Increased sales and data traffic – How the coronavirus affected South Africa’s ISPs

South African ISPs have adapted their business operations in recent weeks to deal with the impact of the coronavirus.

MyBroadband previously spoke to several ISPs who indicated they had seen huge increases in data usage across their customer bases.

This is because many employees are working from home and rely on the service ISPs provide to attend virtual meetings and get connected to their company’s online systems.

In addition to this, the closure of all non-essential entertainment options has been implemented.

As a result, South Africans have increased their usage of video streaming and online gaming services.

As the lockdown continues, however, more companies are unable to pay their employees and are forced to cut staff – affecting the entire economy.

We contacted South Africa’s ISPs to find out how their business operations were being affected lockdown and the trends they had seen.


Cool Ideas

Cool Ideas said the main way in which the coronavirus affected its operations was forcing its employees to work from home.

“Our biggest impact has been managing staff and support to operate from their homes, plus the increased amount of support required with everyone working from home,” the ISP said.

Around 50% of its staff were able to work from home as normal, the ISP said.

Contrary to what is happening in certain other South African businesses, Cool Ideas is not planning any staff or salary cuts as a result of the lockdown.

“We don’t envisage any changes at this point, if anything we will be employing more staff,” the company said.

It noted a spike in demand for home connectivity and additional bandwidth, while its business services have declined.

“From an operational perspective we think everyone will come out of the lockdown with a different view on how to do business, and working from home might become a norm for a lot of industries.”

Cool Ideas


MWEB

MWEB said the lockdown has resulted in an increase in its network traffic.

“Everyone needs to be online for entertainment and working at home needs,” it explained.

The ISP said its employees are working from home and this has resulted in high productivity.

It did not elaborate on any plans or measures to cut staff or salaries.

Post-lockdown it expects demand for fibre-to-the-home to increase as more people continue to work at home and stay home where possible.


Webafrica

Webafrica said it has noted three changes which occurred about one week before the commencement of the lockdown.

These include a big spike in fibre and fixed-LTE sales, and massive data traffic growth which is “showing no signs of letting up”.

Additionally, contact volumes to its call centres have drastically increased, with most days showing as much as five-times the usual number of calls.

“The biggest takeaway from the above is that Internet access has become a utility, without it we wouldn’t be able to work from home, have video calls with family and friends, or stream decent entertainment,” Webafrica stated.

“Another interesting observation, due to the various social distancing measures put in place all over the world, satellite TV has no live sport to watch and this has driven enormous demand for streaming services like Netflix and Showmax.”

Webafrica said at the current stage it is not considering measures such as salary cuts or retrenchments and that apart from staff working from home, it’s business as usual.

The company noted it was difficult to forecast what business will look like for the rest of 2020, but said that a mixed bag of results was expected.

“The upside risk is gaining many more customers than one would expect under normal circumstances and the downside risk is a spike in bad debt,” Webafrica said.

“We’re confident that if the latter mentioned risk becomes a material problem, all businesses in our supply chain will pull together to find a solution to counter it,” it said.

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Now read: The surprising number of South Africans who want to work from home after the lockdown is over

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Increased sales and data traffic – How the coronavirus affected South Africa’s ISPs