Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a number of questions that we thought you may have when reading through the content of this website. Simply click on the question and the answer will be revealed. If you do have a query that is not answered in this context, please contact us and we will respond to your email as well as post additional questions and answers on this FAQ page.

Why do we need the fibre (FTTH) initiative?

Constantia has long been under-serviced when it comes to reliable, fast broadband Internet connectivity. Rolling out a high-speed broadband network will put our area at the cutting-edge of technology. We will enjoy entry-level Internet speeds 10 times that of the incumbent provider ADSL. At the highest end, we will have access to Internet 200 times faster than today!

The Constantia Property Owner’s Association (CPOA) together with various other organisations (Constantia Watch and neighbouring Watch organisations) proactively introduced this initiative to ensure that our area becomes one that is even more desirable to live and work in.

How fast is fibre really?

The fibre access circuits feeding your house will be configured to deliver information at speeds up to 1Gigabit per second, which is about 500-1000 times faster than your average ADSL line when it comes to download speed.

There will obviously be a level of contention on the backhaul links to your ISP and the GPON fibre technology allows for a value of 50% of download speed to be provisioned for uploading, but at speeds which are orders of magnitude higher than you have now, the only thing that will be holding you back is the Internet Access your ISP can offer you.

How much does it cost?

Prices will vary depending on services subscribed (internet, phone, IPTV, UPS, etc) as well as speed and data packages chosen. Constantia will be one of the first neighbourhoods in SA to get Fibre to the Home, so one can safely assume that prices will decrease over time, while speed and data allowances will increase. See Packages and Pricing for details on ISP offerings.

Is there a fixed setup cost?

Yes, for most ISPs there will be. You will be billed by your ISP of choice, who in turn will be billed for the setup and maintenance of the fibre network by Link Africa & Frogfoot Networks.

Most fibre providers need to charge a small nominal setup fee which covers the laying of fibre optic cable from the closest fibre run in your street to your house, as well as the specific equipment that they will install in your house to connect you to the fibre network.

Looking at other projects in Johannesburg and globally, the setup cost varies between R1,000 and R3,500. We can expect similar pricing here.

The good news is that as a fibre user you can sell your ADSL modem on Gumtree and get a couple of hundred Rand for it and put that money towards a much faster fibre connection!

What will happen to ADSL?

Do you really care? Just kidding, but ADSL is such an old technology and so slow that we really look forward to throwing the ADSL modem into the nearest bin.

On a more serious note, ADSL will continue to work, however it is unlikely that its current speed (or more appropriately “Constantia slowness”) will ever improve. When you opt in for fibre, the ADSL modem will become obsolete and will be replaced by a fibre modem. You will soon look at in the same way you would a dial-up modem.

You then can also get rid of those little ADSL filter boxes that currently sit in between the ADSL modem and your phone lines.

In fact, if you take phone service over the fibre (where it is theoretically possible to achieve far higher quality voice than over an ordinary phone line) you may just forget you ever needed a copper telephone line.

Who will be the commercial fibre provider delivering the service?

After a lengthy RFP process, the Constantia Fibre initiative committee has decided to endorse the JV between Link Africa and Frogfoot to roll out a truly open access fibre network in the Constantia valley. However, multiple ISPs will be providing their services on the backbone of the fibre network.

Will my sidewalk/verge be butchered when new cable tranches are installed?

The appointed fibre provider will have to comply with the City of Cape Town regulations and standards. They will take every precaution to complete installations with the least disruption to residents. They should reinstate the driveways and sidewalks to their original condition. They should contact every resident prior to the installation and explain the exact process to be followed. If they cause any damage they will be obliged to repair it in terms of the signed contract.

Link Africa make use of a patented, tried and trusted system of running fibre through the sewer system. This has no impact on the sewer system (or fibre service for that matter) and avoids digging up roads and pavements. They estimate that more than 50% of the cable runs can be done this way.

What if I move - will I still be able to use my fibre connection?

If you are moving within the Constantia area or any other area that will be covered by Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks, then that should not be a problem at all.

If you move to an area (e.g. a remote farm) which does not have cover, then unfortunately you won’t be able to enjoy fast Internet via fibre.

