ZOL Answers Questions Concerning The Fair Usage Policy, Throttling, And Disappearing Data

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Posted by Read 24 Comments

So, last week on Friday ZOL had a livestream on their Facebook page and on this livestream they intended to address issues surrounding the Fair Usage Policy (FUP), throttling, and alleged disappearing data along with some other customer concerns. After checking out the video on their Facebook page let’s go through some of the things that were discussed and shed more light on some of these contentious issues.

The answers that were fielded by Rob Swinton who happens to be the head of Technical at ZOL. Here are some of the takeaway points from the interview…

The Fair Usage Policy

Many people who are on the unlimited packages come to learn that the usage on these packages is actually limited.

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Rob Swinton pointed out that the conditions of the FUP apply during the business hours which is 8AM-6PM. During this time the internet connection of businesses is given priority and thus ‘heavy users’ have their connection slowed down to ensure that businesses can maintain their speeds. After 6 PM the limitations are supposed to be relaxed.

The first question directed to ZOL was in relation to the ‘Connection Health Bar.’ This bar is green at the beginning of the month but if your usage is intensive it turns to yellow then if it is really extreme the connection health bar turns red.

The question directed to Rob was, what makes this bar red? Mr Swinton started out by pointing out that even when the health of your connection is at its lowest (red) your internet link is not terminated entirely. This means that you can still use the internet even if your connection health is at its lowest.

He made it clear that users can still stream Standard Definition(SD) videos –aka 480p- without any problems.

What triggers the fair usage policy

A great question that was asked is:

All fair and fine, but can you give us figure of the data limit per week or day that triggers the fair usage policy and slows us down?

Mr Swinton said ZOL couldn’t disclose that because the fair usage policy is often being reviewed. What he did say however is that users on the $149 p/m Fibroniks family entertainment can watch about 1-2 hours of HD videos during business hours. One Full HD video (1080P) consumes about 34MB a minute which means two hours would amount to 4GB of data. So if you use between 2GB to 4Gb during working hours it seems you’ll be fine.

In the event that Rob was speaking of HD(720P) and not Full HD the amount of data you can use during working hours amounts to 900MB or 1.8GB to stay in the ‘green.’

Is ZOL the only ISP  with a FUP?

Rob also addressed claims that only ZOL has a fair usage policy; he said this was not true and that all ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have a policy of this kind. He said:

It’s not possible to sell retail internet without a fair usage policy.

Throttling

In relation to throttling Mr Swinton pointed out that the term throttling was not the most accurate:

Throttling is not an accurate term anymore. We do reduce the amount of bandwidth available in certain circumstances based on a variety of parameters. If you’re in the top 10-20% of users – those are the users we are trying to tell; “This package is not designed for you. You’re abusing it.”

I assume this means power users are the ones who get most affected. Rob also talked about higher packages which will also accommodate these power users. There are 3 unlimited plans and this probably means that the throttling you get depends on which plan you pick.

Rob also pointed out that ZOL does not fake usage in order to force people to upgrade their packages.

Disappearing Data

ZOL also addressed issues surrounding the alleged disappearance of data. Some customers feel that their data disappears even though they have not used it.

If you’re one of those who feel this has happened to them Rob indicated that subscribers can get a usage report which gives a closer look at how data has been used. Users can get a closer look at which device and the websites that have been consumed most data. Rob also talked about the new MyZol app which has these data usage reports that can show users how their data has been allocated.

What happens if my Wi-Fi is hacked?

Another question posed during the livestream was that of people getting access to one’s residential Wi-Fi. Rob said in the event of a breach, subscribers have two courses of action. First, you can call the call centre and ask them to switch your password for you but if you’re not comfortable with someone else knowing your password you can change it by yourself.

The reason why the option to get a new password from the call centre exists is because some people don’t know how to change their Wi-Fi password for their router.

Leftover data?

