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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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