The Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA) has made its dismay regarding iBurst’s recent campaign against Wireless Internet Service Providers clear.
“The Wireless Access Providers Association (WAPA) would like to register its dismay at the lack of integrity in the actions and tactics of iBurst (Pty) Ltd as recently reported in the media,” the Association said in a press statement.
iBurst recently launched a campaign against Aerosat, a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) in Port Elizabeth, warning consumers to beware of the provider and alert to the dangers of supporting ‘illegal operators’.
iBurst did not however provide their own contact details on the widely dispersed flyers, but placed ICASA’s contact details on the promotional material.
“iBurst created and caused the distribution of 140 000 colour pamphlets claiming that Eastern Cape WAPA member Aerosat was, amongst other things, “unlicensed” and a “fly-by-night-operator”. Aerosat has been advised that statements contained in the flyer are defamatory and untrue and has reserved its rights in respect of proceeding against iBurst for damages and/or an apology,” the WAPA statement said.
According to WAPA, statements attributed to the MD of iBurst in the wake of its ill-advised marketing venture are at best disingenuous.
iBurst have acknowledged that they were responsible for the flyers but said that “this campaign is not trying to gain a competitive advantage but rather serves to educate the public”.
“This statement seems to indicate an unhealthy underestimation of the intelligence of consumers and begs the simple question: If iBurst wished to perform a public service in educating the public, why did they fail to put their names on the flyers?” WAPA asked.
iBurst also said that they had the full support of the Regulator, but WAPA disputes this support. “The Regulator was however unaware of the pamphlet when contacted by WAPA and ICASA representatives chose to distance themselves from the pamphlet,” WAPA said.
WAPA said that they engaged with ICASA with regard to the position of wireless access providers in South Africa and is aware that iBurst has done the same. “The matter is therefore properly before the Regulator and will be resolved in due course.”
WAPA further invited iBurst to engage in consultations with the industry representative body, “so as to ensure that operators who are illegally using spectrum can easily be dealt with; and that the interests of all users of licensed and public spectrum, including consumers, can be protected.”
Consumers also not impressed
WAPA is however not the only party which is unhappy about iBurst’s campaign against Aerosat. After the pamphlet and article regarding this issue went public, consumers were quick to lash out at iBurst about this decision.
Comments like “iBurst… that’s low”, “Out of protest against this petty "Kindergarden" behaviour I hope that everybody in PE now signs up with Aerosat,” and “Wow… what a farce. I had no idea iBurst were so pathetic” dominated discussions regarding the flyer.
iBurst received nearly no support from broadband consumers regarding this campaign, and the anger from consumers about iBurst’s decision may hurt the company’s reputation.
There may also be legal ramifications if iBurst is found to have acted outside of the law as Aerosat’s lawyer has indicated that they will be pursuing the matter further.