Choosing an ISP for your home
Fibre to the home (FTTH) is the shining star of the NGA (Next Generation Access) family and is an ideal platform for high or ultra-high speed access technologies. FTTH has the capacity to vastly enhance user experiences of connectivity and specifically online in-home entertainment. Until recently, Internet users in South Africa could only dream of lightning fast speeds, unlimited Netflix indulgence, and Google access, streaming and downloading movies, online gaming, and web conferences with colleagues and family far afield.
FTTH is becoming a reality and is currently being installed across South Africa at an increasing rate to address the need for fast Internet in a technology dominated world. Linda Morris of Smart Technology Centre (STC) is of the opinion that “FTTH is becoming an essential utility, much like water and electricity”.
Choosing a suitable Internet Service Provider (ISP) is essential to benefit from the many advantages FTTH offers users. Aspects to consider include the following:
Installation of infrastructure
An infrastructure provider builds the backbone network once local councils have approved the process. A backbone or core network interconnects pieces of various networks and provides a path for the exchange of information between different subnetworks. FTTH networks constitute a fibre-based access network and connect many end users to a central access node or point of presence (POP). Each access node within a large municipality or region, is connected to a larger metropolitan or urban fibre network.
Once the backbone has been built, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) needs to provide Internet connectivity and will install a Wi-Fi router in users’ homes. Research on the services provided by ISPs is needed since they differ in terms of service, pricing, back-up and support and the quality of connections.
ISPs have different options available including providing fibre routers at no extra cost for a contract period. Some providers require no set contract period and operate on a month-to-month basis. It is important to check that existing ADSL or LTE Wi-Fi routers work on the fibre line provided. Also, not all Wi-Fi routers will allow the same throughput for bandwidth hence it is essential to check for compatibility.
Subscribers need to determine if an ISP will install and set-up equipment since technical know-how is required to ensure the set-up is working correctly and protected with passwords. Users may also need assistance in setting up a Wi-Fi mesh network to counteract ‘dead spots’ in the home where the Internet is slow. Thus, instead of one router generating a Wi-Fi signal to the entire home, mesh networks use multiple, smaller routers or nodes which pick up the wireless signal and extend it to the area around wherever they are placed. from the router. Some providers may advise users to rather install LAN cables from the router to connect to access points, XBOX or Smart TV to improve connectivity.
Most ISPs do not offer home support or provide advice on how maximize the benefit of a fibre connection in a home. It is thus important to determine the level of support offered such as, for example, a call centre to take support calls, or other forms of engagement and support.
Selecting the speed of a connection will depend on the number of devices connected – the more devices connected, the greater the line speed is needed to accommodate the traffic. It is also necessary to check whether upgrading to a higher speed is possible and what the symmetrical speed of the line is.
Typically, users have the option of selecting a capped line with specific bundles or an uncapped line that has no limit. Careful analysis of data needs is necessary to avoid the high cost of unused data. Choosing a capped package may mean that you will incur more costs if your data needs are higher than expected and you need to make mid-month additional data purchases. Using entertainment services such as Netflix may mean that an uncapped line will serve you better and concurrently allow flexibility at a lower cost.
Despite having an uncapped package, some providers, however, may have a ‘fair usage’ policy that ‘throttles’ Internet speed if data usage exceeds their fair usage limits.
It is essential to take the above-mentioned aspects into consideration when selecting an ISP to fully exploit the benefits and pleasures of FTTH.
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