Is there any good internet service in Bulawayo?

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A few days ago part of the Techzim team was in Bulawayo for the ZOL Startup Challenge Meetup that was held at NUST.

While the City of Kings provided a warm reception and an encouraging response from the vibrant tech ecosystem, the quality of internet service we experienced left a lot to be desired.

Over a three day period we were not able to get a stable internet connection from 4 different locations (NUST Main Campus, Bulawayo CBD, Southwold and Hillside). The best connection we experienced was from the ZOL Spot that was setup at the NUST Campus for the Startup Challenge event.

After struggling with our primary internet service (Econet’s 3G Mobile WiFi) we carried out a quick survey among a handful of Bulawayo residents, including startups, as we tried to figure out which provider would be the best substitute.

The majority of respondents shot down options such as the different mobile operators’ 3G service (connection hardly stable) and Powertel (not enough coverage throughout the city) and ZOL(unsatisfactory customer service). TelOne’s ADSL did receive positive reviews from users who felt that it provided the more stable connection.

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We could not get any perspectives on how well the Africom, uMAX and YoAfrica services perform throughout the city, although we will try to establish this in later and more thorough service reviews.

With such a landscape the question is how the average startup is meant to operate optimally? Is this challenge with internet services the normal order of business in the city and if so what are the ISPs doing about it?

We would love to here from Bulawayo residents which service provider has the best deal in the city. Are there any areas that just happen to suffer from poor connection from several providers?

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. 



22 Comments

  1. Farai says:

    Good observation that one. Yes TelOne offers decent service far much better than Econet. Econet in the CBD during the day is a dead horse. Africom ndo mawani chaiwo. I long threw away their crazy modem. A real competitor is needed in BYO who offers more stable connection. In fact Tel one can focus on the good reviews it is getting in the city and establish themselves as the default broadband provider

  2. Anonymous says:

    THERE IS NO DECENT INTERNET CONNECTIVITY OUTSIDE HARARE!!! 3G stops working after Shangani on your way to Bulawayo and the next place where it works outside Bulawayo is Plumtree. All the other towns Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo etc INTERNET CONNECTIVITY IS ATROCIOUS thats reality on the ground and ISP’s don’t seem to be in a hurry to sort this out with all the fibre that is supposedly covering most of the country 🙁 🙁 🙁

  3. Charles Chindove says:

    Is uMAX service provider there in Bulawayo?

    1. zimbo says:

      No its not

  4. Samuel Kwangware says:

    I Have used Telone is the most reliable (stable) but it is by no means mind-blowing fast, where i stay in Mahatshula along Harare road on average (For basic package) i can get a speed 40k/s this is after repeated complaints of the speeds i was initially getting of about 20k/s or less. Due to my dissatisfaction with the Internet cap, i moved to Powertel who’s speed is location dependent as in most places in Bulawayo it is underwhelming. But at home when i am seated on my sofa position in the house it is fast enough 100 – 60k/s on a good night or day) for me to download a yify 720p movie overnight of just under 1 gig or more sometimes although through inconsistent speed. It is particularly adversely affected by cold weather. Z.O.L. i have been told by friends who use it that it is reasonably good although it is quite pricey and where i live i am out of their range for me to get their free internal moderm.

    1. V says:

      I work in SA but go home to BYO

      I have that basic TelOne package and it is horribly slow. Whether its basic browsing or FTP or VPN,the speeds are unbearable.

      I remember back in the days when they had that ComOne dialup package and oversubscribed the platform to its limit. It became exceedingly slow. I will not be surprised if they do the same for their ADSL. When we first got it, it was almost as fast as advertised. Now its a tongue-biting experience.

      I do get a buddies Africom line and get a lot done(no heavy downloads) for btwn 5 and 10 bucks.

      So its a tradeoff. Very expensive for speed and cheap for dial up modem speeds ON ADSL.

      The Telkom, ADSL package is under R400 per month, with speeds up to 1Mbps

      On a desperate day,I can buy an MTN data bundle at R245 to get 4Gb and get to between 600 and 1Mbps

      I have a Vodacom 2yr contract for 3Gb + free 3Gb night shift, paying R199 per month. if I exceed my limit I can top up with discounted bundles.

      Its really sad seeing how expensive such a basic thing like internet is in Zim. And the quality of service being very low. How they lie about their download speeds. But am confident in a few years to come,cost and speeds will be better. It just needs one good company that can exploit the market in a win win deal.

      Those advertised speeds are a lie and they should account for it. In Harare the ADSL connections do seem to perform better,but my experiences in byo are bad

      Its just plain silly that the basic TelOne package offers a data cap of 10Gb yet it is impossible to reach that limit

      1. V says:

        Oh,and by the way, I’ve had YoAfrica ADSL setup in two businesses a while ago. Their speeds were on point. And they would be responsive to complaints.

        Try that with TelOne

    2. Alvin says:

      I m suprised powertel is working for you in Mahatshula tried it, but it was hardly connecting had to resort to telone’s ADSL

      1. Location, location! says:

        You have to use it from his sofa for it to work!

  5. Sekuru Kaguvi says:

    I was a student at NUST for four years and living in the CBD. The internet there is horrible, and this is saying so using the least offensive words. The only internet that was solid was in the Final Years lab. In the CBD, the flat I stayed in literary had no data connectivity on Econet’s network, that might be an overstatement, but with Econets standard, the network was super bad. I had Africoms 3g mobile dongle, this was relatively ok in that location, but overally, Byo internet is really bad and a concise survey needs to be done vs. Harare and other locations to determine the actual standing.

