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IP Phones - South Africa Must Overcome Obstacles to Take Advantage of VoIP
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April 22, 2014
South Africa Must Overcome Obstacles to Take Advantage of VoIP
By Frank Griffin, TMCnet Contributing Writer

South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa, housing many of the headquarters for international companies around the world. It has the infrastructure to deliver first world services, but bureaucracy, monopoly, collusion and high prices have delayed the availability of reliable information and communications technology (ITC) throughout the country. One of these services is VoIP, even though the technology can save individual and business customers in South Africa up to 40 percent on their phone bills.

A bigger problem affecting not only service providers, but also consumers is the current court room battle taking place between two of the country’s largest mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom (News - Alert), against the regulatory body responsible for communications, broadcasting and postal services sector, ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa). The problem involves how the mobile termination rate (MTR) is being applied. This is the rate mobile operators pay in order to carry calls on each other’s network, and since the mobile network will be carrying a large portion of the VoIP services in the future the rates could quickly add up for operators.

The regulations that are in place in South Africa basically allow anyone with a valid network license to build, manage and inter-connect with other carrier networks. What this means is once someone gets the license they can start providing services to exchange voice and data traffic by using any IP connectivity medium such as fiber, diginet, and wireless. This allows independent service providers more access without having to rely on incumbent providers, which in the past had more control.

That is why there are now more VoIP service providers, but consumer awareness is still relatively low while the need for affordable alternative communications solutions in the country continues to grow.

One solution that can be adopted in developing countries is mobile VoIP. Although these countries have limited land line infrastructure, increasingly the mobile infrastructure is being developed at an incredible rate, even in the most impoverished countries. With mobile VoIP, service providers can now address a large number of the population with affordable solutions.

A mobile VoIP call doesn’t use the costly minutes on a voice calling plan and it can be used to make calls anywhere without long distance charges with Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or LTE (News - Alert).

Edited by Alisen Downey
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