There is good news for South Africans who want to have fibre installed in their home during the lockdown, as local ISPs and fibre network operators will continue to visit residences for installation.
As ICT is defined as an essential service, ISPs and fibre network operators have been able to continue operating during COVID-19 alert level 5 and level 4.
This means they can continue to send technicians to customers who order new fibre packages, allowing South Africans to get high-speed fibre connections installed.
MyBroadband spoke to local ISPs and networks about the process.
Cool Ideas co-founder Paul Butschi told MyBroadband the ISP continues to facilitate fibre installations for new customers during the lockdown.
“We were able to do so at level 5 with telecommunications being an essential service, and the same applies to level 4,” Butschi said.
He added that technicians belonging to the fibre networks which have opted to continue installations are still able to visit homes to install fibre.
Regarding the turnaround time for these installations, Butschi said this is dependent on the customer’s area.
“Being on 30-plus networks, this number varies from provider to provider,” he said.
MWEB marketing manager Karin O’Donoghue said the ISP is still able to facilitate fibre installations for customers.
“We continue to sign up customers and work together with FNOs to ensure installations are going ahead,” she said.
O’Donoghue added that the time for these installations to be processed varies depending on the network operator.
“It really depends on the area and the FNO,” she said. “We have had some customers installed and active in a day, but some installations do take 10 days.”
“There are some delays to be expected in certain areas, depending on the status of the area,” she added.
Cybersmart CTO Laurie Fialkov said they continue to install fibre regardless of the COVID-19 alert level, although some customers have opted to reschedule their installation bookings.
“Yes, we are installing fibre, even during alert level 5,” Fialkov said. “Of course, we have also had some customers reschedule.”
“We have a health and safety officer employed full-time and we are adhering to the recommended guidelines as well as implementing more rigorous measures of our own,” he said.
“On average we are installing fibre between 48-72 working hours after the order has been placed.”
He added that Cybersmart’s installation times have been consistent with those before the lockdown, as its staff remain at full capacity.
“We have not reduced teams and everyone is aware how critical staying in touch is during this time, especially since it can only be done virtually,” Fialkov said.
WonderNet confirmed that it is able to facilitate the installation of fibre infrastructure doing the lockdown.
The ISP said the turnaround time depends on the location of the installation, adding that an accurate installation time can be provided following a feasibility study.
“This depends on the location, but it could be between one and four weeks,” WonderNet said.
Once an enquiry has been made, WonderNet’s team will assess the location’s feasibility for fibre installation.
The necessary application forms will then be provided to the customer within 24 hours.
Axxess told MyBroadband it is classified as an essential service, and therefore is able to continue operating throughout the lockdown period.
“Most of our fibre network partners are able to carry on installing fibre connections during the lockdown,” the ISP said.
The company added that while some installations are taking longer due to the lockdown, this is not as bad as expected.
“There has been a slight increase in turnaround time with some of our smaller fibre providers, but not as bad as one would expect during this trying time.”
“The sooner you place your fibre order, the sooner it will be installed,” Axxess said.
Supersonic said it is listed as an essential service, enabling it to continue fulfilling new fibre orders during the lockdown.
“We have our technicians available to assist with connectivity issues,” the ISP said. “All technicians have been trained on sanitisation, social distancing, and hygiene procedures.”
The ISP said it has tried to maintain its turnaround times, but in some cases these are affected by restrictions.
“Although we’ve tried to stick to our 7-14 day turnaround time, external factors like the imposed restrictions have affected these in some instances, although with the level 4 lockdown we should see these time frames get back to normal,” Supersonic said.
“In addition to this, the technical team have been working tirelessly in the background ensuring the network avails sufficient capacity for the increased demand, plus offering products built around the very best interests of the user’s needs,” the ISP said.
Frogfoot head of sales and marketing Shane Chorley said they continue to install fibre during alert level 4.
“As an essential service, our teams have continued to process orders and work with ISPs to ensure that quick turnaround time is maintained to service people needing connectivity at home,” Chorley said.
Chorley said when technicians visit homes to install fibre connections, they adhere to strict health and safety policies to ensure the safety of workers and homeowners..
“Customers must work with their ISPs to ensure that all correct information is supplied to Frogfoot, to ensure that we can get in touch with the customer as soon as possible to schedule installation.”