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Understanding that awful internet speed: Why am I not getting what I paid for?

Wifi Internet

It’s 2015, so the conversation around the availability of the internet in Zimbabwe is not so different from what you get in any other part of the world. Almost half of the population has access to an online connection.

Current and potential consumers of internet services talk about the same things and ask the same questions about their providers and their services. Is it fairly priced? Is it fast enough? Am I getting the best customer care and support from my provider?

Without any direct influence from the industry regulator, the issue of cost is taking care of itself thanks to economic factors. Service providers are lowering prices and adjusting their product lineups to accommodate more and more users that are moving away from pricey packages.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of speed. Judging from comments shared on our recent review of internet prices, It’s the one thing that seems to have a lot of people miffed. It’s almost as if users are saying that they are ready to pay for internet at its steep prices (yes, It’s still expensive) but wouldn’t mind if the speeds were just as consistent as the prices.

Like every other internet user, I’m also frustrated by the slow internet and not getting what I pay for.

Sure I get that there’s the huge legroom that these internet merchants cut out for themselves with fine print in their contracts that allow them to offer service “up to certain speeds”, but it’s rather frustrating when you pay for a service that gets you up to 2 Mbps but end up getting stuck on 512kbps.

So what’s the reason behind this? What’s the technical explanation and why do I hardly get the speed that I paid for?

I’m told it’s all about managing demand on limited resources and I end up with a throttled service that doesn’t offer what I thought I’d be paying for. I’m not pointing the finger at one ISP either. This is the sort of service and explanation that I’ve gotten from different service providers.

Is there any logic and reason for this? If I paid more would I get what I paid for explicitly? If providers like uMAX can stick to their word and offer a guaranteed 1Mbps on their packages, is it too much to expect other providers to do the same?

I’m not an expert on broadband or internet service, but if you are, or at least understand the reason why I never get what I pay for, I’d love to get an explanation that’s not pollinated with corporate PR niceties.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

15 thoughts on “Understanding that awful internet speed: Why am I not getting what I paid for?

  1. eish thanks for the article man, I am so frustrated with ZOl, wimax, he shaping he fair usage nonsense, and the unfortunate part is i stay in an area where there is no adsl and fibroniks, apa cant move away coz my hood has very reliable zesa, oh maone

    1. Ha! You use the same Internet Stress Provider as I. It’s after midnight & I supposed I’d be able to connect now but no. I’m typing this while my business package WIMAX internet (via outdoor unit) sits. Been promised return calls by ZOL support all day, by about 3 reps.
      This is after the WiMAX had been down 3 months (3 MONTHS) while they “waited” for spare parts from China.

      I used to think people complaining about ZOL were just being trouble. But in my 7 months or so I’m spent. First are the packages that lie. You get the residential which promises its own spec only to find out later that it’s unusable during the daytime. Ko kugara matiudza? You upgrade and open another chapter of pain.

      They took over the role Powertel had before we all happily migrated off them. They were king in the market vachitaura zvavanoda. Do you remember the long queues at Kopje Plaza? And after payment you’d ask when your account would connect(or re connect) then they’s say check day end tomorrow or the day after. DAY END. TOMORROW. And you’d spend a week (or more for some) before you connect. Now they got their deserved serving. Africom ignore customers in such a manner, just check their Facebook page. Now they are non-existent.

      Speaking of ZOL, a friend (yes, friend) of mine who works there showed me how deep their problem lies after I asked him why they can’t just make their service work – this is after spending 3 days strolling over to their offices over some account setup mixup on THEIR side – and he says to me “You can’t please everyone. Vanhu vanonetsa”. I rest my case then.

      I live in an area like yours where WiMAX is my best bet and am waiting eagerly for a service provider to rid me of ZOL as they did of Powertel.

      Was hoping my unit would connect after so long a comment. Seems they haven’t sorted the “very simple” process to get me connected again. Looks like I’ll have to tether or go signal hunting with that Africom dongle again.

      ISP’s would have somewhat to say against us if what we did was go through their doors, pay them what we find fair and demand the speeds and whatever else on our packages. But they advertise and draw us and we fork out money then bam!

      And Nigel, sorry to rival the actual article in length. But before you say anything judge mental, know Enqore has the record for prolonged public ZOL venting. Good night!

      1. thank you very much for the detailed report of the suffering you have endured at the hands of these thieves. Glad I am not the only one seeing ‘red’, as soon as a better alternative comes along, I am jumping ship.

  2. Finally my sentiments exactly, I was told of fair use policy on an unlimited plan which to me translates to limited “unlimited” data package

  3. doesn’t make sense to be limited on an unlimited package , there’s too much sugar coating when marketing these services.

  4. I am quite frankly scared of leaving uMax wireless even though I CAN get fibre. My experience with ZOL customer support echoes what others say here. uMax always respond, often send out sms if there as an area problem or general problem. No problem in getting a team to come here and investigate if need be.

