I think it is official now. Orange is here and is nearly taking over Mauritius Telecom (MT). From what I read and heard, Orange will be handling Internet and mobile services. I haven’t heard anything about landlines, but I’m pretty sure this is included. Heck, seeing the massive advertising campaign the MT has put up, they must be very eager to show off their new partner. This tempted me to write a post about our Internet services in Mauritius. I know this has looonggg been discussed, criticized, flamed, approved and disapproved, but hey, we didn’t have a post on that topic yet, so it doesn’t hurt, right?
Broadband services were introduced in Mauritius around 2002 if I remember correctly. Correct me if I’m wrong here. At that time, it was both slow and expensive. 128Kbps was the maximum for a time, and eventually 512Kbps came. I know 128Kbps is not really considered ADSL, but since MT offered it as an ADSL package, I included it here.
Since that time, the price has seen a constant decrease. Falling from towering prices such as Rs.1500 for 128Kbps and Rs.2000+ for 512Kbps, the service is now priced at what I think is a very reasonable price. 128Kbps is around Rs.900 and 512Kbps is at Rs.1500 something. There are capped connections priced lower than those. We should not forget MyT too, which is priced at Rs.900 something, but offers 256Kbps down / 128Kbps up / 2Mbps local. That 2Mbps down for local is being debated by users since they think that the upload speed for local is not really 2 Mbps, but more around 64KBps something. All this to say, the price is resonably good considering the number of broadband customers we have. But there is a major issue which, in my opinion, deserves attention. People in Mauritius often focus on the price, rather than the actual service. Provided it has a good price tag, they take what they get. If there is one thing to say, we are very much late in the race for broadband.
Recently, I was doing this presentation for Communication Skills for IT module at university. My topic was Internet: The Evolution. This has urged me to look deeper in what is being offered internationally as internet services. Frankly, I was amazed, and saw just how much we have to catch up to. You want proof? Read on!
Let me consider Orange itself first. I want to consider the offers it has regarding the Internet services available in France.
Some history before we move on:
Wanadoo changed to Orange on 1st of June 2006 to simplify branding by France Télécom: this merging of companies has created a single brand offering mobile telecommunications and internet services. This is an example of one type of telecommunication convergence.
Orange is currently the largest ISP in Europe (counting the subscribers of Telekomunikacja Polska) with over ten million subscribers, largely concentrated in France, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland.
(What’s all the advertising about anways? About welcoming Orange and all? Wanadoo changed to Orange. It’s just a name-change right? Why is there so much fuss about a name change? I mean, Orange is a sub-division of France Telecom, which kind of “sponsors” Mauritius Telecom. I don’t find anything new “coming” here. Wasn’t FT here in the first place? Enlighten me on that please!)From what I see on the main page,
See for yourself. Before that, check out that Livebox in the man’s hand. Vaguely familiar for MyT users? Now, a 8Mbps connection, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited connection time, 8Mbps down, 800Kbps up (theoretical) is being priced at €40. That 8Mbps connection is priced at Rs.1300 something. That’s LESS than a 512Kbps connection in Mauritius. The 18Mbps connection is at Rs.1800 something. Basically, here we pay for a 16x slower connection for Rs.300 more. Lol. Just plain, lol!
That screen came after a bit of searching through the site. What do I see? Rs.1450 something for 18Mbps?? Or maybe my eyes are failing me? NO! This was on the site! Want to find it? Click here. That site has much info regarding packages, so browse around a bit. You will also find surprising things regarding mobile internet. Unlimited bandwidth for €15 (Rs.615) anyone?
So, that was for Orange. Lemme consider some of the more techno-savvy countries. Japan, South Korea or the country with one of the highest number of Internet users? Here goes:
According to this Japan Times report, some users in the country can receive 100Mbps fiber for around 4500 Yen ($41). Users are making the shift to fiber as 45Mbps DSL packages there offer restrictive upload speeds as low as 1Mbps, restricting high quality video communications. “When we first started offering the B Flet’s fiber-optic services, the version with up to 10 Mbps was priced at 5,000 yen per month, but now the one with up to 100 Mbps is offered for 4,500 yen,” says Toshiyasu Himori, senior manager of broadband business at NTT East Corp.
If you check the date the article was written, it was in 2004. They’ve been having 100Mbps for 4 years now? And we are stuck with a 100x times slower connection, priced at a ridiculously high Rs.6000 (€146!). I just love rubbing salt on the wound. Here goes. $36 for 100Mbps according to this article. More! And even MORE! Sweden now? Pheww.. anyways, the rush of adrenalin is over now. My point is, the whole world is moving on the megabit highway. Fibre is now replacing the good old copper wires. But here? We are stuck with an overpriced 1 Mbps connection. Makes you want to cry.
You know what kind of annoys me? Forget that ridiculously high connection in Sweden that downloads an HD movie in 2 seconds (it makes the folks at PirateBay drool I suppose). The theoretical maximum of ADSL is 8 Mbps. They why, oh why don’t we have that in Mauritius? It might not be available everywhere, but it would be a big improvement. Yes? Nope. I don’t think so. Even if it was available, it’d be priced something like Rs.48,883.65 / month, considering that 1 Mbps is Rs.6000 / month. Hehehe!
What I want to say is, instead of focusing on lowering the price, maybe we should start focusing on increasing the speed and availability of bandwidth. Increase the bandwidth, and more users will come. There are users out there who hunger for speed, online gamers that hate lags, people that want to watch youtube videos without seeing their videos lagging every second or so, and various others that like speed.
Online apps are getting more and more attention. HD content is now being offered more and more. User-generated content, music and video are now common-place. Online gaming, MMORPG and various other games crunch bandwidth for breakfast. And to take advantage of all these, we need good speed, as in megabit, several megabits. There is nothing more annoying than being denied a frag because of a lag, or seeing your movies stutter when you are watching them online. A whole area of the Internet is becoming closed to us because of our low speeds. That area is tagged “Next-gen Multimedia”.
The arrival of Orange is good. The big advertising campaign that was made is good (although I’d rather see those funds being invested to improve the network and services offered). All the hype is good. I just hope that we’ll get to see some improvements in the service.
Lower the price for the masses, and increase the speed for the power users = Profits
Simple equation huh? If this can happen, then, and only then can we dare call ourself a “Cyber Island”. But you know how things are. “Not enough customers”, “Not enough demand”, “Too expensive to offer” are usually said. Would you call yourself anything “Cyber” with a petty connection, now that the Internet is almost an inseparable part of daily-life?
I leave you to your comments and thanks for reading!