18 Oct 2013

African Network Operators Find Strategies to Fight High Cost of Internet Bandwidth

By Charlie Baker, director of product management, PeerApp

A walk through the AfricaCom exhibit hall is testament to the speed with which Africa is becoming a connected continent. Product vendors and operators alike show the rapid rollouts of fibre, 3G and 4G mobile broadband, and satellite services. 

However, the most challenging and costly component of Internet access in Africa is not “in” Africa at all.  It is the cost of bandwidth connections (known as “transit”) that connect African network providers to major content sources in Europe, North America and Asia.  Transit prices vary considerably by country and region, but within Africa it’s not uncommon for an operator to pay in excess of US $100 per megabit per second (Mbps) per month for this connection. To put this in a global context, operators in the U.S. and UK typically pay less than US $2 per Mbps, according to TeleGeography, a telecoms research firm. 


Source: TeleGeography and PeerApp estimates, 2013

High transit pricing puts operators in a difficult position; they must charge prohibitively high access tariffs, or limit bandwidth to subscribers, or some combination of the two.

Operators have found PeerApp’s UltraBand transparent cache to be an effective solution to substantially reduce Internet transit costs while actually improving service quality for their subscribers.  UltraBand resides within the operator’s network. It identifies, stores, and delivers the most popular Internet content (for example, YouTube videos or software updates) being downloaded and viewed by subscribers. In this way, the content is delivered at the speed of the operator’s network without using valuable transit, rather than retrieving it each and every time from a distant content source.

PeerApp’s UltraBand is the leading transparent caching solution globally with a growing number of deployments in Africa, including MTN Group, Telma and dozens of small and large operators across the continent.  It’s no surprise that UltraBand has been selected a finalist in the “Best Cost Efficiency Initiative for Africa” award category.

To learn more about PeerApp and the UltraBand transparent caching platform, visit us at AfricaCom Stand A2.


Register for a free exhibition pass here