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In October 1993, Ronnie Apteker, Philip Green and Tom McWalter started IS. Six months later, Philip left and Andras Salamon joined.
At the time, Ronnie was studying at the University of the Witwatersrand with bright and talented individuals. They were writing software frequently, and it became apparent to him that they could write software more effectively if they could all work from a single, connected location with access to a number of IT centres. This was where the idea was born to build a distributed system.
Internet speed update
Modem Internet speeds had increased to 14.4 kilobits per second by 1991. By 1993, these speeds became commonplace for those connected to the Internet. By 1994, it doubled to 28.8 kilobits per second.
Growth of the web
The World Wide Web is often mistaken for the Internet, but it’s just another service that operates over the Internet. In January 1993, there were 50 global servers and by October, that number had doubled.
Our dominant market position, unique range of products and services, entrepreneurial spirit and energetic management resonated with Dimension Data, which led to this strategic partnership.
Cloud computing takes centre stage
Cloud computing is a term derived from telecommunication companies that made a radical leap from point-to-point data circuits to the use of VPNs. The first time the term was used in its current context was by Information Systems professor Ramnath Chellappa at a 1997 lecture. He described it as a "computing paradigm where the boundaries of computing will be determined by economic rationale rather than technical limits alone”.
WiFi is invented and released for consumer consumption
The introduction of WiFi to the world was made possible through the creation of a committee called 802.11. This led to the creation of IEEE802.11, a set of standards defining communications for wireless local area networks. The move allowed for two megabytes per second of wireless data transfers to take place.
This was a busy year for us, but what a proud moment to reach 100 corporate clients! Without them, we would not be the company we are today.
Google is founded
Working from their dorm rooms at Stanford University, Larry Page (not a student yet) and Sergey Brin built a search engine that used links to determine the importance of individual pages on the World Wide Web. Initially called Backrub, the search engine was renamed to Google. The duo’s mission was to organise the world's information to make it universally accessible.
NTT launches i-mode
NTT DOCOMO (now known as DoCoMo, Inc) launched i-mode, the world’s first mobile Internet services platform.
VPN, a virtual private network, allowed users to privatise their networks over the Internet. This meant they could hide their browsing history from prying eyes because all data between devices was encrypted.
One of the many key “turning points” in our history was when we launched South Africa’s first MPLS VPN service. Between our collaboration with Omnilink (which was one of South Africa’s first switched L2 VPNs), we built a pure IP VPN using MPLS as the technology service provider to provide our clients with the ability to prioritise their various applications.
This solution positioned us as the company that could be trusted with managing wide area networks on behalf of our clients, securing the network, providing access to data centres and later, the ability to launch our Voice service, another milestone for us.
Peter Lyman and Hal R Varian publish the “How Much Information?” study
The “How Much Information?” study was conducted at the University of California as the first study to quantify the amount of new information created in the world in computer storage terms. The study concluded that digital information production was the most rapid.
The LoveBug virus infected 2.5 million PCs and caused $8.7 billion in damages. Once the email attachment was opened with the subject line, ILOVEYOU, each infected computer emailed everyone in its address book.
The main benefits of this line included high speed and no distance limitations.
The "Year 2000 bug" does not bring the world to an end
To save time, space programmers represented the last two digits of the year, for instance 1997 was just ’97. Many feared that the changeover to a new millennium would cause mass hysteria and ultimately, the end of the world.
Web 1.0 changes to 2.0
On 20 November 2001, Web 1.0 officially switched to 2.0. Web 1.0 was the first stage of the World Wide Web where users could not collaborate with one another; they could only read off a web page. Web 2.0 brought about greater collaboration between users.
A bandwidth that was ideal for businesses with a high Internet usage. To put it into perspective, it supported HD streaming, large file transfers and later, VoIP.
3G lifts off
3G – a mobile communication standard allowing portable electronic devices access to the Internet wirelessly – started to be adopted worldwide, kick-starting the rise in smartphone use. Before this, 3G wireless technologies were notoriously slow. The introduction of 3G provided faster data transfers, allowing phones to use previously unavailable mobile services.
Social media era begins with the launch of Facebook
With its 2.07 billion active users, Facebook became extremely popular with hackers. According to the social giant, hackers try to compromise more than 600 000 accounts a day.
Users wanted to communicate in real time. They craved a more personal connection and wanted to hear a person's voice over the Internet. This was when we started showing a vested interest in VoIP technology and continued to develop its capabilities in the years to come.
VoIP takes off in SA
Voice over Internet Protocol, more popularly known as VoIP, was the set of rules that made it possible to use the Internet for telephone or videophone communications.
VoIP service took off in South Africa due to deregulation. Several statutory restrictions on the use of VoIP were lifted, ushering in new opportunities for service providers.
