Evolving 3G competition is a positive sign for Burkina Faso
Next month, Burkina Faso will presumably hold its 9th annual semaine nationale de l’Internet (national Internet week). Last year’s event urged rural areas to better contribute to national development using ICT. In advance of this great moment, we’ve taken the time to highlight current Internet happenings in Burkina Faso.
Mobile broadband is certainly on the rise in the West African nation. As of early 2012, 91% of Internet users used mobile devices. Market share among the three operators is tight; as of last year, Airtel and Telmob were tied with 39% and Telecel followed with a 22% share. That is poised to change with aggressive 3G offerings from Airtel and Telmob, along with the regulator’s call for a fourth mobile provider.
Last week, Airtel launched 3.75G (HSPA+) service in six cities. LeFaso.net points out the company isn’t marketing the service to the youth, although they are probably the ones who will enjoy the download speeds the most.
Around the same time in May, Telmob launched 3G+ services (up to 14.4 Mbit/s) for Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. The company has promised the launch of 3.75G (HSPA+) in early June, ostensibly to compete with Airtel. How competitive!
ARCEP, the telecoms regulatory agency, has made efforts to encourage more competitive 3G service in the country (such as lowering the entrance fee), but more licenses have been pending for some time. Nonetheless, ARCEP has taken on a bevy of tasks within the past year, including:
- an invitation to tender for a fourth mobile network (including 3G)
- cyber security training
- a web 2.0 training event
- survey on the quality of mobile network service
- an awareness tour to realize a goal of 100% SIM registration
Other notable events in the past year:
- In July 2012, an interconnectivity project connected Ghana, Togo, and Burkina Faso with 120km of fibre.
- In October, ONATEL interconnected with fibre in Niger.
- During December 2012 elections, satellite Internet allowed 45 remote district offices to be connected.
- A trial Open Data Initiative is underway with the help of The World Bank.
- Various Web 2.0 seminars will be held this year thanks to Connect4Change and Yam Pukri.
Still, the majority of the population still does not have access to the Internet. Recent discussion at the Stockholm Internet Forum suggests only 3% of the population uses the Internet. Fewer than 1% of farmers reportedly use the Internet despite contributing 40% to GDP.
Finally, the Airtel Sahel 3G Mobile advert sums up benefits of (ideal) 3G service. Why use unreliable satellite when you can use youthful 3G to stream video?