iBurst loses ground in South Africa


Despite almost doubling its broadband subscriber base from 35,000 to 60,000 in the past year, iBurst is losing ground in terms of market share, delegates heard at the Broadband Summit, held in Sandton, this week. iBurst head of product development Antony McKechnie said one of the challenges iBurst faced was that it did not deliver some of the services that customers want.

People are looking for increased mobility, high bandwidth, content and ubiquity – elements which iBurst's current offering did not provide, he said. iBurst's growth was also hampered by its limited coverage, as the company only has coverage in major cities, and not every town in SA, McKechnie explained.

The company, which to date has only offered services on its iBurst technology, is also hampered by the fact that the technology is not widely used, with the result that it takes longer for the company to get returns on its investments. This affects how fast new research is undertaken and the technology roadmapped, he said.

South Africa has close to a million broadband subscribers, with iBurst having 60 000, Telkom 400 000, Vodacom's HSDPA 350,000 and MTN HSDPA an estimated 70 000, said MyADSL founder Rudolph Muller during his presentation.

Sentech MyWireless has 2,500 subscribers, while wireless Internet service providers account for about 45,000 broadband subscribers, he said.

McKechnie said iBurst was diversifying its offering and will offer ADSL services starting in April. The broadband provider will also offer GSM-based broadband, MetroNet and voice services, as well as online gaming, he said.

It makes sense for iBurst to offer 3G-based broadband services, due to its partnership with Vodacom, he said. iBurst's MetroNet service, which is offered in partnership with subsidiary Broadlink, will be deployed in areas where iBurst does not have adequate coverage, he said.

The company is also engaged in trials for iGame, an online gaming offering, said McKechnie. This is being done in partnership with gaming experts and the online game community.

Meanwhile, iBurst has announced price cuts on its current broadband offerings, and will consolidate its product line from 12 to seven products with effect from 1 April.

The new offerings will see the company retain its R49 per month Kickstart service, which allows for 40MB of monthly usage. It also offers subscribers 500MB, at R149 per month; 1 000MB, at R199 per month; 3 000MB, at R449 per month; and 5 000MB, at R599 per month.

Pay-per-use eliminates the restrictions placed on subscribers by throttling and capping once their data quotas have been exhausted, says iBurst.