With Telkom doing away with its 384kbit/s fixed-line broadband plan in favour of a 1Mbit/s product, consumers look set to get better speeds without having to fork out more cash to Internet service providers (ISPs) for corresponding data packages, according to industry players.
Vox Telecom co-CEO Doug Reed says consumers can expect to pay similar fees to what they’re paying now for faster services. “Customers will pay a similar amount for 1Mbit/s packages as they have been for 384kbit/s ones. ISPs can’t really push up prices.”
Vox intends to double existing clients’ packages, so 512kbit/s users will be moved to 1Mbit/s while those currently using 1Mbit/s will see their speeds double, too.
Reed says that although this is a price reduction in a sense, it’s perhaps best seen as a “normalising” of pricing. “Prices coming down indefinitely is a misconception,” he says. “There’s a cost to service a customer, and that’s around R200/month to R300/month globally. SA is heading that way. What you’re getting in this instance is more bang for your buck as opposed to buck for your bang.”
Web Africa CEO Tim Wyatt-Gunning says his company’s intention is to “try and move everyone up the scale and gradually phase out lower-end products like 384kbit/s and 512kbit/s”.
ISPs can still offer lower-speed packages by means of restricting speeds. “We’re not obliged to offer increased speeds,” says Wyatt-Gunning, but adds that the company is likely to boost them anyway.
“Those lower-speed products generally cause more problems than higher-speed ones due to poorer customer experience. People buy a 384kbit/s product but expect far more. We’re keen to follow suit with Telkom and make the 1Mbit/s the minimum.”
Wyatt-Gunning says the move from Telkom could also prompt ISPs to offer new products. He says Web Africa will be introducing a 2Mbit/s uncapped data package in coming weeks, an option it doesn’t currently offer.
He says there is concern about Telkom’s ability to handle the increased network traffic the move will create, but that this may prove to be unfounded depending how Telkom rolls out the upgrades.
“We’ve seen quite an increase in issues between the customer premises and the Telkom exchanges,” Wyatt-Gunning says. “There’s been a definite increase in faults being reported by our customers over the last six months. We know Telkom is undertaking a network upgrade, but we’re concerned about its investment in the current network.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media