ADSL versus Wi-Fi

We look at a pricing comparison between ADSL and Wi-Fi services

By - March 22, 2009
ADSL versus Wi-Fi

Earlier this year the telecoms community celebrated the long awaited telecoms license conversions where no less than 544 service providers were granted I-ECNS licences.  These I-ECNS licenses give companies the right to build their own network to serve their customers, something which only a handful of providers could do previously.

The right to build and operate a network is a significant step in the local telecoms market, but ICASA is urged by industry players to now shift their attention to issues like spectrum allocation and local loop unbundling to enhance competition.

“The next issue that ICASA needs to urgently review is the way that frequency spectrum is allocated to network operators. Service providers need access to well-managed spectrum if they are to roll out their own high-quality wireless network services, rather than just leasing access on the existing networks owned by the incumbents,” ISPA said in a recent press statement.

Wi-Fi providers gaining ground

One group of telecommunications service providers which are not reliant on either spectrum allocation or local loop unbundling are the Wi-Fi providers.  These providers typically use unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands for access and backhaul purposes.

Through aggressive pricing and targeting areas which are not covered by companies like Telkom, the Wi-Fi providers have been steadily gaining ground in the South African broadband market.

Apart from merely providing broadband access to residential consumers, some Wi-Fi operators are starting to expand into the business market with dedicated point-to-point links and leased line replacement services.

Wi-Fi versus ADSL pricing

One of the biggest draw cards of Wi-Fi access, when compared to ADSL, is price.  Wi-Fi providers often offer uncapped services at a reasonable rate, something which is not typically found in the mostly capped ADSL market.

From anecdotal evidence it can be assumed that standard ADSL access will generally outperform a Wi-Fi service, but this will strongly depend on the providers involved.  While some Wi-Fi providers use a few ADSL lines for backhaul and Internet bandwidth purposes, others have more dedicated bandwidth solutions to ensure better quality of service.

The following table provides a basic pricing comparison between a typical ADSL service and some Wi-Fi offerings.

Service Speed Usage Limit Price
Amobia Wi-Fi 384 Kbps 400 MB R 99
Uninet Wi-Fi 384 Kbps 1 GB R 250
Telkom ADSL 384 Kbps 1 GB R 323
Aerosat Wi-Fi 384 Kbps Unlimited R 295
Uninet Wi-Fi 256 Kbps Unlimited R 600
Axxess ADSL 384 Kbps Unlimited R 1275
Snowball Effect Wi-Fi 512 Kbps 3 GB R 300
Uninet Wi-Fi 512 Kbps 3 GB R 450
Telkom ADSL 512 Kbps 3 GB R 660
Aerosat Wi-Fi 512 Kbps Unlimited R 495
Uninet Wi-Fi 512 Kbps Unlimited R 800
Axxess ADSL 512 Kbps Unlimited R 1949
Aerosat Wi-Fi 1 Mbps Unlimited R 950
Snowball Effect Wi-Fi 1 Mbps Unlimited R 1550
Axxess ADSL 1 Mbps Unlimited R 3236
Amobia Wi-Fi 3 Mbps 3 GB R 499
Uninet Wi-Fi 1 Mbps 5 GB R 650
Telkom ADSL 4 Mbps 3 GB R 678

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