Unleashed ADSL changes the game in South Africa – Ninefold increase in use


It's a year since uncapped ADSL dropped on the Internet market, an event that caused a data usage explosion and an accelerated growth of broadband uptake. Internet service provider (ISP) MWeb says before the launch of uncapped ADSL, its users consumed 282 terabytes of data a month, as opposed to 2.5 petabytes a month currently.

“That's almost a nine-fold increase and is equivalent to 32 years of continuous HD TV streaming.” MWeb says this is a strong indicator of how uncapped ADSL is increasing Internet usage in SA.

“We have seen a significant change in users' online behaviour and have noticed that their interests have shifted from checking e-mails, occasional browsing and online banking, to really exploring and enjoying the wonders of the World Wide Web,” says MWeb CEO Rudi Jansen.

“Five years ago, listening to a local Internet radio station, viewing DSTV on your laptop and downloading your favourite movies and music would have been extremely expensive and almost unimaginable.”

“Uncapped Internet access has literally let the Internet genie out of the bottle. Having open uncapped access to the Internet completely changes the way that people use the Internet, and even how they think about what can be done in the Internet,” says WWW Strategy MD Steven Ambrose.

He adds that data usage has exploded with YouTube video downloads and increasing usage of cloud services. “There have been many incremental developments due to the greater access to the Internet, one being an accelerated growth of uptake of broadband, especially among SMEs.”

Ambrose says what will begin to emerge are local services based on Internet access as the costs continue to come down. “In absolute terms, Internet access is still expensive and uncapped access still commands a premium for most users. This premium will reduce as bandwidth and infrastructure improves over the next year.”

Although MWeb was first to market, an independent test comparing uncapped ADSL offerings from several local ISPs saw MWeb fare poorly, with a much smaller company, GamCo, coming out on top. The test was conducted by Outsource House, a local Web site development company, to investigate the best uncapped options specifically for SMEs.

GamCo had the best results in seven of the 11 different tests that were conducted as part of the investigation. MWeb, on the other hand, did not win a single category, and was at the bottom in four.

The criteria used for the tests were: customer service and response times, ping and latency, download speed, upload speed, packet loss and jitter. Responding to the outcome of the test, MWeb product manager Rihana Hoosain says there are no excuses. “We have started an internal investigation.”