Satellite vs DSL vs Fibre vs LTE – Uncapped prices compared

In South Africa, there are two major types of broadband connectivity – fixed-line and wireless.

The best-priced uncapped packages are available through fixed-line connectivity like Fibre or DSL, while wireless alternatives include LTE, Satellite and WASP Internet.

Fibre is one of the fastest and most reliable of these technologies, but it must be physically trenched to the customer.

DSL connectivity was a predecessor to fibre and was once the dominant form of fixed-line broadband, but it has major reliability issues, particularly in the South African context.

It uses copper to transmit data via electrical signals, which means it is both susceptible to power outages and theft.

The fastest DSL packages available in South Africa offer download speeds of up to 40Mbps, and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps However, performance varies depending on the condition of the cables and their distances.

LTE and Satellite

LTE describes a generation of wireless cellular technology that carries data via electromagnetic radio waves in licensed frequency spectrum bands.

A router or cellular device transmits and receives data from a mobile tower, which connects to a backhaul network that breaks out to the Internet.

Performance on LTE networks may differ based on capacity, signal levels, and demand in a particular area, but it can achieve speeds similar to fibre in good coverage areas.

Satellite broadband also employs radio waves, but operates on different bands than mobile networks.

A satellite antenna is installed and connected to a router at the user’s house, and this hardware transmits and receives data to and from a satellite in orbit.

Availability and cost

DSL packages are the cheapest option of the four technologies, but asymmetrical fibre packages are often priced similarly and offer better reliability.

While fibre is the preferred option for best speeds and reliability, it is not as widely available as wireless technologies.

In South Africa, several operators offer uncapped LTE packages – including Afrihost, Rain, and Telkom.

Afrihost’s packages run on the MTN network and provides speeds of up to 150Mbps. However, at R2,999 per month, it is difficult to compare with similar offerings from the other technologies.

Rain’s uncapped package is priced at R479 per month and throttled at 10Mbps, with video streaming on the service capped at a 360p resolution.

Telkom’s product offers uncapped Internet at the same speed for R849 per month, with a fair usage policy (FUP) threshold of 150GB.

Satellite connectivity is the most expensive option, but it also enjoys the greatest coverage, being capable of beaming Internet services to secluded rural areas with no prospects for fixed-line services and low mobile coverage.

The most affordable uncapped satellite service available in South Africa is Hughes’s YahClick, which is resold by Morclick and Vox.

Pricing Comparison

We’ve compared multiple packages available on these four technologies to see how their prices stack up.

As the fastest speed available on an uncapped satellite package is 20Mbps, we’ve compared packages on the other technologies which offer up to the same speed.

Both DSL and Fibre are offered by numerous ISPs, which means consumers will have to find and compare packages to see which provider offers the best price at the speed they require.

Uncapped LTE packages are relatively limited, and as Afrihost’s package is much faster and more expensive than the other packages below, we’ve excluded it from this comparison.

The table below shows a comparison of fibre, DSL, LTE and Satellite Internet packages available in South Africa.

Monthly prices – Satellite vs DSL vs Fibre vs LTE
ISP 5Mbps 10Mbps 20Mbps
Satellite
Morclick / Vox R849 R1,099 R1,299
DSL
Axxess R415 (4Mbps) R675 R795
Afrihost R447 (4Mbps) R697 R797
Vox R375  (4Mbps) R575 R675
Fibre (Vumatel)
Axxess R705 R865
Afrihost R749 R907
Vox R719 R919
Level-7 R499 R639 R789
RSAWEB R595 R795
MetroFibre R455 R739
LTE
Rain R479
Telkom R899

Installation fees and equipment costs

For the DSL packages, an ADSL router is required, while the fibre packages include a free-to-use router.

The LTE package from Telkom also includes a free-to-use router, while Rain requires that you use your own device.

The satellite Internet packages from Morclick and Vox do not include installation and equipment fees.


Now read: South Africans go crazy for fibre during lockdown

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Satellite vs DSL vs Fibre vs LTE – Uncapped prices compared