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Crystal Web is an Internet Service Provider with a difference. The company was conceptualized by frustrated and upset internet users, tired of a poor quality of experience, and the sheer lack of development in the telecoms industry at large. The company was launched by seasoned entrepreneurial veterans with experience in financial markets and telecoms. The company is, today, one of the most respected brands in the ISP industry as a result of passion, hard work, and successful planning and implementation.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our network. We pride ourselves on our ethics and commitment to customers. Crystal Web’s vision is to create a tangible and positive difference in this industry, together with the support of our customers. And it is our aim to increase the bar on customer support, from a home user to an enterprise client. Having been independently voted the top rated internet service provider in South Africa on 3 separate occasions, we believe that our commitments and ambitions are being achieved, and we’re only getting better each day.

Below is a timeline of important events in our history, since our launch in early 2014. Scroll down further to read our founding shareholders' stories of the origins of Crystal Web.

February 2014

It started earlier, but it all began that day

In early 2014, Crystal Web began offering beta services on our network to early-adopter customers, with a limited product suite. This beta phase was limited to 100 customers to ensure the integrity of our network during this beta phase.

April 2014

Commercial service launch

Following successful testing and trials, Crystal Web launches all services and successfully moves from beta to commercial phase.

June 2014

Client milestone achieved

"We have achieved our first customer milestone goal 6 months faster than forecasted! Time to scale up on support and implement phase 2."

---Shaun Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer (excerpt from actual email)

November 2014

1st network fault experienced

In late 2014, Crystal Web suffered performance degradation as a result of a fault with one of our primary upstream providers. Mitigation strategy is implemented.

January 2015

Crystal Web upgrades primary backbone

Crystal Web switches its primary backbone network to Internet Solutions (Pty) Ltd and doubles network capacity, while launching new products and services, and taking more direct control over the underlying network.

February 2015

Crystal Web voted top rated ISP in South Africa

Crystal Web is notified that we have been independently voted by South African broadband users as the top rated Internet Service Provider, as measured on network quality, support, and value for money, however this result is not published due to our newcomer entrant status.

April 2015

Crystal Web again voted top rated ISP in South Africa

Crystal Web is the overall top rated ISP in South Africa as independently voted by broadband users, and scores near perfect marks on network quality and support. Results are published in media.

October 2015

Crystal Web AGAIN voted the best ISP in South Africa by broadband users

Crystal Web is the overall top rated ISP in South Africa as independently voted by broadband users. Results are published in media.

April 2016

Crystal Web launches fibre to the home

Crystal Web launches Fibre To The Home services over Vumatel, and begins adding new operators. Speeds up to 100Mb/s operating over Crystal Web's business backbone infrastructure and bandwidth, resulting in zero shaping or throttling for FTTH customers..

May 2016

Crystal Web launches fibre to the business

Crystal Web launches Fibre To The Business services over numerous last mile operators, and extends its business services network coverage nationally with 100% major metro penetration. Speeds up to 1Gb/s operating over Crystal Web's enterprise backbone infrastructure and bandwidth, resulting in zero shaping or throttling for any customers.

August 2016

Crystal Web enters partnership discussions

In August 2016, Crystal Web entered into heads of agreement discussions with a major search engine to bring new technology to South Africa in a venture to get internet costs down for all South Africans, and to deploy to metros and remote areas.

August 2016

Crystal Web triples its network size

In July of 2016, following a fault affecting users in the Southern region, Crystal Web upgrades infrastructure at primary locations and triples the network capacity. The fault at the time prevented us from upgrading our IPC infrastructure and once upstream resolved the fault, upgrades took place en-mass to avoid similar recurrence

November 2016

Crystal Web launches Open-Time

Crystal Web launches an extended promotion called Open-Time, providing customers with free data for 18 hours of every single day.

December 2016

Crystal Web opens XtremeTTH registrations

Following successful trials, Crystal Web opens registrations for its XtremeTTH services offering fibre-like speeds up to 300Mb/s at a fraction of the normal cost, operating over the EvoNet backbone infrastructure.

