Getting bandwidth for your budget

The recent Competition Tribunal hearing into Telkom’s monopolistic practices of the past reminds South Africans of the days when telecommunications was very expensive, unreliable and the service was poor.

Today, the situation has changed dramatically and the country has more competition in the telecoms market, but we still pay a premium for communications and the level of service is still unreliable.

The norm inSouth Africais to provide telecoms as a “best effort” service. This means that while a service provider (SP) may agree to provide a certain amount of bandwidth to a client, there are no guarantees, even if it is in a service level agreement (SLA), and the customer will only receive the SP’s best effort to deliver on the terms of theSLA.

The result of this is that when companies purchase the bandwidth they feel should be sufficient for their business needs, they often find employees are not as productive as they should be because of latency on the wide area network (WAN). The common answer is simply to purchase more bandwidth, which never actually resolves the problem.

To solve or prevent bandwidth issues, it is crucial to implement anSLAthat meets the client’s needs, and not a standard or generic contract. To be able to do this, the SP must assess the client’s business, understand how the business operates, what its network requirements are, then design and implement a bespoke solution. The day-to-day operation of the WAN must be governed by anSLAthat specifically addresses that client’s business and its unique operating environment.

Clients also need to understand theSLAand its deliverables, and measure and assess the service they receive to ensure they get what they’re paying for. It’s only when both parties take responsibility for managing the WAN that effective service delivery and problem resolution can be maintained. The alternative is to see the business relationship descending into an acrimonious blame-slinging match that benefits neither party.

Self-management is also important because sometimes a company’s lack of understanding of the intricacies of WAN communications can also lead to its own systems sabotaging its communications infrastructure. As more companies adopt cloud computing strategies over the next few years, effectively managing their WAN will be even more imperative if companies are to take full advantage of cloud solutions.

Companies have two clear choices. They can either accept that effective management of the WAN is a dual and shared responsibility that must be governed by anSLA, which ensures internal ICT systems and SPs perform at peak capacity. Or they can accept an ‘off-the-shelf’SLAand continue paying for more and more bandwidth without knowing whom or what is consuming their network capacity. The old saying of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” could have been written for today’s telecoms SLAs.


Exinda is a proven global supplier of WAN optimisation and application acceleration products. The company has helped more than 2 000 organisations in over 80 countries worldwide improve the end-user experience, manage application performance, manage congestion over the WAN, and reduce network operating costs for the IT executive. For more information, please visit

Editorial contacts


Alan Rehbock

(+27) 11 655 7390

Sales Director, sub-SaharanAfrica

[email protected]