ISP shakes up market with major broadband offer

South Africa appears to be a step closer to having an internet experience like the rest of the developed world after local internet service provider MWEB on Thursday announced a new range of competitive, uncapped broadband packages.

Despite being the continent’s leading economy, the country has fallen behind country’s like Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria in terms of internet numbers and penetration.

MWEB says it is offering “super-fast” uncapped ADSL from just R219 per month. It says this is “40% cheaper than other offerings and that MWEB is the first major player in South Africa to offer uncapped ADSL on a significant scale, available 24 hours a day, with all the value-added products, technical back-up and a world-class network.”

Rudi Jansen, MWEB CEO, says the time has come for South Africans to experience unlimited internet access that is within their means.

“Internet penetration in South Africa remains below par – in fact, South Africa has fallen behind a number of other African countries in recent times. The lack of well-priced, generously-provisioned bandwidth has been holding us all back, and as a result we are missing out on an immense economic opportunity.

Citing the examples of France and South Korea and pointing to various global ICT programmes aimed at overcoming the 2009 economic slump, Jansen says the direct and indirect benefits including the multiplier effect of cheap, abundant bandwidth are nothing short of remarkable.

“Broadband lifted South Korea out of the devastation of the Asian market collapse in 1997,” he says. “In 1995, 1% of their population dialed up to the Internet. In 2009, more than 95% of households had broadband. The change is deep and irreversible – everybody has high-definition video on demand. Online gaming conventions are as big as soccer matches or rock concerts. South Koreans spend twice as much per capita online as US citizens.”

South Africa’s turn
Jansen says MWEB hopes its actions are a precursor to a meaningful industry response. Since South African telecoms policy was liberalised to permit ISPs to offer services on their own networks, MWEB, a first-tier ISP with its own international bandwidth provisioned through SAT3 and Seacom, is now able to compete with telcos by providing Internet access on its own network.

“In spite of the current stranglehold that Telkom currently has on the internet market in South Africa, we felt that action of this significance was necessary to get South Africa to join the rest of the world and enjoy the social and economic benefits that broadband internet has to offer,” said Jansen.

“This offer will enable South Africans to access and download content on scale never seen before. We have a real chance to lift ourselves from broadband mediocrity in South Africa, or we risk falling into broadband oblivion,” he added.

MWEB says it has invested significantly in its network to produce a top quality, reliable network that has been engineered to world-class standards and which will accommodate the volume of traffic expected.

MWEB recently achieved Tier-1 ISP status with the migration of its customers to its own IPC network, thereby limiting its reliance on other Tier-1 providers for its bandwidth needs. With its new IPC link, MWEB will have more control over its ADSL network.

“We will also be utilising bandwidth on both the SAT3 and SEACOM international cable systems in order to have full redundancy on our international bandwidth,” he said. “We signed up with SEACOM in March for a long-term agreement and we are purchasing significant bandwidth as SEACOM provides MWEB with a very attractive solution for international network capacity, at the best price currently available to the South African market.”

MWEB is introducing five data-only ADSL packages for consumers and businesses. The consumer data-only products will cost R219, R299 and R539 per month for line speeds of 384Kbps, 512 Kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The MWEB Business data-only offerings will cost R699 per month for a 512kbps line, and R1 999 per month on a 4Mbps line for an unshaped service. These services are available on any line rental package available from Telkom, even Telkom’s “Closer” subscription bundles.

In addition, MWEB will offer three consumer all-inclusive packages (ADSL line rental included) for R349, R599 and R899 per month for line speeds of 384Kbps, 512 Kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The all-inclusive offerings for businesses will cost R999 for the 512Kbps option and R2 259 for the 4Mbps package.

All business products are unshaped, and as in the rest of the world, no bandwidth caps will apply to any of these services.

The MWEB Business products are specifically designed to suit the needs of small and medium sized businesses, usually seen as 5 or more connected devices. Andre Joubert, GM of MWEB Business, explains that the MWEB Business packages are fully managed.

“If something goes wrong, MWEB’s support engineers will remotely log on to fix a router or send an engineer on-site at no additional charge, and also liaise with Telkom, for their portion of the fault.”

Joubert says the Business packages have other advantages too.

  • They are unshaped.
  • The service is designed to cater for the throughput of business applications not usually associated with consumer products
  • MWEB includes use of a business-grade router worth R3 999 in the 24-month contract.
  • The product comes with fixed IP addresses, offering the ability to host servers and deploy a VPN connection.
  • MWEB runs a dedicated call centre that offers business-specific technical skills.
  • The service is fully MWEB VoIP compatible.
  • The product comes with reports and proactive fault communication.

In addition, says Joubert, while MWEB Business packages are at a premium compared to consumer products, they’re still up to R1 800 less per month than comparative business products on offer. The throughput will be better than is currently available in the market.



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