On September 2, 2004, Minister of Communications in South Africa made an announcement that value added network service providers (VANS) can carry voice using any protocol with effect from February 1, 2005. This is indeed a milestone for the telecommunications industry in South Africa as the law makers have acknowledged that because of technological developments there is no longer any difference in the transmission of voice, video and data and thus voice no longer needs to be carried via Telkom fixed line infrastructure and may very well be carried via the internet protocol. Before, the market was monopolized by the country’s major fixed-line operator, Telkom, and consumers had no choice but to adhere to its pricing.
As connectivity services improve in a country, businesses and individuals get greater access to local and international resources and contacts, which will ultimately contribute to more productivity for South African businesses. Not too long ago, the National Long Distance (NLD) consortium finished the first 700km phase of its fibre optic Internet expansion in South Africa. The NLD's fibre optic network will reach hundreds of thousands of residential and business customers all over South Africa.
This new network will deliver high quality Internet service to new areas. Fibre optic Internet is 100 times faster than average Internet speeds, and represents one of the most sophisticated technologies on the market in connectivity technologies.
As more South Africans get high speed Internet, more may be able to get VoIP phone service as well. VoIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol) is the acronym that refers to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) which permits the movement of voice traffic over an internet protocol-based network. IP is a standard for data transmission based on packet-switching technology. Voice is broken into a series of packets at the transmitting end. The components are then reassembled and decoded at the receiving device. In a nutshell, this technology provides for internet telephony.
Availability of Internet in South Africa means that some people who have never had regular phone service before may be able to get VoIP. It's much easier to get a VoIP phone line than to install an analogue phone line, since the infrastructure that is needed for VOIP is bundled with your current network architecture and Internet service, so there is no need to hire technicians for installation or to invest in expensive equipment. Therefore, VoIP may be a cost-effective alternative for people who had previously been unable to get phone service.
VoIP would be a great choice for many South Africans because:
• All of the infrastructure needed for VoIP is included in Internet service, so as soon as these people get new high speed Internet connectivity, they will have all they need for VoIP.
• VoIP phone service is inexpensive, and will represent only a small additional monthly cost after the cost of subscribing for Internet service.
• VoIP is unlimited. People who get VoIP will have access to unlimited calling minutes to any other number in the country, and sometimes in the world.
• Customers do not need to buy lots of expensive hardware for VoIP, or hire technicians to install anything. Getting set up is very easy, and many people who already have older phones may still be able to use them.
Although the Internet will become more readily available to customers, there are still a few obstacles that either deter customers from using VoIP, or force VoIP providers to charge higher rates for service.
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