    Filled in “Velocity” contact form some days ago – yet to get any feedback. When I joined uMax it took them like 2 days to get all up and running. Yes, they are now suddenly more expensive and they are not fibre but they deliver on their promises. I have my 1 Mbit/s that I normally can manage just fine with

  5. @Nigel to answer your question properly it must be looked at from the other side. Which is – why is Internet expensive in Zimbabwe? The simplest answer is that consumers have very little choice. There are a few players (actually 2 or maybe 3) that run the Internet show in Zim (the guys with the connections to the famous sub-marine cables) and these guys have simply agreed to charge whatever they want whether complicit or collusive it really doesn’t matter coz the outcome is the same. These guys retail the landed 1Meg of this precious commodity for a punitive $250 – $300. That is actually what you should be paying for your 1Meg my friends! Now knowing that none of us with the correct brain chemical balance will pay that much ISPs then devised the so-called Fair Usage Policy (FUP). Under the cover of this fine print they will throttle, tweak, filter, block, contend, dissect and mutilate your bandwidth until they are able to offer the lowest price with the highest profit margin contribution humanly possible!

  6. i dont think its a ZOL problem. Its an Econet problem for retaining the management and staff of that clogged excuse of an ISP. I used WIMAX whilst it was under Ecoweb OMG’ it was worth every penny. I don’t know how hard shaping is but seriously 34kb/s download speed @ $59 a month it’s unfair and I guess someone should sue them for professional negligence .

  7. The ZOL WiMAX package is utter rubbish. I have since dropped it for TelOne ADSL after being frustrated by snail speeds. I was supposed to get 2MBPS, yet their recent increase in charges (which Techzim never announced, or were never alerted of), I was fed up. Their $115.50 package of a sudden was no longer a sweet deal after the introduction of a $89 ADSL unlimited package (which I learnt of in your previous post in April). Anyway, to be fair with these ISPs, there are many factors involved in delivery of internet to your home: first, as a country, we are landlocked and as long as we are farther away from the seashore, the cost of our internet will not rival that of Kenya or South Africa, that are near oceans. Then, another important factor is equipment: the 2mbps, for instance, I was being charged while using ZOL WiMax could not hit that advertised bandwidth because: (1) WiMAX uses wireless signals and by nature, those signals can’t rival fibre or copper cables. Every communication signal has some noise level, so WIMAX (as you wiould see from the above comments) seems to be slow because it has lots of noise in its channel which affects downwards reception to the home. (2) Distance from the nearby base station. It appears that the farther you are from the base station, the slower the signal is. (3) Your reception equipment: sometimes your router, the computer, iPad, or any other gadget you use to receive the signal, So if you sum all this up: the communication channel, the distance and the equipment you use, have a bearing on the end user experience of the internet. If each of these things slows a signal, then your experience will be sheer torture in paradise! Anyway, even though these are some of the reasons, yet I find it disingenuous on the part of ISPs to arbitrarily increase charges in a market now saturated with better service providers. I am now a happy TelOne customer as I am getting better speeds at 1MBPS–far better than the old ZOL package that billed me $99 (now $115.50). Thanks for this post, as I believe it can be used by some survey team especially at ZOL to improve their services in future and to be transparent. All this about small print, fair use policy, etc. are many words that can be interpreted in simple English as “we are free to rob you in the eyes of the law, don’t cry back to us when that happens”–and it happens from day 1 of getting service! 🙁

  8. Bandwidth hogs affect performance for other Internet users and the ISPs slow down certain types of traffic like torrents to 512kbps but browsing and downloading from other sites you can still can do it at 1mbps.

  9. Maybe your problems come from where you are gents. I have had ZOL WIMAX for 2 years and i know that after 6pm and during weekends i always get my 1Mbps. I have no problems downloading 2Gig every night. Am always up to date with my Series.Am having a wonderful experience. Sorry for your pain but i love my ZOL

  10. i get my 1Mbps from ZOL without any problems guys maybe its my location – less people using the internet. No complaints in 2 years. Just once i was a victim of their shaping other than that no problems. I downlod all my Series 5 or 6 episodes a night no hassles. My biggest Torrent to date 40 gig in less than 3 weeks kkkkkk eat your hearts out

    1. Used ZOL Wimax for a week and gave up. Too bad i lost the money i paid for equipment but i am glad i saved myself a lot of stress from ZOL Pathetic Support.

  11. I have the misfortune of subscribing to Zol Fibroniks. I’m supposed to get up to 20Mbps but they must’ve said that in jest and I must be the butt of their joke for believing them. In fact for $149 per month plus the charges for coming out to make everything not work I get to be frustrated any time I want to stream anything. When they say “You deserve to live like this” I get the feeling they mean it in terms of karma – sometime in my last I must’ve killed a spider and now I’m suffering for it…

    Anyway, that’s my rant. I’m using my ridiculously expensive mobile data to post this whilst my fibre sits idle.

    Way to spread the funds. Go Econet!

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