Wi-Fi wholesaler VAST Networks trusts expertise provided by three6five to help provide a stable Wi-Fi experience to users at thousands of public hotspots across the country.
With more than 2500 Wi-Fi venues in South Africa, running several million sessions per month, VAST Networks is the South African leader in the provision of public ISP hotspots as a Wi-Fi network. The company, which was formed in 2015, has worked with three6five since its inception on various aspects of its business.
“Three6five is a trusted and strategic partner in our business, as they allow us to focus on our core business while they provide critical support and services needed to keep our network running,” says Khetan Gajjar, CTO of VAST Networks. “Not only do they provide solid and reliable managed services to our business, they are also one of the partners that advise us on the latest technologies and services which can help us to keep ahead of the technical curve.”
Apart from providing management and support services for VAST’s network – without which the company would not be able to provide its multitude of Wi-Fi services to its customers – three6five also provides some staffing for the inhouse call centre, and overflow capacity when extra technical help is required.
VAST Networks’ hotspots span a range of locations, including filling stations, hospitals, airports, hotels and retail outlets. Some of the innovative products they offer their customers come via three6five’s implementation and management of Sandvine’s bandwidth and usage management solutions. These give VAST the ability to efficiently manage hotspots across South Africa and provide products such as zero-rated protocols on apps or services such as WhatsApp and social media platforms.
According to Roan Nieuwenhuizen, head of the broadband team at three6five, the Sandvine solution has allowed the company to differentiate itself significantly from its competitors with the provision of high-value subscriber services, on a user-by-user basis.
“The traffic rating system we implemented allows VAST to bill on different models, provide different zero-rated services, and manage ‘clean’ content at its multitude of locations across the country,” says Nieuwenhuizen. “The bandwidth management tools also mean that VAST can see exactly what is being consumed at various location, to within 99% accuracy. Each location can also prescribe exactly how much data they want to offer and for how long, and zero-rated services will be offered, and which services can be added at extra cost. This allows each location to provide a differential offering to its business competitors.”
According to Gajjar, the offering from VAST is entirely dependent on customer requirements. For example, a retail customer such a coffee shop can provide a limited amount of data or online time for free, and then offer further bundles for purchase which can be self-branded, via another ISP, or through VAST itself. These options can be further customised, with the bundle then being available at other shops within a chain only, or anywhere a VAST network is operating. The options are endless and entirely reliant on what customer is looking to achieve.
“We can also offer a combination of public and private networks within the same location, such as in a large hospital, a mall or any other customer,” says Gajjar. “The management tools provide us with a large number of variables to work with.”
Alice Carpenter, head of sales at three6five, points out that VAST Networks’ open-minded approach to new technology has allowed three6five to provide leading-edge solutions to help the company achieve its business goals. “It is a pleasure to work with a company that is as agile and ready to respond to market demands as VAST,” she says. “They are technology-focused and very willing to try new products and solutions if they will improve their service offering.”
With growth of 45% in user numbers per year, and 33% growth in sessions in the same timeframe, VAST is continuously expanding. Future projects include rollouts into new regions and continual improvement in security options.
“With three6five as our technology partner – and as they are one of the few ISP-focussed technology suppliers in South Africa – we trust them to provide us with guidance in our strategic changes,” says Gajjar. “They are one of our leading procurement partners and have technology expertise that will help us make the right choices when examining our technical architecture.”