Broadband capacity depends extensively on commercial and business needs. This creates an eHealth dependency on the general economy to meet eHealth’s increasing broadband needs. Both Africa’s eHealth and broadband capacity lag behind the global curve, so how can Africa catch up?
A global broadband map from Akamai, a global leader in Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, shows Africa’s position about a year ago for average connection speeds.
In its latest report, Akamai says the broadband trends still upwards. This quarter’s report includes data gathered from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform in 2015’s third quarter. It includes data for Internet connection speeds, broadband adoption metrics, the state of IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 adoption, Internet disruptions, and observations from Akamai partner Ericsson about voice traffic growth on mobile networks. It found that something may be stirring in some African countries, both up and down:
- Globally, average connection speed increased by 14% over the year to 5.1 Mbps
- South Korea’s top at 20.5 Mbps
- Increases were in 126 countries
- Congo’s growth rate was spectacular at 147%, the only country to see average connection speeds more than double, but it’s still low
- Declines were in 19 countries, including a 0.6% in Namibia to 1.8 Mbps and a 64% in Sudan to 1.3 Mbps
- Libya was one of two countries with an average connection speed below 1Mbps
- Gabon and Cameroon, had significant Internet disruptions.
Peak connections speeds are rising too:
- Globally, peak connection speed increased by 30% over the year to 32.2 Mbps
- Singapore’s top at 135.4 Mbps, up 63% on the year
- Increases in average peak connections were in 135 countries
- Mauritius and Congo achieved average peak connection speeds double over the year
- Ghana experienced a large fall of 51%, to 8.8 Mbps
- Tanzania had the lowest average peak connection speed after a 23% quarterly drop to 7.2 Mbps
- Zambia was bottom last quarter and saw a 22% gain in the third quarter to 9.0 Mbps.
South Africa, ranked 92 globally, has the highest average and peak speeds of African countries. They’re 3.7Mbps and 18.9 Mbps. They’re up 2.3% and 10% over the year. It also has the highest adoption rate of 22% for >4Mbps, but only ranked 90 globally. Its rate’s 2.9% for >10Mps. Both are down, 5.2% and 15% respectively. All other African countries increased their 4Mbps adoption rates.
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses authorised by AFRINIC, the Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources serving the African Internet Community increased from about half a million to about five million. Globally, IPv6’s expanding. It’s an evolutionary standard running alongside IPv4 that increases the pool address. It offers technical improvements too.
With Africa’s expanding mHealth base, mobile connectivity’s vital. Ericsson found that global mobile data traffic grew by 14% between the second and third quarters of 2015. Voice seems stable, while the growth in data’s shooting up from about 200 petabytes a month in 2010 to about 4,700 in 2015’s third quarter. The growth in video’s fuelling the rise.
In this context, the Broadband Commission’s report, The State of Broadband 2015, shows Africa’s mobile broadband connections as 5% of the population. Asia Pacific’s top at 50%. In Africa, Fibre to the Home (FTTH) is a considerable challenge. The Return on Investment (ROI) to suppliers isn’t attractive when FTTH opportunities remain in urban areas. For rural and remote communities, government spending’s a requirement, but usually limited by affordability constraints.
The report highlights Internet of Things (IoT) as a broadband driver. More alarmingly for Africa, it describes a new digital divide. Some 30 years ago, a UN Commission published the Maitland Report to identify actions needed to deal the growing digital divide in telecommunications. Progress masks a new, growing digital divide in the next Internet phase driven by IoT. Africa’s estimated growth is from 1 new, connected device to 1.4 per person from 2014 to 2019. North America’s estimate’s 6.1 to 11.6. Western Europe’s 4.4 to 8.2. From a start already below the rest of the world, Africa’s forecast to bump along.
Africa’s eHealth’s affected adversely by these broadband and Internet trends. eHNA’s already reported on GE’s IoT for health goals. These opportunities will be constrained if Africa’s healthcare can’t have more broadband capacity. eHNA’ll post tomorrow on possibilities to turn the trend up.