To remain competitive, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are under increasing pressure to offer their customers more than ‘just’ connectivity services. Of course, connectivity remains the cornerstone of an ISP’s business, but equally important is the ability to provide expert advice to customers, to negotiate bundled offerings and competitive pricing, and to stay at the forefront of technological advances as they reach the market.

Customers can reasonably expect their ISP to be aware that ADSL is now falling out of favour, despite being the incumbent broadband service for years.

Not only is ADSL vulnerable to copper theft and lightning damage, it is also slow, with typical DSL service speed ranges from 128 Kbps to 3 Mbps. Importantly, the infrastructure is owned by a single operator, which means no competition on pricing.

The alternative is fibre, right? Often, but not always.

Fibre-to-the-home connects only limited parts of South Africa, and it will be awhile before every household can be connected to fibre cost-effectively – if ever. In many areas, the last mile connection is challenging.

So, while people are turning away from ADSL, not everyone can or will progress to fibre. There are plenty of potential customers who are unlikely to ever need fibre.

LTE-A is the perfect alternative for ISPs wanting to offer their customers the fastest possible connectivity without the infrastructure or installation requirements of fibre links.

On Rain’s LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network, first announced in 2016 and now available to ISPs through Internet Solutions, customers can enjoy speeds of up to 100Mbps, depending on their distance from the nearest tower and congestion on the network.

It’s also easier and faster to roll out LTE-A than ADSL or fibre – it’s just a matter of installing a router and switching it on. The customer keeps the router with them when moving to a new location.

For ISPs, LTE-A introduces more flexibility in how connectivity is offered.

For example, core business functions that need dedicated, secure connections can be hosted on a fibre line while those that are not as essential to the business, such as access to social media, can be hosted on the LTE-A network.

Rain’s LTE-A network currently has 750 active base stations across South Africa’s major metropolitan centres, expected to reach 5 000 base stations by 2018, and 10 000 in time.

As network coverage improves and gigabit LTE becomes a reality, mobile broadband will become an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional broadband connectivity. Rain is ready to roll out future wireless technologies like LTE Advanced Pro and 5G when they become available in the coming years.

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