The best and worst internet providers in South Africa – according to customers

Social media data company, DataEQ, has published its South African Internet Service Provider (ISP) Sentiment Report, revealing how six of the country’s leading data-only ISPs compare in the eyes of consumers.

The index is based on an assessment of social media posts, conducted between 1 May and 31 July 2022. DataEQ tracks the posts and assigns a sentiment rating based on whether they are positive, neutral, or negative. These scores are then used to calculate a Net Sentiment ranking for each ISP.

The group tracked 24,000 posts on Twitter, Facebook and other online sources over the period.

Afrihost came out on top as the ISP with the most positivity around the brand – although the net sentiment was still in the negatives. This was a trend across the entire industry, which had an average net sentiment score of -15.6%.

After Afrihost, Cool Ideas had the next highest sentiment score. Another top performer was MTN’s Supersonic, obtaining the third-highest Net Sentiment score. Despite low overall volumes compared to its competitors, social media engagement around Supersonic as a relatively new entrant sparked positive interest in fibre, DataEQ said.

“Mweb and WebAfrica are neck and neck for last place. Coming in with the lowest scores, Mweb and WebAfrica both exhibited a downward trend in Net Sentiment performance throughout the reporting period. These two ISPs also had the slowest response times on Twitter, with Mweb taking over 20 hours longer than the industry average,” the group said.

“For WebAfrica, turnaround time and staff competency were the main pain points in complaints – making up 57.3% and 34.9% of the provider’s complaints, respectively,” said DataEQ. “Mweb, on the other hand, struggled with turnaround time and network quality, which made up 53.5% and 39.1% of complaints, respectively.”

All six ISPs included in the study registered net negative scores. That said, the top performers received significantly less negative sentiment than those at the bottom. The success of industry-leader Afrihost, specifically, was due more to a low proportion of negative sentiment, than a high share of positive sentiment.

“This suggests a possible social strategy to keep complaint levels low through efficient customer service, rather than enticing positive mentions through branding efforts,” the group said.

The sentiment index tracks closely to other data on network quality and customer satisfaction published by Analytico, which found that Cool Ideas has the best net promoter score and tops the customer satisfaction rankings. RSAWeb, Afrihost, and Home Connect also had a good showing.

The research found that consumers are acutely aware of how their ISP performs in three key areas – price (value for money), network quality, and support & billing.

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