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We were on ISDN, but have since tried fiber, microwave fiber and LTE in different locations. Here’s what we found…

Testing your upload and download speed.

If you want to test speed with any of your connections Google “Speed test” and choose any of the options – they all work and are simple to use.

There’s a perception that we download more than we upload, so often your download speed will be significantly higher than upload. However, if like me, you work on your office server from home via Teamviewer, they are equally important. PING speed is in ms (milliseconds) and measures how quickly you connect with other devices on the internet.

ISDN

The obvious downside is speed. I can’t remember the numbers, but they were not good and the sooner dumped the better.

Fibre

Then fibre was installed free in our house subject to a contract with the service provider.

  • Our top speed improved dramatically (again I can’t remember the numbers)
  • The interior router provided with the installation (connecting my office to the point where the fibre terminated inside our house) gave endless problems. We think it was an inferior device. Best is to hardwire if there are a couple of rooms in between.
  • The service provider oversells the available bandwidth, so speed can drop dramatically during heavy usage times (by the other users)
  • Probably because of the bandwidth rationing, streaming radio programs (we don’t use a radio) suffered frequent interruptions.

Microwave fibre

We switched to this in our offices as there is no fibre in the street. The first link is by microwave to a line-of-sight tower and fibre from there on.

  • Speed are typically 10 – 12 Mbps up and down
  • They provided wireless telephones throughout
  • We only have one service to call if there’s a problem instead of three (the ISP, Telkom and the switchboard supplier)
  • If the service goes down, we lose telephones as well as internet.
  • They used a Vodacom tower and we have had endless problems with conflicting IPs and dropped internet connections. Our IT service sorted out the IP problem with the service provider, but after 3 months we are still battling with the Vodacom link. We have to use our cell phones as WiFi hotspots to keep going.

LTE (or 5G)

There’s also no fibre in Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank where we now live. We rent an LTE device from MTN for a few rands and pay R500 per month for about 40G of data. This is one of their deals for businesses. Private accounts are offered 20G for the same price.

  • Speed are typically around 7 Mbps up and down which is perfectly acceptable
  • The service is very stable – we have had no problems at all
  • We have never run out of data

Conclusion

Go for fibre if you can get it, but read the contract carefully and ask the right questions. Get the answers in writing.

Next best, in my view, is LTE for its acceptable speed, simplicity and reliability.

For offices that can’t get fibre, go for microwave fibre, but expect some teething problems.

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