Home fibre packages in South Africa are cheaper than ADSL, a MyBroadband comparison shows.
Although it’s difficult to directly compare fibre and ADSL prices like-for-like because the speeds of these packages often don’t align, it’s possible to calculate a price per Mbps to see which is cheaper.
We used prices from one of the biggest ISPs in the country, Afrihost, to see if ADSL or fibre provided the best value.
Our comparison showed that fibre was the most affordable option per Mbps in all speed categories, except for 5Mbps, where only a DSL package was available.
However, while the entry-level DSL service is R32 cheaper than the 10Mbps Openserve Web Connect package, it is significantly more expensive for the speed you get — at R59.40 per Mbps compared to R32.90 per Mbps.
The table below shows how Afrihost’s fibre and DSL prices on the Openserve network compare.
Note that the prices used for the 10Mbps and 20Mbps fibre are exclusive to Openserve’s Web Connect network, which makes up a smaller portion of its overall footprint.
|Afrihost Openserve fibre vs Openserve DSL prices
|Type of connection
|Price per Mbps
|Fibre (Web Connect)
|Fibre (Web Connect)
Unless you have bare minimum Internet needs, the slowest download speed you should consider for a frequent user or small household is 20Mbps.
On ADSL, you can get that speed for R597 per month. For the same price, you can get a 25Mbps fibre package. That works out to R23.88 per Mbps compared to R38.90 on the DSL package.
Users within the Openserve Web Connect footprint can get an even better deal with a 20Mbps download speed at R389 per month, working out to just R19.45 per Mbps.
The fastest DSL download speed you can get is a 40Mbps VDSL connection, which is R100 cheaper than its closest Openserve fibre rival — a 50Mbps package.
However, the 50Mbps fibre has much faster upload speeds than VDSL and is cheaper in per-Mbps terms.
Over the last few years, fibre has gradually replaced copper-based DSL as the main form of fixed-line Internet connectivity in large towns and cities.
When Vumatel blew open the last-mile fibre industry in 2014 with its milestone rollout in Parkhurst, it quickly began to threaten Telkom’s dominance over fixed broadband in South Africa. (Openserve is the wholesale and networks division of Telkom.)
ISPs on Vumatel’s network — including Cool Ideas, Mweb, Webafrica, Cybersmart, and Vox Telecom — offered their fibre packages at substantially lower prices than they could achieve on Telkom’s DSL packages.
As an illustration, an entry-level 4Mbps fibre line from Cool Ideas on the Vumatel network was priced at R399 per month, while a 4Mbps DSL connection from Telkom cost R751.50.
Fibre also offered better reliability, greater bandwidth, and higher maximum speeds than copper. VDSL topped out at 40Mbps, whereas fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) could already achieve speeds of 1Gbps.
In addition, fibre did not often fall prey to cable theft that could leave users without connectivity for days — except when it was mistaken for copper.
Growing demand for high-bandwidth connections as more households adopted streaming video services like YouTube, Netflix, and Showmax spurred fibre’s growth in South Africa.
Today, several thousand more homes are connected with fibre than DSL.
In August 2021, Telkom announced that its fibre-to-the-home network had surpassed its copper network in terms of homes connected.
As of June 2021, Telkom’s Openserve wholesale fixed-broadband division had connected 306,837 homes with fibre, while 264,186 still used its copper lines for DSL connectivity.
That does not include the many more homes connected to other fibre network operators like Vumatel, Frogfoot, MetroFibre, Octotel, and Evotel.