What does the sale of an ISP mean for its customers?

“Some internet companies are fast to sell.
Others just have fast internet.”


On Monday 10 June 2019 MyBroadband shared the news that a South African ISP is for sale. (ISP’s name was removed at their request)

According to the article some of the bigger South African ISPs seem interested in purchasing the ISP that is for sale.

But what does this mean if you are a customer of an ISP that is for sale? Looking into the crystal ball… it’s still difficult to tell. The ways in which the purchaser can extract value from the purchase would be to move customers over to their own base, keep the brand alive but merge the networks to reduce costs or something entirely different.

On sales, mergers and takeovers.

SA has seen a number of mergers, acquisitions and takeovers. Here’s a trip down the internet archives.

Takealot/Kalahari:

Originally a sale to Takealot, Kalahari ended up being closed down in the name of scale:

The move was driven by the fact that, without scale, SA etailers simply can’t compete successfully against the local brick and mortar retailers and foreign companies such as Amazon and Alibaba. – Source Takealot

The merger was originally approved by the competition commission as long as no more than 200 people didn’t lose their jobs.

MWEB/Polka:

Way back when Polka was a low cost ISP that was a division of MWEB, but ended up being downloaded to the archives of the internet and is now a chapter in MWEB’s history.

MWEB/Tiscali:

Anyone remember Tiscali? MWEB also bought them back in 2004 for R320M (excluding their cellular operations which was bought by Vodacom).

Consolidation in the SA Fibre Market

This year CIVH (Remgro) completed their acquisition of Vumatel. Good news is they will have to continue to be an Open Access network.

Consolidation of the market is the natural next step in the FTTH space.

The theme in the market is certainly consolidation, bigger scale means companies can achieve better efficiencies.

Don't want to be merged?

Be Smart

Special Offer customers on Octotel: Switch to Atomic for Free!

For those who are less than thrilled about the sale of their ISP, we’re offering a FREE migration on Octotel lines on 100Mbps lines and above – valued at R850.

Why choose Atomic?

We’re not another heartless corporate. We are a group of passionate network engineers, designers, nerds and full stack developers building a fiercely independent ISP – nobody has time to deal with evil empires.

Atomic makes fibre internet epic, so busy people who demand great internet can trust that they are getting the best fibre experience at their home and business. We built the kind of network we always wanted to use and we’re inviting you to join!

What makes us different?

  • Fibre only, no legacy, no distraction
  • Open Access only, no mixed incentives
  • Focus on small business and techies
  • Founder run, a group of motivated people
  • No Call Centres, we don’t like to keep people waiting
  • We give 20% discount on monthly bills, find out more
  • We built and run our own network, no outsourcing
  • Transparent, proactive, no BS
  • We’re on a mission to make customers smile!

Octotel PackageAtomic Access UncappedMigration Cost
Uncapped Home Fibre Packages
10/5MbpsR599/mR850 R799
10/10MbpsR669/mR850 R799
20/5MbpsR799/mR850 R799
20/20MbpsR859/mR850 R799
100/25MbpsR899/mFREE
100/100MbpsR1,129/mFREE
200/25MbpsR1,299/mFREE
200/200MbpsR1,499/mFREE
1000/25MbpsR1,649/mFREE
Uncapped Business Fibre Packages
10/10MbpsR1,099/mFREE
50/50MbpsR2,029/mFREE
100/100MbpsR3,169/mFREE
200/200MbpsR4,999/mFREE
Prices correct as of 11 June 2019 and are subject to change. Excludes installations and routers. Octotel are changing prices 1 August 2019, which will impact our prices.

Sign Up For Epic Fibre Internet 🚀

Before you start ...
This is for Home Fibre services (FTTH). For business fibre click here.
Free migration choose "Octotel Migration - R799" and you won't get charged.
Free migration is only available for Octotel on 100Mbps and up.

Read More


Fibre For Friends 1 Year Later

What a year!

Recently one of the Atomic team members was at a braai in Stellenbosch and overheard:

I've heard about Atomic, that’s the fibre ISP started for friends and if you refer friends you get a discount. Graham

We are very happy to have expanded our offering beyond just our friends, and that lots of customers are enjoying discounted Fibre Internet. We consider all our customers our friends and aim to treat them how we would want to be treated by an ISP. Read more about our friends referral program Triangulate ∆.

Our first friends went live on the Octotel network exactly a year ago! Since then we've got many more customers, we've joined Frogfoot Fibre, and we'll be joining more networks soon including Vumatel.

Thank you for choosing Atomic! 🖖🏻🚀🐙🥳

Fibre-For-Friends-A-Year-Later

Read More


Launching Gigabit Fibre Internet

We are proud to announce the launch of our new Gigabit FTTH services on the Frogfoot and Octotel fibre networks.

These are the fastest home fibre lines available in South Africa today, with the lowest latency, yet very good value, even if you compare the pricing to what people pay for gigabit fibre in America. Our gigabit fibre is available from R1399/m – you would pay around R1200/m for a similar service in the US. Cape Town finally has home internet of comparable price and value!

We also have a limited time special offer for the week of the launch of our new product: our 1Gbps FTTH services come with a free installation if ordered before the end of October 2018.

Atomic is different because it is a founder-run business – we don’t have employees. Everybody you will deal with owns a part of the company. We’re small, we’re focused, we’re fibre only, we’re Cape Town only and we’re only offering services on independent open access fibre networks. Not having any legacy allows us to keep things very simple and lean, and provide great service.

