The current hard lockdown in South Africa is accentuating that access to fibre Internet has become as much a human right as any other commodity. Employees confined to their homes need Internet access to work from home and consequently, it is undeniable that high-speed, reliable and affordable Internet access is critical.
The increasing demand for fibre at homes is spawned by users discovering progressively inventive ways to benefit from its use. The current need for faster and more reliable Internet is also emphasised by the fact that although South Africa is still in a fibre deployment phase, providers are rolling fibre at aggressive rates in a very competitive market.
The fibre landscape is currently shaped by three essential aspects: speed, essential services and a focus on infrastructure.
The installation of a fibre connection inside a house may be deemed disruptive but offers a more reliable experience compared to current wireless technologies such as 4G, LTE, and 3G. The increasing demand for video streaming services and video conferencing solutions means that more home users need a wider range of bandwidth and wireless networks have difficulty in maintaining acceptable service levels.
An added advantage of a fibre installation is that even if the home user is unsure about what line speed to get, an Internet service provider can upgrade it in real-time because it is a fixed-line connection.
Given the increased demand for video streaming services and work from home solutions, and to mitigate some of the economic impact of the lockdown on South Africans due to the current COVID-19 crisis, some networks have doubled line speeds free of charge. This decision will ensure a consistent user experience and was mostly motivated by the anticipation that more people will be accessing fibre from home during the lockdown period. It is also predicted that some will use connectivity disproportionately and excessively, while other users may maintain their usual behaviour.