Is it me or does the report that we’re getting 11Mbps from Econet, NetOne, and Telecel sound wrong?

Leonard Sengere Avatar
Snail - Internet Speed

I have to tell you, I don’t buy data bundles like I used to. I’ve lost count of the number of times I had to stay up at 3 am just so I could deplete a bundle before it expired. I am accustomed to getting 2G during working hours on my Econet line, so it doesn’t make sense to get a 10GB bundle.

There is no electricity right now in my hood and indeed we are down to 2G (EDGE).

That is my personal experience but DataReportal’s report paints a different picture for the whole nation. We need to talk about this because we found out that only 38.4% (5.7 million) of the population connected to the internet in January 2023.

It’s one thing to connect to the internet, it’s another to get speeds good enough to allow one to actually work. So, let us break it down.

Zimbabwe remains a mobile-first country. Here is how it looks when it comes to share of web traffic by device:

  • Mobile phones – 61.13%
  • Laptop and desktop computers – 37.35%
  • Tablets – 1.51%

Mobile phones are actually gaining even more ground if you can believe it. They had a share of 54.8% of web traffic a year ago, meaning their share grew by 11.6% from January 2022. So, your website better prioritise mobile over desktop.

It is also important to know which browsers people are using. For the longest time, Opera Mini had a significant share of traffic and its super compression and Javascript limitations meant developers had to optimise their sites accordingly.

It appears Opera Mini is losing ground, here is the share of web traffic by browser in January 2023:

  • Chrome – 68%
  • Opera – 11.03% (a 10.8% drop year-on-year)
  • Safari – 8.4%
  • Microsoft Edge – 5.28%

So, those are the devices and browsers Zimbabweans are using. That’s all up to them. Now, what kind of service are they getting from their Internet Service Providers?

Internet speeds

Here is where I’m finding it hard to believe the data:

  • Median download speeds on mobile – 10.88Mbps (down 13.4%)
  • Median download speeds on fixed internet – 8.52Mbps (up 33.5%)

I began this article by sharing that I’m on 2G as I type this. You are not getting 10.88Mbps on EDGE and yet every other day that’s what I’m getting. Apparently, ya’ll are enjoying faster speeds on mobile internet than I am getting on fixed internet.

That’s what I’m getting on Liquid Home Fibronix as I type this (9.49Mbps down and 9.53Mbps up)

I can believe the 8.52Mbps speeds for fixed internet. Sometimes we do get speeds approaching 30Mbps but most times it’s around 10Mbps in my experience.

Why is Ookla saying that the median download speed on mobile was 10.88Mbps in January? One factor could be that their data comes from individuals taking their own speed tests. I imagine people taking these speed tests mostly live in neighbourhoods that are prioritised by MNOs.

We have to remember that a speed test is not free. It uses data. The test I ran above ran for about 20 seconds and used around 9.5*20/8=24MB. Downloading 10MB at 10Mbps takes about 8 seconds.

That’s a lot of data to throw around just to see what speeds you are getting. Not many people actually run these tests. Certainly not in neighbourhoods like mine where 2G speeds are the order of the day. This means the data that Ookla and collect is not representative of what’s actually on the ground.

While I cannot support this theory of mine, I still think it makes sense. Let me know what you think about it in the comments section below. Are you getting 10.88Mbps on Econet and NetOne’s networks?

We need to acknowledge that some of the speed test screenshots we see on social media showing speeds in the kilobits per second for all networks are most likely run when there are disruptions owing to power cuts etc.

However, even when there are no such disruptions, how often do we complain about an LTE label coming with average 3G speeds? If we got close to peak 3G speeds (42Mbps) we would not be complaining about slow speeds. So, it’s not really about what G we see, we just aren’t getting 10.88Mbps consistently.

What do you think about all this? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read:

Should we give Econet, NetOne and Telecel a pass for shoddy service? Maybe

Why is internet so expensive in Zimbabwe?


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  1. Cyber Ghost

    Most of us on mobile networks are DEFINITELY NOT GETTING ANYTHING CONSISTENTLY ABOVE even 5Mbps,we are getting pathetic speeds,You can run and it tells you that you’re getting 10Mbps on econet,but how consistent and stable is that when the next minute after that you can’t even open Facebook Lite

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Exactly. The report says it moved from mean speeds to median speeds to properly reflect what users can expect to get on the ground. However, it’s still not accurate. It doesn’t matter what figure we see on those tests, we just aren’t getting such speeds consistently enough to boast about it.

