How to get a fibre connection in your neighbourhood

The launch of a new product provider that aims to bring a 5G network to the market this week has raised hope among those who make significant use of internet services around the country. Neesa Moodley took a look at what the new company will offer and what you need to do to get a fibre network in your neighbourhood.

The new product provider set to enter the market boasts former FirstRand co-founder Paul Harris, former chief executive of First National Bank, Michael Jordaan, and Design Indaba CEO Ravi Naidoo on its team; and aims to bring South Africans an internet connection at fibre-like speeds. The Multisource Group is a consortium that is also involved in the venture.

Harris says the company is essentially an LTE start-up and will be a competitor to fibre and ADSL connections. Initially, the company will provide sim-enabled routers for home use until it has established a national network.

What you need to know

Fibre is, as yet, not available in all suburbs or neighbourhoods and as a community, you need to show a provider that there is sufficient demand in your neighbourhood to justify the investment it will take to roll out the technology. Providers include Vumatel, Telkom, Octotel, Frogfoot and Fibrehoods.

Infrastructure provider, Vumatel has launched an online portal that lets residents of suburbs it plans to target next express their interest in fibre broadband.

“Here we have identified the neighbourhoods we are targeting in the short term and it tracks the relevant neighbourhood’s progress relative to other suburbs,” said Vumatel.

Vumatel is not the only company to launch a portal through which you can register your  interest for FTTH (fibre to the home).  Other examples include Metrofibre Networx, Cybersmart, and Telkom.

If your area is not highlighted on an infrastructure provider’s short-term roadmap, you can carry out a survey in your neighbourhood to help establish how many residents are interested in fibre broadband and what they are willing to pay. If there are enough residents interested, you can then apply to one of the infrastructure providers to have fibre installed in your neighbourhood.

What you need to ask your neighbours

Vumatel says you should ask the following questions in your survey:

  • Are you interested in a fibre broadband service?
  • What speed service would you be interested in (4Mbps, 10Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps, 100Mbps)?
  • How much data do you need (50GB, 100GB, uncapped)?
  • How much are you willing to pay per month for fibre broadband?
  • How much are you willing to pay once-off for the installation?

Ideally, you should structure your survey results into graphs and tables and include this information I your requests to network infrastructure companies.

What do the terms mean?

  • Broadband: this is a type of high-speed connection and is the most popular type of internet connection. It is a progression from the old days when you had to “dial-up” every time you wanted to connect to the internet. Broadband allows you to maintain a continuous, uninterrupted internet connection.
  • LTE: this stands for “long-term evolution” and is a means to achieve 4G speeds. To be classified as 4G for mobile use, including smartphones and tablets, connection speeds need to have a peak of at least 100 megabits per second, and for more stationary uses such as mobile hotspots, at least 1 gigabit per second.
  • Fibre: a fibre connection promises you incredibly fast internet connection speeds. Its name comes from the use of plastic or glass cables, which allow for faster data transfer compared to the standard copper wires which are used for regular broadband connections.
  • ADSL broadband: This is a broadband connection via your phone line, typically through providers such as Telkom and Neotel and involves transmission over copper telephone lines.
  •  This article was first published in City Press on 25 September 2016. 

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