Access to high speed internet key to helping get SA get back on its feet
With the national lockdown being reduced to Level 2, the focus now firmly shifts to rebuilding the local economy. However, with restrictions such as social distancing still in place, companies are still reliant on enabling remote working, and even selling or delivering their products and services digitally – making affordable access to stable, high speed internet connectivity critical.
“With lockdown being extended for longer than I think anybody thought it would, we intended to continue supporting our customers. The needs and requirements of our customers have changed, and we need to support them as we all continue to navigate the demands of lockdown including working from home and bringing the classroom home,” says Shane Chorley, Head of Sales and Marketing at Frogfoot, a licensed open access fibre infrastructure provider.
In response to the initial declaration of a National State of Disaster, and implementation of lockdown restrictions in March, several fibre network operators (FNOs) introduced promotional campaigns that offered customers a doubling of their internet line speeds at no extra cost. While other FNOs have since ended their promotion, Chorley states that Frogfoot will continue with its promotional campaign and evaluate it on a monthly basis.
Given this demand is not just in the cities, Frogfoot is also steadily pursuing a strategy of rolling out its network in a growing number of secondary cities and towns around the country, such as Bloemfontein, Ermelo, George, Kimberley, Mossel Bay, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, and Richards Bay.
While physical offices are not going to disappear anytime soon, more people will continue working remotely than before the current crisis. A study by research firm Gartner shows that over 80% of business leaders plan to allow their employees to work remotely some of the time. Fibre is the only connectivity method that can offer users the scalability and capacity that they require, while upgrades can be carried out in real-time, and with no disruptions.
As such, increasing the number of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) installations will become a critical part in enabling the country’s economy to recover, as more people embrace the ‘new normal’.
These changes in user behaviour is also corroborated by data from Frogfoot, which shows that customers on lower packages – 10Mbps and 20Mbps – started using up to 30% more data than they usually did. Chorley explains that while some of this is due to the requirements of working from home, users are also making use of the extra speed for leisure activities that they may not have done before. This includes video streaming, online gaming and increased social media usage.
“With the Double Up promotion in place, they now have enough connectivity for home with multiple users; traditionally on their chosen capacity, they may not have been able to support this. Based on what we have seen, now that the user has experienced a higher throughout, they don’t return to a lower throughout. We believe they will want higher line speeds permanently,” says Chorley.
Increased demand for fibre
Chorley adds that Frogfoot has seen a noticeable demand from residents to be connected to fibre in the cities and small towns where the company has its fibre infrastructure – both during the build phase, as well as when the network goes live, and the company is implementing new processes in order to get residents connected.
“We have pushed to install quicker to keep up with the demand and the requirements of our customers, launching an express installation trial in some of our areas. This meant that we managed to service customers within 10 working days, depending on external factors. The shift to Level 2 lockdown restrictions will just assist us in maintaining the speed of our home installations, and ensure that even more residents can get connected,” adds Chorley.