MWEB hints at unshaped broadband

2012-08-14 14:07
MWEB CEO Derek Hershaw has hinted that the ISP is looking at unshaped broadband for South African consumers. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

MWEB CEO Derek Hershaw has hinted that the ISP is looking at unshaped broadband for South African consumers. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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VIDEO: Internet state in SA

2012-08-14 13:02

MWEB CEO Derek Hershaw chats about the state of the cable broadband internet industry in SA in this YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - MWEB has hinted that it would like to offer South African cable broadband consumers unshaped data packages as internet demand escalates.

"It's probably a factor of two things: For us, it's one of the holy grails - can we deliver a service that is uncapped, and you don't have to worry about shaping or unshaping. That would be fantastic for us," Derek Hershaw, CEO of MWEB ISP told News24.

He said that cost was a limiting factor as the ISP would have to buy more capacity from Telkom.

"The one thing [standing in the way] is input cost and your IPC [IP Connect] cost is probably the most obvious one. For us to offer an unshaped, uncapped product across our entire base, we would have to buy significantly more IPC capacity and that comes at a cost, so there has to be a commercial model for that."

MWEB introduced uncapped broadband products into the South African market in 2010 and many other service providers followed suit.

Gaming

The company has an active online gaming division with about 50 000 users, but Hershaw doubted that South Africa's ageing network might not be able to handle a sudden demand for bandwidth associated with rich media consumption like video.

"Right now I don't think Telkom's infrastructure from a DSLAM [digital subscriber line access multiplexer] to an exchange, backhaul into their core, can carry that sort of load.

"But is it something that's likely to happen in the foreseeable future? I think so. I think competitive market forces and consumer demand will get us there."

MWEB has been pushing the industry to lower internet access costs and lobbied for open peering in 2010.

"Hopefully we establish a principal where all ISPs peer on an open basis using the ‘hot potato’ principal - i.e. where you hand the traffic over at the closest point to where it is hosted," Hershaw said at the time.

Telkom is critical to South Africa's cable broadband industry and the state enterprise has made some moves to increase capacity to users.

It announced that it was on track with a network revamp after an interdict brought by ZTE Mzanzi for being excluded from the bidding process for the estimated R13bn project in March 2012.

Infrastructure

"This means that we will no longer face undue delays in the rollout of the project. Telkom is ready to proceed with its deployment of the MSAN technology which will allow the company to bring the fibre network closer than it has ever been to homes and business premises," Telkom said in a statement on its website.

The first MSAN or Multi Service Access Node units have been deployed in Pretoria and Telkom hopes to roll them out nationwide.

MSAN technology should enable higher broadband speeds without the need for additional infrastructure to be built.

"What's important about that is that over the same piece of last mile copper, you can take your connection speeds from 4mbps [megabits per second] to 10mbps to 20mbps to 40mbps. Suddenly those kinds of first world speeds we dream about become reality," said Hershaw.

The ISP is heavily dependent on Telkom and it has a direct bearing on the cost to the consumer.

"In the fixed line space, we're still heavily dependent on Telkom in terms of investing in infrastructure and then the way they commercially model and price it for either ISPs like ourselves or directly to the consumer," Hershaw said.


News24 is part of 24.com, a subsidiary of Media24, which is in the Naspers stable. MWEB is a subsidiary of Naspers.


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