Vumatel Vs OpenServe

Jacques du Rand 2018-10-24

Very few people are actually aware that fibre existed in South Africa as far back as 2007. I say far back, albeit Western Europe and North America already had fibre in all its glory by the year 2000. It was well-hidden and certainly underutilized in South Africa. A very long 7 years after that South Africans were still suffering with EDGE, 2G and limited GPRS mobile services. Only in 2014 was one of our largest open access fibre provider companies founded… Vumatel. A year after Vumatel started rolling out its infrastructure, Telkom established a new business division called Openserve.

Companies like Openserve and Vumatel do not provide internet services but rather lays the infrastructure in place for your home, to then be connected to fibre by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) of your choice.

By October 2017 Vumatel’s network passed around 240 000 homes. Not long after Vumatel stepped into the fibre business, Remgro showed its interest in acquiring Vumatel for its own. Remgro is an investment holding company with an interest in a variety of industries which includes technology. Remgro — which is a 51% shareholder in CIV Holdings — then bought

34.9% of Vumatel in June 2018 and plans to buy the rest. As for Vodacom who also showed an interest in buying Vumatel, CIV Holdings expressed clearly they are unwilling to sell their new share in what they called “a strong company with a lot of potential.”

Telkom created Openserve with the idea to renew their focus on wholesale customers specifically. Openserve being created was in line with Telkom’s turnaround strategy which was to separate its wholesale division from its retail divisions to allow better focus, accountability, and customer-centricity. Telkom wants this to be “an era of partnership in connectivity and transparent and fair relationships” between them and their clients as said by their CEO, Sipho Maseko.

But let’s take a look at the Vumatel and Openserve website data side by side.

In terms of page visits for the Openserve website, they have retained quite a steady interest with a slight increase in September. It is presently at a total of 166 550 page visits approximately. 10% of its traffic comes from referrals, with the most referrals naturally coming from Telkom.

Vumatel has also had a steady interest but with a slight decrease in September. With Vumatel existing longer than Openserve at this point, it is no surprise that their total page visits be at 218 20 
A mere 1% of the website traffic is garnered through referrals - being the topmost referrer and a close second.

Openserve - being part of Telkom (founded in 1991) - will remain a fierce competitor to anyone entering the telecom industry or anything remotely related. Telkom has a vast clientele base due

to its early inception, however, that does not make them the best in business, fibre or not. A MyBroadband survey in 2017 showed that Vumatel scored higher in terms of value for money, network quality, and support and billing.

By March 2018 the fibre infrastructure has already passed 933 000 homes, in addition, 280 000 homes had connected to fibre. These numbers are bound to leap when Vumatel finishes the planned phases of their ‘township fibre project.’

The future is connected, and it is undoubtedly about time for South Africa to enjoy streaming, downloading, and a stable network with speed to rely on.


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