WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO?
ASK Internet Technologies (ASK IT) is an Internet Service Provider (ISP), duly registered with ICASA as a network operator as well as being licensed to build its own network infrastructure.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE YOU MAY ASK?
For one, ISP’s can apply for two separate licenses, being ECS and ECNS.
What does that mean?
ECNS – Electronic Communication Network Service License
ASK IT is licensed in the Overberg district for ECNS. This means that we are entitled to build our own network, towers and service points to deliver services to our clients.
ECS – Electronic Communications Service License
We hold a national license in this regard. What it entails is that we are authorized to use the infrastructure of any other licensed service provider to deliver service to our clients. We mainly use this to transport data from our Cape Town data centre to the areas in the Overberg where we are licensed to build our own network.
With internet now being a necessity in life, opposed to a few years back when it was a “nice-to-have”, the pressure is getting higher on ISP’s to deliver a fast and reliable service to satisfy client needs.
In the densely populated areas, companies are installing fibre internet daily, delivering speeds up to 1Gbps to homes and businesses. Because of the density of those areas, it is financially viable for these operators to invest in the fibre as they can get a return on investment in a few years.
However, in the rural areas where there are no large residential estates or big industrial areas, the cost of installing this infrastructure is deemed a bad investment. Investors are not able to get a return in a few years. Also, bear in mind that the number of people requiring such high-speed connections is a lot less in rural areas. Thus, the signups are less, resulting in a higher time period for returns for investors.
ARE PEOPLE IN OUR AREA BEING LEFT BEHIND ?
The answer is not that easy. For regular home users and even medium-sized businesses, speeds of hundreds of megabits (Mbps) is not really required. Most of the time you will only be using 10% of the line speed that you are subscribed to. Having a line speed of between 5-25mbps is more than enough to cater for any needs that people may have for internet. Depending on the number of people in a household, you will be able to watch online movies, play online games and chat to friends on social media with that type of speed.
ASK IT is in the process of converting our entire network infrastructure to a well documented and proven new model referred to as Micro-Pop technology. The outline of this is that we are bringing the connectivity point (Point Of Presence or POP) closer to the client. In earlier years, Wireless ISP’s (WISP’s) was satisfied to provide service to customers over long distances, even up to 20km. With high-speed wireless solutions being the only way to provide clients in our area with fibre-like speeds, the old philosophy can no longer apply.
The closer we can get to the client (aiming to be within 1km) we will shortly be able to provide speeds of up to 50mbps on wireless equipment. This is what we are aligning our network for. We also make use of licensed radio links (7Ghz, 11Ghz, 15Ghz) as well as unlicensed links (17Ghz, 60Ghz, 80Ghz) to interconnect our POPs. This ensures that we build a proper carrying capacity throughout our network for high-speed requirements from our clients.
So – Are people in our area being left behind? We think not. We are investing to bring sustainable high-speed connectivity to you. If, for some reason, you really must have a 1Gbps connection, then yes, you will be left behind in the foreseeable future. Only when big corporates look to expand fibre to small towns will those type of speeds become available.
WHAT SETS ASK IT APART?
We have our own presence in Teraco Data Centre. Via our upstream providers, we peer directly with services such as Netflix, DSTV Now, Google, and YouTube in ensuring seamless streaming.
We have acquired our own Public IP address space. All our clients are provided with a free public IP address at no additional cost. We carry the cost of this to ensure a stable connection. If somebody sends out 1000’s of emails (spamming), an entire network can get blocked so that nobody’s email will work. With each client getting their own IP, only the perpetrator gets blocked and all other clients continue working as normal.
Redundancy – We operate via the Teraco Data Centre, currently with two entry points into our network. Within the next six months, we will have four entry points into our network. That ensures that even if the connection to Pringle Bay (or Kleinmond) fails due to power/tower issues, you will continue to work as usual at your normal speed, as the other entry points will pick up the traffic to our clients.
RELIABILITY AND SPEED:
Any and all ISP’s can experience downtime or reduced speeds from time to time. Many factors can contribute to that including weather damage to towers or equipment, upstream provider issues or extended power outages in an area.
It is always advisable for clients that rely on the internet for their income to have a backup connection available. This includes people who do online trading, provides remote tuition, programmers or people with online stores. Should your primary ISP experience an issue, you can switch to your backup provider and continue with your work without losing income. No ISP will accept liability of loss for such matters, this is well covered in the terms and conditions of the service agreement. If in doubt, have a back-up.
Speed may vary on the subscriber line from time to time. All packages are sold as an “up to” speed. If you thus have a 5Mbps connection, it means that the line will peak at that speed. It is in no way a guarantee that the line will run at that speed 24 hours a day. In addition, all lines sold is advertised with a contention ratio of 1:10.
This means that lines are shared amongst customers. Thus, your subscriber line is shared with nine other people. Not all customers are on the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so the real effect is that most of the time you are not sharing a line. Certain times of the day there will be an increase of clients actively busy on the internet, during these peak periods there will generally be a reduction in speed. The norm here is that you may lose around 20% of your line speed during peak times. Depending on what you use the internet for at that specific time, you may not even notice the difference.
People do make use of various internet speed tests, often resulting in complaints of slow internet. When you are not using the internet at all and then do a speed test, you should normally see the full line speed test on these servers. However, most of the time people are not aware that some devices are using the internet (kids may be downloading or watching YouTube). When a speed test is done while other people in your house is using the internet, the speed test will only show you what speed is left on the line. For example, YouTube will take anywhere between 2-5Mbps of the line speed, so results will then vary between 0-3Mbps. By calling our support line, we can inform you of what line speed is actively being used.
ASK IT uses 3rd party software to evaluate network performance and availability of service. We have an average uptime of 99% over the last 3 years. For WISP’s the target uptime is 95%. We are exceeding industry norms consistently.
This is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your specialist for specific and detailed advice. (E&OE)