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Why small towns in SA are now begging for fibre connectivity
12/04/22
Aerial view of a small town in South Africa

When fibre was first rolled out in South Africa, the initial focus was primarily on metropolitan areas. Residents in city centres and the surrounding suburbs were the first to get access to fibre-optic infrastructure and high-speed fibre connectivity has become a reality for most urban businesses and homes. 

Previously frowned upon, working from home has become accepted as the new normal. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the remote work trend started to boom and this saw many young professionals running away from lockdowns in cramped city apartments. 

Affordable property prices, spacious living and proximity to nature have made South Africa’s small towns extremely luring for remote workers. Paradise in the country does come with a catch though. Poor infrastructure, especially what is required for high-speed internet, still pervades much of South Africa, particularly rural areas and small towns. 

At WonderNet, we are excited by the roll-out of fibre internet to more towns and rural areas in South Africa. We believe that fibre is necessary for sustainable remote work. We have partnered with several fibre network operators (FNOs) to maximise our reach and offer our connectivity packages to more South Africans.

What are Zoom Towns?

First coined in the United States, the term ‘Zoom Town’ refers to a community that experiences an influx of remote workers, especially in wake of the pandemic. With so many companies using Zoom or Microsoft Teams as their main communications platform, Zoom Towns have started cropping up all over the world, including South Africa. 

The Hamptons in New York, Hermanus in the Western Cape, and seaside towns along the British coast have all been inundated by young professionals looking for a better work-life balance. Many South African cities have also witnessed this brain drain and migration of working communities. Small towns in the mountains, by the sea, or within reach of a city have been earmarked as attractive destinations for entrepreneurs and digital nomads. 

In particular, KwaZulu-Natal has seen Zoom Towns cropping up along the Hibiscus Coast, especially in Amanzimtoti and Margate, as well as further inland in the Midlands and Lower Drakensberg areas. The Western Cape has also experienced a transformation in the demographic of small towns along the coastline and wineland areas. Paarl and Franschoek are well-established Zoom Towns, as are Hermanus, Kelinmond and Langebaan. 

Holiday towns, such as Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay still need fibre infrastructure to be deployed, leaving the newly migrated remote workers begging for fibre connectivity. Historically, many of these Zoom Towns were popular retirement destinations, but in the last couple of years, a younger generation of middle-income professionals has changed the makeup of local communities. 

Fibre connectivity transforms rural towns 

When the exodus into Zoom Towns started, existing residents were initially against the digging up of roads and pavements to install fibre optic infrastructure. Over time, this resistance to change has calmed down and now residents are welcoming underground fibre and the universal benefits it brings. The purchasing power of young professionals has breathed life into these areas, leading to more sustainable economies and job creation. 

Restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores need to support the growing population of remote workers, who need convenient dining options and regular caffeine injections. Employment prospects in domestic work, construction and gardening have all improved as a by-product. As new centres of entrepreneurism, small towns and rural communities are becoming more diversified, with better infrastructure and economic development. 

Keeping up with digital transformation is essential if small towns want to be part of the work-from-home revolution. If these towns are to attract remote workers, fibre internet is generally a prerequisite for home rentals and purchases. Rural recovery, especially during a post-pandemic recession, requires a robust workforce that has disposable income. In this digital age, tech infrastructure is the foundation for successful remote work.  

Why is fibre better?

Anyone who has experienced one of South Africa’s magnificent thunderstorms will understand why underground internet cables are a better option. ADSL connections that run on above-ground lines are easily affected by poor weather conditions. Mobile networks also suffer during electrical storms and heavy rains. Poor network coverage with LTE leaves residents in small towns frustrated by fluctuating internet speeds and regular drops in connectivity. Fibre optic infrastructure is much more stable than alternative broadband internet options. 

Fibre internet, especially when customers choose a reliable provider like WonderNet, offers the fastest speeds at the most affordable prices. HD video calls, such as those on Zoom, require a steady connection, otherwise, speakers will have to put up with frozen videos and jittery voice quality. 

For remote workers to have professional quality calls, fast file uploads and downloads, and a reliable connection, they need fibre. But not all fibre connections are the same. Users need to make sure they sign up for a fibre line that is uncapped and unshaped. At WonderNet, all our packages are uncapped and unshaped, meaning that you’ll get unlimited data at your chosen internet speed with no throttling. 

South Africa’s digital workforce needs fibre

Fed up with overpopulated and polluted cities, South Africa’s growing digital workforce is looking for a better quality of life, with flexible work routines and access to the country’s exquisite flora and fauna. This transition to remote work is a reality for many employees who have flocked to Zoom Towns to save money on rent or replace their small two-bedroom apartments with a freestanding homes. This trend is reshaping small towns across South Africa, but those relying on the internet to do their jobs simply cannot do without a strong, stable internet connection. 

Are you living in a small town and feeling frustrated by your internet connection? Then it’s time you upgraded to a fibre line and said goodbye to data caps and slow speeds. WonderNet has a range of packages to suit different types of users, for individuals who work online, to small businesses looking to save costs by moving to a more rural area. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.

WonderNet brings affordable broadband internet to South African homes. We work alongside leading fibre network providers to maximise our reach and to offer fast, reliable and secure internet connectivity to your home. We are owned by SEACOM; one of Africa’s top information and communications technology (ICT) companies with an expansive network of subsea cables, landlines and fibre connections. WonderNet strives to offer the best customer service in the country. We will go above and beyond to ensure that our customers are satisfied with their internet access.

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