The exact terms of your future contract with your ISP will state terms of termination due to a household move. You may have to pay a relocation fee to cover the costs.

Will the TV service envisaged consume my data limit?

No, the TV service will not consume your data limit (if applicable) at all. Your data limit is only utilized for video on demand services or streaming services like YouTube, and general Internet data consumption.

TV services will use a different frequency of light on the fibre and will not interfere or impact on your Internet Services at all.

What if there is not enough interest shown in the survey, will the fibre network still be built?

We have achieved enough interest to secure a commitment from Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks to build the network.

Where and when they roll out first however, will be dependent on where the greatest concentration of ISP signups occur. So if you want fibre soon, persuade your neighbours to choose an ISP package and order it soon! That way, you influence the decisions of the network planners.

I have an existing Telkom phone line, can this number be ported to the fibre provider?

Yes, your number can be ported over to any ISP that offers Voice services, is signed up for porting, and has a contract with Link Africa / Frogfoot Networks. You should enjoy cheaper voice calls over the fibre. Some providers might charge a small administration fee to port your number, but with an open access model you will be able to compare cost from and choose from any provider that will serve this area.

I have registered but cannot find my address on the map

Thanks for registering. In all likelihood we have received your non-binding interest, and the most important information is your email address and your mobile number so we can contact you once a fibre provider is selected, and the actual agreement between you and the service provider will be put in place.

We have taken your address and automatically geo-coded it with the help of a Google map API, but that only works for 99% of addresses (typos, spelling, and so on). Please feel free to Contact Us, should you not get a response on placing an order with one of the ISPs on the Packages and Pricing page.

Is the Constantia Fibre initiative a commercial operation?

The Constantia Fibre initiative is not a commercial operation; in fact it is run by a few residents with support of the CPOA and the neighbourhood watch organisations. The underlying idea has been to show fibre operators the demand for high speed internet in our area, and to work with them to have a smooth roll out to the Constantia valley. That we have achieved and are now working with the fibre operator of choice to deploy a network and ensure that ISPs can offer services over that network.

We are using the database of registered residents as a ‘lead generator’ to facilitate the actual contract between service provider and resident. We will only share your contact info with the ISPs you choose to order from or request more info from.

None of the residents helping out with the initiative are getting paid for this – its a pro bono operation.

How do I get a project status update?

As the project progresses, we will publish our efforts, documents and a project status update on the Status page. Please bookmark that page or come back frequently to get an update. We may also publish information on he Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I live in Tokai, Bergvliet or Doordrift - am I eligible for fibre as well?

If you live or work outside the main Constantia area, such as Tokai, Bergvliet or Doordrift, you are not in the initial project roll out area. However, that does not mean you don’t qualify for fibre. We are in touch with the home owners associations a well as the neighbourhood watch organisations of these areas and hope to extend this project to Tokai, Bergvliet or Doordrift soon. Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks have indicated their intentions to expand to neighbouring areas if there is sufficient interest from those suburbs.

Let’s tackle Constantia first, so that any potential mistakes don’t get replicated in other areas. In the meantime, you can persuade your neighbours to register on this website – Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks intend supporting other areas by supplying the Constantia Fibre portal template as a vehicle to extend the initiative. The more residents show a non-binding interest, the larger the lead database for an area, the more likely any fibre operator will be able to start with a project roll out in your neighbourhood.

What is Evercape's involvement?

Evercape is an investment company founded by Martin Diessner many years ago. The company sponsors all costs of hosting, software and development but has no commercial involvement with the project. Although the registration data is currently hosted on Evercape’s servers, no data will be made available to the company and once this project is complete, all data will be permanently deleted.

At that point, those that are interested in fibre services should have formed relationships with the Service Providers, and the contact database will no longer be needed.

What does 01000011 stand for?

In absence of a logo for this project, “01000011” is the (geeky!) binary representation of the letter “C” for Constantia. You can play around binary stuff here.

Note – we have now replaced the header image with Constantia Fibre – powered by Link Africa & Frogfoot since these two companies will be rolling out the open access fibre network in the Constantia valley.

Can I have a copy of your website project?

