Pindrop – South Africa’s search engine for connectivity

Pindrop has developed a search engine for fixed broadband connectivity options in South Africa.

“We provide you with who is available at your location, and how much their recommended retail prices are,” said Pindrop MD Willie Olivier.

Pindrop has mapped the networks of 22 operators and plans to add more. This includes Bitco, DFA, Frogfoot, Internet Solutions, Openserve, and Seacom.

The service also maps Rain LTE-A coverage, but not mobile networks.

Users can also request quotes and further information about services before ordering, which are then emailed to them.

Pindrop is initially targeting businesses, but Olivier said they are looking at offering a consumer service.

Their challenge is coming up with a suitable business model for a consumer offering, without being seen as competing with their clients and providers.

It also means mapping the offerings of 145 providers.

Three models

Part of the value of Pindrop is that it is agnostic. They don’t favour one brand over another, said Olivier.

To appeal to as many businesses as possible, Pindrop implemented three ways of using the service, along with its brand-agnostic approach.

The first is its website, where a business can get quotes for services at their locations. They can then order through the Pindrop website – receiving a discount when doing so.

It has also built a reseller model, where it offers a re-skinned version of the website. Orders go through Pindrop and it receives a discount on sales to continue to fund its service, which it splits with the reseller.

The only paid-for version of the service Pindrop offers is its API model, which lets you query the data without using the web interface.

Olivier said their API can do up to 100,000 requests per day and runs on a gigabit-per-second backbone.

When you request data from the API, there is a short delay before you are allowed to make another request – to guard it against DDoS attacks.

Pindrop’s infrastructure is in Teraco’s data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The service runs across multiple servers and multiple instances, it said.

Mapping networks

Olivier said they have mapped 2.5 million endpoints and have just over 8,000 connected buildings listed as part of their network data.

Pindrop also performs an initial topographical analysis on fixed wireless connections.

It analyses 192 data points between the location where a connection is requested and the tower to ensure there is enough clearance for a location to “see” a high site.

Of the searches for wireless connectivity, they have been 95% accurate in predicting line-of-sight, said Olivier.

“We can’t account for clutter data such as high trees or large buildings in the way. A final feasibility study always needs to be done,” he said.

Their mapping of partner networks has also resulted in unintended benefits, such as halving the delivery time of a connected building on one of its mapped networks, Liquid Telecom.

“Because we’ve mapped Liquid’s buildings, we can reduce deliverable timeframes from 45 working days to 4 weeks,” said Olivier.

Pindrop will officially launch at the MyBroadband Conference on Thursday, and will allow you to register a free account with 25 searches.

“If you need more than that, you can contact us about using the service for reseller purposes,” said Olivier.

Now read: Digital maps save South Africans billions each year – Google

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Pindrop – South Africa’s search engine for connectivity