Tip 8: Choosing the right internet acecss for your lifestyle

Choosing the right internet access for your lifestyle

With so many ISPs out there these days, it's difficult to decide what type of access you need and which product will be cost effective and best suit your needs.
In the by-gone days of dial up our internet usage was measured by the amount of time we spent connected, and we all quickly got into the habit of plugging in the modem, quickly connecting, checking our mail doing what little surfing we needed and then before we ran up a huge bill, disconnected and unplugged the modem again - just to make sure.

Now days with the advent of broadband, we're no longer charged by the amount of time we spend online, but instead by the amount of data that we use up. while it's true that the longer you're connected the more likely you are to use more data, most people find it convenient and not too expensive to be connected all the time.

Being connected all the time does however come with some dangers. the chances of picking up unwanted software like malware or even viruses is greatly increased, and if you de pick up a virus or some other kind of malware it could use up all your remaining data for the month before you realise it. So if you do have broadband internet it is extremely important to have a good anti virus, and to keep it up to date. You can see my previous blog about keeping your software up to date for more info on this.

So what are my options?

Here are the most common connection types with their pros and cons.

  1. ADSL - fixed analogue line to Telkom while line rental is expensive and may take long to be installed, the cost per GB is low, so you don't really have to worry too much about how much you use. There are also lots of competitive ISPs selling data in a variety of packages and you're sure to find one that suits your needs. Telkom cables can be stolen leaving you internetless but because it's a fixed line the service is usually very stable and reliable. you can't take it with you on the go though
  2. Wireless - wireless connections like Neotel and iBurst don't really have monthly "line rental rental" cost, you only pay for the data you use. The data however costs more than ADSL data, and this segment of the market is a lot less competitive so it's a lot more difficult to find a product that fits your needs specifically. Wireless internet is also a lot less reliable than a fixed line, your internet connection depends on coverage, signal strength, the weather, how many people in your area are online and sharing the same tower as you are and how much those other people are downloading. the advantages tho are that you can easily take it with you on the go.
  3. Cellular - cellular connections are probably the most expensive per GB, but have the best coverage. tou can take your internet with you almost anywhere. but because it's still a wireless connection, you're still going to have problems with signal strength, the number of people sharing your tower, weather and in some places still coverage.

How do I choose?

There are a few questions you can answer to help you choose.

  1. Am I going to be staying in the same place long enough to justify the installation costs of ADSL?
  2. How much data am I going to use every month?
  3. Do I need to take the internet with me on the go?
  4. How much data am I going to use on the go?

If you go to an ISp who offers multiple packages like iBurst or Mweb, they will be able to help you compare prices and choose the package that's best for you.
If you wanna go it alone, just wisit each of the ISPs websites and calculate how much you will end up spending a month. This will help you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each and choose a package that's right for you.

Here's what I use:
ADSL - Telkom line rental (4mbps) R97 + R413= R510
Mweb (unlimited / uncapped data bundle) - R539
Wireless - iBurst (40MB /month) - R89
Total: R 1138

Advantages - I can use as much as I need at home (I share with my 3 house mates) - with fast reliable ADSL, Mweb gives me 300 free wifi minutes per month that I can use at hotspots areound the country from my laptop, ipod or cellphone. Ibust is only 40MB a month, but it's there to use when I need it, if my ADSL is down or if I'm stuck in traffic and need to check my mail or assist a customer, or if I'm away from a wifi hotspot. I usually don't use all 40MB up - but I like having it when I need it.

Disadvantages - R1138 is a lot of money to spend every month - but some months I can use up to 300GB on my mweb account which makes it by far the cheapest solution available in the country.

But I don't need all that

You need to weigh up the price against the advantages and disadvantages of the service you wish to use. Sure my job (and lifestyle) requires a lot of data usage, some people will need more, some less. ADSL suite most people's needs with line rental prices ranging from R152 - R413 per month and data packages from as little as R19 per GB per month or from R196 per month uncapped, both from Axxess - probably our most affordable ISP.

So lets take the cheapest local 1GB (and 5GB) per month ADSL solution I can find:
Telkom line rental: R97 + R152 = R249
Axxess 1GB - R19 (5GB: R95)
Total: R268 (R344)

Compared to iBurst wireless: R248 (R544)

Compared to Vodacom cellular (3G): R289 (R989)

So how do I know how much I'll use?

With all packages it's quite easy to top up if you run out. with cellular however - the additional data is uaually more expensive.
Vodacom has a very nice calculator on their new website "www.vodacom.co.za > my store > data calculator" to help you choose the right data bundle.
But the rule of thumb I would say is for an average home user start with a 2GB account
If you have kids who'll be using the internet increase that by 1GB per kid.
If you're going to be downloading music, games, movies or series - reacon on adding between 100GB and 400 GB a month
If you're going to be doing photobooks add about 0.1BG per book per month
Watching a few online videos like youtube - add between 2GB and 10GB
Listening to online music - add about 2GB a month.

Here are some useful links:
www.telkom.co.za (ADSL line)
www.axxess.co.za (ADSL data bundles very affordable with a huge variety products and services - I highly recommend them)
www.mweb.co.za (ADSL data bundles with other services including wifi and 3G - recommended)
www.is.co.za (large variety of more business oriented products - great service - recommended)
www.iburst.co.za (wireless internet - with other services including ADSL and wifi - recommended)
www.neotel.co.za (wireless internet with phone)
www.vodacom.co.za (3G and data calculator)
www.mtn.co.za (3G)
www.cellc.co.za (3G) Please read this on 4G before believing marketing hype.
www.thebroadbandbible.co.za (comparing ADSL packages)
www.webafrica.co.za (ADSL data bundles)


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