Fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business are the preferred options for people looking for a fast, stable, and affordable uncapped Internet connection.
There has been a rapid increase in fibre coverage in South Africa with a slew of fibre network operators rolling of networks.
There is typically only a single fibre operator which is active in a neighbourhood, which means consumers do not have a choice between different fibre networks.
They do, however, have a choice on which Internet service provider (ISP) to use. You can choose between Afrihost, Axxess, RSAWEB, Home Connect, Vox, and many other service providers.
You also have a choice on which fibre package to choose, which range significantly based on download and upload speed.
Another aspect to consider is whether a router is included in the package, and whether this router serves your needs.
Here are eight questions you should ask when searching for a new fibre service.
What are the installation charges and setup time?
Before you get connected it’s important to know exactly how much you will pay – both up-front and monthly.
Some ISPs provide free installation while others require an initial fee to get you connected.
Ask your provider about installation charges and the time it will take to get your connection up and running.
If you need to stay connected during the process, you should ask your ISP if installation will interrupt your current connection.
What about the router?
All fibre connections require a router. Ask your ISP about the router you need to establish your connection.
Also ask if this router will be included in the package, or if you will have to purchase it in addition to the installation charges and monthly fee.
If your previous connection was via a router you could ask your ISP about using the one you already have.
You should also ask your ISP about its specifications and whether it will provide dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) connectivity for optimal Wi-Fi performance.
Do I get symmetric or asymmetric speeds?
Symmetric speeds mean that download and upload speeds are the same.
Upload speeds are often lower than download speeds, and you should clarify what the speeds are for the package you order.
If you are a streamer or often need to perform big file uploads, a symmetric connection is what you are looking for.
What is the average speed?
The speeds you see ISPs advertising refers to peak speeds. We have outlined the speeds and prices advertised by ISPs in this table.
In reality, peak speeds are lower than the speeds you will be getting with daily use.
This can be impacted by many factors, like the number of users on the network and time of day.
Ask your ISP about the average speeds you can expect to get.
How many users can the connection support?
When asking about the average speeds, provide your ISP with info about your use scenario to enable them to provide a suitable connection.
You can ask for a speed estimate according to how many devices you expect to connect, as the number of devices on your network can impact connection speeds.
Can unused data be rolled over?
If you have a package with a monthly data allocation, ask your ISP if this data rolls over or whether unused data expires at the end of the month.
What do other users say?
Before you decide on an ISP, you should spend time doing market research.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the Mybroadband Forum are useful platforms to find out about the experiences of other users.
Do you have dedicated, 24/7 customer support?
Ask your ISP if which support channels they have and whether they are available 24/7.
You can also enquire about the average time it takes to resolve user issues, and compare this to the user feedback you have found online.