Google Maps is launched
Google Maps began as a C++ program designed by Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen at Where 2 Technologies. The company was acquired by Google in 2004. Google Maps offers satellite imagery, 360° panoramic street views and traffic conditions presented in real time. Google’s practice of using blurring technology for people or license plates protected people's privacy, as it still does today.
We introduced our first broadband service to speed up file and audio downloads. Users could now enjoy uninterrupted telephone audio and high-speed connections. This led to us having a range of connectivity options to choose from.
Twitter is launched
A podcasting company called Odeo realised its growth was stalling. As a result, it decided to conduct a hackathon one day. This brainstorming session led to the birth of Twitter. Did you know that Twitter’s bird is called Larry?
Release of first iPhone
Before the creation of the iPhone, Steve Jobs tasked software engineer Scott Forstall with setting up an elite team in Apple to create its own mobile phone. When the idea was pitched to them, they weren't even told what the project was about. When it was released, Steve Jobs said the phone was a “breakthrough Internet communications device”.
We told you we weren’t done! We’re bringing the power and possibility of the Internet to South Africa and across the continent. We’re proud to spread our unique spirit and are inspired to create a better Africa for all.
GPS becomes available on cellphone
GPS had already been around for a long time, since 1978 to be exact, but only on system devices. GPS capabilities entered the mobile world and could be found on iPhones and Fujitsu’s LifeBook series.
Global mobile phone use passes milestone
The global market for mobile passed the milestone of four billion connections, equivalent to more than 60% of the world’s population. Growth was attributed to increased mobile demand in emerging markets such as India and China.
We extended our presence to Mozambique, a strategic move due to its geographic proximity to South Africa. Mozambique provides a base that reaches landlocked African countries along Mozambique’s and South Africa’s borders, key to our growth across Africa.
The Internet marks its 40th anniversary
The first Internet transmission started when four computers were connected to create a "network of networks" in 1969.
The Bitcoin Internet currency is introduced
Bitcoin is a worldwide digital payment system. It was first released as an open-source software by Satoshi Nakamoto, an unknown name or corporation.
The iECS licence allowed us to provide services to other ISPs and the iECNS licence meant that we could roll out and operate a physical network.
Apps gain popularity
Since the launch of the Apple store, 180 billion applications have been downloaded.
Michael Jackson's death crashes sites
After the announcement of Michael Jackson's death, the Internet could not handle the pressure of millions of users searching for the latest news of the pop superstar’s demise. Google asked users searching for information on Jackson to verify that they weren’t bots trying to launch a spam attack.
Our DSL Solutions service is underpinned by our fibre network, which delivers fast connectivity at more affordable rates. Today, our infrastructure touches 70% of South Africa's corporate Internet traffic.
The Participation Age
The Participation Age is about sharing and creating a company with soul. Today’s workforce wants to make meaningful work, not just money.
We’re always thinking ahead and ensuring that our staff have access to the best training to better serve clients’ needs. We continue to build on our legacy of technical excellence through a culture of innovation, client activism and an entrepreneurial spirit that drives our team.
Internet Solutions has the foundation, people, entrepreneurial spirit and position in the market to continue this incredible growth, placing our clients at the centre and doing our part to make the world work better.
Launch of Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure became commercially available. Released as Windows Azure, it was renamed as Microsoft Azure in 2014.
IS opens South Africa’s first green energy-efficient data centre using KyotoCooling cell
At our Randview data centre, mechanical devices use a wheel to direct cooler air into the facility to cool the servers as the wheel turns. Heat is extracted from the inside through a hot-aisle contained exhaust system. This is a greener system because cooling is only necessary on warmer days of the year.
3D printing is more affordable
3D printers existed in the industry for years before 2012, but few people could afford them. Developments in the industry helped to make them more affordable.
The Raspberry Pi is made available
The Raspberry Pi is a computer that’s the size of a credit card. Its creation made computing more widespread in classrooms, homes and in developing countries.
This year marked our 20th anniversary. From an idea born in the corridors of Wits to the powerhouse ISP we are today, we have helped to shape an industry that makes a significant contribution to the economy.
Bitcoin currency skyrockets
Before 2013, people were sceptical about using cryptocurrency, then it started experiencing a steady increase.
Microsoft email service update
Microsoft moves users away from the Hotmail brand to the new Outlook.com email service.
IS is the first company to deploy the 500Gbps Super Channel in Africa
We deployed this platform across our long-distance network, which allowed us to differentiate our services. Today we offer 10, 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet services to our clients with short lead times, affordable prices and excellent reliability.
Facebook makes a mega investment
Facebook bought WhatsApp for $22 billion.
Amazon launches Alexa
Alexa is an intelligent virtual assistant that acts as a speaker and smart home hub. Alexa has a wide set of skills, including ordering an Uber, voice texting, posting to Slack, streaming music throughout a home, switching lights on and off, and so much more.
