SA'S TELECOMS UNDERDOG STORM ENTERS ISP FRAY
Storm Telecom, a telecoms provider that has been tweaking Telkom's nose for the last few years, with its least call routing, VoIP and other converged networking technology, has launched itself into the consumer Internet space with "storm at home".
The Cape Town-based company, whose client base is typically corporate and SME, offers what it describes as corporate-grade Internet access to home users across the country, at "competitive prices, and with access speeds faster than other providers."
Tim Wyatt-Gunning, MD of storm, explains that Storm's strategy is to provide fast Internet access at low prices, and not to waste money on content-drive portals (which market research suggests that target customers are not interested in anyway). "With genuine broadband access out of reach for all but a few at over R800 per month, 'storm at home' bridges the gap, with its faster surfing speeds, quicker downloads, and simple, no-nonsense Web site, all at very affordable rates," he says.
'Storm at home' offers two different services to suit the needs of residential users: Connect15 and Connect24. At R55 per month for dial-up (or R85 per month for ISDN), Connect15 offers Internet access for 15 hours a day, from 6pm to 9am on weekdays and full access on weekends and public holidays. Connect24, at R95 per month for dial-up (or R125 per month for ISDN) users, offers 24-hour a day Internet access.
The Connect15 offering is designed for users who work during the day, and only use their home Internet access in the evenings, on weekends and public holidays. Since the majority of the connectivity time coincides with Telkom's call more time, dial-up costs are also lower.
Storm also offers a built-in accelerator, where software that it developed aims to allow users faster Internet access and e-mail downloads. It also has a contact manager feature, which is designed to store users' address lists on the 'storm at home' server for access from any computer. The contact manager can also send automatic notification of the user's new storm e-mail address to the contact list, the company adds.
'Storm at home' is said to provide an e-mail address with five aliases, Internet access, virus and spam filtering, a support centre open every day from 7am to 10pm, home fax (fax to desktop) and a customisable homepage. Storm aims to attract 15,000 active customers within a year to the service, growing to 50,000 within three years (5% of the current home ISP market).