MWEB upgrades SA users
Cape Town - MWEB has announced that all its customers on 512kbps will be upgraded to a 1Mbps at no additional cost.
"For us it's really been predominantly about trying to get the end consumer a better overall internet experience, and we've seen based on our customer base and the market that a lot of customers are still stuck on 384 and 512[kbps]," Rihana Hoosain the Head of Products at MWEB, told News24.
Users will pay not for the upgrade and MWEB said that this would be another step to facilitate better consumption of rich media on the internet in SA.
"With Telkom upgrading the lines, we thought it was a good opportunity for us to also upgrade our customers at no extra cost so that their overall internet experience when they're doing rich media, you know VoIP [voice over IP] calls, using YouTube would definitely be much better because they're getting double the speed at no additional cost," said Hoosain.
Telkom has been criticised in the past for not responding to the needs of the internet market in SA because of the "last mile" monopoly it has, but Hoosain said that this was a good "gesture", if not direction by the state telecom.
"Look it's debatable, I mean we were anticipating this move from 512 to one meg, so it's definitely a good gesture from Telkom's part to say: 'Look we are looking at the overall perspective and we are trying to get real broadband speed to the end consumers.'
"But other than the upgrades to the 10Mbps, the bulk of the ADSL subscriber base out there is not really that much better off."
IN SA though, wireless devices are mainly used to access the internet because of the lack of infrastructure and cost. MWEB conceded that this would remain an obstacle.
"With the current set-up for the infrastructure for the fixed line service, there definitely is an obstacle in our way and obviously the wireless operators are encroaching on that," Hoosain said.
She added that MWEB's focus would be the quality of its service over wireless.
"For the most part, they are speaking to the market share that aren't able to access fixed services, so we do see the wireless services playing quite a critical role in the broadband market, but to sort of compensate for that it's really important that the quality of our fixed line services that we do deliver to customers is improving consistently."
In particularly rural areas, the lack of cable broadband limits the provision of internet, but Hoosain hinted that there are plans to change the situation.
"The reach of the fixed line infrastructure in outer lying areas, there just isn't copper there, so can't actually provide ASDL service.
"But I do foresee more innovative technologies coming out of the ISP space to try and combat that. Obviously, the wireless market is really advancing in that area because they are able to provide internet services there," she said.
MWEB is prepared to absorb all costs associated with the upgrade as it is expected that users will double their internet consumption.
"If there are any additional costs that's borne by MWEB it's something that we're willing to do because we really are committed to improving the overall broadband experience for our consumers," Hoosain said.
Still, until Telkom provides a universal cable broadband service, many South Africans who would like to access the full web experience will have to wait or use wireless in the meantime.
"Until we see massive advances on that side, we're basically playing to Telkom's tune," said Hoosain.
- Uncapped Data-only 1Mbps ADSL will retail for R299 per month, and
- Uncapped All-inclusive 1Mbps ADSL (with ADSL line rental) will retail for R599 per month.
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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