IS has 15 000m² of data centre space across Africa
We built all our data centres on the foundation of a robust network to provide secure, carrier-neutral and resilient services.
Apple wearables become available
The newly released Apple watch quickly became a bestseller with 4.2 million watches sold in the second quarter of 2015. Apple has a huge iDevice base and will continue to entice customers to connect to its ecosystem of connected products, clearly making it a crucial device in the Internet of Things environment.
Computer on a stick makes its debut
Intel's Compute Stick is the entire hardware of a computer squeezed into a device slightly larger than a tube of lipstick.
We continued our focus on the ICT needs of small businesses. With the acquisition of MWEB Business, we had to provide our clients with clarity and consolidate our SME products and services under one brand.
In April 2016, MWEB Business, IS Ignite (our E-Commerce website) and IS Direct (our SME Business Unit) merged to form a new brand, Ignite. The name communicates and expresses the company's energy and excitement about its reason for being.
IS launches SkyLight, delivering the world’s biggest cloud
SkyLight provides on-demand access to different local and global cloud service platforms, giving people better control of all the cloud platforms they’re using. With SkyLight, users can view, deploy and modify all these environments from one management portal.
AlwaysOn launches the first prepaid and mobile payment services for public WiFi in SA
Ghana’s Internet use makes up 2.4% of total in Africa
A total of 29.6% of Ghana’s population used the Internet as of June 2016, according to Internet World Statistics. This accounted for 2.4% of Internet use in Africa and led to a booming tech industry, which helped to develop a flurry of startups.
Internet user milestone
Internet users in South Africa reached 21 million.
CloudWAN is a unified, virtual WAN and network function solution that simplifies the way you manage your network. The solution functions as a service on a single device, so you need only one device at each location instead of a complicated structure of network hardware.
AlwaysOn WiFi wins Best Ruckus Wireless Reseller for MEA
Data centre use in Africa on the rise
A report titled “The African Data Centre Rises – How the Race to the Cloud is Transforming African Colocation Markets – Premium Package” detailed how the African multi-tenant data centre market entered a new phase of growth. This led to greater adoption as a result. The increased data centre use in Africa could be attributed to a boom in broadband, a decline in fibre prices and an increase in workload migration to the cloud.
The WannaCry malware attack struck worldwide by exploiting a Windows vulnerability. Key institutions such as banks and hospitals were affected.
Since introducing the Internet to South African homes in 1997, MWEB has remained at the forefront of connecting people in new and more powerful ways. This acquisition presented us with exciting opportunities for growth through MWEB’s established customer base, respected brand and experience as a consumer-facing ISP.
IS launches commercial LTE-A for South African ISPs
We developed a competitively priced commercial LTE-A solution. An attractive proposition for ISPs, it introduced more flexibility in how connectivity was offered.
First robot to receive a citizenship
Sofia, a robot that uses artificial intelligence, visual data processing and facial recognition, was the first robot to become a Saudi Arabian citizen.
Bitcoin gains popularity in South Africa
The digital currency is popular among hobbyists and IT geeks who trade the currency in South Africa. In November 2017, a single coin reached the value of R100 000.
We’re making the world work better as we create for community, build for better, and deliver with the best.
Project Loon launches in Puerto Rico
The Federal Communications Commission granted Google's parent company, Alphabet, an application to extend Internet coverage in Puerto Rico with Project Loon after Hurricane Maria. Balloons were launched into the sky. Once there, ground stations connected to ISPs sent signals to the balloons, which spread Internet coverage over large distances.
Facebook's second Aquila drone test lands successfully
Facebook had a simple plan: create large, solar-powered, high-altitude drones that would connect areas of the world that don’t have reliable Internet. In future, Aquila, the company's first functional aircraft will fly without landing for three months at a time, using a laser to beam data to a base station on the ground. On May 22, Facebook reached an important milestone for the Aquila programme, the successful full-scale test flight of the aircraft. If the programme enjoys continuous success, a fleet of drones could provide Internet access to 4 billion people in sub-Saharan Africa and other remote regions.
IS's CloudConnect is incorporated into Microsoft’s Azure Express Route Network
This move considerably increased the performance of Microsoft users in South Africa.
CloudConnect offers clients access to multiple cloud service providers on a reliable, high-performance virtual private network, with plans to extend the service to wholesale clients in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
AlwaysOn delivers a public WiFi network of over four million connections per month
With a future of unlimited possibility in our minds, we started our bold mission to make the world work better through the power of the Internet.
Internet Solutions celebrates 25 years of creating for community, building for better and delivering with the best – over 1500 of the best - united in a common purpose to make the impossible possible and bring transformation to our clients, communities and continent.
The Internet has shaped our world at an increasingly rapid rate. Innovations allow users to harness the power of connectivity wherever they go. We should not underestimate the change happening before our eyes. As you can see, Internet Solutions has made significant contributions to the Internet industry throughout the years, but we’re just getting started.