Internet Costs In South Africa

Published on: 19 June 2020

How much do you know about the internet? Are you aware of the many ways to get connected and how these ways work? Have you ever wondered what goes into the pricing of these packages? Having this information will give you an edge in making an informed decision when choosing your internet connection package. Find My Fibre has made this easy by drawing on its vast experience and extensive partner network to summarize everything you need to know to get connected.


Dial-up connections to the internet make use of a copper wired (Telkom) telephone service and don’t require any infrastructure other than this network system and the modems and servers needed to make and answer calls. Only 4.97% of South African internet users use this method, according to Effective Measure’s 2018 Internet demographic statistics. It is the least popular method of connecting to the internet due to the following factors

  • Limited internet speed
  • Most modern applications, games and anti-virus software require higher internet speeds and more stable connections which limits internet usage and decreases security
  • Transient connection, as either the user, ISP or phone company can terminate the connection
  • Usually has high latency (delay)
  • High congestion due to redundant infrastructure
  • A landline is required
  • Your line may be affected by cable theft which is sadly rampant in SA as normal telephones make use of copper cables which can be used for scrap metal. Copper cable theft accounts for a loss of an estimated 5 billion rand for the South African economy each year according to the SACCI Copper Theft Barometer. As much as 2056 kilograms of stolen cable was confiscated by the cable theft task force in just one year according to the eThekwini Municipality.

Factors affecting the price

  • The drop in popularity of dial-up has led to a decrease in demand
  • As the telephone network infrastructure is well established worldwide, even in less populated areas, access to telephone lines is widely available and thus the installation does not require too much time or labour
  • As there aren’t multiple versions of dial-up to choose from, pricing is fairly straight forward

Current price range:

* Up to R49 monthly (available free from some providers) Telephone lines required for dial-up are priced separately and are usually around R200 depending on the precise package.

ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)

ADSL also makes use of the telephone network but uses it in a slightly different way. A ‘microfilter’ or ‘splitter’ (a special kind of filter) is installed on a telephone line to isolate frequency bands and allow both ADSL and regular voice to be used simultaneously. According to the same survey by Effective Measure, ADSL is still used by 36.58% of internet users in South Africa as it is a system people are familiar with and most areas already have the telephone network available in their area. The following are factors to be considered with ADSL.

  • ADSL typically supports higher data transfer speeds
  • It is available in most areas
  • There are ‘capped’ and ‘uncapped’ versions available. Capped ADSL puts a limit on the data that can be downloaded for a specific line speed whereas there is no limit on this with uncapped ADSL
  • A special ADSL modem is required, and subscribers need to be in close proximity to the providers central office (3-4kms)
  • ADSL may have problems with reliability as it requires a great deal of maintenance and is susceptible to electrical interference. Signals can be affected by surge protectors, poorly designed microfilters, older telephone lines and by long telephone extension cords.
  • A landline is required
  • ADSL like Dial-Up, may also be affected by cable theft

Factors affecting the price

  • No additional infrastructure is required – the telephone network system is already well established
  • Uncapped options allow for unlimited use of the internet for a set rate per month with higher data transfer speeds being more expensive than lower data speeds
  • Due to the emergence of affordable fibre technology in the market, ADSL prices have dropped by up to 24% in the last few years (according to a Business Insider South comparison) to remain competitive in the market
  • ADSL requires maintenance which increases the prices due to the labour required

Current price range:

*  Uncapped

10MB p/s – 20MB p/s: R109 – R430

40MB p/s plus: R259 – R985*

LTE (Long Term Evolution)

LTE makes use of cell phone technology and mobile networks to access the Internet. It requires a special router into which the ISP’s sim card is inserted to enable the connection between the router and the 4G cell phone towers (hence LTE’s other name, First Generation 4G). Being touted as a close second-best choice compared to fibre due to its speed and convenience, 27% of South African Internet users have chosen LTE as their internet connection method, Effective Measure reports. Many ISPs are offering LTE as an alternative in the interim for client’s interested in fibre internet but who are waiting for fibre to go live in their area. Before choosing LTE, the following points should be noted:

  • It is wireless and does not require any installation by an ISP or 3rd party
  • Equipment required includes an LTE router and ISP sim card
  • You need to be close enough to LTE-enabled cellphone towers for the router to receive the signal that enables internet access – you may need to move the router around to find areas with stronger signal
  • As it relies on signal, it can be affected by external factors such as bad weather, obstacles between the router and the cell tower and the distance from the cell tower
  • The speed varies according to mobile network, signal strength and peak times
  • It is portable. You are able to take your router and thus internet connection with you to any house/area that you move to (provided you have signal in the new area.)

