Business and consumer fibre speeds tested — with surprising results

Testing by MyBroadband revealed that a 100Mbps consumer fibre service, which costs R947 per month, performed significantly better than a 100Mbps business fibre service, which costs R4,599 per month.

Business fibre is significantly more expensive than consumer fibre products because it promises better network quality and comes with a service level agreement.

Business fibre guarantees network redundancies and congestion ratios to ensure good network quality.

Consumer products, in comparison, are best-effort services. There are no service-level agreements or congestion ratio guarantees.

The benefits of business fibre come at a cost. It takes longer to install, requires a long-term contract, and is far more expensive.

MyBroadband tested the benefits of business fibre over consumer fibre, and it fell short of expectations.

The much-touted SLA is of little value. Instead of providing a company with peace of mind and guarantees, the contract indemnifies the ISP against legal action or claims.

In fact, the business fibre contract takes away your right to take action against the ISP for any losses, damages, liabilities, or whatever else.

It was time to see whether the second reason to justify the much higher price — network quality — stood up to scrutiny.

MyBroadband compared two fibre connections installed at offices in adjacent office blocks:

  • A 100Mbps consumer fibre connection using Openserve as a fibre network operator and Afrihost as an ISP. The service costs R947 per month.
  • A 100Mbps business fibre connection using DFA as a fibre network operator and Cool Ideas as an ISP. The service costs R4,599 per month.

The testing started on Friday morning, when employees were using the line, and continued through the weekend until Monday morning.

To test the performance of the fibre lines, we ran speed tests to MyBroadband’s speed test platforms at 15-minute intervals.

We used three devices at each office to limit the potential problems which could creep in with a single test device.

Since all tests were done over Wi-Fi to simulate a typical office environment, we made sure the test devices were close to the router and that the Wi-Fi connection was much faster than the Internet connection of 100 Mbps.

To our surprise, the consumer fibre line performed better than the business line during office hours and over the weekend.

The average download speed on the consumer line was 95 Mbps, while the business line averaged closer to 60 Mbps.

The business line’s average upload speed was slightly higher than the consumer line. This was to be expected, as the business line is symmetrical (100/100 Mbps) while the consumer line was not (100/50 Mbps).

The consumer line reigned supreme in terms of average latency and jitter.

The download speed on the business fibre also had far lower minimum speeds than the consumer line.

The table below compares the consumer and business fibre connections results over the testing period.

Business vs Consumer Fibre
Specification Consumer Fibre Business Fibre
FNO Openserve DFA
ISP Afrihost Cool Ideas
Download Speed 100 Mbps 100 Mbps
Upload Speed 50 Mbps 100 Mbps
Installation time 1 week 2 months
Contract Month-to-month 24 months
Monthly price R947 R4,599
Test Results
Service Consumer Fibre Business Fibre
Measure Workday Weekend Workday Weekend
Average Download Speed (Mbps) 94.26 97.73 54.31 61.84
Average Upload Speed (Mbps) 47.14 48.68 52.39 50.35
Average Latency (ms) 7.60 15.82 41.25 27.18
Average Jitter (ms) 23.97 31.66 67.05 75.01
Peak Download Speed (Mbps) 99.68 100.49 100.08 100.16
Peak Upload Speed (Mbps) 53.29 53.60 101.70 103.93
Best Latency (ms) 6 6 6 5
Worst Download Speed (Mbps) 5.93 12.21 6.57 1.08
Worst Upload Speed (Mbps) 5.62 0.05 0.72 3.33
Worst Latency (ms) 25 1025 96 129

Now read: Business fibre pricing in South Africa interrogated

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Business and consumer fibre speeds tested — with surprising results