ADSL vs fibre prices in South Africa — the winner is clear

South Africans can save a fair amount each month if they can opt for a home fibre package instead of DSL, a MyBroadband analysis has revealed.

Although comparing fibre to DSL on a like-for-like basis can be challenging, it is possible to calculate a per Mbps price to compare the two.

MyBroadband compared the price of Openserve digital subscriber line (DSL) connections up to 40Mbps available through Afrihost and Telkom to the cost of home fibre packages offering similar download speeds.

While those who opt for ADSL can get plans as low as 5Mbps at a lower price, these packages don’t offer anywhere near the same bang-for-buck fibre provides.

Telkom’s 5Mbps ADSL connection costs R297 a month through Afrihost, which works out to R59.40 per Mbps.

On the other hand, Openserve Web Connect sells an asymmetrical 30Mbps fibre line for R389 per month through Afrihost. While customers will pay R92 more monthly, they only pay R12.97 per Mbps.

It also sells an asymmetrical 20Mbps package which works out to R16.45 per Mbps. A comparison of the Openserve fibre and Telkom DSL products available through Afrihost is provided in the table below.

Afrihost fibre vs ADSL
Speed Network operator Type of connection Price Price per Mbps
5Mbps Telkom ADSL R297.00 R59.40
10Mbps Telkom ADSL R397.00 R39.70
20Mbps Telkom VDSL R597.00 R29.85
20/10Mbps Openserve Web Connect Fibre R329.00 R16.45
30/10Mbps Openserve Web Connect Fibre R389.00 R12.97
40Mbps Telkom VDSL R697.00 R17.43
40/20Mbps Openserve Fibre R547.00 R13.68
40/40Mbps Openserve Fibre R647.00 R16.18

Looking at monthly fees, South Africans can get a symmetrical 40Mbps Openserve package through Afrihost for R50 less per month than Telkom’s 40Mbps DSL line.

They can also opt for the asymmetrical 40Mbps package — with a 20Mbps upload — for R150 less a month than the 40Mbps DSL line.

MyBroadband also compared the pricing of fibre-to-the-home and DSL packages available through Telkom.

Interestingly, Telkom charges more for its ADSL packages than Afrihost, with the 5Mbps line starting at R375 a month — R75 per Mbps.

It is important to note that we only compared Telkom services that don’t include bundled calls and mobile data.

Telkom bundles some of its DSL packages with unlimited Telkom-to-Telkom calls and mobile data allocations, but these carry significantly higher prices.

The most cost-effective Telkom DSL package — on a price per Mbps basis — is its 40Mbps line for R1,019 per month. This works out to R25.48 per Mbps.

Telkom’s cheapest Openserve fibre package is its 40Mbps line with a 20Mbps upload speed for R549 a month, or R13.73 per Mbps.

Telkom fibre vs ADSL
Speed Network operator Type of connection Price Price per Mbps
5Mbps Telkom ADSL R375.00 R75.00
10Mbps Telkom ADSL R675.00 R67.50
20Mbps Telkom VDSL R795.00 R39.75
40Mbps Telkom VDSL R1,019.00 R25.48
40/20Mbps Openserve Fibre R549.00 R13.73
40/40Mbps Openserve Fibre R629.00 R15.73

Telkom DSL subscribers plummet

Telkom reported its DSL subscriber numbers separately in its financial results until 31 March 2016, when numbers peaked at just over one million.

However, fibre has gradually replaced DSL as the primary fixed-line Internet technology in South African cities and towns.

As a result, subscriber numbers plummeted since March 2016 to around 74,000 on 31 March 2023.

While the company had plans to decommission its copper network by 2024, it launched Openserve Pure Connect — a “Naked ADSL” product that doesn’t require customers to take a telephone service with their DSL connection — in April 2020.

“This new product now allows customers to directly obtain the broadband service from their ISPs and will no longer be required to obtain a copper line from Telkom Retail,” Openserve stated.

Telkom said it would continue to offer copper-based fixed-line services in areas it deems economically viable.

Now read: South Africa’s fastest broadband neighbourhoods — with a Pretoria surprise

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ADSL vs fibre prices in South Africa — the winner is clear