Week in research: Internet costs still high in Africa; Media streaming dominates home networks

Internet stumbles in Africa: Despite big improvements in telecommunications infrastructure on the African continent in the past five years, the quality and affordability of Internet services has not improved, a study conducted by Analysys Mason for the Internet Society (ISOC) finds. "For us, the variation between regions in retail price of Internet traffic was revealing, with some ISPs offering access at USD 10 per gigabyte of traffic, and others charging up to ten times more than that," said Robert Schumann, manager of Analysys Mason's Johannesburg office and one the report's authors. "East Africa appears to offer best value, particularly for low-volume users who tend to have lower incomes." Public-private partnerships are one solution; however, regulatory and other barriers stand in the way of private investment in many countries. Release

ISOC Africa cost of Internet per country

Average price per GB of traffic for low, medium and high usage Internet access bundles. (Source: Analysys Mason, Google, Telegeography, 2012) 

Building automation heats up: While Johnson Services, Siemens and a few others dominate the commercial building automation (BAS) services market, competition is growing as small startups and established vendors find niches for additional managed data services, ABI Research says. Startups like BuildingIQ, Sky Foundry, and Viridity Energy are making their mark. But Cisco, HP and IBM are developing their own approach to the BAS space. "We are seeing a rush of investment, creativity, and revenues in developing what can be achieved with BAS data," says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst. "These software as a service (SaaS) or cloud services have the ability to pull together management of multiple buildings and applications within them, simplifying the process of improving energy efficiency for building owners." Release

Media streaming takes over: More than 84 percent of broadband-enabled households in the United States have home networks, and more than 62 percent of those networks are used to stream online media, a study by The Diffusion Group (TDG) says. The firm surveyed 2,000 heads-of-household ranging in age from 18 to 75. It found that not only has media streaming taken over as a primary use for home networks, but that the location of the router or gateway is highly dependent on the age of the respondent. "Millennials exhibit dramatically different network use profiles than their older counterparts," argues Greeson, "especially when it comes to media streaming. Younger consumers want their router located closest to the devices it serves most, which are increasingly found in the home's primary entertainment center--that is, in the living room." Respondents older than 35 mostly located the router in their home office. Release