Online community set to benefit from slashed prices

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Telkom's move to cut the prices of its fixed-line Internet access services will result in better deals for South Africa's long-suffering online community.

"Overall prices will go down, but at the moment the most affordable product costs about R199 a month for a one gigabyte option," said MyADSL founder Rudolph Muller.

In a study conducted by MyADSL, Telkom's SAIX four megabits per second offering was rated the highest for reliability and performance but very hard to access, especially in townships and other places out of range of the DSL exchange. But that service costs R815 a month with a three gigabyte cap.

"It's expensive and installation can be a bit of hassle, but for a home or work PC with high volumes of data, it's definitely the best option," Muller said.

Telkom currently has capacity for only 250000 ADSL users. Despite its pledge to improve availability, demand still outstrips supply. Consumers continue to be frustrated by difficulties in getting ADSL connections. Muller said the next best option is wireless technology, mainly through iBurst and Sentech.

Mobile options include HSDPA technology, which is best-suited to people on the move who only need to browse the web and check for e-mail. It has monthly maximum of one gigabyte.

"The only problem with mobile options is that the price would be extremely high once you started using it at high volumes, however if you are on the move and need to be able to still connect via a laptop or PC, it is ideal," Muller said.