This is how South African ISPs choose which suburbs get FTTH

Here's how to get fibre broadband in your neighbourhood

FTTH (fibre-to-the-home) is a big talking point in South Africa at the moment, offering lightning-fast speeds at the fraction of the cost one would expect from similar ADSL lines.

Unfortunately, even some of South Africa’s largest suburbs don’t have access to Fibre yet, with a promised roll-out date of “soon”.

We asked Laurie Fialkov of CyberSmart and Abraham van der Merwe of Frogfoot (Division of VOX responsible for Fibre development) just how exactly ISPs choose which suburbs get FTTH services:


Abraham van der Merwe

Abraham van der Merwe – Frogfoot

Our ability to invest in infrastructure is ultimately governed by our ability to deploy infrastructure profitably and effectively manage our risks.

As a result, we have to take into account:

  • The demographics of the suburbs (which influence the affordability/uptake of higher end packages
  • The demand for fibre in the community and lack of alternatives (which influence our penetration in a suburb)
  • The size of the suburb (FTTH requires scale otherwise the economics break down) and we generally only consider estates/suburbs with at least 1000 residents or more
  • Geographical density (which influence the cost of the deployment)


Lauri Fialkov - Cybersmart - ISP

Lauri Fialkov – Cybersmart

At the moment it is really anyone who asks.

We rate opportunities based on whether we have the backing of a home owners association or not the interest we have shown in the area any competing technologies we have in the area and how close it is to our existing builds.

Do you have FTTH in your suburb? Let us know in the comments below and in our forums.

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Forum discussion

Join the conversation

  • Peter Pan

    In other words, to sum up the statements: “Where the money is.” Not that it’s a problem, as it’s understandable, but it does suck!

  • Anon.

    Lauri – I’m asking pretty please!

  • KierieKlapper

    Agree. Seems you have to live in a large residential complex.

  • TiredOfTheBS

    We have fibre finally rolling out in Northcliff, JHB 🙂

  • Leo

    Why do they beat around bush with these fancy wording? Just say it as it is. “We only provide fibre where the money is a.k.a the rich”. Much simpler isn’t it?

  • Otto Jackson

    Income generated from FTTH is less than ADSL? My thinking is the ISPs and Tellkom are milking the middle to lower classes to pay for the rollout in those white collar areas. GOVT = ISP?

  • bengine

    ja, cos businesses usually go and find those places where there is no money and build from there.

  • Nico Jabu van Loggerenberg

    Like Sophiatown and Westdene?

  • Blapartheid Zulu

    Why not sign up all ADSL user for FTTH? Im pretty sure 95% would love to do it!

  • Wurnman

    Not really… Here’s my lame ass story again. In my suburb the whole area is covered with FTTH except the street i live in. No explanation from Telkom or any ISP as to why this is. So no they do not give just to rich area’s.

  • Mike

    If the price is the same as ADSL for a fibre service for home what makes it different? Its numbers dude.

  • Paulo

    SPOT ON!

  • Hans von Pistov

    Much simpler: F**k the poor!

  • Politicians Suck

    Agreed. The ONLY suburb getting FTTH in the Sun Valley area is Sunnydale. Only thing is, it’s NOT Sunnydale. It is Lake Michelle only!!

  • Comeau

    Easy to complain when it isn’t your money on the line.

  • Mikhael Rowe

    It’s because you didn’t say “please”.

  • Mikhael Rowe

    True. I am not even allowed to work in LM because the gardeners there are richer than me. Telkom doesn’t even want to give me ADSL because I pay much more with using their Wi-Fi.

  • LBS

    Well exactly, because the poor can’t afford it.

  • Frank Payne

    It’s not about service, but only about how much one can screw out of the market. This is just the latest chapter in a sorry tale.

  • Wurnman

    I’d like to say please but WHO do i say it to?

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    Translated: Is this a suburb with suckers that have too much money? If so, we go in cause they WILL get it to tell their friends and a good deal of them probably are too stupid to really download stuff. So we get the exorbitant fees we charge, and we don’t have to spend much data on the suckers.

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    I don’t thing you REALLY get what is said…..
    (P. S. Hint: The people who are complaining PAY for data. And they USE data. And they are not rich farks. Geddit? It IS their money on the line, see? ….)

  • FranschhoekMan

    Why has no contractor privided fibre to Franschhoek? It is a wealthy town and would have a major take up.
    We are a small estate off the R45 between Pasrl and Franschhoek….. Fibre cabling was being rolled out along the R45 by Telkom but they did not carry on to Franschhoek.
    Both we and the town feel like outcasts….. Why is no one thinking of providing Fibre to this busy town and its surrounds???

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    Pretty much the same when you take the speed etc in consideration. If I could get a 20 meg ADSL
    line RUNNING AT 20 from Telkom, I will get it. Now go and check how much that will cost and how much is charged for a fibre line that runs at 20.

  • Jacobus Pienaars


  • FranschhoekMan

    Why are some people so rude? Do they think that it sounds Macho?

  • Jacobus Pienaars

    But no successful mass business went only where the rich are.
    Anyway, so is the argument that broadband are for the rich only? I always hear it differently…. digital democracy blah blah blah….business opportunities blah blah…. create employemnt via broadband blah blah blah….

  • Mikhael Rowe

    LOL. I was only kidding. I have the same problem. I’m on Wi-Fi only and the prices suck.

  • thornik

    Bullsh… they talking is easy to destroy by looking at map of people density, covered with map WHO ALREADY HAVE INTERNET. These people can afford FTTH Internet, but if you join ’em, they immediately overload ISP’s channel! (since more you in Internet, more things you wanna get)
    If you look at high density Randburg, only few areas are joined, all of ’em full of private houses. So per km you have less people than in suburb like Windsor. So don’t lie, fialkoff, you just scare to join active users, because you unable to support proper quality.

  • Leo

    Who is to say I can’t afford it? Just because I don’t live in Monument Park or those areas?

  • Faux Grey

    “we’re only interested in making money!”

  • Rodney Mfana Nxumalo


  • Get the rest of us out in the country up to an acceptable speed before giving super high speed to those who already have good service! I get download/upload speeds measured in bytes a lot of the time

  • Mattewis Kat

    I don’t think it has as much to do with rich or poor but with “competitiveness” or rather lack thereof.

    This can be deduced from statements like “demand for fibre in the community and lack of alternatives (which influence our penetration in a suburb)”, especially the latter part of this statement. Judging from the pricing I’ve seen on FTTH products (not to mention lower risk of cable theft &/or lightning damage), this level of risk aversion from ISP’s seems rather pitiful – especially seeing as most of these services come with contractual strings attached.

    Not a single person I know who pay monthly subscriptions for ADSL services (myself included), won’t jump at the first hint of a FTTH service in their residential areas. Perhaps I’ve got it wrong, but from where I’m standing it would seem that this market sector is so well protected from competition that their comfort zones must be a significant reason for the poor growth in this technology field.

    Add to this a national government who is highly averse to public access to information and we have a good recipe for the snail-paced growth we currently observe.

This is how South African ISPs choose which suburbs get FTTH

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