DataEQ has published its 2023 ISP Sentiment Index, revealing how consumers feel about the big Internet Service Providers in the country.
The index tries to determine how consumers view ISPs in the country by analysing thousands of social media posts over a year and categorising them by their general sentiment.
For the 2023 report, close to 140,800 non-enterprise mentions were retrieved for the ISP industry for the period 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2023.
Data sources included all main social networks, namely Twitter (X) and Facebook, as well as multiple other online sources.
The group found that general sentiment around ISPs in South Africa is overwhelmingly negative, with the industry tracking the lowest net sentiment score across all the sectors DataEQ analysed this year.
ISPs were seen far more negatively than Telcos – the only other industry to see a net negative score – and far from the most positively-received banking industry.
According to DataEQ, the ISPs’ low sentiment was largely driven by service issues and network quality complaints.
“The apparent lack of adequate service is clear in the data as, on average, 66.2% of the analysed
conversations surrounding ISPs warranted action, while only 50% of those actionable mentions were
responded to,” it said.
This also tracked among the ISPs themselves, with only Supersonic managing to secure a net positive score in 2023:
Supersonic’s positive sentiment score of 9.4% was a far leap from second place – Telkom Fibre – which managed a net negative score of -22.8%.
The worst-ranked among the ISPs was Mweb, with a net negative sentiment score of -71.9%, while being the topic of 20.3% of posts assessed.
Why so negative?
DataEQ said that the ISP market is fiercely competitive, with market differentiation boiling down to pricing and customer experience.
When it comes to the former, South African ISP customers are generally quite positive – much like Supersonic’s position, pricing is the only topic that has seen positive sentiment over the past year, with a net positive score of 7.5%
Conversely, customer service ranks as the second worst topic when driving sentiment.
This makes sense in the context that internet users are far more likely to come online to complain about poor service than good pricing – but the sheer level of negativity directed towards ISPs for their customer service is staggering.
“Customers expressed frustration towards a range of issues, like delayed router installations, unreliable or intermittent internet connectivity, slow internet speeds, downtime and billing errors. Poor communication and unresponsive customer service further exacerbated negativity,” DataEQ said.
Looking at pricing specifically, Supersonic was again the ISP with the most positive talk around it – which DataEQ said was thanks to an effective Black Friday campaign.
However, even discounting the Black Friday promotions – which drove a lot of positive talk – the group’s net sentiment score would have settled at 30% for 2023, remaining the highest in the country.
Telkom Fibre was the only other ISP to have a positive sentiment score – with Mweb again placing last, with Vox Telecom just above.
With customer service, though, things fall apart for all the ISPs, where none managed to capture a positive score.
Here, Cool Ideas and Afrihost had the lowest negative sentiment scores, with Mweb again ranking as the worst.