MWeb has taken the Internet market by storm, today launching a range of uncapped ADSL packages for consumers and businesses at an affordable, competitive price.
With products priced from R219.00 per month – about 40% less expensive than comparable offerings, says the ISP – MWeb has become the first major player in South Africa to offer uncapped ADSL on a significant scale – available 24-hours a day, with value-added products, technical back-up and a world-class network – at an affordable price.
Rudi Jansen, CEO of MWeb, says the time has come for South Africans to experience unlimited Internet access that is within their means.
“Internet penetration in South Africa remains below par – in fact, South Africa has fallen behind a number of other African countries in recent times. The lack of well-priced, generously-provisioned bandwidth has been holding us all back – and, as a result we are missing out on an immense economic opportunity.
“In his state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma promised to increase broadband access, reduce tariffs and ensure a high standard of internet service, in line with international norms. MWeb’s latest move is supportive of the government’s objectives to increase internet take-up as part of its efforts to encourage greater economic growth and social upliftment.
"By lifting the usage cap and increasing competition, MWeb will greatly assist the industry change that is needed in this country."
ICT industry analyst Arthur Goldstuck agrees that cheap, unlimited broadband by MWeb marks a key shift in South African Internet history.
“It has been proven that accessible technology builds the economy," he says. "This is the kind of catalyst we’ve all waited for; we hope it's the gambit all other providers will have to match. If it delivers what it promises, the consumer and business user and ultimately the country will be the beneficiaries.”
Citing the examples of France and South Korea and pointing to various global ICT programmes aimed at overcoming the 2009 economic slump, Jansen says the direct and indirect benefits including the multiplier effect of cheap, abundant bandwidth are nothing short of remarkable.
“Broadband lifted South Korea out of the devastation of the Asian market collapse in 1997,” he says. “In 1995, 1% of their population dialed up to the Internet. In 2009, more than 95% of households had broadband. The change is deep and irreversible – everybody has high-definition video on demand. Online gaming conventions are as big as soccer matches or rock concerts. South Koreans spend twice as much per capita online as US citizens.”
Jansen says MWeb hopes its actions are a precursor to a meaningful industry response. Since South African telecoms policy was liberalised to permit ISPs to offer services on their own networks, MWeb – as a first-tier ISP with its own international bandwidth provisioned through SAT3 and Seacom – is now able to compete with telcos by providing Internet access on its own network.
“In spite of the current stranglehold that Telkom currently has on the internet market in South Africa, we felt that action of this significance was necessary to get South Africa to join the rest of the world and enjoy the social and economic benefits that broadband internet has to offer,” says Jansen. “This offer will enable South Africans to access and download content on scale never seen before. We have a real chance to lift ourselves from broadband mediocrity in South Africa, or we risk falling into broadband oblivion."
MWeb has invested significantly in its network and recently achieved Tier-1 ISP status with the migration of its customers to its own IPC network. With its new IPC link, MWeb will have more control over its ADSL network, and Jansen is confident that the additional control will mean better performance and higher service levels.
“We will also be utilising bandwidth on both the SAT3 and Secom international cable systems in order to have full redundancy on our international bandwidth,” he says. “We signed up with Seacom in March for a long-term agreement and we are purchasing significant bandwidth as Seacom provides MWeb with a very attractive solution for international network capacity, at the best price currently available to the South African market.”
He adds that MWeb will continue to work with Telkom to ensure subscribers receive the best possible network experience.
MWeb is introducing six data-only ADSL packages for consumers and businesses. The consumer data-only products will cost R219.00, R299.00 and R539.00 per month for line speeds of 384kbps, 512kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The MWeb Business data-only offerings will cost R499.00 per month for a 384kbps line, R699.00 per month for a 512kbps line, and R1 999.00 per month on a 4Mbps line.
In addition, MWEB will offer three consumer all-inclusive packages (ADSL line rental included) for R349.00, R599.00 and R899.00 per month for line speeds of 384kbps, 512kbps and 4Mbps respectively. The all-inclusive offerings for businesses will cost R629.00 for the 384kbps option, R999.00 for the 512kbps option and R2 259.00 for the 4Mbps package.
All business products are unshaped, and as in the rest of the world, no bandwidth caps will apply to any of these services.
The MWeb Business products are designed to suit the needs of small and medium sized businesses, usually seen as five or more connected devices.
Andre Joubert, GM of MWeb Business, explains that the packages are fully managed. “If something goes wrong, MWeb’s support engineers will remotely log on to fix a router or send an engineer on-site at no additional charge, and also liaise with Telkom, for their portion of the fault.”
Joubert says the business packages have other advantages:
* They are unshaped.
* The service is designed to cater for the throughput of business applications not usually associated with consumer products.
* MWeb includes use of a business-grade router worth R3 999.00 in the 12-month contract.
* The product comes with fixed IP addresses, offering the ability to host servers and deploy a VPN connection.
* MWeb runs a dedicated call centre that offers business-specific technical skills.
* The service is fully MWeb VoIP compatible.
* The product comes with reports and proactive fault communication.