SOS: South African Internet Needs Help!

6 min read


I really had a good laugh this week.

Americans are up in arms because a US company called Comcast has started capping their internet services.

The poor US internet users (residential only I might add) are going to really suffer because they have been restricted to a measly 250GB per month. Are you kidding me! Now I can understand why the internet users are upset as no one likes having anything taken away but this really makes me think about how scary things actually are in South Africa compared to the rest of the world.

What would the Americans do if they were brought down to our level? I really think that the world needs to know how much we pay and how little we get.

I have gone to a US ISP website to check their pricing and then looked at the pricing here in South Africa just to get a good look at the differences between the two. (Comcast requires an address to get pricing and for the life of me I couldn’t get it to work)

You simply won’t believe the numbers when you see them.

Firstly, I am going to take a look at a decent “hardcore” internet package from Telkom together with Webafrica:

Telkom 4Mbps ADSL line including rental (Not including any setup fees or modem
+ Webafrica 10GB Shaped Account:

= R1050.88

Now for the US, I have taken these details straight from the AT&T website:

Downstream Speed: Up to 6.0 Mbps
Upstream Speed: Up to 768 Kbps
IP Address: 1 Dynamic
Double Your Cash Back – Order online and get $100 Cash Back!*

Get Elite for $35.00 per month with the price guaranteed for
2 years—no contract required!*

Plus, receive a FREE AT&T Wireless Gateway (wireless router with built-in modem—a $79.99 value) or a FREE Modem (a $49.99 value) after rebate. Online offer only.*

Also, enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi access at over 17,000 hot spots, including U.S. company-operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hot spot.*

So then, 6mbps line, uncapped, unshaped free modem and hotspot connectivity, wanna guess how much it works out to?

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$35.00 per month (R276.00)

As I work out these figures I find it incredibly difficult to believe what we are paying and what we as South Africans have become used to.

Now I know it doesn’t actually work this way, but my calculator program is open and I feel like working something out. What would it cost me to have 250GB’s worth of cap if I had to order it from a local ISP?

I checked on Webafrica and they do have High Cap options available, so from their packages I will need to order 2 x 100GB packages + 1 x 50GB package.

The final price for the cap alone: R16,700.00 ($2,115.00) per month

Wow, just wow.

It’s obvious to see how prices like these affect us South Africans as gamers as well. Online gaming becomes an issue if you can’t afford enough bandwidth to last you the month, for one. What about digital distribution? A lot of people believe that digital distribution is the was of the future, but how will we ever get to be apart of it if we can’t afford enough bandwidth to even digitally rent or buy one or two movies a month.

Even things that should be free land up costing us money. As a good example, I wanted to try the Too Human demo to see if I like that game and it would be worth my money. I had to fork out R70 for 1GB of prepaid bandwidth to download the demo as it clocked in at just around 1GB. 70 bucks of my money gone just to try a demo out.

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Things such as movie rentals will never become a possibility here if you want to rent an HD movie for, lets say, R35 – R40 but the bandwidth required to download the HD movie lands up costing you and additional R250.00. It is actually a wonder that online piracy even gets anywhere in this country.

It’s actually hilarious when you think about it. A pirate will SAVE money by buying a 6GB – 8GB game from a store rather than downloading it off of the internet if he uses normal shaped bandwidth. That’s right, it will be the same or cheaper to get it in a store complete with the box and manual.

When you look at numbers like this you really start to realise how ridiculous all of this actually is. These US ADSL packages at these prices are geek fantasies that we could only dream of and it is something that really needs to change.

I am depressed now…

Last Updated: September 10, 2008

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

  • Jimmytheediblewyrm

    2nd time im having to write this cause it dumped the 1st one… 😛

    There is hope for the future…

    There are three undersea cables landing in SA in the next two years. The 1st being the EASSY cable (i think), followed by the Seacom cable end 2009, and finally the Uhurunet cable which connects olong four points on the african continent.

    Each of these cables has around a 3.1 terrabit capacity, which is very significant considering that current SAT3 cable only has around a 1 terrabit capacity.. and a telkom monopoly…

    In the meantime however, Neotel has finally been granted access to the SAT3 cable, so hopefully we will see some small glints of hope.

    Now its just a case of holding out a little bit longer, dealing with telkoms shite, and praying for those damn cables to land sooner 😀

    You can get all the details on

  • Jimmytheediblewyrm

    argh… ffs… it told me the 1st post couldnt be used… and it still bloomin used it… now i look like a fool 😛
    lol noob…

  • i can remove it for you

  • We will see if the government lets us use it the way it was intended.

  • Jimmytheediblewyrm

    yay, please do 🙂

  • Thomeval

    Agreed. Even if these new cables do increase our bandwidth, it will be a LONG time before those savings are passed to consumers.

  • Hungry Hooligan

    I did research on this awhile back:

    seacom = Neotel = 1.2TB/s = june 2009
    Essey = Telkom = 320GB/s = mid 2009
    AWCC = Infraco (SA government) = 3.1 Tbit/s = mid 2010

    Just remember all the values that are given are not that starting capacity. the cables are just upgradable to these values. There are also other cables being run. the cables also have many other investments and countries.

  • Hungry Hooligan

    To put this in perspective the current cables are

    SAT-2 = 560Mbit/s =
    SAT-3 = 120Gbit/s
    SAFE = 130Gbit/s

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