South Africa has made tremendous strides over the last 20 years with a competitive broadband market and world-class fibre and mobile networks.
To appreciate how far the country’s telecoms market has come, it is valuable to turn to clock back two decades and see how people connected to the Internet.
In 2000, Telkom was the only game in town if you were looking for an Internet service. There was also no fibre, LTE, or ADSL.
56kbps dial-up connections were the most popular connection method via products like MWEB’s Big Black Box.
Telkom’s 64kbps ISDN Internet service (two ISDN lines could be bonded to achieve 128kbps) was popular among tech-savvy users.
Both these services required you to make a local call over Telkom’s copper infrastructure, which means you paid by the minute to use the Internet.
So, while a dial-up modem only cost a few hundred rand and a dial-up account around R50, the true cost was paying Telkom for local calls.
Telkom had some mercy on Internet addicts by offering a R7 cap on after-hours and weekend calls.
This product allowed dial-up and ISDN users to stay connected for R7, as long as the call/connection did not drop.
Businesses had the option of an always-on leased line, but at R4,500 per month, that was more than most people could afford.
How much Internet access cost in 2000
The table below, based on prices from Zentek Computers, provides an overview of the price of an Internet connection in South Africa in 2000.
|Internet Access in 2000|
|64K (kbps) Leased Line||R4,500|
|64K (kbps) ISDN Dialup Access||R350|
|Dialup Internet and Email||R49|
|Prepaid Mobile Internet||R45 per MB|
|Internet Access Hardware|
|56K Internal Modem||R188|
|56K External Modem||R431|
|56K External Modem (US Robotics)||R700|