Openserve has 1Gbps home fibre — why it costs almost R2,900 per month

Openserve launched a residential fibre package this year that offers 1Gbps download speeds but is only available from one Internet service provider (ISP) on contract for R2,895 per month.

Its competition — major fibre network operators (FNOs) like Frogfoot, MetroFibre, Octotel, and Vumatel — have offered gigabit options on their regular fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) for several years.

Other established operators like Mitsol, TT Connect, and Zoom Fibre also offer these high-speed products, while Evotel boasts an 850Mbps package at its top end.

The highest FTTH download speed generally available to Openserve customers is 500Mbps, with the maximum upload speed being 250Mbps.

MyBroadband recently asked Openserve why it did not offer a 1Gbps FTTH package.

It responded by saying it did offer the speed on one of its products for homes and offices — fibre-to-the-room (FTTR).

MyBroadband previously attended a demonstration of an FTTR installation by Huawei at Mobile World Congress in 2022.

The basic idea of the system is to improve Wi-Fi speeds drastically by linking all the hotspots in the house with fibre optic cables and several advanced access points instead of using wireless or Ethernet extensions.

Whereas an FTTH connection only has a fibre optic cable connection up to the optical network terminal (ONT), an FTTR setup consists of long strands of fibre optic cable strategically installed throughout the household to connect to Wi-Fi access points in nearly every room.

Below are several images showing various components in Huawei’s FTTR setup, the same being offered by Openserve.

Main FTTR gateway, the equivalent to router connected to ONT in FTTH setup, but with an optical fibre output in addition to the input.
Wall-mounted FTTR access terminal box (ATB)
FTTR Edge optical network terminal (ONT)
An example of the layout and equipment involved in a typical FTTR setup.

While Openserve would not confirm as much directly to MyBroadband, the language used in its FTTR product sheet suggests it regards this to be the more sensible option for those looking to make use of gigabit in a larger home.

“There is a gap in the market for FNOs to provide a very high-end broadband product with an integrated premium Wi-Fi solution,” Openserve explains.

“Current offerings of basic Wi-Fi extenders or more advanced Wi-Fi Mesh solutions are subject to limitations inherent in Wi-Fi technology, and do not cater to this very high-end market.”

At the time of publication, Openserve’s FTTR product was available from just one ISP — Telsense — for R2,895 on a 24-month contract.

Although more expensive than rival 1Gbps services, it should be emphasised that FTTR is a more comprehensive product, including the main FTTR gateway, multiple Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 access points, edge ONTs, and optic cables.

An FTTH installation typically only includes the ONT and one free-to-use Wi-Fi router from your ISP — the rest of the network setup is the user’s responsibility.

Openserve also provides an 8-business hour repair time service-level agreement with its FTTR packages, so if you encounter downtime, it is more likely to have you up and running again quickly.

Finally, the use of optic fibre cables not only improves speeds but makes for a much cleaner finish, as they can be transparent and substantially thinner than Ethernet cables.

FTTR cables overlayed on various material types.

Nevertheless, a tech-savvy user with the right combination of Ethernet cables, Wi-Fi extenders or mesh access points could still enjoy most of the capacity of their 1Gbps connection throughout their home.

Wi-Fi 6 — the fastest wireless standard currently supported in South Africa — boasts maximum speeds of 9.6Gbps.

Walls and other obstacles will reduce the throughput, but strategically laying out Category 6 Ethernet cables and additional Wi-Fi 6 access points could help keep speeds high in rooms far away from the ONT and main router.

Cat6 Ethernet supports speeds of up to 10Gbps over a distance of 100 metres.

Other users might only want or need the 1Gbps speed on one PC or in a single room, which would negate the need for a complex network expansion altogether.

The table below shows the price of Openserve’s 1Gbps FTTR package from the only ISP currently listed to offer it, and the prices of 1Gbps packages from the other major operators through prominent ISP Afrihost.

Openserve FTTR prices vs rival FNO FTTH prices
Fibre network/ISP Download speed Upload speed Monthly price
Openserve/Telsense 1,000Mbps 500Mbps R2,895 (24-month contract)
Vumatel/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 500Mbps R2,347 (month-to-month)
TT Connect/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps R2,247 (month-to-month)
Frogfoot/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps R1,577 (month-to-month)
Mitsol/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps R1,547 (month-to-month)
Vumatel/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 250Mbps R1,497 (month-to-month)
Octotel/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 200Mbps R1,447 (month-to-month)
MetroFibre/Afrihost 1,000Mbps 500Mbps R1,297 (month-to-month)

Now read: Openserve free fibre speed upgrades announced

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Openserve has 1Gbps home fibre — why it costs almost R2,900 per month