RSAWEB appointed Rudy van Staden as its new CEO in October 2019.
Van Staden’s appointment came shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented in South Africa, and thrust ISPs to the forefront of the shift to working from home.
MyBroadband spoke to Van Staden about the challenges the company has had to overcome during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, as well as his plans for RSAWEB.
You recently took over as CEO of RSAWEB. Can you share a few highlights and challenges you have experienced in the role so far – including what has it been like to run an ISP in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think it’s fair to say that running any business during this pandemic has presented many challenges, none more transparent than our government’s protracted approach to exiting lockdown, which if not accelerated will result in a socio-economic impact far greater than COVID-19 itself.
One of our standout achievements was how seamlessly RSAWEB transitioned from an office–based organisation to a fully remote–working business overnight, by implementing our very own product stack such as cloud, mobile data, fixed LTE, and other services – ensuring zero impact to our customers.
In fact, we actually increased productivity to satisfy the surge in Internet traffic demand. It was also rewarding when RSAWEB was ranked first ahead of all other ISPs for best–increased download speeds during lockdown – a wonderful testament to the talented and hardworking people here at RSAWEB.
What is your vision for RSAWEB, in terms of its position in the market?
RSAWEB has always been an innovator business, and that wonderful foundation and legacy will continue as we have smart and talented people across both our consumer and business divisions – who all share in our value that the customer experience comes first.
Considering our product range, we are in a unique position to create innovative products that assist customers across our business and consumer divisions.
We look forward to partnering opportunities with like-minded and innovative companies, especially in the IoT and mobile data spaces, who when combined with the RSAWEB’s LoRaWAN network will be launching some very interesting products later this year which will supplement, not just South Africa, but other African markets too.
With more South Africans set to work from home in the future, do you see any opportunities in the market which RSAWEB can fill?
The opportunities bound to present themselves won’t just be focused on the business who needs their staff to work from home, but also the value chain that then creates.
Businesses will need their staff to securely access systems from anywhere at any time, so you will see an increased demand in cloud and mobile data services. As more people work from home, this will in–turn drive ecommerce services to grow, increasing connectivity, and web hosting demand.
Ecommerce will drive logistics companies to flourish, and these logistics companies will require mobile connectivity and IoT services. Given RSAWEB’s product stack, we are very well positioned to satisfy these needs in the market.
Can you share any insight into the trends you have seen in the market over the past two months?
We have seen a huge surge in Internet traffic due to COVID-19, with increased demand in streaming services such as Netflix, online learning, and working from home needs, some within the same household, which has required customers to get or upgrade their FTTH products.
Customers are realising the benefits of having a higher bandwidth fibre product as they are starting to place more value on their Internet experience.
We are also very excited to launch our new Fixed LTE product, where we expect to see strong uptake in non-fibre areas, but even more excited with what we will be launching in this space in the coming months.
Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will deliver a permanent, fundamental shift in how people work in South Africa?
COVID-19 has accelerated new trends in South Africa by two to three years, specifically in remote working and cloud services that businesses can derive large benefits and savings from.
Looking at overseas trends, offices will still be the main place of business – but you can expect to see smaller office spaces with more flexible working areas and hours. Colleagues joining meetings remotely will be the norm, and a face-to-face meeting will hold more value.
We will also see a shift in how people choose the location of their homes; all of a sudden being close to work to avoid traffic every day will no longer be a priority, and the decision will rather be based on personal lifestyle wants, as long as you have access to excellent connectivity, that is.