The recent flurry of uncapped ADSL offerings and price reductions are an encouraging sign that the local broadband market is undergoing rapid transformation, opening up a range of new opportunities for businesses.
Last week MWeb announced that it will be offering uncapped broadband packages in South Africa. The very next day, Vox Telecom's subsidiary @lantic.net responded by undercutting MWeb's offering with one of its own. Today, Afrihost has joined the fray with its own uncapped ADSL offering.
"Competitive pricing, enhanced service offerings and value added services will start to increase competition, which is what South Africa requires in reaching international standards," notes Frost & Sullivan ICT analyst Craig Johnston. "This creates the opportunity for South Africa to become a stronger player in the international market."
The speed of the uncapped broadband will not immediately increase. The current South African speeds that are offered are 384kbps, 512kbps and 4Mbps. However, Frost & Sullivan predicts that once there is sufficient demand for uncapped broadband, the speed and quality of the broadband will start to improve considerably.
"Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa will benefit, as uncapped broadband provides expansion opportunities through access to unlimited information, applications and the ability to explore alternative forms of data storage," Johnston says. "In particular, it provides a platform for smaller enterprises to make use of cloud computing for storage and archiving."
Cloud computing is an Internet-based model that requires access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband in order to achieve its maximum functions. Uncapped broadband is needed for cloud computing to work, as SMEs that would like to store information on the cloud need to transfer large amounts of data.
The speed of the broadband is also an important, as enterprises do not want to take days or even weeks to transfer Terabytes of information due to a slow connection.
Cloud computing provides numerous benefits, including cost savings, as enterprises only pay for what they use. This is enormously beneficial as they will not have to monitor, maintain and control personal information, but instead hand information over to a reliable third-party that provides a guaranteed service.
"Cloud computing affords enterprises the opportunity of flexibility in decision making," Johnston adds. "This is achieved through customers being able to decide what information they would like to store and use on the cloud, and which information they would prefer to keep in-house due to certain requirements."
Ubiquity is a feature of the cloud that allows enterprises and clients to have access to data and files at any time and at any location, provided there is access to an internet connection. The days of not having a document for an important meeting are over, as the cloud provides the opportunity to gain access to documents via the Internet.