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Date: 09 May 2012
Title: Costs to communicate a challenge - Pule
Pretoria - The Department of Communications is concerned about the costs to communicate in the country and is working on efforts to lower these costs.
Addressing a media briefing shortly after delivering her Budget Vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Communications Minister Dina Pule said her department was engaging with the private sector over the matter.
"Cost to communicate indeed is a challenge for us as a country... what we have done so far was to engage the industry and say they to them have to work with us by reducing the cost to communicate," she said.
In her Budget Vote, Pule said everyone in the ICT sector had a contribution to make in building affordable ICT infrastructure.
"One of the key and immediate contributions we can make is to have honest, open and progressive discussions about how we can lower the cost to communicate," she said, adding that work was underway to achieve this.
The department will also be looking to ICASA, as the regulatory body, to help address the issues of costs.
However, Pule said that it was important to first capacitate ICASA and improve its funding model so that ICASA was able to perform this role.
The department is also working on a national broadband strategy.
"We think that until we do that as a department, the private sector will not come to the party," she added.
Pule noted that it was important to finalise this strategy and for government to invest in broadband rollout, especially in rural areas because business would not necessarily go to rural areas.
"If we don't do that nobody will do it. If we don't do it, the cost to communicate will not come down," she said.
Estimates put penetration at 2% for fixed-line broadband, around 4% for mobile PC broadband and 17% for broadband penetration using smartphones.
Pule said these statistics were far from satisfactory and that practical solutions had to be found to fast track the uptake and usage of broadband services by the majority of people.
A study of market will determine how much will be needed to ensure that there is 100% broadband penetration in the country.
"We are going to undertake a study of the market to see how much it will cost us to rollout broadband to the whole country, 100% by 2020. If we do that and know how much we need to invest then we can go the industry and an say we are investing so much, match us, and hear what they say," she added. - BuaNews