South Africa Communications - 2021


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Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,024,730

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3.62 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 96,972,459

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 173.5 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

one of the most advanced infrastructures on the continent; investment by operators and municipal providers to improve network capability focused on fiber and LTE to extend connectivity; increase in Internet use for e-commerce, e-government, and e-health; government funds to improve broadband to more municipalities; high mobile penetration rate and FttP to 90% of the premises; regulatory intervention has improved telecommunications market; 5G in Capetown with additional auction and tests; importer of broadcasting equipment and computers from China (2021)


domestic: fixed-line 3 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular 166 telephones per 100 persons; consists of carrier-equipped open-wire lines, coaxial cables, microwave radio relay links, fiber-optic cable, radiotelephone communication stations, and wireless local loops; key centers are Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Pretoria (2019)

international: country code - 27; landing points for the WACS, ACE, SAFE, SAT-3, Equiano, SABR, SAEx1, SAEx2, IOX Cable System, METISS, EASSy, and SEACOM/ Tata TGN-Eurasia fiber-optic submarine cable systems connecting South Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, Asia, South America, Indian Ocean Islands, and the US; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 2 Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) operates 4 TV stations, 3 are free-to-air and 1 is pay TV;, a private station, is accessible to more than half the population; multiple subscription TV services provide a mix of local and international channels; well-developed mix of public and private radio stations at the national, regional, and local levels; the SABC radio network, state-owned and controlled but nominally independent, operates 18 stations, one for each of the 11 official languages, 4 community stations, and 3 commercial stations; more than 100 community-based stations extend coverage to rural areas

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 31,107,064

percent of population: 56.17% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 25

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,250,356

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2.24 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 67

NOTE: The information regarding South Africa on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of South Africa 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about South Africa 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.