MWEB hints at unshaped broadband

2012-08-14 14:07

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.


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.


"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, a subsidiary of Media24, which is in the Naspers stable. MWEB is a subsidiary of Naspers.

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  • mikenortje - 2012-08-14 14:29

    The fly in the oinment TELKOM!!!

      jaco.duplessis.7 - 2012-08-14 15:18

      true that!

      nrgx.nrg - 2012-08-14 16:35

      too true, telkom need to be stripped of the monopoly. This will cause huge interest in foreign investment, massive infrastructure builds and intern create a substantial amount of jobs. SA needs to catch up to the worlds broadband technology and telkom is holding us back (amongst others ie anc) MWEB - if you can pull this off it will be a major relief for both businesses and households.

      sean.carbutt - 2012-08-15 09:33

      Telkom is the problem. FFS, why does any other ISP have to buy from Telkom? Right there are grounds for a "monopolising" the infrastructure law suit. As long as Telkom owns the rights, SA will be screwed, too expensive and quite frankly 10 years behind. My mates in the UK, Mid West USA and them viking countries all have 40 mbps and higher and are running fibre. We are lucky to get 4mbps, let alone the fortunate few who get 10. By the time Telkom gets their DSLAMS up and running, we will be even further behind. Telkom you deserve every fine you get

  • Steynje - 2012-08-14 15:22

    The other thing standing in the way of MWEB, is their pathetic customer service. No thank you, my current ISP provides a better service.

      hentie.devries - 2012-08-14 19:48

      I've only had great service from them. Maybe your expectations were unrealistic?

      tiaan.fourie - 2012-08-15 08:27

      I have also only had great service from Mweb, at home and at the office.

      james.m.turner.35 - 2012-08-15 09:43

      I hear you. Openweb DESTROY Mweb. Had nothing but crap service from them. Everything from changing CName and AName Records, to simple LAMP solution hosting. They are incapable.

      madmax.toreturn - 2012-08-16 01:25

      Hahaha!! Yes I had some bad experiences too via customer care, but after I lost my temper a few time and told them that this is not what I'm paying them for, they pulled their act together. On the ADSL side, they dont throttle, trust me, pulling 300-320 per month on my 4Mbps line and no worries at all. I had Afri and Open, no way I'm going back there!!!!

  • adrian.tyler - 2012-08-14 15:51

    I'm sure the term 'Cable Broadband' is being misused here? I stand to be corrected though.

      likeitis.insa - 2012-08-14 16:14

      You mean cable-theft broadband

  • james.m.wood.773 - 2012-08-14 20:40

    sorry, didn't quite get that, could you redo in english please

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-08-14 22:13

    Fantastic service from MWEB. True the problem is Telkom.

  • zip.reeper - 2012-08-15 01:33

    the ether is free and so should be bandwidth. bandwidth to the people.

      sachasea - 2012-08-15 01:52

      I agree more bandwidth availability and higher speed = more education potential for the people = not good news for the ANC. No wonder Telkom is so slow to get the ball rolling.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-15 02:31

    Other companies have been supplying unshaped for a long time already. Good to see that you are thinking about doing the same now. Google Cybersmart for example.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-15 02:45

    Cybersmart have been offering unshaped for ages. Good on you to consider it too.

  • iceman196 - 2012-08-15 07:40

    My biggest dream, Mweb with there own fixed line service, telkom has to go

  • stuart.lidstone.1 - 2012-08-15 09:50

    I have been using the same ISP since 1996 and changed from dial-up to basic adsl in 2004. I am under 4kms by road from the nearest telkom exchange and yet i am unable to increase my line speed to 1mbps without it constantly bombing out and having to reset to 384kbps and telkom and mweb push their respective sales pitches. Up yours to both Mweb & Telkom! 3rd world rubbish!

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