To run an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be stressful. Low margins, the need to constantly innovate, and demanding subscribers are not easy to cope with.
MyBroadband asked some of South Africa’s ISP CEOs what keeps them awake at night, and their view on the future of broadband in South Africa.
MWEB CEO Derek Hershaw said that his biggest concern was the struggling South African economy.
“Our economy is labouring and unemployment is frightening. It makes for a tough trading environment for any business,” said Hershaw.
Openweb CEO Keoma Wright said that traffic shaping was his biggest worry. “Shaping needs to be discarded for good. This is holding all industry players back,” said Wright.
“Clients simply jump from one shaped product to the next until they find one that offers 1% more data allowance than another,” said Wright.
“Unfortunately this does not last long and soon the client is back on the road again to find the next best thing. Cheap uncapped is great, but shaping is killing its growth.”
Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov said his biggest fear was that they are not big enough and that their pockets are not deep enough.
“We have often seen big corporates which ‘future price’ services with the aim of buying market share,” said Fialkov. “This is now particularly concerning given industry consolidation at the moment.”
“We have always been privately owned with no investment capital and this industry is extremely capital intensive,” he said.
“I often have sleepless nights sitting on a great idea waiting for enough capital to implement it. The flip-side of that coin is that we have learnt to run very lean and mean which gives us some agility to move before the big corporates can,” said Fialkov.
Vox Telecom CEO Jacques du Toit said his biggest challenge was ensuring that their customers are continuously informed about Vox’s ever-changing products and services.
“We are adapting to the new market requirements and making it easy for them to enjoy the journey,” said du Toit.
Web Africa CEO Tim Wyatt-Gunning said he engages in “long prayers to the gods of Telkom, begging for enlightenment that much lower ADSL line rental costs will reverse the trend of declining fixed line numbers”.
He joked that he has nightmares about accidentally saying FTTH is not sustainable, when he never really meant it.