Fibre vs ADSL: The difference in speeds

By : Christopher Wray | October 13, 2016 | Blog

Fibre vs ADSL: The difference in speeds

October 13, 2016

By now, we all know that fibre Internet is bringing faster download speeds to users across South Africa. But what exactly is the difference in speeds between ADSL and fibre Internet and—more to the point—what does the terminology all mean?

Internet speeds: Breaking down the jargon

Starting with the basics, ‘Internet speed’ refers to the rate (speed) at which information or data travels from the Web to your device, be it a computer, tablet or smartphone. Internet speed is calculated in megabits per seconds (Mbps), and you’ll usually find that the speed at which you download from the Internet is much higher than the speed at which you upload, as most Internet activity is focused on downloading data.


Your Internet speed depends on the type of connection you have—ADSL or fibre—and various factors affect the speed of each of those.

Why is fibre Internet faster than ADSL?

ADSL uses telephone lines to transmit data along copper cables from your nearest telephone exchange to your home or office. The further you are from the exchange, the slower your speeds will be. Copper cables are often affected by bottlenecks: the more Internet traffic, the slower your download speeds – just like traffic on the roads.

Fibre Internet – sometimes referred to as ‘superfast broadband’—uses fibre optic cables to transmit data. This means that data has the potential to travel at the speed of light, and isn’t affected by your distance from the exchange. It can also handle much higher volumes of traffic without your download speeds being affected.

ADSL offers perfectly acceptable speeds – from 1Mbps up to 40Mbps – for most Internet activities, including browsing and email. However, fibre Internet users enjoy the fastest speeds (from 10Mbps up to 200Mbps), which is particularly beneficial for streaming services such as Netflix and Showmax, online gaming, and homes with many connected devices and users. Fibre connections are also particularly beneficial to large businesses conducting the majority of their work online or via the cloud. Despite all the advantages of fibre Internet, it can sometimes be cheaper than ADSL broadband.

ADSL and fibre Internet options available in SA

ADSL is available to anyone in South Africa who has access to a telephone line. Over the last few years, the fibre teams have been working tirelessly to increase the reach of the fibre network throughout South Africa. Initially only available in major business districts and city centres, fibre is now available in many suburban areas.

Find out if your suburb is one of them

Get the perfect connectivity for your home or business:

Find out more about our connectivity options:

Here’s why people are switching to fibre

Fibre, Home LTE or ADSL, choosing the best connection for your home

Getting fibre installed: a step-by-step guide

Fibre vs ADSL: Which is best for your business?

Need some help deciding? Contact us on 087 470 0000 or [email protected] we’re always happy to help.




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