January 2017

Crystal Web achieves massive wholesale milestone

In January 2017, Crystal Web achieved a milestone for wholesale customer numbers, reaching in excess of 250 wholesale/reseller customers throughout South Africa.

January 2017

Crystal Web voted top ISP network in South Africa

Crystal Web is proud to have been independently voted as having the best network in South Africa once again, based on thousands of votes across all ISPs, with an average score of 8.7/10.

How it all began. A personal story from our CEO, Shaun

by Shaun Kaplan / Sunday, 05 February 2017
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It began for me in April 2012, sitting in front of my PC utterly frustrated at my slow internet service, and further infuriated by the lack of support from my ISP at the time. I was, back then, working in the financial markets while balancing operating two other companies at the same time. I required constant streams of data without interruption, and due to the remote nature of my companies, I relied heavily on internet connectivity to ensure their success. The reality, however, was in stark contrast to my expectations, and a thought struck me: “how hard can it be to provide decent internet in South Africa and a high quality of support?” Spoiler alert: very, as it turns out.

One of my companies was an entrepreneurial incubator, so as a pet-project I began drafting what would become the 1st iteration of the Crystal Web business plan. By June 2012 I was happy with my projections, strategy, and overall plans. I knew the input cost numbers we required, and I was happy with the size investment it would require. “This is easy” I thought to myself. I’ve done this all before and the numbers make sense. It was at this point that my pet-project started to become more of an obsession. It started to become a reality. It started to become the reason I woke up each day and the last thing on my mind before passing out at 3am each morning. Reality, however, had different plans.

My dream business model was quickly scuttled by the true costs involved in providing my version of a “dream internet connection.” My utopian ideology of the industry combined with my lack of ISP experience at the time was shunted to the forefront, and I came to the realisation that if my pet project were to ever see the light of day, I needed to learn fast. I needed to go to networking school to better understand the underlying infrastructure. I needed to spend time in a real ISP environment, across all spectrums: from the guy answering the support calls, to the managers implementing the directors’ strategies, to the shareholders who put their money behind the board of directors’ visions. What is it that they were doing right? Where could they improve? What made them successful? Why have so many ISPs failed? Do these people even know the answers to these questions? And do I even have the time to thoroughly interrogate these questions?

The short answer was no, I simply didn’t have the time and I needed to make the call on whether this was a pet-project as I was calling it, or a real business opportunity that required my attention and focus. Perhaps market research could help me decide? So I hit the malls with my pens and board. I became that annoying guy who you accidentally make eye-contact with and immediately start looking for an exit strategy. I couldn’t outsource this, of course. I needed to engage in a manner that allowed me to see and feel the human response, and doing so proved invaluable. A unified message emerged: one of anger and frustration. Exactly as I had felt the very moment I decided to embark on this process. In entrepreneurial terms, this equates to opportunity. An opportunity to solve the pain-points people almost universally experienced. This is exactly how my plan was positioned, due its own history, and it meant the business could position itself into a gap in the market; we could carve our place as it already existed. The naysayers told me on countless occasions that the market was limited and saturated. That it would never work. That there is no space for a new entrant in the ISP industry. And that we’d have to operate in the niche areas to find our value proposition. They never rationalised nor justified this position. They simply said it. They were wrong.

I sold off my second business and didn’t accept new clients in my remaining incubator. I used the spare time to focus on developing my perfect ISP. By now it was mid-2013. Pricing was changing; there were reductions in input costs due to legislation; and the emergence of AI, augmented reality, IoT, FTTx, hotspots, and connected gadgets everywhere you look meant that the future of a successful entrant into the ISP and networking space would have a fairly secured longevity. I needed to act fast to ensure that the brand’s success coincided with the emergence of these technologies from a tangible product perspective. I needed help, and it was time to call in some favours. I needed someone who shared my passion for this ISP. I needed someone with extensive telecoms experience who could augment my still-developing skill-sets in this regard. I needed someone with a background in telecoms and regulatory law, to ensure that we could make a tangible difference to the eco-system. I needed someone who shared the end user’s frustration when it came to quality of experience, as well as a lack of telecoms industry development. I needed Paul Hjul.

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