  6. tatenda says:

    the internet is just as bad as you can imagine. Im using Telone ADSL at home and if the truth is to be told, their speeds are sometimes disappointing. Its now different from the 1st days when i subscribed to it. Have also tried Powertel which works well whenever it feels like, i have their “booster” just close to my house which has given me better connectivity though i must say its nothing to be happy about. Best connection in most cases is determined by your location. In general, the internet services are bad and we getting a raw deal.

  7. Kudzi says:

    Other than internet, have any of you tried to call Bulawayo or Gweru from Harare or vice versa using Econet. You cannot have a continuous conversation without the call dropping or the other person becoming inaudible. This from a so called leading player in mobile communications.

    1. Sifundiswa says:

      Or even try topping up your airtime…its a nightmare

  8. Morgan says:

    I got a zol connection by my house and i do stream movies on g2g.fm and popcorn time and that is on 1mbps link.Some of these things one has to pay more for a better and faster connection. Surely one does not expect to stream online content on a basic package.

    1. Anonymous says:

      The mentality that you should pay more i feel is always wrong for a basic service. The basic package for any ISP should offer a minimum speed of 1Mbps, its better for ISP’s to offer capped data packages and users incur additional costs for more data. Alternatively paying more should be for speeds of 5Mbps or more. Everyone wants faster internet but paying more just to get 1Mbps does not make sense.

  9. Sifundiswa says:

    I sincerely agree with this article. I am quite amazed that the mobile internet service in Zimbabwe is so unreliable compared to other countries. I have thrown away all my dongles and moved to telone ADSL. I guess its the way to go in terms of speed/reliability.

    Its amazing that the 3G service for some of the so called mobile giants in Zim is seond best to EGPRS experienced in other less developed countries. Living in Masvingo but a regular traveller to Bulawayo. These days I even leave my laptop behind as mobile internet is of no use. However there is a cafe next to Haefelis on Fife street. Quite fast. Not sure which ISP there are using…

  10. Mdabuko says:

    Reality is Bulawayo has long been neglected when it comes to service!!! Arkkkg
    I was there for three weeks once and during that period most times i failed to even get a stable 2G connection on my phone. I wasn’t alone as other fellows can testify to this.
    Instinct was to call the Econet Custom Care but all they did was assure us was everything was alright.

  11. TerraMeijar says:

    I live in an area called Harrisvale in Bulawayo, about 10km from the CBD and I promise you, from thr responses I get from ISPs when I inquire about their services, you’d think that I lived in a rural area. Most ISPs don’t cover this area, those that do offer wimax, uhf and VSAT (all of which cost almost a $1000 on average to setup). What options am I left with? 3G.

    I’ve tried just about every 3g provider there is. using Telecel, i can only get a 2G signal (that is all i ever get, I can’t even ping when using it.) Netone: for some reason Netone is perfect for browsing when i’m using my phone but as soon as i pop the sim into a 3G modem, it becomes as good as a telecel line.

    Econet deserves its own paragraph.

    Econet 3G is a non starter in the CBD, at home it works unreliably at best but between 9pm and 11pm it does not work at all. (so don’t bother apping me during this time as i’ll be offline). Most recently, I purchased a 2.5 Gb bundle and I regret it. Calling customer care is pointless as they always tell me to restart my computer and promise to call me back but they never do.

    Bottom line, if you’re in Bulawayo and you need a good connection, you either have to go the ADSL route or pay an arm and a leg for WiMax, UHF or Fibre

    1. Net Neutrality says:

      Thats very true.. Econet’s 3G registers on ur phone but funny you cant use it. Telecel non starter…

  12. TerraMeijar says:

    Oh I forgot to mention AFricom and Powertel

    Africom:

    Offers good stable signal, but again, this all depends on whre you live. I don’t think that Africom invested much in infrastructure in Bulawayo as i have to connect to a basestation that is in town. This means I only get a bar or two of signal. When I do have signal, I can only use it in certain parts of my room.

    Powertel

    I tried powertel once and that was the last time I used it. Its terribly slow even in the CBD and the modems burn out easily plus its very unreliable so no no powertel for me.

  13. Net Neutrality says:

    I have tried Powertel, Africom, Econet, Telecel, Netone, ZOL WImax, Telone Fibre and all i can say is that Bulawayo sucks… The only reliable is Telone Fibre. on the $25 package you know you are guaranteed speeds of 1.5Mbps . The higher your package is the faster it get.. the $42 one you can get up to 3Mbps which is quite good compared to Powertel and Africom’s 0.01Mbps according to my speedtest. Econet is fast only when you cnnect to their wifi in selected areas but their 3G is very pathetic and non existant. Telecel we cant talk about them coz they dont even have 3G in Bulawayo.. i only see Edge on my phone always… Netone’s 3G is the best of the 3 big guns.. So in order of quality that ive used Telone, Netone, ZOL WIMAX, Econet Wifi, Telecel, Powertel, Africom, Telecel, Econet 3G

  14. wish says:

    personal i think zol is the best for me. its now one year since i hv bn using it. and since last year they hv greatly improved their services especialy on the unlimited access packadges. on a normal day i cn receive up32mb/sec downloading speed and in da evening from 8pm till at mid-nyt it ranges from 115mb/sec – 310mb/sec.

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