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Yes, not all areas in South Africa have fibre coverage yet, but those who are fortunate to have coverage have an abundance of choice in providers; and those who don’t yet have fibre coverage have some alternative options too.
Fibre refers to fibre-optic cables, a new way of transporting data with light particles from one place to another. Therefore quite literally at the speed of light. Fibre is in addition very reliable, and the fastest connection out of the three. It is not affected by copper thefts such as ADSL, nor weather.
LTE is not as fast as fibre, but is a little easier to come by. LTE is a standard for wireless broadband and relies on cellphone towers. It typically connects to the strongest signal in your vicinity - this also makes it more prone to outside afflictions such as weather and, in addition, could also affect your line speed if too many people connect to the same tower at once (congestion of the line).
Wifi is the word we’ve generally started referring to for Internet accessibility, but what it really refers to is the “family” of wireless network protocols. For the geeks amongst us, Wi-Fi is actually a trademarked phrase that means IEEE 802.11x, and not “wireless fidelity”, which many assume. For the rest of us, it just means that you access your Internet without cables - ie wirelessly. It is the signal that your computer receives from your router to access the Internet.
In all the above instances you would use a router as the device which brings that particular protocol into your house. The only difference is the way in which the routers receive “their data-packets”.
The answer of choosing between fibre or is quite simple. It depends. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area that has fibre availability, fibre would be the first choice. But LTE is a great option when
● You’re waiting for your fibre to be installed (can sometimes take up to a month or more from request - if you have fibre coverage.)
● Switching between providers, or moving. (Not all networks operate in all areas.)
● Live in a remote area, or are simply waiting for your area to one day receive fibre coverage.
● LTE is *cheaper than living off mobile 3G carrier data (Super dependent on how much data you’re consuming of course)
What is important to note is that, for fibre and LTE, you need both a network and an ISP.
For fibre, you can’t choose your network (OpenServe, Vumatel, Frogfoot, Octotel, etc) - that is area dependent, and currently we only have one network assigned per neighbourhood/area in South Africa (this may change in future) - but you can choose your ISP (WebAfrica, HomeConnect, RSAweb, Vox etc) (once you know your network).
For LTE however, you could have multiple network operator coverage in one area - but typically not all ISPs are covered by all networks.
So for fibre, one would first check the network covering your neighbourhood, then choose from the ISPs that are available. For LTE you could first decide which ISP you’d like, then check the network if you really wanted to.
In all instances when choosing your final ISP, the criteria most people consider are price and speed. As the costs across ISPs are starting to even out and stabilise (ie price is not such a big pull as most are very closely priced), two of the new factors coming into play is very much customer service and contract legal terms (for example: whether month-to-month, or how easy they make it to switch away).
When you start comparing packages for your favourite ISP across networks, you might find that pricing on the same package might differ. It could be higher, or lower on a different network. This is due to networks setting the base price, and base pricing may differ. So for example, your chosen package on your favourite ISP may be advertised at R400 per month for 10mbps, but you can only get it through a different network that charges R100 more for the same 10mbps. This might seem very unfair, but this will change once we are in a position where multiple networks can service the same area.
Whether you choose to use fibre or LTE, either will be an investment well worth making. Reliable access to the Internet is becoming more and more sought after for home usage, and a high commodity when looking at buying property.
Fibre Tiger is a local fibre internet comparison engine making it easy to find and compare the ISPs available on your particular network, and in addition also lists LTE and other WiFi products. Compare ISPs by price, package and additional bonus sign-up benefits.