Fibre is going to change the internet landscape in South Africa forever. It provides exponentially more bandwidth than copperbased ADSL and the speeds will continue to skyrocket. The only limitation is the infrastructure we build to support this fibre future.
Imagine being in possession of gigabit-a-second speeds running through your home. Well, for some homeowners that thought is already a reality. In three years’ time, who knows what the ceiling will be.
So, what does limitless broadband mean for you as the homeowner? How about the possibility of streaming television 24/7; an end to buffering; the ability to connect your devices to virtual reality. Soon that satellite dish on your roof will soon be a thing of the past. So too your landline, as Voice-Over-Fibre completes eliminates the need for it.
But according to Andre Hoffmann of Link Africa, one benefit that isn’t spoken about enough – and which is especially relevant in a South African context – is home security.
“Optical fibre is very well positioned to address the need for high quality video based security,” Hoffmann says.
Currently, many home security systems are moving from analogue to digital video. That necessitates a reliable transmission between the camera and the monitor/control room. “Legacy systems are based on copper, however, which doesn’t provide a reliable transmission. The speed is slow, unreliable and loses strength over long distances,” Hoffmann says. Copper has its inherent physical limitations too: its susceptible to lightning and theft. In times of stress, you want a security system that works reliably 24/7.
That’s where fibre comes in. It’s immune to interference and provides significantly better bandwidth capabilities, using light as the carrier. You get high-quality video and sound. It’s reliable and stable and once installed, you can stop worrying about it. Immune to electrical interference, theft or short circuiting, it enjoys a long service life too.
Fibre can be a godsend not only for your home, but the neighbourhood at large. Advanced surveillance, fed by the fibre optic network under the ground, will facilitate neighbourhood-wide surveillance systems that could provide crystal clear HD video pinpointing wrongdoing any time of the day.
“Many homeowners are worried about the disturbance caused by the introduction of a fibre in a neighbourhood. There’s the perception that it involves digging into the road and laying the cables, causing a disturbance for residents in the area,” Hoffmann says.
But that’s not necessarily true.
“At Link Africa, we work with councils to build and operate networks in existing infrastructure, like stormwater drains. That greatly reduces the hassle and deployment time and it means we’re working with existing networks without having to tunnel into the ground.”
Such measures aren’t always possible, Hoffmann says, but believes it’s a sign of the times: fibre deployment firms like Link Africa are doing their best to bypass the necessity of trenching.
Either way, the benefits of fibre outweigh the negatives, says Hoffmann. “Once fibre is installed in your neighbourhood, you’ve got it for good. From there, Internet Service Providers lease the cable and determine the price, and the potential for improved home security and a neighbourhood-wide system becomes entirely possible.”
The great thing about fibre is that the marketplace is open and competitive. For homeowners looking to take advantage of hightech security solutions – or reap the numerous day-to-day benefits of stable, fast broadband – there are a multitude of ISPs to choose from.
“No one company enjoys a monopoly. As consumers, we’re beginning to tire of the old-guard which gets away with poor service delivery. The market has shifted completely and fibre is completely ‘open-access.’ You can shop around until you get the best deal,” says Hoffmann.
So, if you’re in a neighbourhood that’s yet to receive fibre, what do you do?
“You can register your interest by visiting http://www.linkafricaftth.co.za/register/. Interested parties are also more than welcome to consult the independent authority on this topic, the Fibre To The Home Council Africa, for advice and information. See http://www.ftthcouncilafrica.com/.”
In the end, fibre has the potential to overhaul our everyday lives, but it’s the power to improve our home security that will be felt most keenly by many South Africans.
Image credit: welivesecurity.com