Best fibre networks in South Africa, according to ISPs

Metrofibre, Link Africa, and Octotel are the best-rated major fibre network operators in the country, according to the Internet Service Providers Association of South Africa (ISPA).

The industry body has released the results of its most recent FNO perception survey, which found that Internet service providers’ overall confidence in FNOs had dropped since the previous survey in August 2023.

“ISPA noted that ISPs’ confidence in their FNOs has slipped slightly since August, with the annual average of all FNOs dropping by 0.2 points to 6.0,” the association said.

The survey measures the perceptions of ISPA’s members on numerous fibre network operators (FNOs).

The latest results include inputs from around fifty Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which they provided in February 2024.

ISPA asked the ISPs to rate the FNOs they do business with across eleven criteria, on a scale of 0 to 10.

The ratings of Link Africa and Liquid Intelligent Networks improved the most in the last six months.

Opinions on Metrofibre and Octotel remained positive, but the scores for Frogfoot, Openserve, Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa dropped.

Frogfoot recorded the most significant score decline, with its average rating plummeting from 6. to 5.3.  That saw it dropping from fourth to sixth in the rankings.

The two top-rated FNOs — Metrofibre and Link Africa — dominated the individual metrics.

Metrofibre scored highest for technical proficiency, communications, friendliness of staff, business processes, software systems, and optimism.

Link Africa excelled in value for money and open-access principles.

The third best-rated operator — Octotel — retained the highest score in best support for ISPs — but dropped 0.3 points in its overall rating.

Telkom’s Openserve saw its overall ranking slipping from first to fourth with its score declining by 0.9 points, but it maintained the best rating for reliability.

The two networks that ISPs were most likely to recommend to other ISPs were Metrofibre and Liquid Intelligent Networks.

The table below summarises the findings of ISPA’s latest FNO perception survey.

ISPA FNO perception survey rankings — Top 9 operators
FNO Average score in August 2023 Average score in February 2024 Change
Metrofibre 6.8 6.9 +0.1
Link Africa 5.9 6.8 +0.9
Octotel 6.8 6.5 -0.3
Openserve 7.0 6.1 -0.9
Liquid Intelligent Networks 4.7 5.9 +1.2
Frogfoot 6.3 5.3 -1.0
Vumatel 6.0 5.2 -0.8
Dark Fibre Africa 5.8 5.0 -0.8
Average 6.2 6.0 -0.2

The lowest scoring criteria overall were optimism about whether an FNO will improve in the future, support provided to ISPs by FNOs, and the likelihood of recommending a particular FNO to another ISP.

ISPA advised FNOs hoping to improve their score in the future to consider streamlining the support they provide to ISPs, ensuring they have processes and staff capacity to resolve common issues, such as the difficulties consumers face when trying to migrate lines between ISPs.

The latest survey also allowed ISPs to provide freeform feedback to each FNO.

“This feedback unexpectedly revealed the importance of FNOs’ account managers,” ISPA said.

“ISPs with a good account manager tended to rate that FNO far more positively, while those with a less skilled account manager were much more critical towards that FNO overall.”

ISPA added that although only nine operators were rated by a significant number of ISPs, 23 other networks were included in the ratings.

“Despite being ranked by fewer ISPs, some of those networks did very well, with Evotel (7.5) and Zoom Fibre (7.4) achieving higher averages than all of the large networks,” ISPA said.

“Lightspeed (6.7), Lightstruck (6.5), Thinkspeed (6.3) and Seacom FibreCo (6.2) also fared well.”

ISPA encouraged ISPs who were not yet offering those networks’ products to consider expanding their coverage footprints with new partners.

Those who wish to view the full table of results of the latest ISPA FNO perception survey can visit the association’s website.

ISPA said it continued to engage with its members and FNOs to develop a set of FNO and ISP Best Practice Recommendations that will ultimately ensure that FNOs and ISPs work together to deliver seamless, cost-effective fibre-based internet.

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Best fibre networks in South Africa, according to ISPs