Fibre vs LTE

In 2019, the internet has become a staple necessity to life, along with having a job, routine entertainment and a place to find semi-reliable knowledge; the internet provides avenues to all these requirements. The internet has revolutionised our way of life and has come a long way since inception. 

Ask a Gen Z kid, “what’s a dial-up connection?" and he might look at you with a sense of bemuse on his face. The world has vastly changed since the good old dial up connection days of sitting at your mom’s dining room table, praying a relative doesn’t call up on the house phone, interrupting your almost stable connection of 700 kbps.  But since the mid 2000’s, ADSL provided a more stable connection but brought through matters of copper theft and weather interference on your line. Enter LTE (Long Term Evolution), a little under a decade later and we’re blown away by its fast yet stable connection and the ability to take it along with you! Finally, Fibre connections starts making its appearances and we’re in awe; fixed connections with speeds that can go up to 100mbps! Wow! But with all these revolutionizing internet connections, LTE and Fibre remain the most desirable. 

Let’s break down how they work, the pros and cons of the two:

Lightning LTE: LTE Broadband has become all the rage since ADSL. The promise of better speeds and stable connection tantalized potential customers all over the country. Take it with you and so long as you have coverage, you have internet connection.   
 
How it works?

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a connectivity method that is used to connect to the mobile network. Faster than 3G, it is a type of 4G connection that provides reliable connection and faster speeds. LTE provides greater bandwidth, allowing increased data to be carried faster between provider and the LTE device you are utilising.  In the past, 2G and 3G connectivity worked a bit differently, where the network provider used 2 different methods to maintain communications; your data and a voice/SMS network. LTE, however, is IP based and able to do both on the same network. South African’s get around 20Mbps of download speed.   

Pros: 

  • Portable: If you have an LTE enabled Mi-Fi router, you can take your LTE with you and use your data in areas that have LTE coverage.
  • Wider coverage: Because LTE is not based on a fixed line; there is wider coverage in various areas.
  • Cheaper: LTE tends to fall on the cheaper end of the spectrum as more than often you would receive a SIM only and/or router but with a limited amount of data.
  • No installation: No installation and no installation costs along with it. Simply plug and play. 

Cons: 

  • Slower speeds: Compared to Fibre, LTE is slower with around 20Mbps compared to 100Mbps of Fibre.  Weather effects have an impact on your connection. Irregular weather patterns/effects can interfere with your connection, interrupting signal during these conditions.  
  • Data is limited. LTE packages do start off cheaper with your ISP, but data costs can rise as you would need to purchase additional data depending on your needs.   

Fabulous Fibre 

If you opt for a Fibre connection; your internet connectivity is dependent on fibre optic cables. Fibre optic cables are thin glass fibre threads that utilise light and are bundled together to carry digital data signals; bringing you unlimited information at superspeed. It is currently the latest and most advantageous connectivity method in the country; however, is limited based on coverage. Depending on the fibre provider, your area may have fibre infrastructure and you would just need installation of a small box called an ONT (Optical Network Terminal), to your home. You would then connect a LAN cable to your router and you’re good to go.   

Pros: 

  • Great speeds: You can get speeds up to 100Mbps depending on your ISP.
  • Stable connection: Fibre connections are not affected by bad weather.   
  • Coverage: Fibre connections are not dependent on how far away you are from a network tower and can carry signal over 200kms . resulting in a more reliable connection. 
  • Safer and more environmentally friendly: Fibre optics do not use copper cabling which is highly susceptible to theft and environmental implications; as fibre threads utilise light and not electricity to pass data. 

Cons: 

  • Cabling: Coverage can be limited. Unfortunately, not all neighbourhoods have fibre lines laid for use yet. Many Fibre Network Operators are currently rolling out infrastructure all over the country.
  • Fixed: Fibre Optic cables are fixed to your neighbourhood. Unlike, LTE which operates on a plug and play based method wherever you are. You will only be able to use the connection in your home. 
  • Expensive: A fibre connection requires installation which can unfortunately be a bit pricey. Fortunately, many ISP’s sometimes offer various discounts or special deals that include a paid installation.   

Choosing a type of internet connection and an ISP can be a daunting task. But here are some factors to consider: 

  • Your connectivity options: Is your neighbourhood fibre ready? Even if it is, would you be happy with a fixed line option? You may reconsider Fibre if you live alone, travel out often and won’t be around to use your fibre fast line.  
  • What do you want an internet connection for? Browsing social media, gaming or high-speed downloads? Do you work from home or stream entertainment often? These factors would determine some of your requirements, like if you need an uncapped option.
  • You and your family: Do you have a family that utilises the internet? Your requirements may change over time depending on this.