Yes – no problem. I have already been asked by community members in Hout Bay, Llandudno, Sea Point, Franschhoek and now Somerset West and have made a copy of all wordpress files, themes, plug-ins and the database without the Constantia sensitive resident data.

Please note that I bought a couple of commercial WP themes and plugins and you will need to buy them yourselves, and sort out all technical stuff (a bit of scripting!) as I won’t be able to do that for you.

I am also able to give you the full list of contact details of the fibre service providers we have been in touch with.

The best way to request a copy is by emailing me (get@constantiafibre.com) your DropBox account details so I can share the project with you.

What if I want to stay with my ISP - can I still benefit from the fibre?

You can.  What you will need to do is persuade your ISP to sign up with Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks.  Ask them to contact Hannes Pieterse on hannes@frogfoot.com or  021 448 7225 to kick off that process.  It makes no sense to be using tired old copper when there is lightning fast fibre to your door.

What other services can I get over the fibre?

The fibre will enable you get faster internet access for starters, but it opens up the door for all sorts of hosted services that can be delivered from a Data Centre like Teraco in Newlands.  As soon as the ISP packages are available, you will be able to get the following:

  • Telephony services – a phone and calls to anywhere in the world at much lower prices than Telkom.
  • A WiFi router to broadcast your fibre connection throughout your home.
  • An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for your fibre service which can notify you via SMS when the municipal power goes off and when it comes back on again.
  • Service Alerts – not only can you be notified when the power goes down, but if for some reason your fibre service is interrupted, you can choose to be notified via SMS when the link goes down and when it comes up again.

Coming soon:

  • Once the local security companies have had a chance to work with the fibre company, it should be possible to choose a set of local CCTV cameras to be available via your existing PVR, so you can check your area when you need to.
  • DSTV via fibre – you should be able to keep your existing contract but throw away the satellite dish.  Providers like DSTV, Top TV, et al, will be able to deliver their signals to you over the fibre.
  • Video on Demand – you will no longer have to “download” a video before watching it; you should be able to stream HD TV programmes and movies to you in real time with no delays.

What if the stormwater pipe is not good enough to use for fibre?

1st choice is a stormwater pipe, 2nd choice a sewer, 3rd choice is to trench.  Link Africa survey the pipes, give the City Council a report and where pipes cannot be repaired, make use of traditional trenching methods.

How is the fibre attached to the pipe?

The fibre enters the pipe at a shallow angle through a slot cut using an angle grinder. A patented manifold holds the cable in place after it is attached using a “screw & glue” method. This is enabled using a specialised BASF epoxy which hardens rapidly in water.  The cable lies loosely in the pipe itself.

Doesn’t the fibre cause obstructions within the pipe?

Research has shown that the presence of the fibre lying in the bottom of the pipe in fact causes an improved flow through the pipes due to the dual eddies caused on either side of the fibre.

What is City of Cape Town’s stance on this method?

Link Africa has been working with City of Cape Town on evaluating this methodology for the past 3 years.  A pilot has been run in Khayalitsha.  The City have embraced the methodology and some AlwaysOn and FreeCityWiFi sites are already using it within the Cape Metropole.

When will the Neighbourhood Watch Control room be connected?

There still needs to be some discussion with the NHW, but this should not be too far into the project roll-out.

What about Mobile Network Operators and Security Companies will they get access to the fibre?

MNOs wishing to improve their coverage of the area will be able to make use of the fibre without impacting on the broadband services of residents.  Outdoor units are available for enabling security cameras to be connected to the fibre network.

Can we use existing WiFi APs and routers in the homes?

Yes. The fibre is effectively replacing the copper access line.  Any ISP router can be plugged into the fibre modem.

Has the Uninterruptable Power Supply been tested for a full 8 hours?

Yes.  As long as the UPS only has to power the fibre modem, you should get a full 8 hours. The UPS is dedicated for the fibre equipment only.

Is it possible to have two ISPs providing services to the same home over the fibre?

Yes.  There can be up to 4 Service Providers accommodated on one fibre modem.

Do you do anything to the bandwidth in terms of shaping, throttling or overselling?

