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By 10 August 2016 | Categories: interviews

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If you take a drive around Johannesburg, the chances are high that you will see the many trenches being dug in preparation for the laying of fibre. This is a positive sign, indicating that finally, fibre’s chance to shine has finally come, as Fibre to the Home is becoming more widespread. This, at a time when the likes of Netflix and ShowMax only necessitate faster, more stable high speed connections, and while users are trying to get the best broadband bang for their buck.

Calvin Collett, CEO of iConnect Telecoms, explained that Fibre to the Home is now considerably more affordable, and at a point where pricing for it is comparable to ADSL, costing in the region of R700 to R800, depending on the package available in a particular area. This, along with there being more fibre in the ground, and the cost of broadband also diminishing, makes fibre a far more attractive proposition now than in previous years. The pervading question, of course, is why should users opt for fibre when they may very well already have high speed ADSL in place?

Benefit bounty

Collett explains that now that it is more affordable, fibre brings a number of advantages. The first of these is that it is not subject to the same variables and issues that plague copper cables, which result in instability and erratic speeds. Rather, fibre boasts constant upload and download speeds; once connected, working as promised.

Additionally, whereas ADSL cables are more susceptible to the impact of adverse weather, fibre optic cables are typically hardier; an advantage that may well become more important as weather patterns continue becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially extreme.  

Buyer beware

However, Collet advises that before rushing out and signing up with the first provider that one comes across, users should take into account several caveats. Firstly, he encourages homeowners to consider what their connectivity requirements are, so that they don’t end up paying more for a package they don’t need. Indeed, light or casual users who just want to browse the web and do email don’t need an uncapped or a 250 GB line, while gamers or those aiming to stream movies would require at least a 20 MB/s line and a decent cap.

If, however, one is in a family environment with older children, with many individuals in a household using the line indiscriminately, then uncapped may be the best option.

He also warned against Over The Top packages, which bundle a certain amount of Netflix or Showmax with the fibre subscription, pointing out that these can actually be inadequate and require more ardent viewers to have to pay even more to satisfy their particular viewing volumes, making their connectivity more expensive than they had initially budgeted for.

The right route(r)

Collett strongly recommended that any fibre package should come with a good router included as part of the price. Furthermore, he warned that often the routers offered don’t have high enough wireless speeds to actually accommodate streaming rich content. This ends up defeating the purpose of having high speed internet in the first place, particularly if you are streaming rich media around the home onto mobile devices.  

Finally, as with all connectivity, another factor to consider is the expertise of one’s service provider and the support they offer. To this end, he elaborated that as iConnect started out connecting large businesses as its primary focus, it carries this same attitude in the treatment of its general users as well. Additionally, he enthused that the company is used to handling complex installations, and thus is able to ensure its household clients are fully connected within their homes across the broad range of devices they may wish to use.

The end is nigh(er)

While more prevalent fibre optic connectivity on the horizon is exciting for users, there is one player which Collett believes is facing a far bleaker future - ADSL, stating in no uncertain terms that “ADSL’s days are numbered.”

“I see the rollout of Fibre to the Home going a lot faster than expected, with an anticipated 2.9 million connections being made by the end of 2018, three times that of ADSL’s penetration,” he asserted.

The only downside, at least at present, is that fibre to the home connectivity is not as yet completely available in all areas. This however, may just be a matter of time, with, in the years to come, ADSL joining Betamax, CDs and landline phones on the piles of technology that was superseded by something better.

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