Fibre is quickly becoming a must-have for Internet users in South Africa, although there are still many areas without coverage.
While fibre network operators (FNOs) are rolling out their infrastructure aggressively, some urban areas remain without fibre and residents are forced to rely on ADSL or LTE for their Internet connections.
This can be both expensive and frustrating, as the latency and data prices are significantly higher for both of these services, making them less efficient to use for gaming, high-quality streaming, and downloading.
The selection of fibre providers available in your areas depends not only on which area you stay in, but also on what type of residence your home is.
For example, if you live in a closed estate, an FNO may have worked with the developers to roll out fibre exclusively to the premises. On the other hand, if you live in a standalone house, you might have two or three fibre connections running past your home.
The easiest way to determine which FNO is in your area is to use a combined coverage map like the one available on FibreTiger. It should be noted that this map includes Telkom, Openserve, Vumatel, Frogfoot and SADV fibre coverage only.
If you do not have fibre coverage and your area is not marked as a planned rollout, there are still some steps you can take to try and get fibre rolled out to your home.
Many fibre network operators have online portals which allow you to register your interest in their fibre products.
This helps FNOs determine where to roll out next, and every person who expresses their interest in this way will increase the chance of getting fibre rolled out to their neighbourhood.
Below is a list of various FNOs which allow customers to register their interest for fibre coverage:
If there are many residents in your area or complex which are also seeking fibre coverage, you could conduct a survey of the neighbourhood to gauge the interest in fibre broadband, along with what they are willing to pay.
The results of these surveys can then be compiled into a report which you should send to FNOs to try and convince them to roll out to your area.
If you are unable to drum up enough support from your neighbours and there is no fibre rollout planned in your area, your only other options are LTE or ADSL.
LTE vs ADSL
Telkom’s copper infrastructure is widespread in South Africa, and although it is regularly interrupted by cable theft, ADSL connections are relatively stable in terms of speed and latency.
ADSL data is also much cheaper than LTE, although the price of mobile data is decreasing every year.
Telkom does not want to keep ADSL active for any longer than it needs to, however, as the cost of maintaining and repairing this infrastructure makes it prohibitively expensive compared to newer technologies.
The company is now actively migrating ADSL customers to equivalent fibre or LTE packages in an effort to meet its goal of turning off the copper network entirely in five years.
LTE is expensive, and there are not usually many uncapped options available, but if you have an existing ADSL connection, Telkom might be able to offer you a special LTE package designed to mimic the functionality of ADSL.
Fibre networks are continuing to roll out aggressively and mobile data prices are continuing to fall, which means that the value of your home broadband should improve over time – even if you don’t end up with fibre coverage.