Who Is My Fibre ISP ?
Jacques du Rand 2022-06-24
MyBroadband recently did a fantastic article in conjunction with RSAWeb about the basics of getting fibre installed. Most fibre-clients will be surprised at all the moving parts and roleplayers involved with fibre installations. That is also one of the reasons why installation times can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks as all the parties need to align on availability and so forth.
My favourite saying to describe the process, is:
"Fast Fibre Takes Time"
Jacques du Rand (Fibre Tiger - CEO)
We definitely need more articles that focus on educating South Africans on the nuances of buying a fibre internet package.
In addition, many people want to switch to a new service provider, but are not even sure who their existing ISP or fibre network is.
Rest assured you don't need to be a tech genius to understand it all, but a little knowledge will go a long way to help you make informed decisions when deciding on the best fibre internet packagefor you and your family.
If you are buying a car, you most likely know that it should have an engine, four doors and that some brands are more expensive than others.
The same basic knowledge can be useful when shopping for fibre internet in South Africa.
In this article, we will tell you exactly the role of each key piece and what the minimum requirements are to enjoy fast internet access.
Fibre Internet - The Basics
ISP (Internet Service Provider)
These are the "internet companies"that you've known since the days of Telkom ADSL.
The most well known ones are WebAfrica, Vox, Home-Connect, Afrihost, Axxess and RSAWeb etc.
You CAN (in most cases) CHANGE your ISP.
Example: Vox (ISP) to WebAfrica (ISP)
Why Do You Need AN ISP ?
The ISP is the "link"between the customer and the FNO (Fibre Network Operator).
The ISP rents a certain amount of "capacity" from a fibre network operator (Openserve, Vumatel, Frogfoot etc).
They then package-and-bundle this "capacity" into different commercial offerings which it sells to the end-user (you).
A Example of a fibre package from an ISP usually looks like this:
25/10 Mbps WebAfrica - Uncapped Fibre Package for Openserve - R199 per month
Let's break that down a bit.
- 25/10 Mbps:This is the "speed" of the package. The first number "25" is the download speed of the package. I.e how FAST data can be transferred FROM the Internet To You. The second number "10" is the upload speed, and this is how fast YOU can transfer data TO the Internet.
- WebAfrica: The ISP that sells you the access and capacity for the network. This is your ISP and first and last contact for any internet issues.
Uncapped: Most of the fibre packages are now uncapped. This means there will be no limit placed
amount of data you can use per month.
although some ISPs have "soft limits" described in their FUP (Fair Usage Policies).
When selecting a fibre package, look for one that mentions "FUP Free".
OpenServe: This is the fibre network for which this packageis applicable to.
Thus you can not use this exact package on the Vumatel Network.
Even though WebAfrica does support the Vumatel network, you will need to get a WebAfrica-Vumatel package, which will be at a different price.
FNO (Fibre Network Operator)
The company that "owns, installed and operates" the physical"fibre cables" in the ground that runs past your house.
Usually (there are a few exceptions ) there is only one (if any)fibre network that is active at your address.
Most people don't have the luxury to " choose " a network. In short you are stuck ( or blessed ) with the fibre network that is physically present at your address.
The fibre network seldoms interacts with the end-user (you), they mostly only work with the ISP.
There is a big landrace currently in progress between the networks, to have the biggest fibre optic network footprint in South Africa. As of 2022 the leaders are Vumatel, Openserve and Frogfoot, in that order.
Although many of the networks offer similar packages ( speeds and bandwidth ), the pricing between different fibre networks can vary widely for the exact same package configuration.
*The FNO (Fibre Network Operator) is also responsible for the biggest price component of the final price the end user pays.
You CAN NOT (in most cases) CHANGE your FNO.
Example: Openserve to Vumatel.
*There are a few lucky suburbs with more than one FNO, but these are rare and not the norm!
ONT/CPE Device (Little black, white or gray box)
The little box hat the "fibre installer"will come and fix to the wall or inside of your house. This is included in most of the packages, and not something you need to worry about.
The role of this device is to convert the fibre-optical-cable and internet signal into a compatible output which you can plug into your WiFi Router.
When you move house. DO NOT TAKE THIS DEVICE WITH YOU!
You don't take your geyser, so don't take the ONT/CPE device.
This is the "magical box with antennas" hat connects to the ONT/CPE device and is responsible for sharing and distributing the signal (that is already there) inside a small space, like your home.
WiFi itself is NOT a means to get "internet TO your house".
Over the years we've just all adapted to saying "WiFi" instead of "internet" which is the accurate term.
Is Fibre Internet The Same As WiFI ?
No. For most people there is no such thing as "WiFi
What you want is Fibre Internet and a WiFi Router.
As mentioned, over the years we've just all adapted to saying "WiFi" instead of "internet" which is the accurate term.
*Exceptions do apply, and there are some ISPs that use WIFI as a means of getting internet to your house, but this is very limited and not used or available to the general public.
Your fibre connection receives the internet at your house (ONT/CPE device) - and plugs into your WiFi Router. The WiFi router then shares and distributes the internet inside the house. The WiFi router does not MAKE it, but simply distributes it as received.
Many people think that the ISP or network will send an employee to install the fibre.
Usually this is not the case. Most ISPs contract to an army of independent fibre installers like Nano Fibre, for example, to come to your house and install he ONT/CPE device to your wall and connect the optical fibre cables.
ISP VS FNO And Why You Need One Of Each ?
So as you can see, you need at least one of each: ISP (Internet Service Provider) and FNO (Fibre Network Operator).
The ISP sells you access and capacity for the fibre network you have coverage for.
Most networks don't interact or deal with the client directly and your first point of call will always be your ISP.
This will be true for installation, internet speed issues and, of course, billing. You also (in most cases) only need to pay the ISP, they have baked the cost of the FNO into your package already.
ISPs are like friends, you can choose them, FNO's are like family you must take what you have.
Switching To A Different ISP
We did a comprehensive article a while back as to how to switch your ISP.
In summary you will need to know:
- Who your CURRENT ISP is. You can look it up here.
- Who your FNO is, You can check the fibre coverage map for Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg here.
- Pick your new ISP and follow their sign-up process.
- Make sure to indicate to the NEW ISP that you already have "fibre installed" and are switching.
Find and compare the best fibre internet package for your network on Fibre Tiger.