Factors affecting the price:

  • No additional infrastructure is required – the 4G mobile towers are already well established
  • No additional fees need to be paid for installation when moving from place to place
  • Uncapped options allow for unlimited use of the internet for a set rate per month
  • Soft cap options allow data usage over the agreed data cap, but higher fees are charged for each unit of data over the cap which results in a higher overall price for the internet connection
  • Hard cap options do not allow data usage over the cap which aid in keeping the price the same
  • Due to the emergence of affordable fibre technology, LTE prices have dropped to remain competitive in the market

Current price range:

20 GB: R199 – R270

40 GB: R270 – R370

100 GB: R530 – R770

200 GB: R980 – R1070

Uncapped: R1500+

Fibre Internet

Fibre Internet, unlike Dial-up and ADSL do not make use of the copper wired telephone service system and instead use glass/plastic tubes through which data is transmitted using light signals. This means a great deal more data can be transferred at faster speeds. In order to use this service, a network infrastructure provider/owner (NIP) must lay the fibre cables in the area. This service requires no other devices or special equipment. Once this has been done, internet service providers (ISPs) offer bitstream access to the internet for a monthly fee. Fibre uptake increased over 200% in 18 months from March 2017 till September 2018 in South Africa according to a 2018 Africa Analysis Report, and the number is steadily rising due to the higher speeds, ease of installation and competitive prices. The following are factors to be considered with fibre internet.

  • Fibre provides exceptionally high-speed bandwidth and capacity
  • It is immune to environmental factors (getting wet, extreme heat etc) which makes it extremely reliable
  • It is immune to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, crosstalk and impedance problems
  • As it is not made of a substance that can be sold as scrap metal, there is little threat to the fibre optic cables being stolen
  • It doesn’t have the same distance limitations of copper as fibre optic signals are made of light and as a result, very little signal loss occurs during transmission which allows for greater distances and higher speeds
  • It is very secure as it doesn’t radiate signals to be tapped into

Factors affecting the price

  • Infrastructure is not well established and still needs to be installed in outlying areas
  • The price of fibre is dependent on the volume of bitstream that is being released to the client. Using a tap as an analogy, with the ISP servers being the tap and the bitstream being the water; the price is determined by the amount of water being released from the tap. The data package (how much data can be up/downloaded) chosen will display this most clearly
  • The speed of internet also plays a role on the price of fibre, the higher speeds will equate to higher monthly fees (it’s important to note here that even the lowest speeds are still very fast)
  • The distance of the trench (fibre lines) from the node room (source of fibre) will influence the price thus the more isolated your area, the higher the price is likely to be
  • Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) have started the race to zero through competitive pricing, thus the more ISP’s that offer their services in an area, the cheaper the fibre will be
  • Network Infrastructure Providers (NIPs) pay a great deal to install and maintain the fibre infrastructure in their areas which drives up prices for ISP’s and consumers alike

Current price range:

*  Uncapped

10MB p/s: R380 – R750

20MB p/s: R660 – R810

40MB p/s – 50MB p/s: R750 – R1010

100MB p/s+: R900 – R1620

The best fibre deals are available on the Find My Fibre website for easy comparison. Four simple steps will show you the availability, price and speed best suited to you.

As an industry leader, Find My Fibre is aware of all the factors that affect the price of fibre. This means we are uniquely suited to providing the best deals available. Our back-to-back agreements with major South African ISP’s assure you of reliable and expert service and advice.

If you need help getting connected or need more information, Find My Fibre has a team of experts to assist with any questions you may have. Request a call back and they will get in touch.

We are excited to get you connected!

* Prices reflected are market prices at the time of writing