The past half a month or so has been pretty sweet when it comes to internet deals. In February, Openserve announced that it was doubling fibre speeds for customers at no extra charge, and Mweb came out with a bunch of new packages, upgrades, and price cuts too. Just last week both Axxess and Telkom announced upgrades to their fibre packages. However, if you have a keen eye, you’ll notice that one of the biggest names in fibre is absent from this slew of good news: Vumatel.
Vumatel’s got tight fists…
Yes, that’s right, unlike its competitors, it appears that Vumatel has chosen not to take part in this shower of generosity. In fact, some Vumatel customers may even have their prices increase as the ISP does away with some of its offerings next month. Customers recently received emails describing how certain packages were being discontinued on the 1st of April, and that those paying for said ill-fated packages would be moved to the next package above, with a price increase to match.
According to MyBroadband, Vumatel is now far more expensive than its competitors and is facing criticism from those in the same field.
An anonymous ISP executive told MyBroadband that Vumatel’s prices are out of sync with its competitors’. Another described how, on top of higher prices in general, Vuma also has higher installation fees than most, as well as a hefty installation fee and a superfluous “Automation Exchange” that gives “no value to ISPs or consumers”.
Vumatel told MyBroadband that, “making sure we make a meaningful contribution to getting as many, if not all homes online, with fibre, and doing so sustainably is not easy”, and that its aim was to keep its fibre infrastructure as “sustainable [as] possible” in response to the question: Why are your prices so high compared to other fibre providers?
This doesn’t exactly answer the question but does imply that the company’s reasoning is that lower prices would be unsustainable in the long run. With so much now far more attractive competition, we may see the adverse be true as more customers begin to look at alternatives.
However, switching fibre providers isn’t as simple as it sounds. Fibre still isn’t universally available, and in the places that you can get it, you’re often limited to whoever operates in your neighbourhood. Vuma is still the fibre king (or tyrant depending on your outlook) in a lot of neighbourhoods, so folks have to accept the terms or live fibre free. Which, with the pace of the online world these days, is a fairly gruesome fate.