Jeffreys Bay has taken its first steps towards widespread 5G integration with the laying of fibre cable that will take the town into the digital era.
A long time in planning, this move aims to bring our town up to the modern standard, and prepare us for what comes next. Though there is still considerable misunderstanding about what 5G is and whether it will be worthwhile for each individual, it’s not as complicated as it first seems.
Starting in Jeffreys Bay
As long as users are on one of the four major carriers in SA, there shouldn’t be much problem with eventual 5G access. According to current coverage maps, the likes of Vodacom, Cell C, MTN, and Telkom all have significant coverage around the area, though Rain appears to struggle. While most of these carriers could be expected to eventually adopt 5G, at this point it’s Vodacom that appears to be leading the pack.
In the next few years, 5G is planned to cover much more of Jeffreys Bay, with complete coverage of the urban sprawl a real possibility. This is in stark contrast to larger cities, where the limited range of 5G towers (around 500 meters) isn’t tenable for mass-implementation.
With a total area of around 20Km2 in Jeffreys Bay, this issue shouldn’t be a hurdle here. Those in surrounding rural areas, however, will have to make to with 4G solutions into the foreseeable future.
As part of South Africa’s 5G rollout plan which started in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein, the eventual goal is to bring 5G connectivity to every major urban location.
As of the end of 2020, this represented 4.4% of the population who had access to 5G systems. At current rates, this number is predicted to rise 11 million by 2025, according to a report from Africa Analysis.
When completed, 5G is anticipated to operate in tandem with fibre to offer a 2-pronged approach to total SA internet coverage. On the fibre side, Telkom leads rollout with the most kilometres of cables down, followed distantly by Vodacom, Liquid Telecom SA, and MTN.
Though these different providers are expected to share eventual coverage, don’t be surprised to eventually see the Telkom options be the cheapest in most locations.
In its current state, ultra-high-speed internet in SA is rated at similar price-brackets to New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, slightly cheaper than the international average at around R889.
As networks and infrastructure become more established, this cost will likely lower further, until ultra-high-speed costs match or beat those of older alternatives.
Now or Later?
According to prior trends, high-speed internet as demonstrated by 5G and fibre shouldn’t cost any more than older solutions when fully implemented. At this point in the rollout, however, users should expect to pay a premium for faster packages. Depending on the use-case, this might be worth the cost of admission, or it could be best waiting.
For example, a common form of online entertainment enjoyed today comes from online casinos. Available from desktops, laptops, and mobiles, these games, though modern, have only minimal bandwidth requirements, typically less than 1 Mbps.
Every step of the process, from browsing sites to collecting bonuses and even playing games will work without issue on 4G and even 3G connections in some cases.
Because of this, enthusiasts wouldn’t need to upgrade their connections for fear of missing out. This site helps this niche due to its reviews and other pieces of guidance that it offers.
The other side could be found in larger households that rely on streaming multiple high-resolution videos simultaneously. Such videos can take 50 Mbps each, in which case an ultra-high-speed internet upgrade could be worth the price of admission right away.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach yet, but understanding where your use falls on this spectrum should be enough to guide a choice.
Still early in South Africa’s ultra-high-speed rollout, the current pace should guarantee users in urban areas access over the next few years.
Established already by fibre and increasingly by 5G connection points, the ’20s look to be a decade where bandwidth concerns become a thing of the past.
While it might be worth waiting and checking to see if your personal connections require an upgrade at this time, an eventual move to new networks will be inevitable for most. Until then, 4G and ADSL connections should be able to carry a user’s current digital weight.