TelOne – ZOL’s main competitor- allows users data to roll over into the next month. ZOL, on the other hand, cuts off your monthly subscription at the beginning of each month. This means even if you paid on the 20th of February, come 1 March your subscription is no longer functional. If you still had data from February… Tough luck.

This is a policy that frustrates many users and thus the question was asked; Why is it left over data doesn’t roll over into the next month?

Mr Swinton said that the low-end capped services are really cheap giving an example of the $29 package. He also said that it is difficult to justify rolling data over because it becomes a liability financially.

Personally, I felt that was a weird response especially the initial part where he said the low-end packages are cheap. ZOL’s Head of Technical only noted the cheapest package but packages that cost as much as $89 still do not give users a chance to roll over their data into the next month. Is $89 still cheap and low-end? I’m not sure…

There are the answers to some of the most pressing issues that subscribers have had in relation to ZOL’s services.

ZOL

ZOL is one of the biggest internet service providers in Zimbabwe with a growing coverage base which includes most of the country's major cities such as Harare and Bulawayo. The company provides fibre, VSAT and wireless Internet services to a large range of clients from... Read More About ZOL

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24 Comments

  1. Disgruntled Customer says:

    Thieves yet it’s our money. …it should be rolled over.. by RIGHT

  2. $$$ says:

    This is for profit company where do you expect but internet is extremely expensive and unfair in Zimbabwe

    1. Cde. Rekai says:

      This for profit company buys bandwidth from its sister company liquid, cant cry about expensive bandwidth when they set the high price themselves/

  3. kilotango says:

    i’ve always been tentative over ZOL, based on their ethics and what generally comes across as bad attitude which comes directly from the top and filters down. they treat everyone like a financial liability, so i’m not surprised that it has finally come up in black and white.

  4. Analyst says:

    I signed up up for ZOL service on the 6th of May. Last week I then requested for the May usage graph and received a graph that had usage starting from May 1st. Since the link was activated in May 6th, i called ZOL and they resent the same exact usage graph but with the dates adjusted to start from May 6th. Either they are manually generating the usage graphs or they are making up the these usage graphs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Since when does Telone roll over unused data?

    1. Cde Mafirakureva says:

      Who said anything about Telone? This article is for ZOL. Dont display your stupidity on social media, comment on what is in the article

      1. Anonymous says:

        Leftover data?
        TelOne – ZOL’s main competitor- allows users data to roll over into the next month. ZOL, on the other hand, cuts off your monthly subscription at the beginning of each month.
        My Cde friend, sounds like you are like most men who don’t read things properly and miss key points!

  6. Not Happy with ZOL says:

    You See ZOL are some Liars – We want to know the Exact specs of that FUP – they wont tell us because they constantly want to adjust it. WHAT are we paying for then?

    We have tried to set our Network gateway to throttle our connection – and maintain that speed for the whole day … Guess what we still go into the RED. We have set it as low as 100KB down no improvement = Silly Pop-up

    In fact who gave ZOL permission to popup their warnings on MY COMPUTER ??? I dont see any mention of this in our contract. Why do i have to OPT-OUT of the pop-up, You should have made this OPT-IN.

    I feel like ZOL are constantly OVERSTEPPING their boundaries then creating new rules, Policies and silly pop-ups to save themselves.

    THIS IS SOME RUBBISH – WHY CANT THEY TELL US THE EXACT SPECS OF THE “FUP”

    1. JJ says:

      Yeah, that popup comes on with out permission and sometimes its straight red in spite of the fact that internet use was not intensive.

  7. Cde. Rekai says:

    Customers on Uhuru experience ZOL trottling even after hours, makes a mockery of the term unlimited, uncapped is a better term and tell people not to watch HD video as you do in your adverts.

  8. Unlimited Throttling says:

    I honestly think they have crossed a few centimetres over the ‘fraud’ line. Who is supposed to regulate these people? They push these limits coz no one beats them back over their misleading marketing material and suspect business practices.

