Mind the Speed

The arrival of fibre across South Africa has transformed how you can enjoy your internet speeds and what you can enjoy on them. Access to the wealth of space and speed on the networks is allowing for people to dive into fabulous video and streaming services, online gaming, home connectivity solutions and so much more. The question isn’t whether or not you want fibre but rather what speed do you need to really get what you want from your fibre connection?

The first step is to get to grips with what speed actually means in the context of fibre and your home. The simple explanation is that your connection has two jobs to do – it has to allow for you to upload information (sending emails, documents, videos, conference calls, video calls) and it has to download information (receiving emails, documents, video calls etc). The speed at which it does these jobs will affect the experience that you have overall. Speeds are measured in bits per second – one bit is one unit of data – and this is further measured in kilobits (thousands) and megabits (millions) per second. What you want to know when selecting your speed is that when it says 5/1Mbps, it is downloading at five megabits per second (the first number) and uploading at 1 megabit per second (the second number). This is also an extremely slow connection that will take ages to send larger files and documents and likely struggle with video streaming solutions like Showmax or Netflix.

Now you know pretty much what the speeds refer to, you’ll want to pick a package that suits your your budget. It is wonderful to dream of a 1000Mbps link – the connection is huge and beautiful with fat pipes that pour speed from every side – but most people won’t benefit from the experience and you’ll be paying a lot of money for the privilege. The typical internet connection speeds start at 5Mbps and 10 Mbps but these are, as mentioned earlier, entry level accounts that offer only a basic internet, email services and one video stream. The next most common package is the 20Mbps that allows for you to build a bit more fat into your system. This speed caters for multiple streaming devices and for more devices to be connected to the internet overall. It’s quite fast and should satisfy most home user requirements.

For anyone looking to invest into a strong fibre connection that offers plenty of connectivity options and streaming along with the ability to really get into video streaming at exceptional levels of quality then it’s a good idea to look at a 40Mbps package. This is a robust speed that can handle quite a bit of weight.

Once you’ve opted into your speed, your next choice is into capped or uncapped accounts. At Mind the Speed we recommend uncapped with a service provider that doesn’t offer a fair use policy (FUP) as this will allow you to have the best possible experience on an uncapped service along with peace of mind. You see, with a capped service, your monthly costs can increase if you use beyond your usual limits. At the same time, some uncapped services implement FUPs which means that even if you were subscribed to them, once you reached a predefined limit of data usage, they would slow your internet until the end of the month. Some even slow the internet service with their FUPs so it’s best to opt for a company that doesn’t implement these limitations. You want speed and space that you can rely on.

Many users select an account that they think is best suited to their needs but actually isn’t a good fit. While there is no exact science to this, you can more or less choose the correct package that fits your budget and your home. Look for a service provider that has a customer portal you can log into and view what your connection is actually using in terms of the capacity you have selected. Should you notice that you are always using the full capacity you can then upgrade or investigate what is using all your bandwidth. You can also use this in a case where you have selected a package that is too big and you’re paying for bandwidth you don’t need; you can then opt to downgrade. Also ensure you don’t sign long-term contract as most reliable internet service providers now offer month to month contracts.

For more information around how speeds can affect your performance, read this immersive comparative article on MyBroadband. It will provide you with plenty of information and insight into choosing the best speed for your home. You can also opt into a service provider that can provide you with real-time insight into your capacity usage. With this dashboard, you can use the data to select a speed that really does fit you’re your home usage needs perfectly.