Free fibre line speed upgrades implemented during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown are set to be stopped in the coming weeks.
In March, major fibre network operators (FNOs) announced they would offer line speed upgrades free of charge to customers through ISP partners.
This was done to help meet the increase in broadband demand as more people worked from home, and stayed indoors.
Link Africa, Vumatel, Frogfoot, MetroFibre, and Openserve all increased speeds.
As South Africa enters lockdown alert level 3, most businesses are allowed to resume operations – which means more people will be returning to their offices and workplaces.
As a result, the FNOs are expected to return users to their normal line speeds in June and July.
MyBroadband asked the FNOs to confirm when line speeds will be reverted and what the effect of the increases have been on their business.
Link Africa – 17 July 2020
Link Africa said all packages activated before 30 June 2020 will receive double the bandwidth until midnight on 17 July 2020.
“New connections therefore have to be installed and activated by 30 June 2020 in order to benefit from the promotion,” the operator said.
To date, 4,200 end users across Link Africa’s ISP partners have benefited from the increased speeds.
It said all preparations and network scripts were in place to revert back to standard speeds, which means it will take no longer than 15 minutes to change back.
“This period has offered us some detailed insights into the behavior of end users and their demand for higher bandwidths,” Link Africa stated.
The company said it will also consider offering similar promotions in future.
In addition, it is looking at incorporating higher bandwidth services in its suite of products.
“These products will be announced to our ISP partners in the near future as we look to offer up to 1Gbps for FTTH users.”
Link Africa said it anticipated an increase in demand for speed upgrades once the promotion is over.
Frogfoot – 30 June 2020
Frogfoot confirmed to MyBroadband its double-up promotion will end on 30 June.
“The rollback will start from the 1 July 2020. Users wanting to stay on the higher package should contact their ISPs to place an upgrade,” the company said.
Frogfoot said it had seen an increase in traffic on its network due to users who have realised the potential and possibilities of having fibre at home.
“We can see that customers are now able to seamlessly work from home, utilising more video conferencing facilities and enabling their kids to continue with their online homeschooling, as well as increased use of streaming of movies and gaming,” it stated.
The company noted the majority of its partner ISPs participated in the double-up promotion.
“Some ISPs had their best months during the double up campaign,” Frogfoot stated.
Frogfoot said it would consider running similar promotions in future and said it has ramped up its teams in certain regions in order to meet customer expectations.
MetroFibre – 31 July 2020
MetroFibre had originally intended to revert line speeds back to normal on 25 May 2020.
However, it will extend its speed increase period to 31 July, due to uncertainty around the lockdown and to help many people who may still need to work from home.
“We have seen a major increase in traffic during the day for FTTH customers since lockdown – this is not unexpected given the fact that the COVID-19 lockdown has sparked the biggest work-and school-from-home trend in world history.”
MetroFibre said it had passed the speed upgrade to all ISPs and resellers, but was not in a position to report on how many ISPs passed this onto their customers.
The operator said the end date is not final, however, and it would review the situation again in mid-July to ascertain whether an extension would be needed.
“We sincerely hope that the speed upgrades have helped to make this transition a little easier and we have all certainly learned some incredible lessons on just how reliant we are on quality Internet connectivity to function during this time, and how much we can achieve with the right technology,” MetroFibre added.
Openserve – Expected 31 July 2020
Openserve did not provide a response to MyBroadband by the time of publication.
Its speed increase campaign started on 1 May 2020 and is set to run until the end of July.
Vumatel – Expected 30 June 2020
Vumatel initially planned to end its speed increases at the end of May, but decided to postpone this to 30 June 2020.
It started upgrading the line speeds of customers from participating ISPs on its network from 1 April 2020.
The company said 58 ISP partners chose to participate in its speed upgrade initiative, making up over 99% of its total subscriber base.
It declined to comment on whether it would be offering similar campaigns in the future.