A brief internet history

Today we have 1Gbps and even bigger connections to the internet in South Africa and there is very few people who do not have access to the internet in some way or form. This was not the case just 31 years ago.

The first connection to the internet was an email connection from Rhodes University established by three pioneers, namely, Francois Guilarmod, Dave Wilson and Mike Lawrie, in 1988.

By 1989, the first TCP/IP connection had been set up between Rhodes University and UCT and various other TCP/IP connections were set up thereafter throughout tertiary institutions in South Africa.

In 1991 Telkom was founded and by 1993, the first commercial ISP’s started forming and by 1995, the ISPA was started, the first trade commission for internet service providers in South Africa.

By August of 2002, the first 512/256 Kbit/s ADSL internet connection was launched by Telkom and by 2006, Telkom had started testing on their 4Mbit/s ADSL connection. It is during this time, in 2005 that VoIP was legalised in South Africa as a form of communications, opening the doorway for new business with internet as its core infrastructure.

From 2007 onwards, wireless internet became the hype with companies like MTN, Vodacom and iBurst having price wars with their bundled wireless services. By mid-2007, Cell C dominated the wireless market by undercutting both MTN and Vodacom.

In 2010, Telkom released its 10Mbit/s connection and by this time, due to copper theft and alleged lack of maintenance on copper infrastructure, the need for alternative connectivity was on the rise and competitors like Neotel brought in their alternative products such as Neobroadband fibre and LTE, launched by Vodacom in 2012.

Since then, the fall of ADSL has continued and the rise of fibre and other connectivity services such as Wireless, Fibre and LTE have continued to date.