Afrihost throws its hat into the ring

Gian Visser

The company that in many respects started SA’s broadband price war, Afrihost, says it will introduce low-cost and uncapped broadband packages from early next week.

And its prices will, at the very least, match MWeb’s.

Afrihost’s move comes just a day after MWeb, which is owned by media giant Naspers, took SA’s Internet industry by surprise by slashing its broadband prices and introducing what are being seen as SA’s first affordable uncapped broadband products.

“We are absolutely, 100% going to react to this move [of MWeb’s],” says Afrihost CEO Gian Visser.

Visser says Afrihost, which shook up the market in September last year by introducing cut-price (but metered) broadband, will at least match the prices offered by MWeb.

Afrihost had been planning to surprise the market with uncapped solutions, the way MWeb did on Thursday, but it was beaten to the punch, Visser says.

“We expected competition from uncapped providers, but we never expected it to be MWeb.”

In September 2009, Afrihost cut the price of metered broadband to R29/GB, using its marketing budget to subsidise the product. It now makes money on this offering, thanks to collapsing international bandwidth prices.

Then, earlier this year, it began offering regular top-up specials for half that price. And, more recently, it began selling high-usage packages where the cost of broadband has fallen to below R10/GB. To put that in perspective, the average selling price of fixed-line bandwidth a year ago was about R70/GB.

Though Visser won’t disclose how many broadband customers Afrihost has signed up, he says the company has seen a greater than 10 000% increase in customers in the past six months.

“We are now Internet Solutions’ biggest reseller of bandwidth, eclipsing many of their old stalwarts. We also estimate that we are one of the top four in the country in terms of ADSL volume per month.”

Uncapped packages will quickly become the new norm in the SA Internet industry, he says, but adds that metered options will still be popular for people requiring unshaped broadband at the highest download speeds possible.

He says that although MWeb is a serious competitor, with financial muscle behind it in the form of Naspers, Afrihost can maintain and grow its market share by offering superior service.

“I see this as a David vs Goliath type of scenario, but I truly believe our service is superior to MWeb’s,” he says.

“There will be casualties along the way. But I’m delighted to be a part of this price war, and I’m delighted we were right at the forefront of it as one of the catalysts.”  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

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  • Copacetic

    Go Gian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.sandboxsavant.com justinspratt

    i am voting for Afrihost! :-)

  • Ian D. Samson

    Of course Afrihost has grown 10 000% in six months. Their service is exemplary, their costs are very reasonable, and the support is unsurpassed. Even at R14.50/GB, it beats TelkomSA’s grossly overpriced R64.76/GB with zero service, long time waiting queues for technical support, no answers to e-mails, etc etc etc ad nauseam!

    While reduced-cost bandwidth is great news, we desperately need increased line speeds, especially on ADSL. Telkom CAN do lots to change this. If they give free increases to 4Mbps users to 8Mbps or even 12Mbps, then at least they can GIVE free line speed increases to everyone else, especially the 384/512kbps users. Telkom rakes in about R20-million every hour of every day. It’s not going to feel giving their internet people a speed increase without charge. They must just stop their rampant profiteering ripping of the South Africans and companies such as SEACOM, WACS, and all the other broadband players must come to the party to literally FORCE that behemoth monopoly to give in, or get out of the business altogether.

  • Greg

    MASSIVE props to Afrihost for their attitude – most the other ISPs have nitpicked Mweb’s AUP, or another little aspect of their service, and tried to win support that way, but Afrihost recognises Mweb is a worthy opponent and is carrying on fighting. It’s nice to see there are still people who are willing to take the hard road and win customers honestly.

  • fragtion

    @Ian D. Samson: Well said!

  • Kevin Opperman

    This is the biginning of BIG things to come… Watch out, Telkom! Adapt or die.

  • http://badentrepreneur.bundublog.com/ Marc Ashton

    I make no claims to being a broadband expert, but having watched some of the developments in the sector over the last couple of months it would appear that Afrihost and their product offering have done a lot to influence Mwebs decision

  • JustinM

    Been away from the Net for 2 days , and wow I get hit by this bombshell Congrats Gian – Afrihost is the leader in knocking prices down and making broadband affordable , not Telkom Mwebs

  • http://www.neuromance.co.za halicon

    when i asked tekom to install a telkom line at my house i didn’t even imagine i could afford uncapped adsl… now it seems i can afford uncapped adsl and at decent line speeds but am still waiting for telkom to deliver me a line… 2 months now.

    its fine dropping all these prices but what about people like me who live in a telkom line rich area but still can’t access this broadband.

  • Myfatpipe

    Amaising what can happen when someone like MWEB sets the lead. Free the web!

  • Brandon

    Having used Afrihost for hosting and more recently their prepaid ADSL packages, I have been most impressed. Their customer service is outstanding – every interaction I have had with their service desk has made me feel like part of their family, rather than ‘just another customer’.

    This is what sets them apart from any other ISP I have dealt with. Well done Afrihost – looking forward to your new offering!

  • Sonja

    We used Telkom as an isp before and were absolutely ‘robbed”, then my daughter told us about Afrihost and we have been using them since December 2009, what a world of difference..

    I agree with Brandon. Their service is just fabulously outstanding.

  • Nangoi

    Switched to Afrihost last week . Fantastic service. Our only regret is not making the move sooner!

  • Rene

    Having previously been an MWEB customer and then defecting, I can truly say the service that Afrihost provides eclipses most companies hands down. I get more GIGS now at a decent speed, and I rarely reach or surpass my cap. Going back to MWEB would be a waste, Ill be patient and wait for Afrihost to match or better the MWEB offer, hell even if it cost slightly more, it would still be the better deal!

  • margarete

    Afrihost’s service is nothing short of brilliant. You can’t put a price on it.

  • Hannes

    Go Gian, we love you man.

    If it wasn’t for Arfihost we would still be in the dark ages. They put some pressure into the system.

    I’m not likely to switch providers ever again, they have gained my loyalty with great service and great awareness on what people want.

    Thanks Gian

  • Toorie

    Viva Afrihost Viva

  • Jenny

    Absolutely in agreement. Afrihost have set a standard in SA that the other ISP’s have to match in order to maintain / expand their customer base.

    Im very pleased to be a part of the internet revolution in SA. Now we simply need to get Telkom onboard…

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