Load-shedding looks like it is here to stay for some time, according to Eskom.
Being without power for eight hours a day is not an enjoyable experience, but it is often made worse by the lack of an Internet connection.
If your home ADSL or fibre connection is connected to a router and the power goes out, your Internet is gone.
With the increasing reliance on a data connection for entertainment and communication, this can prove frustrating for South Africans who are stranded in their own home with no electricity.
However, there are several ways to stay connected to the Internet during periods of load-shedding.
UPS for fixed-line
If you have a fixed-line broadband connection and your home is struck by load-shedding, you can prevent Internet downtime with a UPS or battery backup powering your router and CPE.
This does depend on your ISP and network provider, however, but most companies will have their own power backup solutions which keep their broadband products online during load-shedding.
A cheap UPS which could run your router and PC for a short period will cost you around R549. You will need a bigger unit if you are connecting multiple devices or relying on the power supply for sustained use, and larger UPSs sell for up to R5,000,
A better choice for long periods of downtime is an inverter or generator, but this is more expensive. A large home generator costs up to R8,999, while inverters sell for up to R32,000.
If you are not willing to commit to such a big purchase, you may be better off looking at a mobile solution to your Internet problems.
Mobile LTE router
One of the most useful gadgets to have when Eskom turns the lights off is a battery-powered MiFi router.
These portable routers contain a SIM card and run for ages on a single charge while delivering an LTE connection to Wi-Fi-connected devices.
Many mobile operators offer these routers along with an LTE data plan, which work out much cheaper than using standard mobile data.
This is especially true if you use a data-only provider like Rain, which bundles a MiFi router and SIM with 10 days of unlimited data for a once-off cost of R790.
While the data rates are more expensive than fixed-line broadband, a MiFi router is cheaper than using standard mobile data while also providing the advantage of a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
A last resort in the case of load-shedding is to rely on the mobile data connection provided by your smartphone.
Many modern smartphones include support for Wi-Fi hotspot tethering, allowing them to act as hotspots for other devices to connect to.
This can be turned on in the device’s Wi-Fi settings, where users can set up an SSID.
This is the most expensive option in terms of data consumption, and if you are planning to use the Internet this way you should expect a hefty data bill.
However, this is often the fallback for many South Africans who need to send out one more email or finish one more document just as their power goes out.