This afternoon I was looking for something and found a post that had “Veteran from the Great War of MyWireless 2005” as a signature. I had a good laugh because technically I too am a veteran of the “MyWireless Wars”.
In the bad old days of dial up, the concept of Broadband as we understand it did not exist in South Africa. If you wanted anything faster than 56K dialup there were very limited and expensive options available. One of the first players to enter the market was Sentech, who launched it’s MyWireless broadband service in 2004. with speeds ranging between 128 Kbps and 512 Kbps enjoyed strong uptake.
Typical packages were:
Unfortunately, like so many other things in South Africa the service was abysmal and this was carried through to the popular tech forum MyBroadband. Sentech bumbled from disaster to disaster and could never quite recover from the bad publicity.
I do not remember too much about the MyWireless product, I “leased” the wireless modem from a company called “Nowire” and one evening they installed it and I closed my account with Telkom and gave up my fixed telephone line. I seem to recall I had the entry level package which was supposed to run at 128K with a data cap of 10GB. In my case it turned out to be a solid piece of kit and my surfing became a pleasure. In fact the only problem I had with it was when I bought a new computer and the driver for the modem became unstable and would kill the computer. I tried almost everything to solve the issue which seemed to point to there being a fault with the new computer. Fortunately I found a New Zealand broadband provider that used a similar product that which had picked up the same issue and they recommended using the Vista driver for the modem and that solved the problem. I think I started to use MyWireless in 2006 and I do not remember ever having a day when I had no access.
Back at the ranch others were having massive problems and dropping the product like a hot potato. At the end of my 2 year lease period I continued using MyiWi right until it was officially turned off in November 2009.
I even found my original post on that forum when it closed down:
“I had them for 4 years and in my experience it was stable, reliable and I very rarely had problems with it or was down for longer than a few hours. Yes, it was slow, but my 128 connection and 10GB was perfect for me. When I moved house last year it worked on the day I switched it on. It is a pity that the plot was thrown out with the bathwater, the stable, horse and everything else.
Their reseller Nowire was/is abysmal. For 18 months I never received an invoice from them, their “support” was non existent and to this date I have had nothing else from them apart from the form letter that Sentech was going phut. I have no idea who owns the modem, or whether the debit order will be cancelled or even whether I would be interested in any other “service” they provide. They sure are hungry for business aren’t they?
I hope Neotel goes and reads the now defunct Sentech forums and tries to avoid the pitfalls and booboo’s, but somehow they seem to be making the same mistakes.
Byebye MyWi.. I will miss you.” (dated 30/11/2009)”
Neotel was touted as the new fixed line operator and made the same mistake that Sentech did when problems started to appear: they buried their head in the sand and denied that there were problems. I would have taken up Neotel’s offering but after reading about their woes I had to go back to Telkom and have adsl put in and fork up vast amounts of dosh once again.
The moral of the story was that when problems occur companies deny it, and then eventually when it becomes a storm they then appoint a scapegoat spokesperson and deny it even more. In South Africa we saw that all the time and it is still true. When I packed up my goodies to leave SA I found that old MyWi modem and photographed it for old times sake, There were not too many of them around.
Their competitor at the time was iBurst and I recall when I was doing my homework to find out what was the best possible solution for broadband I approached them as well as a reseller to find out about their service. Neither did me the courtesy of a return call, and consequently they lost my business to MyWireless. As at 2017, the original iBurst offering is being closed in favour of there new “high-speed LTE-Advanced network to replace its wireless network.
ADSL is a matured technology now, and when I entered it the entry level was 384K, when I left SA in 2013 it had been upped to 1MB. I originally saw DSL in the USA in 2000 and it was already running close to 1MB, whereas in SA it had not even been released as a connectivity technology.
Those were heady days on the net in South Africa. How many of us adopted the R7 “Callmore time” strategy of connecting to the net at 19H01 on a Friday evening and pulling the plug on Monday Morning at 06H59? My last modem was a Duxberry and it was incredibly stable and I literally stayed connected right through a weekend, keeping the line alive by downloading whatever we could find to keep the line active.
Nowadays I am spoilt for choice as to what broadband to take up, so when I saw the mention of MyWireless I ready had to add this post to my record of the past and what a lost opportunity MyWireless turned out to be.
Out of curiosity, I did a post at my allatsea blog all about Beltel, which was where I had my first taste of the internet.