  2. Core95

    Netone seems to be performing better than Econet on speeds and network coverage. Maybe Econet is just oversubscribed but people in borrowdale, chisipite, Highlands might tell you a different story. I on the other side of life have had to content with slow speeds on Econet who have cheaper USD hourly bundles. Netone has some confused usd bundles packages but better speeds. Don’t get me started on Telecel(Do they even still exist??).

    1. J.W.D

      Telecel has the most stable network in the country, it’s just that everything else about it haa ma1

      1. Leonard Sengere

        I can see that. With less congestion, it makes sense that Telecel would be decent.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      Good for you if NetOne is working better in your neighbourhood. I wish that was the case for me. It’s same fanana for me here.

  3. Anonymous

    is it me chiiko this isn’t a personal blog mhani iwe. Lack of professionalism muZimbabwe nepainternet haiwa gadzirisa usatinyadzise iwe. Wakamboona akati is it me ?

  4. haiwa

    is it me chiiko this isn’t a personal blog mhani iwe. Lack of professionalism muZimbabwe nepainternet haiwa gadzirisa usatinyadzise iwe. Wakamboona akati is it me ?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yoo yoo, kwakanaka here? Just trying to have a conversation here. You don’t appreciate the direct approach, I see.

    2. Iya


      1. Anonymous

        I believe we all come from different backgrounds here so just correct the person if there are wrong, no need to lash at them

    3. Mubhunu

      @haiwa usade kutaurisa. Go make your own not personal blog. You don’t contribute anything to the table. Just shut up

  5. Doubtiful

    Many Zimbabweans use some form of Whatsapp as their primary internet communication method. Any claim that only 38.4% of Zimbabweans are access the internet does not pass the smell test. What is the definition of internet access and how do they measure the internet access to arrive at such a dubious number.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      The WhatsApp issue is huge. We have often talked about how WhatsApp IS the internet in Zimbabwe. If a device communicates with WhatsApp servers then that counts as internet access. So, of that 34.8% with internet access, many just use WhatsApp and Facebook.

  6. Skinny pig

    Those speeds are rigged, Econet Moto should be Slowly but surely

    1. Leonard Sengere

      🤣🤣🤣 Slowly but surely (sometimes)

  7. KaMoyo

    I think there is more to that speed that we dont know. Theoretically, downloading 3gb of a movie in 5mins witha speed of 10mbps is great. However i have never downloaded 3gb of movie in 5mins even if the speed says 100mbps.
    Also, if in a 1km stretch are 1000cars moving at an average speed of 60kmph in USA then be sure in that 1km stretch with 1000cars, cars are moving at 6kmph in zim. My point is, the infrastructure we have currently is way backward and with the rise of mobile phone usage day by day, our infrastructure is being over congested. Also our mobile phones are upto date with tech(most if not all are 4G compatiblebut here in zim its celebrated news that we now have 4G connectivity in suburbX), hence when they get here they use more from our outdated infrastructure. Moreover, my research tells me that boosters are connected. That said, it makes sense to have slow speed considering that not all areas in zim have say econet network. If the booster u areusing says it currently has too much traffic let ask boosterB to connect you then boosterB say i have too much traffic too then we have no choice but to continue with boosterA which will reduce speed to accomodate everyone.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Booster congestion is killing us. The situation is made worse when there is no electricity and some boosters ‘go offline.’ The more cars on the road, the slower we all move.

  8. Cade

    Just to correct your math – MB ≠ Mb. There are 8 Mbs in a MB. So 9.5 x 20 ÷ 8 = 23.75 MB would be correct. In reality it’s closer to 10MB.

    1. Norman R

      Where did you get that
      That’s not how this works

      1. Leonard Sengere

        It is how it works. I have updated the article.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      You’re right Cade. megabits are not megabytes. There is that factor of 8 that needs to be accounted for. I’ve just taken note of my speedtest’s data usage and after the running a test which gave me 9.41 down and 9.45 up, the app used 24.87MB. So, in reality it is around the 25MB that the maths suggests.
      Also, checking the documented stuff for 10Mbps, it says you can load 10MB in 8 seconds.

