Copper vs fibre

Many South African homes and businesses will soon have a choice of broadband delivered over copper or fibre. So why do you need fibre when our competitors existing copper network can deliver respectable broadband speeds, particularly when you can get in excess of 30Mbps using VDSL technology?

What can copper do?

Attenuation is a general term that refers to any reduction in the strength of a signal. Attenuation occurs with any type of signal, whether digital or analog. Sometimes called loss, attenuation is a natural consequence of signal transmission over long distances.

South Africa’s copper network has been around for a long time and was originally designed and built to carry voice services over long distances, even to rural areas.

Our competitors have continued to attempt to innovate the services they deliver over copper by adding new electronics to their network and incorporating growing amounts of fibre. This has enabled them to deliver dial-up broadband access and various Digital Subscriber Line technology (ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL2) to deliver broadband with faster speeds.

But there’s a limit to what copper can do and that’s due to attenuation. The further away you are from our exchange or cabinet, the poorer your broadband speed is.

How can fibre improve copper?

Our fibre rollout puts us in an enviable position of having the choice to bring fibre into your home or business, removing the challenges of copper which you currently experience.

Our competitors are using fibre to extend the reach of their copper with their most ambitious Fibre to the Node programme to deliver ADSL2+ broadband to 80% of South African homes and businesses. Copper technology innovations over the last 20 years have delivered faster speeds but further advancements are challenging. The latest copper technology, may deliver broadband speeds over 100Mbps but over distances as short as 250m. Fibre needs to be used to get the cabinet closer to your home. More fibre-fed cabinets would need to be installed in streets to bring this technology closer to properties.

We’ve however embarked on the deployment of our completely fibre-fed suburbs and towns rollout to deliver services to properties. Thus significantly increased average broadband speeds beyond anything that can be offered over copper.


Copper vs fibre comparison

Fibre is future-proof and ubiquitous as the same service can be provided regardless of location or distance.

Broadband services over copper are highly variable due to:

• distance

• copper quality

• home wiring issues

• outdated modems

Fibre with bandwidths of 1Gbps are available now with 10Gbps and 100Gbps services highly feasible. Once the fibre network is in place, we can continue to innovate services by updating electronics that deliver this.

Fibre also underpins mobile networks as they need fibre to deliver good quality services. Fibre connects cell sites to fixed networks and provides backhaul.