From a small Internet reseller in 2013 servicing a handful subscribers, Accelerit has grown into a full-blown national connectivity operator with a footprint across South Africa and a presence worldwide. Accelerit was founded on the principle of providing affordable, ‘no frills no fuss’ connectivity to those most in need, and therefore its initial focus was around rural communities, student communities and travellers. Its mission has always been, it seems, to challenge the status quo.
Although registered in 2011, Accelerit began its full-time operations in a two-man shared workspace office in Woodmead in 2013, with one desktop computer, a telephone, a small UPS and a laptop. “Everything but the dream was unclear at that point; we knew we wanted to get communities to everyone, we just didn’t know how vast the undertaking was,” said Mandla Ngcobo, Founder and CEO at Accelerit Technologies.
Occupying the two-man cubicle were Ngcobo and Cebisile Ndlazi, who is now the Head Finance Administrator at Accelerit.
Fibre to the home was a relatively new concept at the time, with only a few players in the space. The costs were prohibitive for an average home user and so Accelerit deployed the first wireless to the home (WTTH) hybrid solutions in selected communities to address exactly this challenge. The first sites launched were in Midrand, Tembisa and Newcastle, KZN. The idea was to test various models and see which one generated traction with a workable business model. The site in Midrand was connected to the Internet (backhauled) via fibre; the site in Tembisa via LTE; and the site in Newcastle via Satellite.
“The three proof of concept sites (POC) were all funded via the savings I had made while employed as a business consultant,” added Ngcobo.
The various sites had various offerings depending on the capabilities of the technology used for backhaul. Accelerit launched uncapped offerings in Midrand as this site was on uncapped dedicated business fibre link and the other two sites offered capped solutions albeit at extremely competitive rates. It was clear from the get-go that there was massive demand for affordable data services, as the company witnessed massive utilisation at all the sites for the POC. The journey, however, did not stop there as Accelerit proceeded to connect passengers on the Greyhound buses as well as a college deep rural KZN KwaNongoma.
Accelerit really tested the waters and from each encounter learnt extremely valuable lessons in the connectivity space. Our goal was to learn as much as possible about connectivity so that when we become a full-scale operator, we know at least 99% of what we are doing. “To become a trusted provider, you need to demonstrate vast experience in the industry, and we certainly did not want mass adoption of our product to be smeared with bad user experience,” continued Ngcobo.
In 2017/2018, Accelerit deployed its first end-to-end fibre to the home solution in Rivonia, Johannesburg. By this time the company had gathered enough experience to venture into a full-blown FNO and an ISP. Servers were deployed at Teraco Johannesburg and interconnects with other FNOs were established. At this time Accelerit had onboarded an additional five resources to handle the various aspects of its growing business, and by the close of 2018, its revenues were R900 000+ from a humble R72 000 in 2013.
Fast forward to 2020 – revenues are R50 million+ , staff complement is 30+ full-time employed and 20+ part-time. Accelerit has also interconnected with 30+ fibre network operators nationwide with virtual presence in London, USA and Brazil data centres. There seems to be no stopping this company. Accelerit is well set to double its subscriber base, at a minimum, as an ISP on various networks, and aims to triple its homes-passed count as an FNO by the turn of FY 2021. The company moved offices twice in 2020 to accommodate its expanding customer support capability and continues to employ more resources each month to ensure service levels keep up with the rapidly growing demand for its services as it also further establishes itself as a solutions provider to business clients. “We’ve partnered with a number of business, especially during COVID-19, including Accenture South Africa – a business with an international footprint – to collaborate on how we can implement flexible connectivity solutions given the changing work environment landscape. You must keep in mind we’ve done the extreme and will continue to keep the industry rattled by ensuring our clients and partners get the most value for their money,” concluded Ngcobo.
Accelerit welcomes all partnerships that share the same passion and interest in making a difference to South African communities. To contact them, you can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (010) 500 0220.