Municipal Broadband: The 'Next Generation' and the 'Last Mile'

Abrahams, Lucienne
Bakker, Brian
Bhyat, Mohamed
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
The article raises two related questions, the strategy question of whether South Africa should focus on universal access to the Internet in the next 10 years for all cities and towns and the operational question of how SouthAfrica can migrate to a high speed, high-bandwidth environment for all citizens and SMEs in the next10years. The diffusion of Internet access to South Africa’s cities and towns has been slow and the diffusion of broadband even slower. A number of municipalities, mainly the large metropolitan areas, and a few smaller towns, have been developing models for ‘municipal broadband’ provisioning. The article responds to these two questions by reporting the findings of a series of interviews on municipal broadband in South Africa, comparing lessons from the US and ending with a set of four perspectives on future choices and approaches for municipalities. It argues that the metropolitan Governments surveyed have already embarked along the road of ubiquitous citizen access to the Internet through selecting ‘digital cities’ approaches. The challenge is to identify workable operational and financing models for municipal broadband across varying types of municipalities – metropolitan, smaller cities and towns. This is being digested in the learning experiments currently underway.
Abrahams, L., Bakker, B., & Bhyat, M. (2007). Municipal broadband: The 'next generation' and the 'last mile'. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication (SAJIC), 8, 136-153.