Mobile broadband subscriptions were expected to account for 72 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the same year, with LTE subscriptions estimated to triple and top 270 million. Photo: File
Mobile broadband subscriptions were expected to account for 72 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the same year, with LTE subscriptions estimated to triple and top 270 million. Photo: File

Sub-Saharan Africa mobile data traffic was set to grow 12-fold by 2025

By Given Majola Time of article published Nov 20, 2020

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DURBAN - Current mobile data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa was set to grow 12-fold by 2025, according to the June edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.

Mobile broadband subscriptions were expected to account for 72 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the same year, with LTE subscriptions estimated to triple and top 270 million.

Ericsson Middle East and Africa president Fadi Pharaon said that technology brought an unprecedented opportunity to address the challenges of sustainable economic development and improve the livelihood of people in Africa.

“The latest data shows that Africa is one of the fastest growing mobile markets and reiterates the need for a more efficient technology, higher data rates and availability of ample spectrum. Mobile and fixed networks are key components of critical national infrastructure to sustain and evolve emerging economies during remote work times,” said Pharaon.

The report said that the first months of 2020 saw the spread of a novel coronavirus around the globe leading to subsequent behavioral changes, due to lockdown restrictions in many countries, causing measurable changes in the usage of both fixed and mobile networks.

The lockdown restriction effect on mobility and mobile traffic levels Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) forced an unprecedented number of people all over the world to change their workplace from office to home and become accustomed to new routines in their daily lives.

As new digital behaviors formed, the critical role of communications service providers to support a functioning society with flawless digital communication capabilities in times of crisis became apparent.

Ericsson said that their highlight was the company’s growing footprint in the region as service providers strengthened their networks to meet the growing demand from consumers and enterprises.

Earlier this year, MTN Benin extended its long-term relationship with Ericsson to provide managed services, including Network Operations Centre, Field Services in Radio, Core and Transmission in Benin.

Under the agreement, the future capabilities of efficiencies, automation and data would enable MTN Benin and Ericsson to jointly create a world of predictive operations with focus on customer experience, network quality, performance and automation.

In June of this year, Telma Madagascar switched on its 5G commercial network powered by Ericsson to offer subscribers high-speed services enabled by the new generation of mobile connectivity.

In South Africa, MTN South Africa went live with commercial 5G in Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth on June 30.

Ericsson was announced as an MTN South Africa vendor in November 2019, to deploy products and solutions spanning its radio access network (RAN) Ericsson Radio System, transport and 5G Core network portfolios. Ericsson would also deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing.

In October 2020, Airtel Africa expanded its strategic partnership with Ericsson to enable 4G coverage in Kenya. With Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core products for 4G, Airtel subscribers would experience enhanced quality of voice and data.

The network modernization deal, signed in August 2020, was in line with the 'Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint Vision 2030' which aimed to provide robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitate e-commerce platforms.

With more people spending more time online at home, network traffic loads shifted geographically from city centres and office areas to suburban residential areas.

The largest share of the traffic increase as lockdowns went into place was absorbed by the fixed residential network, but many service providers also experienced an increased demand on the mobile network.

A substantial increase in the volume and duration of mobile voice calls across networks was noted ranging from 20 to 70 percent – was observed in the most impacted regions during the initial lockdown phase.

Mobile data traffic growth was typically moderate, or even negative, ranging from -10 to 20 percent in different networks.

However, the traffic increase was unevenly distributed, with some cells experiencing a large increase despite overall moderate or even decreasing traffic growth throughout the network.

In markets with limited penetration of fixed residential networks, the mobile data demand increase was especially high.

In general, service providers are said to have managed to provide sufficient network performance despite changing traffic patterns and increased traffic demand. In some markets, a contributing factor to mobile data traffic growth was that service providers made temporary changes to data plans and either increased the “bucket size” or allowed unlimited data for a certain period of time.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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