Vodacom gets into ISP

VODACOM IS POSITIONING itself to enter the corporate Internet service provider space with a new division. Yet to be given an official title, the division brings together the company’s efforts in the ISP, VPN and WiMax space and will position Vodacom against the likes of MTN Network Solutions as well as parent company Telkom in the corporate space.

Vodacom has also snared recent defectors from Telkom, including former chief technology officer Thami Msimango and former sales and marketing head Wally Beelders, who are now respectively the COO and executive director: commercial of the new division.

Rudolph Muller, MyADSL founder, says that rumours have been circulating that Vodacom had been keen to buy into the ISP field for some time but with this development he says it appears Vodacom has decided to forgo the acquisition route in favour of developing the service internally.

Muller says that a problem Vodacom faced was that it needed to provide Internet services to its customers, both those using their phones to access the Internet and to users of its 3G data card service. That left the company in a precarious position, in that its services to customers were on occasion compromised by the lack of focus.

While the new division is unlikely to interact directly with that base of users, Muller says it will probably provide the bulk services to Vodacom to deliver Internet access and other services, such as hosting and email.

What will be of interest is the inclusion of WiMax services under the ambit of the new division. Vodacom hasn’t been allocated any spectrum by regulator Icasa to operate a WiMax service and it would need to leverage the WiMax spectrum allocated to iBurst, which Vodacom bought a stake in last year, to offer the service.

Vodacom was unwilling to comment on the future direction of the division until an MD was appointed, a role that Vodacom COO Pieter Uys is currently filling.

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Vodacom gets into ISP