Decent broadband internet without fibre is too good to be true. Or is it? The sad reality for many South Africans is that they’ll never get access to fibre. Fibre needs a cable and can only be delivered where the cable reaches. Added to that, the fibre signal can only go so far from the box on the corner of the street. If you’re on a farm or even a smallholding the nearest street with a box on the corner is miles away and may as well be in the frozen wastelands of Canada for all the good it does you.
But the good news is that you can get wireless connectivity in almost every part of the country without resorting to expensive cellular data-based rates. Unless you live deep in KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast and Wild Coast or you’re a scientist in Sutherland working on the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). Those guys and gals aren’t getting any streaming love.
You could say that wireless is not without its own limitations. Anyone who used an old shortwave radio knows you can lose the signal faster than a kid in a candy store. But it’s a lot easier and cheaper to boost a wireless signal. There are also methods to transmit the signal much farther, by doing so along a narrow “beam”. And that means it’s easier for the wireless internet guys to make their money back so it’s easier for them to provide more coverage than fibre will ever enjoy in the wide, open spaces of South Africa.
So how do you get good internet connectivity without fibre? From wireless internet service providers (WISP).
Fibre cabling is expensive. That’s why the fibre guys stick to built-up urban areas, usually where there are lots of complexes for people in the middle-income bracket. That way they can be reasonably sure they’ll get a lot of customers to be able to make their money back and turn a healthy profit.
One benefit of fibre is that it’s generally reliable. However, it does suffer from multiple providers laying cables in the same areas and inadvertently digging up each other’s optical fibre. Municipal workers also dig up the cables from time to time. A wireless connection from a WISP is a great backup option in built-up areas when connectivity is critical, like for businesses or people working from home.
WISPs provide wireless internet that lets people connect their home Wi-Fi without paying massive per gigabyte data fees for cellular-based connectivity. And there are lots of WISPs all around the country. They can set you up much quicker than trying to get fibre into your neighbourhood.
WISPs offer a variety of packages. The service is typically uncapped, and even heavy users are unlikely to run afoul of the fair usage policies. They’re typically very generous.
If you struggle with expensive cellular-based data that’s unreliable and slow why not look for a WISP in your area? Try our Find a WISP tool. It’s an easy way to send a message to hundreds of WISPs so they can contact you. Find the one that’s right for you.