Everything you need to know about fibre

Mweb fibre

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This is the technology that will make South Africa’s high-speed internet dreams a reality.

In the average South African household, broadband speed is about four megabits per second (4 Mbps). The optical fibre technology that’s being rolled out in some areas will see speeds increasing to up to one gigabit per second – that’s 250 times the current average.

Read more: How to get educated online – for free

Unlike the copper telephone wires that are used for ADSL, fibre-optic cables are made of glass-like materials. They transmit data using light impulses, which means much more can be transmitted at much quicker speeds.

To plug into this service, a fibre-optic network company must lay fibre cables in your street then connect them to a box on
your wall which relays a signal to a special unit installed inside your home.

The pros

  • Lightning-fast.
  • Clear and reliable connection.
  • Theft- and weatherproof.

The cons

  • Not yet readily available.
  • More costly than ADSL.

With the development of technology, ADSL is ageing fast. While the super speeds of fibre might be a drawcard for most, the real selling point is the reliability of the fibre connection – when lightning strikes, you’re not going to lose your internet connection.

On the other hand, why pay for what you don’t need? If you’re not into streaming shows online, downloading games or other big files, and use the internet mainly for emails and social media, ADSL is still a good choice. But if you have teens you might
need a faster internet connection.

So if you’re in an internet-hungry home, this is great news, right?

Unfortunately, not all parts of SA have the necessary infrastructure for fibre installed yet.

Check if fibre is available in your area here

What is required for a fibre connection?

  • You need to be living in an area that has fibre available (see below).  Not all areas in SA have fibre yet, but roll-out is speeding up every month, so don’t give up hope – your area might be next.
  • You’ll need to apply for a fibre line. This can either be done via an internet service provider like MWEB, or directly via the infrastructure provider.
  • Once a line has been booked, your service provider will organise installation and organise a compatible router for your home. Note that even though you already have an ADSL router, you’ll probably still need to get a router that will work with your new fibre line.
  • Once your line has been installed and the router connected,  you’ll need to choose a data package. You can opt for a capped or an uncapped line — capped lines mean users will have a download limit.

What determines which areas in SA get fibre and which don’t?

“The areas where fibre is deployed are usually decided on by the respective  operators,” MWEB spokesperson Karin O’Donoghue says.

“Community interest and potential take up in a particular area are some of the key considerations for operators when deciding on an their coverage plans. A few operators invite interested customers to register their interest in bringing fibre to their neighborhood. When there is enough interest, operators usually announce plans to deploy to those areas.”

I don’t have fibre in my area. What can I do?

This differs for every infrastructure provider, but you can try:

  • Approaching their local community group or a body corporate, getting residents on board and then approaching an infrastructure provider such as Vumatel or Octotel.
  • Getting together with your neighbours and approaching an infrastructure provider. Some infrastructure providers, like Vumatel, have an online voting system, where suburbs are able to nominate and vote for their areas.

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