Fibre internet, also known as Fibre to the Home (FTTH) is taking South Africa by storm and this page aims to provide some information about what FTTH is, why it matters and what’s involved in getting FTTH in your neighbourhood.
- What is FTTH?
- What if there is no Fibre network in my area?
- What are the benefits of FTTH?
- How much does FTTH cost?
- What is the process for getting FTTH in my neighbourhood?
- Will our pavements be dug up and left shabby and ugly?
Currently, as a home (or home business) internet user, you can connect to the internet using ADSL or 3G/LTE (among others). Fibre to the Home (or FTTH), is a new way of connecting to the Internet at very high speeds. In short, Fibre provides internet speeds of up to 1Gbps (which is 100x faster than the maximum ADSL speed), as well as access to other services like Voice over IP and other benefits like increasing the value of your home.
In order to connect to the internet, you need the following.
- For ADSL, you’ll need a phone line (from Telkom) connected to an ADSL-capable network, a router, and an ISP account.
- For 3G/LTE, you’ll need 3G/LTE coverage (signal), a router or dongle and a data plan (the ISP account usually comes as part of the data plan).
- For FTTH, you’ll need a fibre network in your area, a fibre connection to your house, a router and an ISP account.
The components of accessing the internet then, are as follows.
- The network, which is either Telkom’s ADSL network, a 3G/LTE-enabled cellphone network, or a Fibre network in your area.
- A connection to the network, which is either an installed Telkom phone line with ADSL enabled, 3G/LTE coverage, or Fibre installed to your premises.
- The router, which connects the devices in your home to the internet using the specific access medium available.
- The ISP account, which dictates how much data and/or at what speed you can upload or download data.
Each connection method has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- For ADSL, you have to have a physical Telkom phone line to use it, which attracts an extra monthly rental. Also, the speed you get is based on factors like the quality of copper wires coming to your premises. The maximum ADSL speed Telkom provides is 10Mbps. Telkom owns the ADSL network so you have to get a line installed and activated by Telkom.
- For 3G/LTE, your internet experience is largely based on the quality of the 3G/LTE signal you receive at your premises. This signal degrades as more people use the network. The cost of data for 3G/LTE is generally higher.
- For Fibre, the speed of the line is higher (up to 1Gbps, which is 100X faster than the maximum ADSL speed), so it can also support auxiliary services such as Voice over IP. The Fibre network is not necessarily owned by Telkom, and can be structured as an “open-access” network which allows for greater competition in providing ISP services over the network.
If there is no Fibre network in your area, you should look into having one installed. As many other neighbourhoods (Parkhurst, Greenside, Killarney, Norwood and more) have done, you need to approach FTTH network providers and ask them if they could install a Fibre network in your area. More details on that process later on in this page.
- High-speed internet. About 100x faster than the current ADSL maximum.
- Increase the value of your home.
- Access to other services like Voice over IP (so you can use your Fibre internet as your phone line as well), video streaming, and even CCTV in your neighbourhood.
It’s impossible to say exactly how much FTTH would cost in your area, but generally, these are the costs involved. The indicative prices below were as at 7 September 2015.
- A once-off installation fee (to the Fibre network provider). This will give you access to the Fibre network, which basically means the Fibre network provider installing a cable and some equipment into your house. This installation fee usually includes the necessary router. As an indication (though please note this is not necessarily the fee you would pay), Killarney residents pay R1710 for installation (their provider is Vumatel).
- A monthly fee (to your ISP). This determines the speed and amount of data you can download, and varies according to ISP. By way of illustration, MWeb offers 50Mbps speed with 150GB of data for R999 while Webafrica offers 50Mbps and 200GB for R899.
As a comparison, a 10Mbps ADSL line using Webafrica as an ISP with 60GB of daytime data would cost (see http://www.telkom.co.za/today/shop/home/plan/fastest-adsl/ and https://www.webafrica.co.za/home/adsl/):
- once-off installation of R1612 to Telkom (R620 for phone line and R792 for ADSL); and a
- monthly fee of R813, which consists of:
- Line rental fee of R614 (R189 for phone line and R425 for ADSL);
- Monthly ISP fee of R199
- The first step is to gauge the level of interest from the residents. Most Fibre network providers will require a minimum of 30% uptake in order to look into the project. This can be done with a survey that all residents receive. The survey should also gather information about current internet access residents have and their desired internet access as well as cost requirements.
- Once there is sufficient commitment from residents and there is data about the speed and cost requirements, reach our to Fibre network providers. Such providers include Vumatel, 123Net, Greencom, LinkAfrica. MTN, Vodacom and Telkom also provide FTTH services.
- If the providers are able and/or willing to deploy Fibre to your area, they will provide you with pricing and deployment details. The deployment details would include information about the duration of the project and how the Fibre will be installed. The provider would perform all necessary deployment tasks such as getting all necessary municipal approvals.
- The residents of the neighbourhood (or usually the residents association) would choose the provider that best fits their needs and join into an agreement with the provider. The provider will then work to install Fibre in the neighbourhood.
This is entirely dependent on the chosen network provider and deployment method. Some providers prefer to dig up pavements, some will consider installing Fibre on electricity poles, and others have innovative ways of re-using existing infrastructure like water pipes. If pavements have to dug up, the provider would usually provide assurances that they would be re-built to the same or better standard as before, and warrant the work for some time period (e.g. Vumatel makes such a promise).