South Africans flock to mobile broadband

iBurst has doubled its subscribers this year superseding MTN. This will further increase thanks to its tie-up with Vodacom.

South Africans are flocking to wireless broadband internet company iBurst so that they can be connected anytime and anywhere.

The broadband internet company has seen a significant increase in subscribers over the past six months, having in the past week signed up its 40 000th subscriber. This is something which Callia Doucas, head of marketing at iBurst, attributes to the company becoming a household name in SA, and its focus on providing coverage in areas where ADSL access is still limited.

iBurst’s 40 000 subscribers compares quite favourably to Vodacom’s estimated 150 000 mobile broadband subscribers. Telkom leads the pack with roughly a quarter of a million ADSL subscribers while MTN refuses to disclose mobile broadband numbers. However, industry experts suggest that MTN falls just behind iBurst in terms of subscribers.

iBurst’s growth in areas where ADSL access is still limited is reflected in statistics: iBurst says Wonderboom is its busiest base station in terms of the number of subscribers connected followed by Northcliff, Menlo Park, Centurion and Edenvale.

Doucas attributes its success to iBurst’s sponsorship of the South African version of Survivor on M-Net and SABC’s weather broadcast, which virtually made it a household brand name.

But the company’s success, in terms of subscriber numbers, will be catapulted through its presence in Vodacom’s retail channel. Speaking to Moneyweb on Friday, Doucas was quietly confident that iBurst will exceed its target of 70 000 subscribers by February 2008.

Industry experts Moneyweb spoke to, however, believe that iBurst should comfortably top the 100 000 subscriber mark by February.

Vodacom is currently advertising iBurst as an additional option in its countrywide "The best broadband for your rand" campaign. The other two options are Vodacom’s 3G and HSDPA services.

Doucas says attaining access to Vodacom’s huge retail channel is a further benefit of having South Africa’s leading cellular network as a shareholder. Vodacom acts as a service provider and provides its own support to iBurst subscribers it signs up. Vodacom owns 10% of iBurst and Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig is currently acting chairman of WBS Holdings, iBurst’s parent company.

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South Africans flock to mobile broadband