Africa has leapfrogged fixed telephone lines straight to mobile. And therein lies a major opportunity.
Historically there have not been many fixed lines in Africa. There are several reasons for it, may it be the late independence from colonial powers, heavy bureaucracy, and even theft of copper cables. But what it all comes down to is – most people in Africa grew up using a mobile telephone without the need for thinking about, or even knowing about what a fixed line is. And while some government institutions were using fixed lines, the average business didn't have access to this technology.
Things changed when more and more fiber and high capacity radio links started to roll out in 2010. This allowed for the deployment of mobile access networks, which made it possible for Africans to bypass the fixed-line era of telecommunications and leapfrog straight into the latest cutting-edge innovations in the field.
This opens a massive opportunity, as Africa is starting from the point where Europe is only just heading right now – ditching the fixed lines in favour of the mobile.
A new era of connectivity in Africa
As a result of the newly laid infrastructure, telecoms finally have the chance to offer their clients good broadband internet. If before the radio links were available but often out of reach due to the cost, now, broadband speeds of ~20Mbps can be achieved with the mobile network.
Access to high-speed internet made it possible for businesses to begin using VoIP solutions. That being said, this was reserved for only the biggest players – considering the costs of early VoIP deployment weren't justifiable by many. As a result, small and medium-sized businesses are still relying on private mobile communications for business communication needs.
At that time, having a VoIP-enabled office phone seemed like a good investment that every self-respecting company would like to have. But as time went by companies started to see two things:
The office phone was only good as long as there were employees in the office monitoring it. This was increasingly difficult as employees tend to be on the move, visiting clients, etc.
The major benefit lied in the possibility of routing calls, and not particularly in having that office phone status.
The office phone, therefore, had some useful benefits but wasn't fully compatible with modern business needs.
The mobile infrastructure in Africa is at a turning point. Operators can now implement complex mobile solutions to benefit their clients.
And here's my prediction:
Because landlines never really took off, and VoIP functionality is lacking, I believe that fixed lines will practically go extinct in favour of mobile PBX telephony solutions.
They offer the same functionality only with less hassle, and the only drawback is the need for high-quality broadband on your smartphone. And as we saw earlier, this is becoming a current reality.
But what if there would be a mobile PBX solution, that would work without broadband? That would be easy to configure by the customer and even work on a feature phone?
This would be another great chance for African mobile operators to leapfrog over the VoIP based mobile PBX platforms and adopt a mobile-native PBX solution.
Please join our webinar and find out more about a solution called SmartMEX and how 2 mobile operators are already successfully using it for their customers for almost 3 years.