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Fibre internet is unaffected by load shedding

Another severe load shedding wave is currently happening in South Africa. Fibre connectivity is one thing you can still rely on while power cuts disrupt businesses, schools, the economy, and almost every facet of life. Most fibre network operators (FNOs) in the country have reliable backup power to keep their networks active during power cuts.

While the actual fibre optic connection remains live during a blackout, homeowners and businesses will still need an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), battery inverter, or generator to power their own WiFi routers and plug points. South Africans can choose from a wide selection of reasonably priced UPSs and inverters that are powered by car batteries.

This enables homes and businesses to at least maintain internet connectivity while load shedding is in effect; you’ll be able to continue with your everyday online tasks, business meetings and web browsing. Internet service providers, like WonderNet, offer fast and affordable fibre packages to homes and businesses across South Africa. To ensure that their customers have access to reliable fibre connectivity, they work closely with leading FNOs.

FNOs’ response to load shedding

It seems that load shedding rears its ugly head every few months. Depending on local generators and small-scale power supply facilities, different cities experience various levels of power cuts. The state of the country’s major power plants balances on a thread; when one generator goes offline, it affects the national grid.

South Africa’s top FNOs have invested in their own backup power supplies, whether diesel generators, solar energy, or large inverters. Due to its centrality in daily life (both at home and at work), they need to keep South Africans connected to the internet.

Depending on the size of the FNO, these contingency plans range in scale and scope. However, especially at higher levels like Level 8, the knock-on effects of load shedding can be unpredictable. These prolonged power cuts may mean that solar or inverter backup electricity periodically runs out due to battery depletion or the lack of sun.

Some FNOs have portable generators that they can use at their points of presence to provide additional electricity in the event of extended power cuts. By doing so, they can power up the lithium-ion battery system during lengthy outages or keep the fibre network active throughout the night.

Remote monitoring and rapid response

Major FNOs already have systems in place for remote monitoring that allow them to track the power levels at all of their points of presence. A response team can be sent out right away if one node appears to be low on electricity. Their network is carefully monitored to minimise the effects of load shedding.

Some FNOs, such as Octotel, have indicated that they are forced to consider fully redundant power supplies and take their networks completely off-grid due to the unpredictability of reliable electricity in South Africa. Octotel is piloting a full solar solution that will allow them to power their networks using only solar energy and a bank of batteries to store it.

You can rest assured that your fibre will be operational, even when there is load shedding, but you should get a UPS or a small inverter to keep your WiFi router and linked devices powered.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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