What broadband users want: no bulls**t

Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx says that South Africa’s telecoms industry is not listening to consumers on what they want in broadband services.

Speaking at the 8th annual Broadband Summit in Fourways on Tuesday (19 March), Goldstuck said that industry players, from government, through to Telkom, Internet Solutions, and MWeb were all guilty of providing complex offerings, when the consumer wants simplicity.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communications put the number of broadband offerings in SA at several hundred.

Goldstuck said that the country now boasts 500 times the capacity it had five years ago, but at the same time mobile broadband has grown from 3,500 connections in 2004, to 6.42 million in 2012.

He bemoaned the fact however, that the most reliable internet service in ADSL lines in SA has slowed down to a point of being flat. He said that since 2003, ADSL lines have grown from 157,000, to 875,000 in 2012.

“ADSL in terms of growth is coming to an end..the truth of the matter is that it’s not being sold particularly well, and there is only one provider,” Goldstuck said.

According to the internet guru, Internet users in SA are expected to reach 15.2 million in 2015, from 14 million in 2014, and 12.6 in 2013. He noted that number is conservative and it could be as much as two million more in 2015.

He also highlighted the growth of tablets in SA, to 788,000 by the end of September 2012, and surpassing a million by the end of last year.

In light of the growth of broadband demand, Goldstuck took it upon himself to compile a list of what broadband users want in South Africa.

Users want 10 things from broadband:

  • 1) Real broadband – not 256 kilobits per second – as defined by the DoC policy. “That is not real broadband – its 10 megabits per second minimum,” Goldstuck said.
  • 2) Honest broadband – According to Goldstuck, this is one of the dirty secrets of the industry. Players are selling consumers more than what they are getting.
  • 3) Cheap broadband – Goldstuck stressed that broadband isn’t just about what the wealthiest can afford….for the masses, broadband is still expensive.
  • 4) Reliable broadband – According to Goldstuck, it needs to work. “We have more than half a dozen cables linking us to the rest of the world. No major provider should get away with cables going down,” he said.
  • 5) Faster broadband – “We know the technology is there,” Goldstuck said, adding that it is difficult to see who is taking direction in policy. “Someone has to sign on the doted line somewhere.”
  • 6) No lock-in
  • 7) No entrance fee – According to Goldstuck, the entrance fee to ADSL is “hideous”. Its the single cost in telecoms that has increased every year for the past decade.
  • 8) No price increases – Goldstuck said he hoped not to see a turn around in provider’s recent data initiatives in terms of bringing prices down.
  • 9) No excuses – “We don’t want t dozen reasons why things cant be done,” the telecoms analyst said.
  • 10) No bulls**t – “That’s all we seem to be getting. The time for explaining away and covering up is over,” Goldstuck said.

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