The South African Internet Service Provider (ISP) market is one of the more competitive out there, with the number of ISPs offering connectivity seemingly growing each month. As such it can prove difficult to cut through the clutter, especially if you’re not one of the more established players in the market.

This, however, is the objective of Supersonic, with the MTN-supported ISP aiming to become one of the bigger names locally.

With a relatively small amount of time in the industry under its belt, we recently caught up with Supersonic MD, Calvin Collett to discuss its early success, the current state of the ISP landscape and what the rest of 2019 holds.

Following on from early success

In a fairly short amount of time, Supersonic has been able to become one of the top-rated ISPs in the country, with it now working off of the back of 14 local networks to deliver internet connectivity.

Having focused initially on more affluent suburbs, Collett says the strategy is expanding, as Supersonic looks to bring more solutions to township and rural areas. These services would, however, be slightly different to the current offering, with a mix of fibre and fixed-wireless being touted by the MD.

He’s still playing this impending plan close to the chest, and is unwilling to add further detail at this stage. He was more than forthcoming on Supersonic’s pricing though, with the ISP planning to announce more aggressive plans across the board in the next couple of weeks as it aims to win the business of new customers.

As for what kind of customers Supersonic views as “ideal”, Collett explains that there are two in particular that stand out for the firm – families in need of fibre and young professionals who are always connected.

Added to this is the firm’s desire to make the sign-up process as simple as possible, with Collett enthusing about the fact that Supersonic has gotten it down to as little as five steps.

Some of the other unique selling points include ease of use provided by its Plume WiFi pods, which can be arranged in a mesh system and actively controlled via the Supersonic mobile app.

Delivering more digital

Speaking of apps, Collett is excited about what Supersonic have been able to do with its digital channels, and WhatsApp specifically. Currently using the messaging platform to facilitate customer queries and sign-ups, the MD notes that 65 percent of its customer interactions are via WhatsApp.

He adds that all issues logged from customers are dealt with, and any that are still pending are waiting for responses from customers. As such it looks as if WhatsApp is turning into a useful tool in terms of Supersonic’s after-sales capabilities.

So much so that Collett says the company is planning to launch chatbots for its digital channels, and create the same kind of experience for customers on other platforms that is already available via its website.

This not only includes WhatsApp, but Messenger and Instagram too, with bots on the horizon to handle simple queries effectively and with as little hassle as possible.

To that end a customer won’t have to wait on-hold to log a problem, or even ask a question regarding billing, with the bot now taking care out of it in a far more timely manner. We’ve seen such systems work to great effect for companies like ABSA, so it should prove interesting to see if it is as pervasive for Supersonic customers.

On the horizon

Speaking about what the next few months will hold, Collett says there are two significant announcements on the horizon, with early 2020 reserved for a solution that the company has been working for some time.

Like many of the forthcoming developments, the MD is staying mum on the subject, but does believe that Supersonic will have a couple of market differentiating offerings to cut through that aforementioned clutter.

Sticking with the local ISP market, Collett is of the opinion that far more consolidation is set to happen coming years. This as he says that there are numerous ISPs sitting with less than 1 000 customers. As such several of these smaller ISPs could band together to make for a more competitive business, or they could be hoovered up by some of the bigger players.

When it comes to Supersonic’s thoughts on consolidation, Collet says it plans to be the larger of the two entities should any deal be struck.