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


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.

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