Mar 9, 2022

Fibre is coming to your suburb – here’s what you need to know

You’ve probably spotted all the digging activity along the pavements in your streets, which means that fibre infrastructure and super-fact internet connectivity is coming to your suburb. For most households, having fibre connectivity has become as essential as your utilities like water and electricity.

No doubt you’re chomping at the bit to get access to all the benefits that fibre internet brings to both work and play. Think amazing speeds, no more buffering, work-from-home with ease, incredible entertainment and movies from all over the world, music streaming, gaming, online shopping, banking, online learning – there’s pretty much no end to just how important a reliable, fast internet connection is for virtually every aspect of our daily lives. And it comes at a fraction of the cost of mobile data!

To help you get the fibre utopia you dream of, MetroFibre Networx, an open access fibre network operator (FNO) and Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers a step-by-step guide of all the important things are that you need to know. MetroFibre Networx is SA’s first globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) open access fibre network and is the fibre network operator and internet service provider of choice to many of SA’s leading blue-chip companies, multinationals, SMEs and thousands of connected residential customers.

Here’s a handy run down of what you can expect in the process, and what all the terminology and acronyms mean:

  • It starts with getting fibre infrastructure in the ground: once the approved fibre network operator/s have their infrastructure in the ground and your suburb has been ‘fibred up’, the backbone of what your internet connectivity for your home will run off is now in place. Next, you’ll need to choose your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If the fibre network operator (FNO) is an ‘open-access’ network, you’ll have a choice of ISPs and packages to choose from.
  • But what if I am not ready for fibre internet for my home now? Even if you’re not yet ready to connect fibre to your home, MetroFibre recommends that a fibre installation point (also known as a Termination Point or TP) is installed during the build phase to save you on cost later. Having a termination point ready means that an ISP can connect you as soon as your order is placed in future, without having to dig a trench from the roadside down to your property to install a connection point. If you do this after the build phase – it will cost you to have the installation done.
  • Choose your Internet Service Provider (ISP): In some instances, the infrastructure provider (FNO) and your internet service provider (ISP) may be the same company, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. ‘Open Access’ means that the FNO allows a variety of ISPs and resellers to operate off its network infrastructure, which gives you a variety of choice as to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as well as the packages, pricing and service levels on offer.  Your ISP provides your actual internet connectivity, provides support or troubleshooting on technical issues, bills you every month for the service and installs the Wi-Fi router in your home that connects you to the internet. Most ISPs will have a list of ‘internet’ packages to choose from determined by the speed of the connection, ranging anywhere from 20 Megabytes per second (Mbps) through to 300 Mbps.  The price scales up the higher the speed of the line which is measured in Mbps (This is the speed of uploading and downloading and not the data cap, like a mobile package – so data use is unlimited).
  • How to choose my package: You can choose between a capped or an uncapped fibre connection.  A capped fibre connection will limit the amount of data you can use to a prescribed cap. However, most ISPs now provide uncapped fibre connections which is a better option if you’re planning on watching movies or downloading music with your fibre line without worrying that you have run out of data. Also, be aware that some uncapped services still come with a fair use policy (FUP) – which service providers implement as subscribers stretch the capacity of their networks by ‘throttling’ back the line speeds once certain usage thresholds are reached.

Also look at aspects such as symmetrical line speed – a symmetrical internet connection means that the data speed and file transfer rate is the same for both upload and download directions, at the same time. Symmetrical connections provide a much better internet experience than that of asymmetrical connections, especially if you are accessing the cloud for your work and entertainment purposes – which most of us are.  Be wary of basing your entire ISP decision on the first available connection date or price and always read the fine print.  Most fibre infrastructure providers have several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that operate off their network and can provide you with many choices and price packages for your fibre line connection – this is what is termed an open access network.

  • What internet speed do I need? An internet speed of 20 Mbps should be sufficient for home use, but this depends on the type of work you do or entertainment you enjoy. Data intensive occupations such as civil engineers, creative designers or photography will use a great deal more data than a journalist would, for example.  How many people are using the connection at the same time also plays a role. If you have a family that comprises of mom and dad that need to work, while the kids are streaming off platforms for online schooling, or Netflix and YouTube, you may need a higher speed connection.  If you make use of remote conferencing such as Webex, Facetime, MS Teams or Whatsapp video calls, then a faster line speed is needed to accommodate these data-intensive applications.
  • Connecting fibre to your home: Once you have your fibre installation and placed an order for your chosen package with the ISP, they will arrange for your router (also called ONT or CPE) to be installed and activate your service – you’ll be able to choose from a range of fibre-to-the-home packages and budgets, typically ranging from 20Mbps up to 300Mbps for always on, uncapped connected bliss.  Most ISP’s will provide you with a fibre router that is included in your package – in most instances the router remains the property of the ISP.  The router broadcasts your internet connection via a technology called Wi-Fi to devices in your home such as your phone, tablet, laptop or your TV – think of it as an invisible internet connection that you connect to via radio wave transmission.  You can also connect a device such as your TV or laptop directly to your router using an Ethernet cable, which we would recommend if you are planning on streaming movies or songs from your TV (or testing your speed of your internet).  A Wi-Fi password is important to ensure that only your approved Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect and prevents any unauthorised access.  Remember that the total speed of your internet connection is equally divided among all the devices you connect via Wi-Fi. A wired (Ethernet cable) connection is always more reliable than the Wi-Fi signal from the same router and does not suffer from fluctuations.
  • Only connect when you need to – one of the conundrums that MetroFibre Networx has solved for fibre customers is that of intermittent use, where a pay-as-you-go model would be more practical for customers who don’t need an ‘always on’ service. MetroFibre’s MetroConnect offering is a new pre-paid pay-as-you-go service where you can get a 20Mbps fibre connection into your home and have the flexibility to top-up when you need to.  A once-off activation fee of R260 gets you your free-to-use ONT/Router (which remains the property of MetroFibre) and a 20Mbps service as well as your first two weeks service with no installation fee. For a top up starting at R20 for 24 hours up to R400 for 30 days, you get access to an unlimited data, uncapped 20Mpbps package which means that you can use as much data as you like, for the duration of your selected top-up package, and pay only when you need it, removing the concern of lengthy contracts!