      1. Anonymous

        I don’t know where you learnt this but as a comp sci university student, it sounds like garbage.Nothing is measured in megabits.

  9. Lennon

    Those speeds are gotten testing to what server? Most of our content is not hosted locally.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      The speed test services choose a test server nearby with a fast ping time but may choose one further away if it has a faster ping time. And I think there should be no problem with them using foreign servers if that’s where most of the content we access is hosted, it only means we get realistic results. Rather than testing using local servers that host nothing we need.

  10. Stripes

    In Zim you barely get 2 MBs. If you see 1mbs you rejoice. Netone is better in my area. Econet cannot even open a WhatsApp status

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Seems that’s the experience most of us get. From these comments it looks like many have been finding NetOne a bit better in the past few months.

    2. Anonymous

      True Fact

  11. Anonymous

    Im sure if you exclude the top couple of percent you will get a far more accurate picture and actually see the the speeds are worse than pathetic

  12. Brian Geoffrey Chinogara

    In my region or local area download speed is in the range of 1.5Mb-3.5Mb ,attributed to the distance from the base station.As been previously hinted by other contributer ,maybe because my closest base station would be highly subscribed to the threshold, my connection is routered to another sub station ,maybe 15km away .This again has an effect on my experience & speed.On the other hand the quality/capacity of the hosting equipment is questionable.Doing a test on the base stations you will be surprised that out of the 10 /1 has 4G capabilities & its 30 km from your geographical point..4G base stations have a tendency of a medium to small threshold for a dedicated high speed whereas 2G station can accommodate a large number sacrificing speed.One area in Harare which is endowed with high speed is Harare North-Western area (Avondale, Belgravia) catchment.It’s a middle density area which has a flair of compatibility in the structure of residential dwellings opposite to the North Eastern area of Harare (Grange ,Borrowdale ,Chisipite) which is kind of expansive in arrangement.On the other hand mobile network is more susceptible to fluctuations in speed in contrast to the fixed connection which comes in the right of Utande ,Zol & Telone ADSL.

  13. Bradoy

    Wow, 3.5Mbps is a fantasy where I’m from. I use Zol and Econet and I’m used to at most 1Mbps but it’s generally all Kb. The pain of hitting the REFRESH button at 11pm, on a live stream match, as Darwin Nunez is about to miss a sitter is something that will probably give me PTSD, but like every Zimbabwean, resilience is our true sport. In the past I have shuffled the pack of ISPs in search of better speeds but I’ve realised its more or less the same, and I’m consistently on 4G. In the end, it’s all about the devil you know.

  14. Tee Bonzo

    Net1 is now by far the network that is a bit better in terms of internet speeds and stability. As the some of the above contributors sayed. Its true econet can not even open a whatsapp status. But go to net1 it does not buffer on whatsapp. Net1 so far is offering better. And i am in SOUTHVIEW PARK PHASE1(FIDELITY BOKA)

  15. Anonymous PQR

    Telecel has been quite reliable for me. As long as am on 4g I easily get 5mb/s in Bulawayo. It has its ups and downs but I prefer it. Econet for the whole 9f February been showing just 1 bar of network and speed using their hourly bundles has been around 30 – 100 kB/s. Speaking of hourly bundles why does Netone’s bundle start working 15 -30 mins after purchase. These MNO are taking us for granted

    1. Tee bonzo

      Yaaa true net1 is cheating us on that…. i did buy an 1hrly bundle and it did not connect and i contacted them they said… there was no issue on our network side maybe it was your phone… just imagine…

  16. Anonymous PQR

    Daylight robbery. It’s an issue happening to many customers in different places using super phones. For them to say it was your phone I don’t know why. It’s like their system is configured to be like that coz everytime I purchase that bundle it always happens.

  17. Zenon Ghost

    Try using ethernet with a CAT 6 cable to get a speed of 1Gbps and activating IPV6 settings using CAT 8 cable can give 25Gbps speed

    1. Anonymous

      Wtf are you talking about. Changing a cable isn’t going to magically increase throughput

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