South Africa’s broadband mavericks

The last twelve months have been a rollercoaster ride for broadband providers, Internet Service Providers and consumers.

Towards the end of 2009 Afrihost shook up the ADSL ISP market by slashing its per-GB ADSL rates, partly made possible by international bandwidth savings brought about by SEACOM’s entrance into the local telecoms market.

In 2009, DigiChilli and Screamer Telecoms gave a hint that affordable uncapped ADSL may not be too far off, but the real fireworks only happened in March 2010 when MWEB stunned the SA market by launching truly affordable uncapped ADSL services.

This year also saw providers such as Web Africa and Axxess pushing the limit on capped ADSL pricing. Axxess and Openweb recently unveiled their sub-R100 uncapped surf-only packages.

Telkom also found favour with many ADSL subscribers by increasing their line speed to 10 Mbps free of charge – a process which is ongoing.

On the mobile front both MTN and Vodacom increased the value proposition to subscribers by slashing their out-of-bundle data rates and launching various value-adds to subscribers – but in the mobile broadbadn space, the true mavericks were Cell C.

Cell C joined the South African broadband market with a bang by launching their 21 Mbps HSPA+ services at rates never before seen in the country. Cell C slashed the per-GB price of mobile broadband from the usual R200 per GB to as low as R33 per GB – a move which is likely to change the local broadband environment for good.

Broadband provider doing the most

It is therefore not surprising that Cell C was voted as the “broadband provider which did the most in 2010 to improve the state of broadband in South Africa” in a recent survey.

Results from the annual MyBroadband survey, which was completed by 1908 consumers, ranked broadband providers which “did the most to improve broadband in SA” as follows:

  1. Cell C – 48%
  2. Telkom – 19%
  3. Vodacom – 14%
  4. Neotel – 10%
  5. MTN – 8%
  6. iBurst – 2%

Overall maverick winner

Whilst Cell C ruled supreme among other broadband providers (hence telecoms operators), another company claimed the top spot when consumers were asked “Which ISP, Individual, Organisation, Company or Operator do you think did the most to improve the state of telecoms and/or broadband in South Africa.”

Here MWEB attracted more votes than most of their competitors put together, clearly winning favour with consumers for being the first to bring affordable broadband to South Africans.

Cell C and Afrihost were also rewarded for their aggressive pricing in the local cellular and ADSL markets respectively, by finishing second and third respectively. The top 10 companies (with the number of votes given) are:

  1. MWEB  – 751
  2. Cell C – 146
  3. Afrihost – 144
  4. Telkom – 81
  5. Vodacom – 68
  6. SEACOM – 62
  7. Neotel – 60
  8. Axxess – 39
  9. MTN – 36
  10. Web Africa – 30

It should be noted that these are only preliminary results from the 2010 Broadband survey, and that the ratings and votes may change slightly when the final results are released.

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South Africa’s broadband mavericks