Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa recently took notice when Vumatel started advertising routes to its own range of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, but the company said it has no plans to launch Vuma ISP.
News that Vumatel received and started using its own block of IP addresses sparked speculation and concern across the industry, because, just days before, the fibre network operator had started peering at NAPAfrica’s Internet exchange points.
The worry was that Vumatel was gearing up to launch its own Internet service provider (ISP) and compete against its customers like Cool Ideas, Afrihost, and RSAWEB.
While Vumatel only received a small range of IP addresses – 1,024 in total – one ISP told MyBroadband that it would be easy for Vumatel to apply for more IP address blocks from the regional Internet registry, AFRINIC.
It’s also worth noting that Vumatel merged with SA Digital Villages a year ago.
Through this merger Vumatel acquired a retail ISP business. It therefore already has an arm that competes against the other ISPs on its fibre infrastructure.
SA Digital Villages, however, still trades under the SADV brand and the concern from ISPs was that Vumatel was looking at launching a Vuma-branded ISP.
Vumatel receives ASN from AFRINIC
According to public records, Vumatel received its Autonomous System Number (ASN) from AFRINIC on 9 April 2021. Vumatel’s ASN is AS328829.
An ASN enables organisations to participate in the system used for routing traffic on the Internet by advertising the blocks of IP addresses that belong to them.
Vumatel also received its block of IP addresses from on 9 April, according to AFRINIC’s WHOIS database.
Its block is the range of 1,024 unique addresses ranging from 184.108.40.206 to 220.127.116.11. This is denoted as 18.104.22.168/22 for short.
After receiving its ASN and IP addresses, Vumatel joined NAPAfrica on 13 April in all three of the Internet exchange’s peering regions — Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
According to PeeringDB, Vumatel is also peering at JINX in Johannesburg and CINX in Cape Town.
Sometime after 14 April, Vumatel started advertising its IP addresses and routing Internet traffic to them. When ISPs noticed this change, they raised the alarm.
No ISP plans – Vumatel
Vumatel has dismissed speculation that it is looking for enter the ISP market under the Vuma brand.
“We categorically have no plans to launch a Vuma ISP,” a spokesperson for Vumatel told MyBroadband.
“Whilst it is common knowledge that the SADV ISP is also owned by CIVH, they operate as a completely independent ISP.”
Vumatel said that it is not uncommon for large businesses and networks to register their own Autonomous System number and IP ranges.
“These ranges are for internal use only and gives us additional flexibility and robustness in terms of the visibility are management of environments and element across our entire fibre foot print,” stated Vumatel.
“We have a number of small subnets but nowhere near the number needed for an ISP.”