The cost of internet access is dropping all the time. Since 2009, when the SEACOM undersea cable landed in South Africa, we’ve seen a plethora of uncapped offerings announced. Even capped data, where you pay for a number of gigabytes, has dropped from around R70 per GB, to less than R10 per GB in a few cases. Telkom’s prices have been shuffled around, but more people have access to ADSL now than five years ago, and the speeds are increasing, slowly but surely.

Despite this, people are still hesitant to sign up for an ADSL line at home. Aside from citing high costs, relative to mobile data, the billing is also complicated. Getting an ADSL line essentially means paying three separate fees: a rental fee for the copper line; a rental fee for the ADSL service; and a monthly data fee to the ISP of your choice.

If you choose to let Telkom handle everything, you could pay up to R1 500 more than other providers, for a flagship 40Mbps line and uncapped data. Thankfully, there are some handy tips for driving down the price on your monthly ADSL bill, and we have them right here.

1) Transfer your ADSL line to save money

While nobody has a choice when it comes to paying Telkom’s monthly line rental (around R158), there’s plenty of choice when it comes to paying for your ADSL rental. Most people avoid the complication of fragmenting their phone bill, but saving some money is a good incentive.

ISPs like Axxess, Afrihost, and Mweb can manage your ADSL rental for you. In all cases, you can save some money. Telkom’s pricing for a 1Mbps ADSL line is R165 per month. Axxess charges, R149. Step up to a 4/10Mbps line, and Telkom’s R425 fee becomes a R359 fee on Axxess.

So, find out from your ISP about letting it handle your ADSL line rental, and you can save a few rands a month. Better yet, find out if your ISP does a reduced-rate bundle, where you pay a single, lower fee for both your data portion as well as the ADSL rental.

2) The uncapped threshold is getting cheaper

While some people are perfectly happy with 10GB or 20GB of data, per month, there is a point at which it’s cheaper to just get uncapped ADSL. Telkom’s recently revised pricing scores a user 10GB for just R99. But what if you doubled your budget to pay R199 for uncapped data? Granted, that would only get you uncapped data on a 1Mbps line, but it still means you don’t have to worry about monitoring how many emails you send or how many hours you waste on YouTube.

It can be safely assumed that a faster, 4 or 10Mbps line means that more data will be used. A 100GB capped account gives you 3GB of data per day, but at a cost of R790 (using Afrihost’s very competitive rates). Rather opt for a 4Mbps uncapped account, at R397 per month. And, as mentioned in the first point, if you get an uncapped bundle (data + ADSL) from an ISP, you can save even more. For example, Afrihost’s 4Mbps uncapped + ADSL bundle costs R697 per month, rather than R425 to Telkom and R397 to Afrihost, when billed separately.

3) Sharing is caring

Nobody said that you alone have to foot the large bill for internet access. Find out from a neighbour if he’s willing to split the costs of access. With a network cable or a powerful wireless router, that R1150 total fee for 4Mbps uncapped can be halved – if your neighbour is that kind. Or you could finally spring for that 40Mbps line with an uncapped account, and have it become affordable.

This works best in apartment buildings or sectional titles, where the logistics don’t become too expensive. Running a long network cable, and ensuring proper insulation, can become expensive. And there are legal regulations around how strong a radio transmitter can be, in the case of a shared wireless networks. Finally, you could also fall foul of your service provider’s acceptable usage policy, with regards to sharing your internet connection.

As long as you are reasonable, and don’t resell internet access on your network, it should be perfectly fine to share costs equally.

4) Shop around

As the saying goes, if you want loyalty you should get a dog. Similarly, there’s no reason to stick with your current ISP if the one down the road has a better deal. While it might sound petty to save R20 here and R50 there, if you make it clear that you’ve moving your custom to save money, it encourages competitive behaviour. Soon, the ISP you abandoned might drop its fees and entice you with a cheaper offer.

There’s no reason to put all your eggs in one basket. Aside from the R158 you have to pay Telkom, you can have your line managed by one ISP, if they’re the cheapest, but get a data account from another ISP – especially if you keep an eye out for promotional deals. Pick and choose, and those few rands you save with each provider will add up.

Just be careful about signing up for deals that require a 30-day opt-out notice period, because those do make it hard to hop between ISPs on a whim.

Title image credit: Shutterstock

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.