High-speed internet for South African homes without fibre: Affordable uncapped options at 50Mbps

As fibre connectivity continues to expand in South Africa, many households still lack access to this high-speed option. However, there are alternative wireless solutions available. Fixed 5G packages from providers like Afrihost, Axxess, MTN, Rain, Supersonic, and Telkom offer download speeds of around 50Mbps or 60Mbps. If 5G coverage is not available, fixed LTE packages with similar speeds are offered by various ISPs. For areas without reliable cellular connectivity, unlicensed fixed wireless access (FWA), or in future SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet can be considered. These options provide fast, reliable connections for South African households without fibre networks.

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Cheapest 50Mbps uncapped Internet for homes without fibre

By Hanno Labuschagne

There are several uncapped wireless Internet packages on the market with at least 50Mbps download speeds for  South African households that don’t have a fibre network available in their area.

While fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity has proliferated in the past few years, many households in the country still don’t have access to fibre and must use other services for their main home connection.

Before the arrival of FTTH, the primary form of fixed-access connectivity in South Africa was Telkom’s asynchronous digital subscriber line (ADSL) services.

These days, Telkom is actively shutting down the copper networks that support DSL and replacing them with fibre or wireless alternatives.

DSL connections peaked at around a million in 2016. South Africa’s nine biggest fibre networks already have over 1.5 million customers between them.

Nevertheless, smaller towns are often a low priority for fibre rollouts, and people who live there have to find alternative ways to get a high-speed broadband connection.

If you don’t have a fibre network in your area, then you will have to consider wireless broadband technologies.

Fortunately, many products can achieve at least 50Mbps download speeds, which is sufficient for the average household’s needs.

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Fixed-5G or fixed-LTE

When it comes to wireless, the closest to fibre in terms of performance is fixed 5G.

Afrihost, Axxess, MTN, Rain,  Supersonic, and Telkom sell uncapped fixed 5G packages — including some with download speeds of around 50Mbps or 60Mbps.

Fixed LTE is likely the next best thing if you don’t have 5G coverage in your location.

Uncapped LTE packages with 50Mbps or higher speeds are available from several ISPs.

Aside from being slower than 5G, uncapped 4G/LTE packages generally offer less value, as they come with more stringent fair usage policies (FUPs).

The performance of a product with a FUP can be radically reduced when a subscriber consumes more than a specified amount of data in a month.

Service providers use FUPs to ensure their networks aren’t overwhelmed by bulk downloads and other activities that monopolise network resources.

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Unlicensed fixed wireless access and satellite

If cellular network connectivity is unavailable or unreliable in your area (due to load-shedding, for example), your next best option might be fixed-wireless access (FWA) using unlicensed spectrum.

The most cost-effective of these FWA options is Supersonic’s Air Fibre — which costs R799 per month for a 50Mbps connection.

The MTN-owned ISP has said this service offers fibre-like speeds thanks to its patented, cutting-edge noise cancellation technology developed by Tarana Wireless.

Other FWA products — like those that run on open-access network Rush — can be significantly more expensive per Mbps.

The last-resort product to consider for those without cellular or unlicensed FWA available is SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet.

With over 150Mbps download speeds recorded in South Africa, Starlink’s R1,800 asking price via Northern Cape-based ISP IT Lec is much better value than legacy satellite products.

Legacy satellite services are often prohibitively expensive and come with highly restrictive FUPs.

Although not officially available in South Africa yet, Starlink works via a roaming service, for which the cost is included in IT Lec’s price of R1,800 per month.

However, Starlink requires a R15,000 dish and router kit.

The major upside to Starlink is that it is not impacted by load-shedding — which cannot be said for many 5G and LTE products.

You won’t lose connectivity during power cuts as long as you have a small backup system capable of providing roughly 50–75W of power for the dish and router.

That is because the “towers” Starlink relies on are its fleet of satellites equipped with large solar panel arrays.

Below are the most affordable fixed-5G, fixed-LTE, unlicensed-spectrum FWA, and satellite Internet packages with download speeds of roughly 50Mbps.

Where speeds for certain packages exceeded 50Mbps, they were the most affordable available from the ISP.

Uncapped wireless packages with ~50Mbps speeds
ISP and packageDownload speedUpload speedFair usage policy and termsPrice
Axxess MTN Uncapped LTEUp to 50MbpsUp to 50MbpsAfter 100GB usage: Speeds throttled to 2Mbps
Requires LTE router — available from R1,399
Month-to-month
R349
Axxess Standard 5GUp to 500MbpsUp to 500MbpsAfter 300GB usage: Speeds throttled to 2Mbps
Requires 5G router — available from R1,999
Month-to-month
R449
Supersonic Home Fixed-LTE LiteUp to 150MbpsUnspecifiedAfter 400GB usage: Speeds throttled to 2Mbps
Free-to-use router included
Month-to-month
R499
MyMTN Home Wi-Fi 60MbpsUp to 60MbpsUp to 60MbpsAfter 800GB usage: Speeds throttled to 10Mbps
Free-to-use router included
Month-to-month
R699
Supersonic Home 5G LiteUp to 200MbpsUnspecifiedAfter 400GB usage: Speeds throttled to 2Mbps
Free-to-use router included
Month-to-month
R699
Rain One Unlimited 5G 60MbpsUp to 60MbpsUnspecifiedNone
Free-to-use router included
Month-to-month
R759
Afrihost Pure 5G 50MbpsUp to 50MbpsUp to 50MbpsNone
Requires 5G router — available from R2,999
Month-to-month
R749
Supersonic Air Fibre 50MbpsUp to 50MbpsUp to 10MbpsNone
Free-to-use router included
Month-to-month
R799
Telkom 5G InternetUp to 50MbpsUp to 50MbpsAfter 500GB usage: Speeds throttled to 4Mbps
After 550GB usage: Speeds throttled to 2Mbps
24 or 36-month contract
R878 x 36 (indoor)
R1,016 x 36 (outdoor)
IT Lec Starlink150Mbps+50Mbps+None
Requires Starlink dish and router — R15,000
Month-to-month — managed by IT Lec
R1,800
Activefibre Open Rush Standard 50 (FWA)Up to 50MbpsUp to 10MbpsNone
R2,500 CPE installation fee or R250 per month rental
R1,925

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This article was first published by My Broadband and is republished with permission.