ADSL and FIBRE; What's The Difference?

Image: WikiPedia
Image: WikiPedia

Broadband Internet providers offer different connection options to subscribers, with ADSL, LTE and Fibre being popular options. Understanding the differences between these options helps in choosing coverage for your Internet use.


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), is a type of DSL connection that utilises the frequencies on regular copper phone lines not taken up by voice calls. ADSL doesn’t require any special lines to be installed, so it’s less expensive and more available than other forms of broadband.

With ADSL, you get up to 24 Mbps download speed, upload speeds are limited. Speeds are affected by the condition of the wires, the distance to the provider’s ‘location’ and noise or interference on the line.


When looking at buying a new (mobile)phone, you may find too many acronyms to choose from; CDMA, GSM, 4G, LTE, WiMax, the list goes on. It can be easier to focus on the differences; The “G” which stands for generation, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile data technology, as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R).

What is 3G? 3G replaced the 2G system; a network protocol that only allowed basic functionality. 2G networks handled phone calls, basic text messaging, and small amounts of data over MMS. With 3G larger data formats became much more accessible such as web pages and multi-media content. What is 4G? A 2008 ITU-R, 4G connectivity standard; mobile use connection speeds at least 100 megabits per second peak, and stationary hotspots, at least 1 gigabit per second peak. What is LTE? LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and isn’t a technology as it is a path followed to achieve 4G speeds. It’s not entirely trickery though, despite inconsistent speeds depending on location and network, the difference between 3G and 4G is noticeable. LTE-A? (Advanced), a step closer to 4G proper.

Local operators provide GSM (up to LTE) broadband. Most of the offerings are more expensive than ADSL for mid-to-high usage, but can be cost effective for low usage.


Fibre Internet, promises 1 Gbps potential for uploads and downloads. Fibre bypasses phone lines and uses smaller, lighter fiber optic cables with glass conductors. These conductors transmit light signals rather than electricity. This results in one of the clearest and consistent broadband connections. The installation cost though means you’ll pay more for the experience. Those living in rural areas may not have access to Fibre.


In South Africa ADSL prices are well above world average. Charges consist of three parts; (1) the ADSL line rental costs: R165 for 2Mbit/s “Fast” line – R425 for 10Mbit/s “Fastest” line, (2) the regular analogue phone line rental around R157 and the (3) ISP (Internet Service Provider) which vary ranging R23/1GB to R896/10 Mbit/s (uncapped).

ADSL prices in South Africa remain high. In terms of speed, a report by, Akamai: The State of the Internet for 2011; South Africa’s 1.4Mbit/s average peak conenction speeds remains below the 2Mbit/s global average. “Average peak connection speeds above 5 Mbps
were seen in 45 more mobile providers, while all but two; Thailand and South Africa, had average peak connection speeds above 2 Mbps”.

Sourced: Digitaltrends / Deucethemes / Wikipedia

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