I received an email with the subject line, “Quote of the Day”. It was sent by one of our sales engineers who had been speaking with a prospective client that had just completed a rigorous examination of fiber optic network management systems, one of which was OSPInsight. In expressing his delight with OSPInsight the client said, “It seems as though you guys built the software from the street up, not the desk down.”
I love that quote! It highlights the fact that OSPInsight is built for those craftsmen (male and female) who work to make the magic of fiber optic networks available to the rest of us. One such craftsman is Eldred Ekermans founder and President of True Communications (truecommunications.co.za), a wireless internet service provider. Eldred has an athletic build and a sun tanned face with a full head of hair that belies his fifty something age.
As I sat across from him in his office in Ventersdorp, South Africa he regaled me with stories of 150 km mountain bike rides and hunting a 1,200 lb. eland antelope. His confidence was contagious. So much so that I found myself not only believing he could solve any problem, but that I could as well. Like so many successful entrepreneurs, Eldred started his business when a condescending remark inspired him to do what others didn’t think he could.
In 2007, Eldred left the busy metropolis of Johannesburg and his 9 to 5 job to retreat to the small town life in Ventersdorp and take over the family business selling car parts. It turns out that this wasn’t a retreat; it was more of a reload. Eldred loves technology and is not afraid to push limits and challenge traditional thinking. So, when he was tired of paying high rates for phone service at his business he decided to learn how to run VOIP over ADSL. Though it had its limitations it worked well enough. But it didn’t take long for phone service reps to challenge him and insist that what he was trying to do would fail. Challenge accepted.
That episode inspired Eldred to envision something big. He decided he was going to provide phone and internet service for the entire town. And that he did. He began to install wireless routers and sign people up. When he ran out of capacity, he added more. When even more customers knocked on his door he mounted his wireless routers on higher towers and anything else that would expand his footprint. Soon he had hundreds of customers. When capacity continued to be pushed, he decided to get into the fiber optic network business. His client base blossomed into the thousands.
Today True Communications services over 3,000 customers in nearly 30 towns over an area of 45,000 square kilometers (over 17,000 square miles) supported by three NOCs. And, the growth doesn’t look to abate anytime soon.
The story of True Communications is consistent with many other tales of fearless entrepreneurs and public administrators willing to challenge the status quo and dream big. It’s this mentality that pushes the communications industry to dig deep and pay attention to the relentless appetite for bandwidth throughout every corner of the world.
And it is the essence of OSPInsight to support those who dream of the internet for all, built from the street up.