Fibre to the Home

The new basic amenity

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Long gone are the days of internet connectivity having a place on the “special features” list of a home. With estate living continuing to thrive in South Africa, developers have come to realise that homeowners no longer see connectivity as a nice-to-have. Instead, it’s become a basic amenity for any new development.

Slowly but surely creeping into homes across the country, fibre to the home (FTTH) has been touted one of the key innovations of our time. Enabling a host of nifty features linked to a smart home, at its core FTTH offers users a smoother and faster internet experience.

Juanita Clark, CEO of FTTH Council Africa explains: “Today we live in an always-on, always-available world. While mobile communication provides us with the ability to socialise through sms, WhatsApp, Facebook, and verbal communication on the go, anywhere and at any time, the aim of FTTH is not just focussed on these applications. FTTH considers other aspects such as smart homes and villages, security, entertainment, over the top/ triple play services (voice, video and data). In addition, with more people working from home and needing to access remote bandwidth-intensive applications, FTTH will soon not be a luxury.”

 

What affects internet speed?

There are several factors that can affect the speed of your internet connection, here are a few:

How many devices, people, or applications are using the internet. If you have several devices running multiple applications at the same time, you’re bound to run into some trouble.

The quality of your connection. This involves the cabling, router, and location. Some areas have poorer reception than others, while damaged cables or outdated routers could very well be the cause of your slow connection.

Your plan. Depending on the price point you’re looking at, your connection will be faster or slower. Keep this in mind when budgeting for fibre, since the faster options can run well over R1000 a month. When choosing a service provider, it’s also important to do your research on their average speeds and quality of their network. While smaller companies may offer cheaper services, they may not have the necessary infrastructure and support network in place to offer you a good service.

Time of day. Peak usage times for home connections tend to be between 18:00 and 23:00. This is when most people are home and downloading or streaming. In many cases, users report slowed speeds during these times.  

While this may very well be true, fibre is still considered to be an expensive option when it comes to connectivity. The good news for estates or any new build is that the most expensive aspect, civil infrastructure or trenching, can be factored into building costs. Towards the end of 2017, Balwin Properties announced a new subsidiary, Balwin Fibre. At the time of the announcement, Balwin CEO Steve Brookes explained: “A new business segment was launched to generate annuity income, including through partnerships to implement solar energy solutions, the leasing of education facilities to experienced and robust operators, storage solutions and fibre infrastructure within the Balwin estates.” Balwin Fibre will own all fibre infrastructure within the estate, and aims to build a large fibre network across the country.

Back in 2014, a London School of Economics report stated that London homeowners were willing to pay up to 8% above market price for properties with fast internet. Over in the US, the Fiber Broadband Association found that buyers were willing to pay up to 7% more for a home with gigabit connectivity. In the rental market, the picture is much the same. A survey by Apartments.com revealed that 53% of tenants considered a fast internet connection to be a deciding factor on whether or not they’ll sign the lease.

Whether you’re a developer or an investor, the future is certainly linked to connectivity. And at its current pace, you can’t afford to be left behind.

 

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