By now you’ve heard all the hype around fibre connectivity coming to your suburb. No doubt your neighbours and family are all talking about getting ‘hooked up’. Your teenage children are chomping at the bit to get ridiculously fast internet speeds and mega bandwidth for streaming and a world of indulgent binge entertainment and gaming. Your internet connection is about to get a hefty shot of steroids that make your ADSL line look like snail mail. After you’re fibred up of course!
And therein lies the rub. You need to get fibre installed first. As exciting as this whole new connected, lightning-fast world of internet utopia promises to be, there’s nothing more frustrating than being met with geek-speak and patronising techno-jargon when all you really want is a plain and simple account of how this all works and comes together.
Metrofibre Networx, a fibre network operator and Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers a step-by-step guide of the entire process in a nutshell, minus the parts that make it sound like a great big mission:
- You need fibre infrastructure in your suburb first: the first step is to establish whether your area/suburb has fibre infrastructure available. If there were people digging up your pavements in the last few weeks or months, chances are your suburb is fibre ready. A simple Google search will also point you in the right direction – a search for ‘fibre coverage in [area] will bring up a number of providers who are operating in your area. In some instances, your infrastructure provider and your internet service provider (ISP) may be the same company, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be.
- Choose your Internet Service Provider (ISP): The ISP provides your internet connectivity and bills you every month for the service, will install a Wi-Fi router in your home and get you connected to the internet. Most internet service providers (ISP) will have a list of ‘internet’ packages to choose from. These are normally determined by the speed of the connection that your choose, ranging anywhere from 5 Megabytes per second (Mbps) through to 200 Mbps, with the price scaling up the higher the speed of the line. Mbps is a measure of the speed at which data is transferred.
Most homes really don’t need the huge bandwidth speeds of 100mbps or 200mbps lines. In South African terms, a 10 Mbps line is considered to be fast and will more than cope with what the average household would need from a fibre internet connection. It is also the minimum if you are planning on streaming movies or music from pay channels such as Netflix or Showmax. If you plan on being a more intensive user (gaming for example) and have many people at home who will connect with multiple devices, either via phones, tablets, TV or laptop, it’s worth considering at least 20mbps option or more.
You can also 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 ISP’s provide uncapped fibre connections which is a better option if you’re planning on watching movies or downloading music with your fibre line. Also, be aware that 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.
Be wary of basing your entire ISP decision on the first available connection date or price. Most FTTH infrastructure providers have several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that operate off their line and can provide you with many choices and price packages for your fibre line connection.
Connecting fibre to your home: Once you have decided on an ISP and package, your ISP will set up a time that is convenient for you to install your router and connect your fibre line to your home. Your ISP will scope the best path to run the actual physical fibre cable from the box on your pavement right into your home to a termination point (TP). This refers to the point where there will be a physical connection on your wall, much like what an old TV aerial connection or copper telephone point used to look like.
Most ISPs will provide you with a fibre router that is included in your package – the router remains the property of the ISP. It is a device that looks like a small box with aerials and small flashing lights. The router ultimately broadcasts your internet connection via a technology called wi-fi to devices in your home such as your phone 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. You will find that video streaming is data-intensive and may require more bandwidth, causing other services and devices to ‘lag’ or buffer. This tends to grow more severe as more devices connect to the 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.
Your ISP will also spend some time setting up your fibre router settings and home network, and especially important setting up a password to your router. This allow you to control who connects to your fibre line and is an essential security precaution. It’s then as simple as searching for the wi-fi network on your device – look for the name that your ISP created for your home network, select it from the list, enter the security password created for your home network, and voila, you’re connected!