place.
Broadband specialist Arthur Goldstuck warned that the results could be indicating higher speeds than were experienced by the public.
“Numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt because they’re calculated entirely on people’s average speed tests – people with the best connectivity tend to use speed tests most.”
This was evident in Bryanston (10.19mbps), where corporate internet provider Dimension Data had its head office, and in Midrand (8.55mbps), where Neotel had its head office.
“This means that the results are not necessarily reflective of the speeds reached by residents across the road,” he said.
Until two years ago, the absence of undersea cables created bottlenecks.
“Right now the problem is (installing) fibre grids across the country,” Goldstuck said.
Angus Hay, also of Neotel, said: “These are netindex. com (Ookla) stats from their global speedtest.net servers.
“They are trustworthy, although they may be somewhat selective, since it’s only from users that actually do speed tests.”
However, what was most important in these stats, he said, was that netindex.com examined all users, from the smallest prepaid user to the largest business customer.
Cape Town Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer Bronwen Kausch said the state of local broadband was “dismal” and “embarrassing”.
“Broadband is a key enabler, for business and our citizens,” she said.
“If South Africa wants to remain competitive, high-speed digital access is crucial.”
Kausch said a connection was vital for entrepreneurs to create sustainable businesses.
South Korea (38.41mbps), followed by Japan (37.61mbps) and the Netherlands (36.68mbps) were the fastest countries. The slowest is the Democratic Republic of Congo at 0.93mbps. - The Mercury and Cape Times