Five Ways African Telcos Can Boost Network Quality


The Mobile revolution in Africa has become one of the spectacular success stories of the ongoing 21st century. With huge market chunks scattered all across the continent, as well as significant growth potential, doing telecoms business in Africa is becoming more profitable and, of course, challenging.

African telecoms, Internet and Broadcasting Consultancy, Balancing Act, reveals five imperatives for telecom operators in line with improving service delivery.

– Embrace Shared Infrastructure. Telcos can leverage economies of scale and cut costs by sharing masts and related infrastructure, thus providing more cash to invest in improving service delivery. Additionally, the cost savings can be passed down to the consumer who will readily jump at an opportunity to get cheaper data of premium quality. This may be a prudent path especially for players who are not yet industry leaders in their geography.

– Accelerate LTE Deployment. The Long Term Evolution is a new wave of high-speed communication technology sweeping across the globe, and this is the future of high-speed delivery in Africa. An upgrade to LTE will guarantee drastically improved service quality; although it is a high fixed-cost investment, it will pay back many times over as broadband penetration on the continent improves. Rolling this out also requires establishing more enhanced data links, and acquiring better infrastructure.

– Boost Wifi Coverage. WiFi, as a technology, is already available and can serve as an enabler of LTE. While many African countries have rolled out Wi-Fi, more remains to be done. Setting up more hotspots is not exactly profitable, but it drives data volumes and consumer use thus playing a strategic role in delivering services.

– Seek to Power Base Stations Directly from the National Grid. By far, the highest component of the cost structure of any telco is power, and this is driven by many factors including the sketchy power situation in the African region and the consequent cost of powering private generating units. Much like sharing masts, telcos can attempt to float a joint electricity distribution company that services their needs, this assumes that efforts to get the government to directly power their base stations prove abortive.

– Adopt New Business Models. It will be worth it to rethink the current approaches to doing business on the continent. LTE, and other technologies that offer improved service delivery are definitely expensive, but hiking the cost of data is not the way to satisfy the African consumer. There is the need to think up newer models that accommodate improved services and lower price points at the same time.

Smartphones are already becoming commodity items in Africa, and given that the average African consumer is price sensitive, operators should remain committed to continuous improvement without stressing the consumers’ pockets. The result will be the undying allegiance of one of the most tech savvy regions on earth.

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