Is mobile Africa’s answer?

After looking at the wired and wireless options for internet connectivity, it remains clear that there is a piece of the puzzle missing that may give us the best way to go about this struggle for access.

I mentioned last week that the winning combination may not just be wireless tech alone but a combination of that and our good friend the mobile phone.

Mobile technology gives us a number of speed options depending on your device, so everyone actually has a chance at being part of the internet access race.

Mobile speeds explored:

How quickly your device can access data from the internet depends on the data system in use.

The standard basic option available these days is EDGE.

EDGE is a data system used on top of Global Systems for Communications (GSM) networks. The fastest speed it reaches for downloading data is about 135 Kbps.

It isn’t quite 3G but it’s still better than the super slow GPRS.

Third generation (3G) technology is synonymous with most smartphones these days.

This technology is part of the IMT-2000 specification and allows for the use of voice calls, mobile internet, wifi-access, video calls and mobile TV.

International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000) is a standard for mobile devices and telecommunications use services specified by the International Telecommunication Union.

If we were ever looking for a way to get connected, this certainly may be it.

As 3G speeds range from at least 200 Kbps, and are constantly getting faster, we can expect even greater developments in the years to come.

Shows the countries where 3GPP Long Term Evolution is available
3GPP Long Term Evolution Country Map” by Frank Bennett / Orionist – Data: LTE World Map and LTE Evolution Report, p.30-32. (registration required)
Map: File:BlankMap-FlatWorld6.svg. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The map above shows 4G/LTE coverage across the globe

We have already seen some developments into 4G or LTE data which could ultimately allow for a sort of mobile WiMax since 4G/LTE can gives us data transfers at 100 Mbps.

Mobile future?:

Mobile technology would be the most convenient tool for internet access across Africa due to high (and ever increasing) mobile penetration rates.

According to a report by On Device Research, 63% of Africans surveyed found that mobile internet access has greatly improved their lives.

In 2014, South Africa’s mobile internet penetration rate sits at a high of 133%, with Nigeria and Kenya at 72% and 70% respectively.

Furthermore, having mobile internet has allowed for better access to education, easier means to pay bills and transfer money and keeping in touch with friends, family and the rest of the world.

Of the countries in the report, 45% of people accessed the internet mostly or only from their mobile devices.

Considering all of the options available today, it would seem that mobile can be already is a game changer.

It is mostly young Africans that are using their phones to access information on the internet.

In places such as Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa for example, mobile is the first point of access for many teenagers when doing research.

Mobile banking services seem to be the most desired across the continent, especially in rural areas.

Zimbabwe telecom operators Eco-net and Telecel have this down with their e-wallet services that allows you to store, transfer and receive money for a small service fee to the operator.

The only way we could improve on this would be to teach people to use their phones beyond social media and actually for accessing the internet (as it seems some do not know the distinction).

What are your thoughts?

Leave me a comment as you mull over the complete report mentioned in today post below.

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