Jun 14, 2022

MetroFibre takes fibre connectivity to underserved communities

To bridge the digital divide and enable the development of smart cities, South African fibre network operators need to find innovative ways to bring quality, affordable fibre to millions of homes in underserved areas.

“The need for quality, affordable internet connectivity for work, education, transacting and entertainment purposes is ubiquitous, and has been rapidly escalated by the pandemic. We need to find ways to transcend the limitations that lock millions of South African homes out of access to fibre connectivity and leave them reliant on expensive and limited mobile connectivity. It’s this challenge that MetroFibre is tackling head on with the rollout of our MetroConnect solution,” explains Brett Russell, Head of Product Development at MetroFibre Networx.

“One of the challenges that MetroConnect solves 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. This is particularly relevant for people who may rent their premises and thus do not want to enter lengthy fibre contracts – either as the tenant or landlord, people who commute such as students or field workers and who thus use their internet connectivity at home intermittently and so on.  MetroFibre’s MetroConnect solution is a new pre-paid pay-as-you-go service which provides a 20Mbps fibre connection into your home with the flexibility to top-up when you need to, for as long as you need it,” explains Brett.

The MetroConnect package has a once-off activation fee of R260 which gets you your free-to-use ONT/Router (which remains the property of MetroFibre) and a 20Mbps service as well as the 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 symmetrical 20Mbps 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.

Lebang Mosimanegape, Business Owner: Emerging Markets at MetroFibre adds: “We have completed successful rollouts in a number of affordable housing developments in Riverside View and Kwa Thema and will be rolling out in Tembisa next.  We are committed to making our existing infrastructure work harder, specifically for underserved markets.  We realise that for many potential customers, an ‘always on service’ with a long-term contract is simply not practical, nor is a fixed upfront monthly payment whether you use your fibre connection or not.  A fibre pay-as-you go model provides the flexibility for our customers to top up based on their needs and budget, and is significantly cheaper than mobile data, particularly given that the fibre connection is uncapped, subject to fair usage. For landlords, it’s also a big drawcard to be able to offer fibre connectivity to tenants, without the risk of being tied into a contract.

“We believe that MetroConnect is a solution that addresses the inequality that exists when it comes to a lack of internet access. One only has to consider what it means for a scholar or student to have fibre internet access at home to access online learning tools when they need it, or the office worker who can now work at home and save on exorbitant travel and fuel costs, the pensioner who can connect with family members overseas, and so on.  It opens up a world of streaming entertainment for families that would simply not be practical or affordable on mobile data. We know that marginalised communities will continue to lag those with quality access to the Internet, and this is one way that we can address that divide by providing quality, affordable fibre internet access on a pay-as-you-go model,” concludes Lebang.