Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa.
“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.
“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”
Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.
LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.
“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.
He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.
LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.
“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”
Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.
“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.
Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.
Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:
- All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
- Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
- Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
- The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
- Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
- It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, shot the lights out
The numbers are in, and it shows that the start of holiday season shopping in South Africa saw spectacular growth
Black Friday and Cyber Monday continues to be a hit in South Africa, with both days exceeding expectations.
“Black Friday did not disappoint,” says Solly Bellingan, head of customer relations at BankservAfrica. “Despite the tougher economy, it seems South Africans took advantage of the days’ special deals with in-store and online transaction volumes reflecting strong year-on-year growth. Both days have certainly made their mark amongst local retailers and shoppers,
South Africans shopped up a storm with the total number of Black Friday transactions processed by BankservAfrica, in-store and online, at 7,077,117 (*) in 2019 – 36% up from 2018’s 5,204,594. This translates into a total spend of R6-billion, an impressive 106% increase on 2018’s R2.9-billion.
When compared to 2018, it seems bargain hunters decided to get the best deals early with a 33% year-on-year increase in sales at midnight. The 12-hour period between 06:00 and 18:00 proved to be busiest, with similar volumes being processed each hour. The highest number of transactions processed in a 60-minute period was between 10:00 and 11:00 at a volume of 595,792.
“3D-Secure, our online card authentication service, i.e. transactions that require a one-time pin(**), showed steady growth this year with a 32% year-on-year increase on Black Friday and transaction volumes reaching a total of 534,828,” says Bellingan. The busiest shopping times were between 09:00 and 10:00 in 2019 compared to the earlier start in 2018 at 08:00 to 09:00.
“The most expensive online transaction recorded on Black Friday was for a hospitality purchase of R10,067,400 by an international company. The most uses by one card was 83. During peak, we processed 717 transactions while the average was 371 per minute for the day.”
Cyber Monday was less active than Black Friday with a 42% growth in online transactions that reached a volume of 249,908 in 2019 (up from 176,595 in 2018). However, in both years, most of the transactions took place between 10:00 and 11:00, with the most expensive being R1,997,800 and 151 uses by one card. The highest average transactions per minute was 322 at peak and 173 per minute for the day.
“This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data mirrors the global data of record-breaking sales – and the BankservAfrica featured figures are only a portion of the entire sales figures for both days,” says Bellingan. “It will be interesting to see if these manage to outpace festive season spend this year.”
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Amazon records biggest ecommerce day ever
Amazon has announced that Cyber Monday was once again the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, based on the number of items ordered worldwide. Customers all around the world shopped at record levels across a wide selection, with hundreds of millions of products ordered worldwide between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, alone. Customers purchased millions more Amazon Devices compared to the same period last year in Amazon’s Stores globally and the best-selling items were Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.
“We’re focused on making this holiday season more convenient than ever for our customers, especially given how short this holiday shopping season will be,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “We are thrilled that customers continue to come to Amazon in record numbers to discover what they need and want for the holidays. Thank you to our customers and employees all around the world for making this holiday shopping weekend the best yet.”
Holiday Weekend Highlights:
- Customers worldwide purchased more toys this Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined than ever before. Among the tens of millions of toys purchased during this time period, best-sellers included LEGO Star Wars Darth Vader’s Castle, Monopoly Game: Disney Frozen 2 Edition and Hasbro games such as Jenga, Guess Who and Candy Land Kingdom of Sweet Adventures.
- Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day for Amazon Fashion worldwide, with more items purchased than any other single day in the company’s history. Best-sellers included Carhartt Men’s Acrylic Watch Hat and Champion Men’s Powerblend Fleece Pullover Hoodie.
- Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 25 million home items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.
- Best-sellers on Black Friday in the U.S. included Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Instant Pot Duo80 – 8 Quart, 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: Personal Genetic DNA Test, L.O.L. Surprise! Winter Disco Bigger Surprise and iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum.
- Customers worldwide purchased more than four million beauty products this Cyber Monday compared to last year, with best-sellers including Oral-B Genius Pro 900 Electric Toothbrush, Lagunamoon Essential Oils Top 6 Gift Set and L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Makeup Lash Paradise Mascara.
- Top-selling categories worldwide include Toys, Home, Fashion and Health and Personal Care.
- The best-selling products in Amazon’s Stores on Cyber Monday in the U.S. included Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cookie Creations, Keurig K-Cafe Coffee Maker and LEGO City Ambulance Helicopter 60179 Building Kit.
- Independent third-party sellers in Amazon’s Stores — mostly small and medium-sized businesses – sold more items during Cyber Monday 2019 than any other 24-hour period in the company’s history.
- For the third year in a row, Whole Foods Market broke its all-time record of turkeys sold during the Thanksgiving season.
- Amazon delivered millions of grocery items to Prime members in the U.S. through the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Best sellers from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery included Honeycrisp apples, lemons and avocados.
- Top selling items at Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star stores over the holiday weekend included the Amazon Smart Plug, Echo Dot and All-New Echo Dot Smart Speaker with Clock, L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls, Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14), and the Wyze Cam 1080p HD Indoor Wireless Smart Home Camera with Night Vision.
Record-Breaking Weekend for Devices
- Shoppers purchased a record number of Amazon Devices globally this holiday weekend.
- Amazon customers worldwide purchased millions more Amazon Devices, compared to the same period last year in Amazon’s Stores globally, including Echo devices, Fire TV devices, Kindle devices, and Fire tablets.
- It was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for smart home devices in Amazon’s Stores globally with shoppers purchasing millions of smart home devices, including iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum, Furbo Dog Camera, and Wemo Mini Smart Plug.
- The best-selling products in Amazon’s Stores globally were Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote.