Fibre has quickly become a preferred Internet connectivity option among consumers lucky enough to have coverage in their area.
Those without trenched or aerial fibre coverage are presented with a choice between fixed-LTE and ADSL, both of which are offered through multiple ISPs.
ADSL growth has slowed over time, though, as solutions like fibre-to-the-home and LTE become more accessible and cheaper.
While the trend is for customers to move towards high-speed infrastructure like fibre and fixed-LTE, many users remain on their DSL connections, however, due to a lack of infrastructure or a lack of motivation to upgrade.
To determine the ratio of fibre, LTE, and DSL users in South Africa, MyBroadband spoke to local ISPs about their subscriber numbers.
Webafrica did not provide its exact subscriber numbers, but said that for every LTE customer on its system there are three fibre customers, and for every ADSL user there are one-and-a-half fibre customers.
Extending these comparisons shows that Webafrica has twice as many ADSL customers as it does LTE users, and fibre customers make up a large portion of its subscriber base.
Cybersmart does not offer fixed-LTE packages, but the company’s CTO Laurie Fialkov told MyBroadband that more than half of its accounts are fibre packages.
These figures refer only to fibre-to-the-home users and DSL bundle packages.
Between these two, 53% of the accounts are on fibre packages and 47% have DSL bundles – while the revenue from DSL comprises 53% of the total, with fibre-to-the-home making up the balance.
While these figures reflect an even split, Cybersmart is seeing much better growth in its fibre sector than in the ADSL market.
“I can tell you for certain that ADSL sign-ups have pretty much dried up,” Fialkov said.
During its financial results presentation for the year ended 31 March 2018, Telkom revealed its ADSL, VDSL, LTE, and fibre customer numbers.
These numbers reference the Telkom ISP entity and do not include customers who use an Openserve line with a different ISP.
The subscriber figures for Telkom’s ISP products at the end of March 2018 were:
- ADSL – 454,000
- VDSL – 139,000
- LTE – 518,000
- Fibre – 62,000
Internet Solutions told MyBroadband that it estimates over half of South Africa’s broadband subscribers still use DSL.
“Actual subscriber numbers are not published for most of the operators, but if we were to estimate the split it’s likely to put DSL at 56%, FTTH at 32%, and the balance as Fixed LTE (excluding Telkom),” Internet Solutions said.
“Since the launch of FTTH and LTE, we have seen an increase in migration from ADSL, as fibre coverage expands the technology swop out happens quite quickly.”
This migration has been aided by competitive fibre pricing and subsidised setup costs, Internet Solutions said.
“There has been a lot of movement with FTTH pricing as well as subsidisation of setup costs, which has certainly helped the uptake on FTTH and LTE.”