Atomic Access Gigabit Fibre Packages

The table below provides an overview of Atomic’s gigabit home service pricing:

Uncapped, Unshaped Gigabit FTTH on Frogfoot

Monthly Cost

-20% Tier

Leap 1000, 1000/1000 Mbps
R1,949*
R1,559

Uncapped, Unshaped Gigabit FTTH on Octotel

Monthly Cost

-20% Tier

Warp 1000, 1000/25 Mbps
R1,749*
R1,399
* Special Offer: Free Install or Migration if ordered before 30 Oct 2018

Learn more about our new Gigabit Home Fibre service.

Read More


Ultimate Guide To Fibre Internet

Finally… Everything you ever needed to know about getting the best home Fibre Internet in South Africa, in one ultimate guide. Read more ?

Read More


Wifi For Home Fibre Internet

The best way to a happy wifey is good WiFi.
Wise Man.

Crummy routers irritate everyone and make your Fibre Internet seem much slower than it is, but it’s not difficult to get it right (assuming you are not tempted by some free ?).

Jump to the relevant section:

Home router technology doesn’t move all that fast, but we think the WiFi choice you make should be a 3 year decision.

1 - Are you trying to use cheap hardware?

If you are using your old ADSL router or something else that’s old, you might want to sit down and start accepting that you should probably buy a new router.

2 - Do you need more than 1 WiFi Router?

In big homes or apartments with lots of concrete/steel in the walls you will need more than one WiFi hotspot to cover an entire home. You have a couple of options:

  • Super powerful base stations
  • WiFi range extenders using existing electrical cabling in the home
  • Mesh Networks

Super powerful base stations. There are a lot of good WiFi routers that can cover a large area and some models are more powerful than most. So there is a lot to be said to getting a very powerful single unit and avoid the issues that might some from running extenders or Mesh networks.

WiFi Range Extenders can be difficult to set up, and if you set the extender WiFi name to the same as your main base station you can confuse your devices and sit without internet while your phone or laptop decides which WiFi to connect to. Extenders can be a cheap and handy solution to get WiFi to your granny flat, but don't expect a seamless experience or blazing speeds.

Bring in WiFi Mesh networks. They are made up of more than one WiFi device and offer a very large network area and the ability to offer “seamless” handover from one device to the next. In practice this means you can walk through your house and your device will switch “nodes” without you even noticing. What’s more is the base stations create multiple connections between each other and automagically decide which is the fastest route through the network and if one nodes breaks there is a failsafe to route through the nodes that are still operational.

What does this mean? If you need one router, invest in something decent. We think R500-R1000 will get you something good. If you need a large WiFi area look into a Mesh network and budget for around R3000.

3 - How fast is your Fibre?

In the world of Wifi there cannot be multiple devices communicating at the same time wirelessly. This is because WiFi is “half duplex”, which means the wifi radio can only speak one direction at a time, one message at a time. In other words everything has to wait its turn. Even if your neighbours WiFi is using the same channel.

Above or below the 30Mbps fold?

To save you time and keep things simple, 30Mbps is the dividing line. With a simple, single band router you’ll be getting around 30Mbps, if you are lucky 40mbps - this is with most cheap home WiFi routers.

If you have 30Mbps line or higher, you will want to have a dual channel or higher spec WiFi Router to make full use of your line.

Here are the speeds you might achieve in perfect conditions (read: in a lab), but you should expect to get only 1/3 of these speeds in the real world.

2.4Ghz (Standard) 
5Ghz (Dual Band)
802.11ac
1.73 Gbps
802.11n
216.7 Mbps
450 Mbps
802.11a
54 Mbps
802.11b
11 Mbps
802.11g
54 Mbps

As you can see by the table above, if you have a 100Mbps line or higher, you will need to be dunning a 5Ghz 802.11ac router at least to make use of your line.

4 - How many devices do you have on your network?

Most cheap routers tend to start freaking out with more than 10 devices. So imagine 5 people with a laptop and a smartphone - there goes your WiFi.

Weirdly Easy Tips for Faster WiFi:

  • On 2.4Ghz Wifi, use channels 1, 6 or 11 :

"Non-overlapping channels (1,6,11) work better than overlapping channels. With overlapping channels, you step on each other and can't do anything about it. With non-overlapping channels, you see each other and share the bandwidth."

  • For 2.4Ghz Wifi use a 20MHz channel
  • For 5Ghz Wifi you can use 40MHz or 80MHz channels, just check to see if anybody else is using the same channels near you
  • Use a wifi scanner app like iStumbler to see which channels have the least activity
  • If you have a hotspot with 2 antennas turn one antenna 90deg (make one vertical and one horizontal). This is because of the orientation of the radio waves. Laptops antennas are horizontal, phones are vertical, so having aerials on your WiFi router both ways makes it more likely that there is a radio wave aligned to your device.
  • If you have a hotspot with 4 antennas, point them all upwards
  • Make sure you use WPA2 encryption
  • Choose a secure password
  • On macOS, hold down the Alt key and click on the wifi icon top right in the menu bar to see details about your wifi network status

As you can see there are many factors than work together to contribute to the perfect WiFi network for fiber internet. How large an area you want to cover, how fast your internet is and how busy your WiFi network is going to be, but with these tips you should be more empowered to make the most our of your home WiFi.

Read More


Fibre or Fiber?

Today's Internet Spelling Bee

When it comes to how to spell the super fast, non copper, non wireless kind if internet, in South Africa it's Fibre Internet.

TL/DR

Wait. But why?

Way back in the 19th century Americans moved for a distinctly American version of English. Meanwhile, at the same time, many British linguists preferred to spell words that they borrowed from French and Latin closer to their original spellings. In the case of fibre vs fiber, the former is likely the case. Fibre came to English from Latin through French, and the -re ending is common in French.

South Africa is a beautiful and diverse country, which means you can get away with using either English or American spelling, but because SA was a British Colony in the past, it would be technically correct to use "Fibre". But we won't hold it against you.

Read More