How To Choose A Fibre Provider

Jacques du Rand 2020-11-10

A question we regularly see in Facebook groups, or even get asked directly, is for recommendations for a great, or the best, fibre provider.

It seems that everyone has had a negative encounter with some kind of internet service provider at some part of their life. Usually when they’ve had enough, or when they are finally getting fibre, or when they are moving house they want to make a better choice than the one they are unhappy with.

What Qualities Do The Best Fibre Providers Comprise?

People measure quality of service by subjective standards. What is usually great for one person is considered not so great by another, which makes it difficult to classify all the qualities.

The two most commonly requested qualities are:

  1. Good Customer Service.
  2. Consistent Line Speed.

Internet service providers and their level of service has come a long way since the days of ADSL. Those companies that have been around the block usually have a little more experience under their belts, however, some of the newer ISPs were created purposefully as they thought they could improve on what came before.

Customer service is always tricky as it involves dealing with people and their emotions. One of you could be having a bad day which could lead to a more tense call and therefore negative customer service experience.

Thankfully line speed is a little easier to control through your choice of line speed for the most part.

Knowing How to Choose the Right Line Speed for Your Needs

There are a multitude of things that may affect your line speed, including amongst others:

  • Number of people in your household. The number of people connected at any given time will affect your usage line speed. We typically recommend 5Mbps per person. If you have more than 2 teens in the house, you might consider adding an additional 5Mbps on your total count for good measure. The apps teens use, and the voraciousness at which they consume social media content require a little more than your average household.
  • What you need to use it for. If you’re working from home you’ll need a little more than if you’re only using your internet to check social media, emails or watching movies in the evening. If you live with, or are a gamer you might also require a much higher linespeed than the average family home. If you’re only using nominal internet, you can get away with 5Mpbs - 10Mbps, whereas if you’re a gamer, you probably want to look at anything from at least 25Mpbs.
    See our speed calculation article to determine How much Speed do you Really Need?
  • Freestanding house vs apartment. Unlike with ADSL the length of the cable into the house doesn’t really make a difference with fibre as it is beams of light as opposed to ADSL which is electrical signals (which can be affected by bent cabling etc). The reason freestanding, apartment or cluster home affects your line speed is due to the interference from other devices or other people trying to connect to their own internet. It makes the airwaves a bit more congested, so your WiFi signal has to fight for its place - and that makes your line feel slower. To remedy this, one can look at better WiFi routers and placement, or use 5Ghz as opposed to the more congested 2Ghz band.

The Basic Service Levels All Good Fibre ISPs Should Provide

  1. Disclosure of Fair Usage Policy (FUP). Internet service providers impose a “fair usage policy” on most uncapped accounts, typically throttling their maximum line speed if a certain amount of data is used in a month. Your ISP should be transparent with their packages, and for which they employ FUP, if at all.
  2. Support. It is important to consider the level of support you can expect post sign-up. Look at whether your ISP has a call centre available to field support calls, or any other way that you can engage in the event of a problem or technical query (such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc)
  3. Uptime, Maintenance & Repairs. They should list their repair time (how long it will take them to repair a fault) as well as whether they provide credit for downtime. Many simply list a “best effort SLA” which means the network does not provide any guarantee that data is delivered or that delivery meets any quality of service. In a best-effort network, all users obtain “best-effort” service.
  4. Notifications. Whether your ISP gives you any notifications outside of bills, specifically for downtime/maintenance, is usually listed in their own Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as per point 3. Notifications are unfortunately not a given, and sometimes you may need to check an “uptime monitor”, Twitter or your ISP FB page or home page to see if your network is down.

If you already know who you want and just want to compare prices across the ISPs on your network, visit Fibre Tiger. We make it easy to see packages and price across ISPs and sign-up in one click.