I recently came to the end of my Telkom DSL 24 month contract and I decided to investigate using iBurst as an option because my friend Candy Tothill recommended it to me. I had also previously been disadvantaged by Telkom who supplied me with a DSL router which contained a security hole and as a direct result of that, I suffered bandwidth theft. Telkom refused to restore the bandwidth that I lost, so I felt that their poor customer service should have consequences for them, viz. the loss of my business.
When Candy was down here recently, she plucked this compact little iBurst modem out of her laptop bag and showed it to me. She had brought it down with her to Cape Town from Johannesburg so that she could enjoy Internet access whilst she was here.
The whole concept of having mobile Internet immediately grabbed me, because, of course, with a DSL line, the only place I can use the Net is when I am in my office.
Right now I am a happy iBurst customer. Let me tell you my story…
The first thing you need to know is that iBurst does not make you wait. You can get it and get it right away. I approached iBurst for the first time on Friday Feb 01 2008 and they faxed me the application forms right away. I faxed the forms back to them on Monday Feb 04 2008 and on Wednesday morning early (10h30) I received my iBurst desktop modem and omni-directional antenna delivered to my door via courier.
I was frankly amazed by the speed with which iBurst moved. With Telkom, speed is not a word in their vocabulary. I waited 6 weeks for my Telkom DSL connection to be installed in Dec 2005 and their technicians were incompetent, having to come back several times before the installation was completed. They also missed the date of installation I had been given by several days.
In May 2006 I moved to my present abode and I had to beg and plead with Telkom to move my connection in a reasonable time. It took 2 weeks for that to be affected, and I had to pay for them to move my connection. They also managed to screw up my billing completely in the process. All in all, dealing with Telkom was an incredibly frustrating experience. My advice is to avoid it if possible, and now, of course, you can if iBurst has coverage for your area.
Okay, so I took delivery of my iBurst package and I excitedly unpacked it and read the installation instructions. First step was to install the software, and that is where I hit a snag. When I inserted the iBurst CD, my LG DVD writer could not read it. The disk was faulty. So I called the iBurst helpdesk number printed on the CD and got through to a customer service representative very quickly. He suggested that they courier me a new disk to arrive the next day, but I wanted to get online right away so I asked if I could rather go to my local iBurst office in Canal Walk and get a swop out there. He said I could and gave me the number to call to arrange that. That’s where I hit snag number two.
I got put through to an extremely incompetent (white) woman who was rude and unhelpful and who should just be immediately dismissed by iBurst. They don’t need someone with a Telkom mentality working for them. I asked her directly (twice) if I could just come through to the office and get a swop out but she insisted that I speak to the salesperson who sold me the package. She gave me his JHB number and bounced me back instead of just sorting me out. I slammed the phone down on her. I proceeded to call my father to tell him of the miserable experience I was having with them and he proceeded to phone iBurst and shit on them from a dizzy height until he found someone who escalated my problem to the branch manager of the Cape Town office of iBurst, Marco de Vries.
Marco de Vries sorted me out completely. He organised the replacement package and I drove in and collected it. I also booked to have my iBurst omni-directional antenna installed the next day. I got home and the new CD worked. I installed the software, connected the modem and I was online immediately, albeit with a weak signal strength. Without the benefit of an external antenna, my average signal quality was only 30%, enough to connect, but not good enough to use broadband applications. Nonetheless, I was happy to wait until Thursday to get the antenna installed.
The next day, however, no-one called to tell me they were coming and no-one arrived to do the installation. So in the afternoon, I emailed Marco again (he had given me his business card with his personal email address and cell phone number on it). He apologised for the delay. The external contractor and his in-house technician (Warren) were totally booked up doing installs for other customers that day. I felt let down and I let Marco know. He apologised again and within half an hour I got a call from Warren who arranged to come out Friday afternoon around 13h00 to install me.
Warren kept his appointment. coming slightly before the agreed time and installed the antenna exactly where I wanted it and he did a neat job of it too. I found him to be a pleasant, friendly and competent technician and he affected a very professional installation. The external antenna boosted my signal quality to 100%, which means that I now enjoy up to 1024Kbps connection speed (double that of my DSL512K connection).
Unlike Telkom, iBurst does not charge different rates for different connection speeds. All their customers enjoy the same 1024Kbps broadband speed. iBurst charges only for the amount of data used. This makes logical sense. Telkom is actually ripping off the public when it charges a higher rate for their higher speed connections, because speed means nothing if your bandwidth is capped (as it is in South Africa).
Despite the snags I had, I am blown away by my iBurst customer experience. They got me online and fully installed within days. Whatever bad experience I had with one incompetent iBurst staff member was totally made up for by the attention my problems received from the Cape Town iBurst branch manager, Marco de Vries. He did his company proud. Thank you, Marco, you did an excellent job at satisfying this customer.
I now have a fully functional broadband connection at my office, and if I need Internet access away from my office, I can simply take my very compact and portable iBurst desktop modem with me. Even if I don’t get full signal strength elsewhere, I can still get online at a slower speed.
Pricewise, I also just shaved over R400 a month off what I was paying Telkom. I signed up on iBurst’s Pro Classic package which gives me 3.5GB. However, I was told by my salesperson that they allow up to 7GB on that package. After that, iBurst does not cap me and shut me off completely like Telkom does. Instead iBurst throttles my speed to 64Kbps for the rest of the month. iBurst also gives me the option of topping up to continue enjoying full speed. I pay iBurst R699 per month on the Pro Classic. I can move up to R1029 for the Pro Extreme or R1229 for the Pro Addict.
Since I contracted with iBurst for 24 months, they supplied the desktop modem and external antenna free of charge. Installation of the antenna cost R300.
All in all, I think it’s an excellent choice for the smart South African broadband shopper.