Kai-Krauses-remarkable-true size of africa430The center of the Internet has moved South. Carter Horney of Forward Concepts has just published a Global 4G analysis with a detailed geographical breakdown. His projection for 2018 is 315M smartphone Internet users in India and 317M Africans connected. The U.S. population is 315M, some of them under 4 years old and not connecting to the net. His estimate is close to the 300M in 2017 I projected with Cisco's help http://bit.ly/Africa300M last year. 

These estimates are very rough but the trend is clear. Both India and Africa have over a billion people. $50 smartphones are affordable to hundreds of millions more than are connected today. Carlos Slim told me two years ago that $50 smartphones will connect two billion more people. He's proving right. 

In China, the U.S. or most countries in Europe, you can ask 3 or 4 big telcos and get a reasonable approximation. That's impossible in India or Africa. Many phones have two SIMs as people switch between carriers for cheaper rates. The carriers to impress investors use optimistic estimates, carrying on the books "subscribers" who had left months before for a competitor. There are 54 countries in Africa, some with good statistics and some without. Last year, I saw estimates from reputable sources of the total phones in Africa as low as 300-400M and as high as 700M. What is clear is that growth is remarkable, one of the great communications stories of our day.  

Forward Concepts under Will Strauss has earned my respect. I'm comfortable using their estimates, especially because they are compatible with other sources including Cisco. Horney writes: 

"The smartphone growth in Africa has accelerated from  1.2 mn in 2008 to 99.4 mn in 2014, initially driven by the  wealthier  post-paid South Africa population.The growth forward is in emerging markets such as Nigeria and Kenya. 

In India the cumulative installed base of Smartphones (2G, 3G and 6 mn 4G), without retirements,  grew from 6.5M in 2008 to 145M in 2014 with 55M 3G data subscribers. In 2014  80.1 million smartphones were shipped with  about one-half signing up for a data service.  We estimate there will be 346 million smartphone owners in 2016 with 178 million using the internet services. We estimate there will be  315 million 3G subscribers by 2018 with an installed base of smartphone owners at 443 million." 

Without many copper lines, Africa needs as much capacity as possible on wireless. Rwanda has more advanced spectrum policy than the U.S. or Europe. Many of the African regulators have advanced technical degrees, unlike the Americans.

Exciting events. 


After I wrote that, I discovered an Ovum estimate that is much higher. Ovum is reputable but I'm more comfortable with the lower estimate above. Primary data is often lacking. Here's what Ovum writes


Africa will have one billion mobile broadband subscriptions by 2020


South Africa leads sub-Saharan Africa’s digital media opportunity rankings

 The number of mobile broadband connections in Africa will reach one billion in 2020, up from 147 million at the end of 2014, according to new forecasts* by Ovum (see Figure). The rapid growth of mobile broadband in Africa over the next few years will be driven by factors such as the ongoing rollout of 3G W-CDMA and 4G LTE networks on the continent and the increasing affordability of smartphones and other data devices.

As a result, mobile broadband will account for an increasingly substantial share of the overall mobile market in Africa. Mobile broadband accounted for just 17% of the 884 million total mobile subscriptions in Africa at end-2014, but mobile broadband is forecasted to account for 76% of the total of 1.32 billion mobile subscriptions in Africa at end-2020. The number of total mobile subscriptions in Africa is expected to cross the one billion mark during 2016.

Africa’s fixed-broadband market is also set to grow strongly, albeit from a low base, as operators on the continent step up their deployments of wireless and fiber networks for home and business broadband. The number of FTTH/B subscriptions in Africa will rise from about 166,000 at end-2014 to 1.2 million at end-2020, forecasts Ovum.

“Although the pace of growth in overall connection numbers in Africa has slowed and the regional industry is facing some headwinds from rising competition and weaker economic conditions, there are substantial growth opportunities on the continent in data connectivity as well as in digital services that are based on those data connections,” said Matthew Reed, Practice Leader for Middle East & Africa at Ovum.

As African operators look to develop digital services, the Digital Media Opportunity Index: Sub-Saharan Africa, a new research tool published by Ovum, reveals that South Africa has the most favourable market among the 20 countries surveyed for digital media content such as apps, digital music, digital publishing, OTT video, and video gaming.

South Africa ranks highest on the Index with a score of 4.35 out of 5. South Africa is followed in the digital media opportunity rankings by Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.

“The South African market is among the most advanced on the continent, so it is to be expected that it leads in potential for digital media services. Nevertheless, the Index shows that there are digital media opportunities across the continent,” commented Reed.


Often interesting


Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Feb 27-March 2 100,000 mob Barcelona. Fares from New York are triple the usual price and hotels even higher - if you can find one less than a hour from the city. Everybody who is anybody goes so everybody who is anybody goes. Beyond the pomp and hot air are a slew of top technical people. Seek them out and make sure yo make appointments in advance with the people you want to see. Hint: You can still get rooms at the hostels in town. Next year, book way in advance to get one of the hotel rooms GSMA have negotiated with the city.

Digital Hollywood Media Summit, New York March 7-8. Victor Harwood always had an enormous number of top people in an almost overcrowded schedule. Senior folks from advertising, all media, marketing and more. VR and AR are heavily represented, from the talent to the salesmen. The price is about half what most shows charge and there are discounts for those with limited resources, including students.  A great way to learn what the most advanced in these fields are doing.

Brooklyn 5G Summit April 19-21st The most sophisticated people in wireless will be there, from the CTOs of NTT and Nokia to the most respected academics on the planet. Incredible S/N. If you can't come to Brooklyn, you must watch the stream. It takes two or three years for most people to catch up to what's learned here.

G.fast Summit, Paris May 9-11 Trevor Linney of BT is deploying 10M lines. John Cioffi promises something astonishing. Everyone in the industry will be there except Broadcom, being their usual antisocial self. On the 9th, Hubert Mariotte of the standards committee has a deep technical tutorial and I have a session for everyone else.

TNO Ultrabroadband Den Haag June 12-15 Always a strong group.

I'm moving from fastnetnews.com to fastnet.news everything since July 2014 is here.


Vectored VDSL,
G.fast, G.now, GPON:
Read our white paper and
ask ASSIA about delivering
ultra-fast broadband

a4 gfast 2016