Sunday, 15 January 2017

Review: Wireless Internet from Wibre

    Like with many things, Richwood seems to be that forgotten spot in the map thus having only very limited internet availability and options. According to some sources the next DSLAM is somewhere in Edgemead, so impossible to get any fast ADSL line over that distance.

    Ironically though, we are surrounded by live fibre routes according to Seacom and DFA (N7 and Tygerberg Valley Rd), yet the only thing available is 2Mbit "VDSL" (really Telkom?) in most of the places in Richwood - or alternatively LTE.
    But maybe this is good news - kinda forces one to break free from Telkom who have not managed to install my ADSL line after the third attempt (we took over the house where ADSL was working, so go figure).

    Seacom Fibre Availability in Richwood, Cape Town
    Seacom Fibre Availability in Richwood, Cape Town

    Fortunately Wibre came to the rescue. Don't be confused though, it is PCnetwork under the hood. PCnetwork itself offers various products, some of them marketed and branded with their own name + website, such as wibre.co.za or getfibre.co.za. There offerings are basically similar to Afrihost, from ADSL, Webhosting to Fibre connectivity.
    In addition PCnetwork plays the role of an WISP (wireless internet service provider) and can connect your house via a point-to-point WiFi dish to the Internet. This was done on our side (CPE) with an airMax Rocket M5 from Ubiquiti Networks.
    The whole process of getting Wibre starts by booking a site survey over their website. Two very friendly and competent technicians will then check the availability from your premise. If everything looks fine they will book in a second appointment to do the actual installation.

    The PCnetwork technicians - unlike Telkom - are actually pretty well trained and have a very good and broad understanding of Network installations (and always super friendly). They neaten up the cable from outside to the house with a hot glue gun and finalise the installation by configuring the router - in my case a Mikrotik Routerboard RB750.
    You will notice the installed hardware is pretty much industry standard and top notch.


    airMax Rocket M5 + Dish on the highest point of the House
    airMax Rocket M5 + Dish on the highest point of the House


    I went with the 20Mbit residential package which gives me full-speed locally (via: http://speedtest.cpt.mweb.co.za/):


    And a little over half-speed to London, UK (via http://www.speedtest.net):


    VOIP is unfortunately not offered for the residential packages, but since I did need a proper landline to make phone calls and also be available cheaply, I went with the offerings from Nexus + a VOIP to analogue converter. Both working perfectly together.

    Cons

    • It took almost a full month for the installation to be completed (from first week of December until end of December) - point given, festive season, and they had some other unrelated outages - also their installation is a little more sophisticated than connecting an existing copper line...
    • Initially I was connected to Plattekloof which unfortunately brought a lot of disconnects and packet drops (most probably due to interference), a switch to Milpark fixed all of those issues. Unfortunately during the switch of the dishes the quality of "neathing things up" dropped, so I am left with a hanging cable on my roof: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DLKzX7UNoyM/WHtDW0p6YVI/AAAAAAAAAGU/dW7S3mi_tbw3ogXqtt4C99mtGqkgqlb4wCEw/s1600/IMG_0659.jpg Update 2017-02-01: this has kindly been fixed by PCN/Wibre
    • No access to the router
    • They won't allow to setup their DNS servers directly (and add Google's Public DNS as a third fallback option), so all my DNS requests always go first via the router Update 2017: this has kindly been fixed/helped with by PCN/Wibre
    E.g. I have a feeling most of the initial hassle could have been avoided if the technicians were better prepared, did a better site survey and had all of their tools ready at all times. 

    Pros

    • Their support is very quick, so even though I do not have direct access to the router they do handle port-forwarding requests very fast and professional
    • Works on any weather, be it super windy or rainy
    • Speed and Latency are superb! E.g. VOIP, Netflix, Youtube in a larger house hold not a problem at all!
    • Most probably one of the most competent people in the ISP industry I had to deal with (please keep up that quality PCnetwork!)

    All in all I am the happiest I can be. My internet is double as fast as it would have been possible with ADSL (well 10x, since I would only be getting 2Mbit here anyways - but lets just assume the maximum would be possible), it is cheaper and more stable than LTE and I am now completely independent of Telkom.

    The only thing that might top it would be an actual fibre connection - which is not going to come anytime soon to Richwood. And even then, I'd most probably still want to keep Wibre as a backup line.

    Recommendation: 💯

    Update 2018-05-01: After being with them for a year and a half, I can still fully recommend them if fibre is not available. There have been some outages, mainly due to me being far away from the connecting point where then other signals can be interfering.
    I am being throttled however, so I seldom reach 20Mbit, but rather have a steady 10Mbit. It's still fair though given that the quality of all is pretty good (service + bandwidth) and they do have good peerings with important CDN edges locally (such as Cloudflare, Netflix, Fastly, etc.).

    3 comments:

    1. what did the total package (ie everything) cost to have this installed?

      ReplyDelete
    2. There is an initial fee of R1500 which includes all installed devices and cable + making things neat.

      And of course the monthly fee.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Hi there, we have 100mbps fibre at home in Plumstead with Openserve and it is THE WORST EVER!!!! So slow and they do not seem to be able to sort it out. Has been a nightmare from hell with lagging, buffering and sometimes less than 1mbps!! Also, some pretty suspicious activity on the account with IP addresses and security issues........Just thought you should know that Fibre is not always what you may think. ADSL was much better and more stable.......wish I could go back but they will not allow it.
      Am looking for any alternative that is not outrageously priced........

      ReplyDelete