While a growing number of South Africans in urban areas are turning to fibre to the home (FTTH) for higher bandwidth, they often overlook a vital piece of equipment in the connectivity chain, leading to a less than satisfactory end to end internet experience.

While subscribers are turning to FTTH packages with line speeds that go all the way to gigabit speeds, they find that the throughput to end user devices – their smartphones, tablets, media players and smart TVs – are sub-optimal. The real culprit here is very likely their WiFi router.

To provide a more seamless upgrade process, Vox now offers WiFi routers to customers who are selecting FTTH packages, with the option to choose from a wide range of products – priced between R1 799 and R6 999 –  depending on their connectivity requirements.

These include entry-level devices from MikroTik, mid-range devices from Ubiquiti Networks, high-end devices from Ruckus Wireless, and home mesh solutions from AirTies, with the option of once-off upfront payment or rental over 24 months.

Matching your connectivity requirements

“To select the right equipment, customers need to take into account the area they want to cover, as well as how many devices will be connected to the network concurrently,” says Richard Aikman, senior product manager at Vox. “If they are going to be doing a lot of HD streaming across devices, they need to make sure that the WiFi router can handle that.

“They might also want to consider a dual band WiFi router, so that they can make use of the 5Ghz band, which is far less congested, but they need to make sure that their devices support that band.”

Users must take into account where in the house their WiFi router is installed, and from where most of the devices are accessing the wireless network. They are often positioned next to the wall that is closest to where the external line comes in, with the wireless signal strength degrading as it passes through walls and other obstacles, leading to lower down- and upload speeds.

“While the best experience can be gained by ensuring that these two locations are as close together as possible, the WiFi router can also be placed in a central location to ensure even coverage across the house,” explains Aikman.

If users feel that their home WiFi router isn’t sufficient, or want coverage across a larger multi-story house, they should consider investing in additional infrastructure, such as wired access points that can provide stable and reliable connectivity to various rooms, or make use of a home mesh WiFi network. Turning to mid- and high-end routers further gives users the functionality to better manage their local network: to allocate bandwidth to users, to give priority to certain services, create guest accounts, and more.

“Consumers are spending to regularly update their devices and improve their internet connectivity, but the WiFi router is often neglected,” concludes Aikman. “While this is not an issue when using ADSL, switching to high speed fibre can quickly turn this piece of equipment into a bottleneck.”