According to a recent report published by STANLIB, global Internet access has increased from a mere 400 million users in 2000 to an estimated 3.2 billion users in 2015. In some regions, as much as 95% of the population actively uses the Internet. But in other places, like South Africa, Internet penetration clocks in at a mere 47%.
Why? Well, as most South African residents could tell you, the Internet connection speeds are slower in South Africa than in many other developed countries. STANLIB’s report notes that the global average connection speed is 5Mbps. And South Africa falls well below that average at 3.4Mbps. Given this information, it is no surprise that many South African businesses have trouble optimizing for VoIP communications.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This telephony solution routes calls directly over the Internet rather than relying on landline technology.
In this post, we talk with Justin Da Costarista, an AVOXI Account Manager based in South Africa, about some of the ways that local businesses can choose the best Internet Service Provider (ISP) for their VoIP communications needs.
Choosing the Best ISP for VoIP in South Africa
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry in South Africa is booming, and there are many providers from which to choose. Telkom, WebAfrica, Vox Telecom, and Internet Solutions are just a few.
But, not all ISPs are created equal. To ensure you have the Internet connectivity and bandwidth needed to support VoIP communications, be sure to ask any potential providers to give you details on the following topics:
Internet Connection Speed and Bandwidth
STANLIB notes that South Africa has an average connection speed of 3.4Mbps, and a peak connection speed of 16.8Mbps in the first quarter of 2015. In order to support VoIP, you need at least 85 – 100 Kbps per concurrent (simultaneous) call.
So, how much bandwidth do you need to support VoIP in South Africa?
“It really depends on how many seats you need,” says Justin Da Costarista, an AVOXI Account Manager based in South Africa. “If you only need 5 hosted seats for a cloud PBX solution, you really only need a 2Mbps ADSL line. If you need 20 seats on a hosted call center platform, I would recommend a 20Mbps line.”
But to ensure great VoIP call quality in South Africa, you need more than adequate bandwidth. "Above all, you should always keep your voice and data separate," says Da Costarista. "It is essential to maintaining good call quality when making the switch to VoIP communications."
The bottom line: understand your capacity and concurrent call needs, and check with your VoIP provider. They’ll be able to help you choose the right bandwidth allocation for your needs. Plus, they can help you ensure that your voice and data traffic is processed separately.
Equipment and Cost of Installation
VoIP communications require little to no on-site equipment. That’s one of the reasons that Internet telephony solutions are so popular with rapidly growing businesses.
That being said, you will need some equipment to enable Internet connectivity in your office. For example, AVOXI’s South Africa branch offers routers for ADSL lines that must be installed on-site.
“For AVOXI, there is typically no cost for router installation,” says Da Costarista. “We just send you the router pre-configured. It’s a very simple setup process.”
Most ISPs provide the same level of service. Check with each provider individually to find out if there are additional installation costs or equipment needs.
This one should be fairly obvious. As you evaluate South Africa ISPs, you need to take your business’s budget into consideration. You need a reliable Internet connection to support VoIP, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on it.
Although AVOXI is a VoIP provider, the South Africa branch also provides Internet connectivity options. Instead of dealing with an ISP and a VoIP provider, South Africa AVOXI clients can get both from the same source.
“Our South Africa branch is a one-stop shop, and our local clients really appreciate that,” says Da Costarista. “They like that they can purchase DSL services and routers and the VoIP phone lines they need, all in the same place. Plus, our prices are very competitive.”
Service Level Agreements and Customer Support
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need customer support or a service level agreement from your South Africa ISP. But, outages and other issues can happen. In the event of downtime or any other problem, you want to make sure that your ISP can and will support you.
“This is another reason that our South Africa clients like the fact that we offer both Internet connectivity options and VoIP services. If they encounter an issue, they only have to contact one provider. We can troubleshoot more quickly because we’re managing every aspect of the solution, and we offer 24/7 support,” says Da Costarista.
Although some South Africa ISPs offer 24/7 customer support, not all do. Some providers also charge a premium fee for phone support. Be sure to do your research and understand the fine print before you choose your ISP.
Optimizing for VoIP Communications
Looking for more info on making the move to cloud communications? Explore the related articles below. Or, contact an AVOXI sales representative for more information.
- How to Achieve Ridiculously Good VoIP Call Quality
- Where to Find Affordable VoIP Calling Rates
- 4 Reasons Your Business Should Invest in VoIP Technology