As South Africa moves into the digital era, FTTx is no longer a luxury but a must-have. What exactly is FTTx and why is it so essential to digital transformation in South Africa? FTTx stands for different types of fibre infrastructure, with ‘x’ representing the many ways fibre lines can be laid.
For example, FTTH (or fibre-to-the-home), are fibre optics cables that are brought straight to your home or apartment. FTTB (or fibre-to-the-business) is the same, but the connection runs directly to office premises. FTTC, on the other hand, is when fibre lines are connected to a street cabinet or fibre box, and from there are brought to homes or office buildings.
More futuristic versions are FTTS (fibre-to-the-seat) in modern aeroplanes or FTTM (fibre-to-the-machine) in automated production lines in factories. There are various other types of FTTx, but what they all have in common is that they are necessary for digital transformation.
Technological change affects our lives in so many ways, from how we work and study, to how we socialise. Data traffic on networks is growing all the time, meaning that South Africans need to look to fibre to move ahead in the digital world. Our future depends on FTTx.
FTTx in South Africa
FTTH and FTTB subscriptions went up by 5000% between 2015 and 2019, according to a report published last year. Since Covid-19, there has been even more demand for fibre as workers, students and self-isolating individuals require a steady and fast internet connection.
At present, many South Africans rely on ADSL lines or mobile data. Neither of these internet options is steadily reliable, nor do they offer the same high-speed connection as fibre. ADSL relies on copper telephone lines, which have both a limited capacity and lifespan. Copper lines are regularly stolen and are not as robust as fibre optic cables. Bad weather, especially lightning, can interfere with copper cables.
Mobile data also does not offer South Africa the digital future it deserves. With regular power outages and load-shedding, network towers cannot provide a stable connection. Fibre towers, on the other hand, often operate on solar energy and users can backup their fibre routers with uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems.
FTTx uses light, not electricity, to transfer data. Significantly higher bandwidth capacity and speeds are offered when compared to other internet solutions. Economic growth in South Africa depends on reliable and high-speed digital infrastructure.
South Africa’s digital future
South Africa faced a massive digital divide due to the onset of the pandemic and nationwide lockdowns. There has been an increased reliance on technology for work, study and socialising. By leveraging technology to empower individuals, businesses and industries, South Africa can work towards closing the inequality gap and promote more inclusivity.
FTTx has applications in so many areas of life, from security systems to remote work and studies. Smart homes with advanced security systems rely on steady connections. Video surveillance that is backed up to a cloud also requires a steady internet line.
Many of us are now working remotely, either by choice or by necessity. Having a high-speed, reliable connection is non-negotiable for those who spend their day behind a screen. Poor connections result in poor productivity as users have to wait for documents to upload and download. Online collaboration is immensely improved with FTTx. High-definition (HD) video-conferencing and cloud-based file sharing require a suitable internet line.
Looking at the economy at large, both public and private sectors stand to benefit from improved FTTx infrastructure. FTTx means there is no longer a need for large office spaces, saving companies a lot of money in terms of fixed monthly costs. High bandwidth and low latency are of high value to both customers and companies, as business operations become more streamlined and dependable. Telemedicine, digitised supply chains and e-commerce are just a few examples of how the South African economy can keep up with international technological trends.
Challenges of FTTx in South Africa
South Africa has a lot of work to do when it comes to giving its citizens access to FTTx. Laying down fibre infrastructure is a major task, with some small towns only just gaining access now to fibre. In rural areas, the challenge is even greater as fibre network providers need to weigh up the cost of laying down infrastructure and the profit margin that rural communities offer.
Compared to high-density urban areas, remote communities are generally at the bottom of the waiting list when it comes to gaining access to FTTx. However, fibre network providers are working hard to provide all South Africans with the internet of the future.
Benefits of FTTx for the future
The smart future of South Africa includes FTTx. The internet is integral to our daily lives and this trend is only going to increase as more and more people join the online community. Economic recovery from the pandemic can be significantly improved if FTTx connections become more widely used.
High-speed data transfer and on-demand video streaming offer major benefits to remote workers and learners. By improving the digital divide, South Africans can strive towards a more stable and secure future, that allows the youth to gain access to education and workers to bring home the bacon, no matter what global issues may arise.
Keeping up with the rest of the world means improving our digital economy to bring about a bright future in South Africa. 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.