  9. Garikai Dzoma says:

    The EU and UK have been addressing this sort of ISP arrogance. In these contract the customer is the vulnerable party completely at the mercy of the ISP who can make up the rules as they go along. Indeed ZOL are indeed admitting that according to their own rules they can make up the FUP policy as they go along! That should void such a contract for vagueness. This is utter nonsense. I have used various IAPs and ISPs in Zimbabwe and pretty much all of them do have a FUP but it is consistent so even though you don’t know it you know what you are going to get. Bandwidth is shared among a set number of users, during peak periods you get share this bandwidth there are no arbitrary rules about business customers and home customers the only difference between the two should be ratio. The arrogance of ZOL is the fiction that their solution is the best and the customer is wrong that sort of pigheadedness is the preserve of near monopolies.

    The EU and UK are now mandating ISPs to only quote speeds that a set majority of their customers can achieve on their networks because surprise surprise when regulators tested claims being made by these unscrupulous ISPs none of the advertised speeds were being achieved. ZOL’s cited speeds are barely achieved and are clearly used with the intention to lure in customers despite the fact that the speeds are clearly not achieved by the majority.

    Potraz should take ZOL to task because this is clearly a company that likes to hide behind flimsy protestations and likes to blame customer ignorance even when they foster such ignorance by deliberately hiding their rules.

    My advice to people who ask me is never ever sign up for ZOL unless you have no choice. My first package with these guys was back in 2009. For some reason it took them months to tell me the obvious fact the ZimSurfer package used Telone’s then useless gateway that had been terminated so I kept failing to go online. I only discovered this by accident! From then on every-time I find myself in their lap they have taken the opportunity to rape me as a customer and then unleash their publicity juggernaut to try and silence the poor customer.

  10. Ryan says:

    I agree with all the comments over the reluctance on ZOL’s part to state the terms of their FUP. Highly dubious. I am a ZOL customer and not happy, complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. Does anyone use the competition, and what is it like? I would move in a heartbeat if there was a decent alternative.

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      If you are on fiber then consider Telone fiber if you are on Wimax consider Telone ASDL.

  11. El President says:

    Telone doesn’t have a fup… I am on the $120 package and I average 400gig a month of downloads siya ana zol ava

    1. Cde Mafirakureva says:

      I use Telone as well and the service is generally good. Mafans e ZOL anofira rekambani zita apo service dololo

    2. Iron Eagle says:

      If you are on Telone fibre then you should compliment that with Uhuru TV. Uhuru TV works best with Telone fibre because ZOL throttles. http://www.uhurutv.net

  12. DOWNWITHIT says:

    ZOL MUST FALL

  13. Captain Benzie says:

    Have they ever addressed that is of cheap? In Europe, consistent 100mbps+ unlimited data is less than $50pcm.

    Instead we pay ludicrous prices that never achieve advertised speeds, have this dubious FUP, that’s being on fraud – how can you bind your customers to stats they’re not aware of?!

    Crooks, but the only viable option for me so I have to sink $150 into these thieves pockets…

  14. Anonymous says:

    The other reason for this is because ZOL has no competitor…. they are over subscribed so they need to keep everyone happy. TELONE cannot compete with them as if ZOL had to open up countrywide Telone would lose 99% of there data customer base. Who in their right mind wants to watch movies online which continually buffers like it does with Telone?

  15. Peter says:

    I have this in common with ALL the ISPs in Zim: Bad customer service and effectively lying, oversubscribed service (not enough infrastructure) such that they rob Peter to pay Paul, extortionate prices, barely competant technicians….

  16. Analyst says:

    To also add, being on the ZOL Fibroniks Family Entertainment package ($149) i have failed to stream both SD and HD content from DSTV catchup. It starts buffering after less than 30 seconds regardless of the time of the day. I have had 3 visits from ZOL support and they claim they tested with YouTube and their service is working.

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