No shaping or throttling.  The very worst case contention that could exist is 10:1 (on the last mile) and would only occur in very extreme cases.  Because GPON uses TDM there is no chance of one resident hogging most of the bandwidth.

Will ISPs impose additional contention on their side of the interconnect?

Quite possibly.  That is out of the control of Link Africa or Frogfoot and residents should clarify that with their ISP. Check out the packages online – in the terms and conditions the ISP break out contention ratio are clearly shown.

Some houses have no street numbers - how will you identify them?

Latitude/longitude co-ordinates will be used in these cases.

Can the sewer not be used to access homes, so trenching of people’s gardens is not necessary?

No. However, water pipes can be used to access homes.

Can’t you speed things up by adding more teams?

The planners have already optimised the number of teams.  Using too many teams tends to create too high a degree of disruption in a suburb and causes aggravation for residents.

How many people are likely to buy 1Gbps services?

On average, only about 5% of people buy 1Gbps services – most people want to know that they can if they want to, but find that they do not need anything like that sort of bandwidth.

How does the whole contention work?

How does the 64:1 splitting and the 10:1 contention ratio impact on what an ISP can offer their customer – surely this means that like DSL a resident will get a lot less bandwidth than they pay for?

Not at all.  The full explanation gets a bit technical, but in essence the overall fibre access network contention will never reach more than 10:1, and if contention does become an issue in any one zone, the splitters will be reconfigured to eliminate it.

Q: How does the 64:1 splitting and the 10:1 contention ratio impact on what an ISP can offer their customer – surely this means that like DSL a resident will get a lot less bandwidth than they pay for?
A: Not at all. The full explanation gets a bit technical, but in essence the overall fibre access network contention will never reach more than 10:1, and if contention does become an issue in any one zone, the splitters will be reconfigured to eliminate it.

Q: So what sort of contention ratios should residents expect on this network?
A: While there is theoretically the possibility of there being a worst case contention of 10:1, in reality no residents should ever experience less than what they have paid for an extended period of time as a result of the fibre network (as opposed to any contention in the upstream network).

Q: I’ve heard you split the fibre 64 times, and GPON only provides for 2.5Gbps download. Does that not mean a resident would get far less than 1Gbps if they bought 1Gbps access?
A: Not at all. A splitter is essentially a prism, splitting light, and the first time we introduce a splitter is right at the node, where we create a 4:1 split. Closer to the houses, we add another splitter at 16:1, making the overall split on that route 64:1. Should there be a number of close neighbours who all order and make heavy use of 1Gbps services, we will remove the 4:1 splitter for that route, thus dropping the split for the route to 16:1. Because there is 2.5Gbps available, the possible contention is less than 10:1. Practically, it is highly unlikely that so many people will buy 1Gbps services, and if they do, just as unlikely that they will all be using the full 1Gbps at the same time. To use an “old school” analogy, there are not enough telephone trunk lines connecting the Constantia Telkom exchange to the rest of the world to allow every single resident to make an outgoing call at the same time. The economics of telecoms network engineering relies on contention ratios.

Q: If my neighbour buys a 1Gbps service and I buy a 50Mbps service, does that mean he can get preference and hog all the bandwidth?
A: No, the fibre technology used (GPON) uses a mechanism (TDM) to ensure that the bandwidth is allocated fairly. The package you buy will be what determines your maximum throughput, not your neighbour’s penchant for downloading the internet.

Q: So, if none of my neighbours are using their links, would I get access to the full capacity of the fibre?
A: No. In much the same way that you don’t get disadvantaged by a neighbour who is a heavy user of the Internet, you don’t benefit if your neighbours use little or no bandwidth.

Q: If I wanted to buy an uncontended link, would this be possible?
A: It would, but this is not something we would promote; it is highly unlikely, unless you are running an ISP or a movie rendering farm from home, that the 1Gbps fibre broadband product will not fulfil your needs.

Q: What if I needed an Active Ethernet connection and not a GPON connection, say to supply me with 10Gbps, could that be supplied?
A: Yes, it could; again not something we’ll be promoting, but if you really do need that, we can negotiate a price and make it happen.

Q: Can you give preference to certain types of traffic, like video or voice?
A: Yes, we can, if and where this is needed.