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Will 5G overtake fibre optics? – A comparison

5G is the talk of the IT world and even the general public locally and internationally with its low-cost deployment and high bandwidth speeds along with the controversies around its health effects but when it comes to the battle between the present-day internet highway, fibre optics and 5G, will 5G be able to take over the fibre market?

5G vs Fibre Speeds

When it comes to speed, 5G definitely is the winner and blows fibre out of the water with whopping speeds of 10Gbps upload and 20Gbps download, whilst the fastest current fibre speeds sit at an upload of 855.04Mbps and 859.7 Mbps download, among South African ISP’s.

5G vs Fibre Performance

Whilst it takes the cake hands-down for speed, according to Ofentse Dazela, director for pricing research at Africa Analysis is o the view that 5G will come with the same performance issues that its predecessors, both 3G and 4G have suffered with. This in essence means that the service quality will be erratic, depending on the specific tower that it connects to and the time of day – whether it is peak time or off-peak.

5G vs Fibre Pricing

Since 2014, the prices to connect to fibre have not declined, which means that for the forseeable future, FTTH prices will remain unaffordable for majority of households in South Africa. This is where 5G has an advantage because like its predecessors, 3G and 4G, mobile operators will introduce price-compteitive packages which will result in a greater service uptake. Unlike fibre, 5G has a low deployment cost because not only are fibre’s monthly charges unaffordable, getting connected can cost a user anything up to R5000, because fibre providers often charge a significant installation and connection cost and most fibre service providers do not offer a good quality wireless router which would then need to be purchased separately.

On the basis of these three aspects and the current economic standing in South Africa, it is easy to see that the 5G market could potentially explode, because it not only offers greater speeds but also offers them at more affordable prices. Only time will tell whether 5G will overtake fibre optics but, based on these three factors, it surely looks like it could.