MWeb under fire over peering demands - TechCentral

MWeb under fire over peering demands

Internet service providers have slammed Mweb’s decision to cut off its transit links, saying the company ought to have engaged in discussions instead of taking the fight to the media.

Last week, MWeb cut off its transit links with Telkom’s wholesale Internet access provider Saix, while at the same time preventing users of some other service providers from accessing content on the MWeb network.

MWeb wants to encourage local providers to peer with it, instead of charging it for transit on networks. The company says it hopes it will increase competition in the market and lower Internet prices for the consumer.

Peering is effectively interconnection in the Internet space. Internet providers make certain agreements with each other to allow other providers’ customers to access content on networks.

Worldwide, some service providers peer while others charge transit fees.

Typically, Internet providers that carry the same amount of content would share roughly equal amounts of traffic between their networks and so would engage in a peering model.

Often smaller providers are charged for transit links because their users tend to consume more content from larger networks than the other way around.

This has been the case for MWeb for years. However, since it launched its uncapped service and started supplying content from sister company MultiChoice on its network, the company’s traffic has started to grow sharply.

Internet Solutions MD Derek Wilcocks

MWeb ISP CEO Derek Hershaw says transit is simply too expensive and MWeb had to make a call. He says local transit costs three to five times what it costs on international links.

But several service providers have reacted angrily to MWeb’s move.

Vodacom executive Jannie van Zyl says MWeb’s actions are confusing, especially since Vodacom is in the process of implementing a peering arrangement with MWeb.

“We are fully supportive of peering with MWeb and were in the final planning stages of doing this, so we don’t understand its unilateral action taken on Thursday,” he says.

He says Vodacom has taken steps to limit the effect on its customers and, despite MWeb’s decision, the agreement will be finalised.

MTN Business has also had to make plans for its customers. Infrastructure and technology GM Edwin Thompson says he is disappointed MWeb chose to make a big deal of its decision in the media instead of taking the matter directly to other service providers.

“It just makes us look like the bad guy when we have never even had a relationship with MWeb,” he says.

But Hershaw says MWeb has been in discussions with providers for a long time and not had any joy from the talks.

Thompson confirms that MWeb did approach it to begin discussions about peering. However, he adds that MWeb never provided the information MTN Business needed to determine whether peering made financial sense.

Meanwhile, Internet Solutions (IS) has decided to allow MWeb a trial peering agreement. IS MD Derek Wilcocks says the company will peer for a few months to measure traffic volumes from MWeb.

“According to our agreement, if the traffic ratio is more than one-and-a-half times in either direction, there will be charges added,” Wilcocks says.

Telkom has taken a less conciliatory approach. It has slammed what it calls MWeb’s “unilateral measure”, describing it as “not in the spirit of the Internet community”.

Telkom says it stands by the prices it charged MWeb, arguing they were reasonable and based on international models.

“MWeb’s invitation to peer was considered against these principles. However, peering is not meant to amount to the free provisioning of network infrastructure by one party to another since someone has to cover the capital expenditure of the network,” Telkom says.

The operator has also slammed what it describes as MWeb’s use of the media to fight the peering issue, saying it is not a constructive way of approaching the situation.  — Candice Jones, TechCentral


  1. Go MWEB! Someone has to take the fight to the big guys! It makes absolutely no sense that local traffic is more expensive than international traffic!

  2. Another Andrew on

    “Telkom says it stands by the prices it charged MWeb, arguing they were reasonable and based on international models.”
    Well, obviously not, if Mweb is prepared to use their international links rather than paying Telkom’s transit costs.

  3. LOL Since when has Telkom EVER done ANYTHING “in the spirit of the internet community” unless that includes unilaterally deciding what to charge other providers? MWeb has been engaging in talks since April without any success when it comes to Telkom, MTN, IS, and Vodacom. Vodacom being “in the process” of implementing a peering arrangement could well take another two years considering their prepaid data bundle fiasco. FACT is you were all just dragging your feet and MWeb decided to take some real action. FOAD the lot of you.

  4. Telkoms pricing is just ridiculous – as MWEB say international bandwidth is way cheaper than local is now with the introduction of Seacom – Telkom need to sharpen their pencils big time or risk more of the big guys jumping off of their network.

  5. Well it also shows mweb’s disregard for its clients. I have business clients on Mweb that I now need to move to telkom to continue operating. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot

  6. I am confused with all this talk of “go mweb!”, Hello! what about Businesses, Online Gamers?? Whilst this “good hearted” fight goes on people that run more successful enterprises that are bandwidth and speed dependant suffer. Internet Banking for one is slower! Very short-sighted and by no means a good business move!

  7. M Saunders, To be fair how else will this battle ever start or be won?
    The reality is Telkom will never ever lower there rates, even yet come to the table to discuss.
    It’s a matter of time until all ISPs peer with Mweb and cut Telkom off, why pay for peering? When that happens the local cost of traffic will be none, considering unlike telkoms model the cost should be none.

    Until now Telkom has been a monopoly since they had most the traffic (ADSL subscribers), now that Mweb has exceeded there usage, it makes perfect sense for Mweb to do so.

    Why should Mweb be paying Telkom to pass traffic to there subscribers?

    Go Mweb!

  8. I agree with Mike. MWeb has been proactive in providing better services to the market while MTN has just made another Ayoba add punting the same slow network. Somehow the status quo has to change and if it’s left to the big players it never will.

    It’s too hard to explain in this short space but if you really want to support this then just move all your business to a network that supports open peering rather than from it. Otherwise you’re practically saying it’s ok to charge my clients for something that I already paid for. Moving to Telkom is just shooting YOURSELF in the foot and shortsighted as more people are going to move over to MWeb until this is sorted.

  9. Tekom is overpriced
    and so are more ISP’s Mweb failed to inform their users and thats just bad service
    so we are still left with ISP’s that disregard the client
    Mwebs move was and is not in favour of the consumer if you believe that your damaged, they are intentionlly provoking other ISP’s trying to gloryfy themslves. I am with mweb and furious that they simply cut me off from services I make use of some connections are not even being made through the international routes and are thier cost going to drop now? no they should considering they no longer are paying peering costs MWEB FAILS !!!!!! so all you idiots supporting this move realise its not achiveing anything except tring to manipulate thier image to the community for the better. basically a Goobles move, they better drop costs or get peering up soon or they’ll dfind themselves out of touch

  10. I agree with H C Beukes and Abraxa357

    Allot of clients are going to have to move from MWEB to Telkom because they simply cant afford to close business on the account of a war between MWEB and Telkom.
    Some business models are built around “available fast internet”

    Also… I don’t think MWEB will be passing along the money saved to the end users.
    In my eyes MWEB is basically providing poorer service at the same price. This move allows MWEB to stuff more money in their own pockets.
    I also don’t think they are going to use this extra cash flow to solve the peering problem down the line….

    For all the MWEB supporters… I truly hope I am wrong

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