When fibre installers do a botch-job — what you must do

If your home fibre installation is not done correctly from the start, you are bound to have problems later on, causing both you and your fibre network operator (FNO) frustration.

This was the advice from Digital Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark, who responded to questions about pictures of poor quality fibre installations that MyBroadband received from an industry source.

According to the source, they see increasing instances of substandard installations by the contractors that South Africa’s prominent FNOs use.

FNOs are companies like Vumatel, Openserve, Frogfoot, Octotel, and Metrofibre that build and maintain the physical fibre network.

Internet service providers (ISPs) are companies like Afrihost, Axxess, Cool Ideas, Mweb, and RSAWeb that offer services on top of these networks.

Sometimes an FNO can also have an ISP business, such as Telkom and Vox Telecom.

Says our source: “Pigtail is exposed, not the correct way to install fibre. It should be coupler and patch lead. ONT antennas are broken off as the FNO gives ONTs with built-in Wi-Fi, and most of the ISPs in SA provide a router, or clients prefer to use their own routers. In most cases, when the router/ONT is mounted on the wall, Wi-Fi will be bad.”

Clark said that just like any work being done in your home, the win-win is to make sure that you are satisfied with the installation on the day it takes place.

“Consumers should contact the FNO and the selected ISP — in many cases, not the same company — directly to ensure that poor installations are remedied,” Clark said.

“Remember, it is not in the operator’s favour to have a badly connected home that may have downtime as a result and then need to dispatch a technician.”

Clark explained that fibre networks have a lifespan, and operators don’t want to replace networks unnecessarily that are not end-of-life.

“It adds unnecessary costs to operators if they have to redo the installation,” she said.

“Making sure that the installation is done neatly and right from the beginning benefits both parties. If you are not happy, immediately contact the FNO or ISP and speak to a senior person in installations/operations.”

Upon showing Clark the images of the poor quality installations, she agreed that they are poor examples of workmanship.

“One does not have to be a technical specialist to acknowledge that it is not installed according to standard — any standard for that matter,” Clark said.

“In most cases, clients are charged for these installations up to R2,000. I will not pay R2,000 for this type of installation,” our source said.

Clark explained that in many cases, technicians are simply pointed in a direction and left to figure it out for themselves.

Although this does not warrant poor workmanship, Clark offered the following advice:

  1. Ensure that you are home during an installation — as with any work you have done inside your house, you have to make sure that you are happy with the result.
  2. Make sure that you are satisfied with the location of the router that is installed, and that it is positioned in a place where you will receive good coverage.
  3. Confirm that you are satisfied with the final installation—inside and outside—before the technician leaves the premises.

Clark said that most operators have stringent standards for installation.

“Although most of these standards are the same across the board irrespective of the organisation, there may be differences in standard installation procedures relating to the product they use,” she said.

“Most operators and ISPs deliver internal training and ongoing skills development, and some of them have built really excellent training facilities.”

There are also several external training courses available in the sector, many of which are recognised globally, and by the Media Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA).

“FNOs and ISPs also have internal quality assurance teams that make sure that installations take place according to company standards,” said Clark.

“Unfortunately, as with any work, one has to make sure that shoddy workmanship is addressed early on.”

Now read: Big surprise in South African ISP rankings

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