Africa is participating in the telecom revolution as aggressively as the rest of the world albeit at a higher phase cycle. The late start gives it an advantage to enter directly with next-gen services rather than evolving from the analogue stage. The markets and user demands in Africa are quick to shift towards digital services.
With more than 1 billion mobile subscriptions and 60% of Internet connections solely utilized through mobile devices, Africa is the second biggest mobile data market in the world and the fastest growing. Moreover, with growing mobile data demand the increased capacity and coverage by users is exploding. But as more traffic, devices and concurrent connections hit mobile networks, the cost for transporting these bits rises too. As a result, operators are driving a new network strategy that can reduce OPEX and CAPEX- offload non-essential traffic from cellular networks to Wi-Fi. These along with Wi-Fi hotspot networks growth in Africa, which has increased 5331% from 2013 (source: ipass), allows data monetization and seamless high-speed data connectivity, either as standalone Wi-Fi services or in convergence with existing mobile services.
Traditionally, internet service providers and specialist Wi-Fi providers have dominated the deployment of Wi-Fi hotspots in Sub-Saharan Africa. As mobile operators have previously avoided migration due to concerns of it cannibalising mobile data revenues. There are, however, increasing signs of operators turning to Wi-Fi with the trends and dynamics as below: (Source for models: Frost & Sullivan)
- Commercial hotspots providing free Wi-Fi at Venues
Access to Wi-Fi offered as an amenity as a freemium model (initially offered free and then paid) to attract and retain customers at venues such as airports, cafes, hotels, restaurants etc.
Eg: MMA2 Airport in Lagos provides Free Wi-Fi through a public-private partnership
- Carrier Wi-Fi hotspots model
Telcos offering Wi-Fi services standalone or bundled with the existing cellular plan as well as support non operator users in roaming with the Wi-Fi data plan.
Eg: CSPs like Econet Wireless and Telone in Zimbabwe, Tunisie Telecom and Airtel across various countries in Africa offers Public Wi-Fi access as well as offer Mobile Data offload to Wi-Fi
- Community Wi-Fi hotspots model
Municipal hotspots in open public places including public parks, streets etc provided at no cost unlike freemium model. The main aim is to provide connectivity first.
Eg: Project Isizwe,in South Africa is a non-profit which aims to bring the internet to people across South Africa, by roll-out of free Wi-Fi for public spaces in low income communities across Tshwane
Additionally, nowadays, Internet-access providers seek to grow the significant opportunity in providing desperately-needed last-mile and local backhaul, increase hotspot coverage and build carrier-Wi-Fi networks from which to offer wholesale and retail services. Moreover, there has been evolution of several cities into smart cities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Elitecore one of the pioneers in providing Wi-Fi Solutions with it Service Management Platform has a credible presence in African market with 15 Wi-Fi deployments across 13 African countries. For more information on Elitecore’s Wi-Fi offering Click here