Cape Town – Fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband might soon be coming to your suburb, but before you sign up for high-speed internet, make sure you ask the right questions, says an insider.
“The internet is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘need to have’. In a sense, it has become a utility such as electricity and water. We need access to internet banking, social media, entertainment sites, cloud based storage, and much, much more,” said Calvin Collett, chief executrive at iConnect Telecoms.
RocketNet, Telkom, Vumatel, Fibrehoods and MWEB are racing to deliver FTTH offerings in the market that has focused on wealthier areas in their primary roll-out.
“Pervasive high-speed connectivity is the catalyst of and foundation for the development of a smart city. It is this connectivity that will enable effective data collection and analytics to ensure continuous improvement along with the use of mobile technologies to reach every citizen in South Africa,” said Reshaad Sha, chief strategy officer of broadband provider Dark Fibre Africa.
Collett warned subscribers to carefully investigate FTTH deals which may not always live up to expectations.
“Many consumers are ending up disappointed as they pay for a FTTH package, only to find that the package doesn’t come with all the peripherals to make the service work. They have had fibre laid up to their house, terminated in an easy-access but low visibility area in their home, and then they have been left to figure out how to connect to that fibre themselves.”
Here are Collett’s five key questions consumers need to ask before they sign up for FTTH:
How far does the fibre go?
A good FTTH service will not only terminate at the door, but will be taken to where it’s needed in the house. It will also include a Wi-Fi router similar to the ones supplied with ADSL services; larger houses will generally require more than one Wi-Fi router or booster to ensure that there is coverage wherever it is required.
Does the fibre provider install all the devices, or is it DIY?
Sometimes the Wi-Fi routers are provided, but installation is excluded. In this case, a consumer needs to ensure that they are capable of installing the Wi-Fi router and connecting it to the fibre. It is often better to go with a fibre supplier who will do this for their customers, avoiding possible costly mistakes and saving the consumer from the hassle.
How much data am I getting?
Fibre providers will often offer capped or uncapped services, but what does this mean? Capped services offer consumers a limited quantity of data. After the data has reached its limit, or ‘cap’, the consumer will have no more data left to use and will need to ‘top up’.
The consumer will then receive additional data, but often at exorbitant top up rates, getting penalised for every extra megabyte of data they consume over their cap. Uncapped services provide unlimited amounts of data, but consumers need to understand the fair usage policy attached to their contract to make sure their expectations match up to the service.
How can I manage my data use?
FTTH providers need to be able to provide their customers with transparency into their data usage, preferably through an online portal. In this way, consumers can manage how much data they use, what it is being used for and pull reports as needed. At the very least, providers need to offer their customers monthly reports.
What support do I get?
There should always be support offered with the fibre service, to minimise failures and provide customers with a way to report faults. Ideally, customers should not even need to log a call – support should be proactive and the fibre provider should actively monitor the service.
Consumers need to confirm the details of their support, understanding what level they should expect, what the service times are and that the support is in line with their needs.
FTTH networks in SA are built along open access principles, which means that a consumer could have a FTTH provider different from the Internet Service Provider.
“It is essential that customers use a FTTH service provider that will give them the full service, support and equipment that they need to have that simpler, better life,” said Collett.
WATCH this video on what you can do with FTTH:
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