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For years the telecommunications industry has been using a host of technology acronyms and phrases that sound impressive but leaves little understanding of what the words actually mean. A few examples of this are ADSL vs LTE vs Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) connections, Uncapped vs Capped packages as well as synchronous vs asynchronous data. Calvin Collett, Managing Director for Supersonic has some thoughts on the differences and suggests ways in which to maximise your data usage using simple common sense.

“Consumers tend to point fingers at data packages that have been defined by upload/download speeds, but the true value of any data package lies in understanding how to best use it,” says Collett.

The different types of connections:


According to the latest fibre survey, completed by 6,400 South African broadband users, 38% of these households still access the internet via their ADSL connection.  We’ll see a steady decrease in these numbers as fibre continues to make its way into South African homes, and those not on the priority list will move to the cost-effective and reliable LTE service providers while they wait,” says Collett. “With this 38% being indicative of the what the numbers may look like with for the greater connected population and with MTN’s current 4G coverage sitting at 94%; 56% of these connected consumers are considering LTE/FLTE or Fibre as their broadband alternatives – a great market size to start talking to with the right content and the right message,” discerns Collett.


A common misconception is that LTE or F-LTE is an inferior option to fibre, but the reality is that with a strong, well maintained network, LTE or F-LTE is an incredibly competitive alternative option for those who have not yet had fibre cables installed in their area. “MTN has spent R40 billion upgrading and improving their network so LTE services running off this type of infrastructure will offer superior broadband access,” observes Collett.


Although the idea for ISPs is to have as many households running on fibre broadband connections as possible, the reality is that the groundwork required to lay the necessary cables involves far more than digging a simple trench so until this foundation has been completed, those waiting for a fibre connection in their area should consider a very competitive alternative with LTE products.

Unpacking ‘data’

For ’Capped’ vs ‘Uncapped’ data, the explanation is relatively simple to understand; a capped package means you have a limited amount of data to use on a specific device in a month and uncapped means your data is not limited and you can browse and/or stream as much as you like.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous  

The difference between synchronous and asynchronous connections when talking about data can be a little trickier to comprehend. A synchronous connection refers to your download speed being equal to your upload i.e. 20/20 line. Asynchronous refers to a line where the upload and download speeds differ i.e. 20/10 line – each number refers to the upload / download speeds measure as megabytes per second or Mbps.

Most often internet usage at home is used for content downloads therefore it would not be necessary to use a synchronous connection. Gamers or those working from home that need to conduct regular video conference meetings and the like would need a synchronous connection. By better understanding these telecommunication terms, consumers will be able to adapt their data consumption behaviours to best maximise the data packages they use. “In reality, not everyone can afford an uncapped 20/20 fibre line – but that does not mean that their package choice should limit their connected life, they just need to make some simple habitual changes to best leverage their data access” encourages Collett

Collett urges consumers to adopt synchronous and asynchronous data usage behaviours based on the package that they are on. “Facebook updates, streaming and mail download data usage  outside of Night Owl data time is not always possible, however phone updates, DSTV, Netflix and  holiday entertainment content downloads can easily be scheduled using Night Owl data, yet as consumers we have these updates running in the middle of the day,” says Collett. “This reduces the value of your data package considerably and gives us data providers an unnecessary negative reputation. Much like local and International content providers, we too can make changes in our data driven lives to ensure we’re maximising our usage based on our behaviour and not relying on upload/download stats,” concludes Collett