By Matthew Campbell, Head of SME and FTTH at SEACOM
Lockdown and load shedding can be a frustrating combination. Most South Africans are expected to work from home and put up with power cuts on a regular basis. The resulting cost and inconvenience of load shedding for businesses are immense – especially when remote workers are ‘powerless’.
But how does this affect home fibre internet and the entire network? Luckily, load shedding does not necessarily mean that users will be disconnected from their internet. Here are some common questions and misconceptions related to power cuts and fibre connectivity.
Can I still access the internet during load shedding?
Your WiFi router is just like any other appliance in your house; when the lights go out, it will switch off and you will not be able to access the internet. Unless, of course, you have some form of backup power – whether it’s an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) device, a battery inverter or a generator.
Inverters and generators are expensive investments, but a UPS is an affordable solution that resolves the issue of no power. With a UPS, you can power your WiFi router, your optical network terminal (ONT), which is that small plastic box in your house that the router plugs into, and your connected devices.
Your router and ONT use very little power, so even a small UPS can keep your internet up and running during load shedding. A UPS is also simple to install and most brands will kick in automatically when the power fails. Just make sure you purchase a UPS that can power your laptop, smart tv or desktop too – all of which require more loads.
How does my fibre stay on during power cuts?
Reliable internet service providers (ISPs) will have their own backup power generation in place. This means that the fibre optic lines, data centres and servers all remain powered during load shedding. WonderNet delivers uninterrupted fibre connectivity during power cuts through backup batteries at each node and point of presence. If your ISP doesn’t have backup power, then switch to one that does.
Will my internet connection be disrupted as the backup power kicks in?
The change over to backup power on the ISP’s side is instantaneous – it shouldn’t affect your connectivity. However, your UPS at home may need to be configured to switch on automatically. Some brands have a manual changeover switch, which means that you may experience a brief interruption while your WiFi router reboots once you switch the UPS on. Load shedding should not affect the speed or quality of your fibre connection, either.
Are the fibre lines protected against power surges?
Fibre works with pulses of light that travel through the glass-like cable, not electrical pulses. This means that power surges don’t affect the lines themselves. However, the networking equipment at the data centres can be impacted by a sudden increase in power. Likewise, your ONT and WiFi router may also be affected by a surge. It’s advisable to buy a surge protector and plug your home network devices into this.
Staying connected during load shedding
Load shedding is a long term problem that is likely to plague South Africa for years to come. This means that investing in UPSs, inverters or generators is a wise idea. This will minimise the impact of power cuts on your work and home life. Top ISPs have also invested in backup power systems to ensure that consumers have uninterrupted connectivity.
So many of our home and work processes rely on internet connectivity, so fast and reliable fibre is a necessity. Power cuts do not and should not mean that you’re left stranded without the internet. To get a fibre upgrade, check if we’re connected to your address.