Emtel Launches Airbox


Emtel is keeping up with innovation and has recently launched Airbox, a high-speed best-effort broadband service, or what the company calls “Fiber Through The Air” (FTTA).

The service comes at the time when Orange is quickly trying to cover the whole island with fiber and Bharat Telecom is trying to do the same thing to the central regions of Mauritius only.

Emtel is the last in and is hoping to be the first out with the most customers with their new service. The race to high-speed Internet for home users has truly begun…

What this gives you is high-speed Internet wirelessly, without going Orange’s way of deploying fiber everywhere i.e. “Fiber To The Home” (FTTH).

Emtel Airbox Prices June 2015

Below are Orange’s offers as at June 2015:

Orange La Fibre Prices June 2015

If we compare the two solutions, you get the pros and cons as compared to Orange:


  • The service is immediately available in covered regions, which is around half the island. The northern, western and central regions of the island are mostly covered. Remember, you still need line of sight for this to work so even if covered you may not have the service. Check Emtel’s site.
  • Prices are lower than Orange’s (capped) offers. For example, Orange 30 Mbps (150 GB capped) costs Rs. 1999 / month. Emtel Airbox is Rs. 1784/month (unlimited).
  • Unlimited downloads. Unlike Orange’s offer, Airbox isn’t capped but it is still subject to Emtel’s Fair Use Policy, which you can find on their site. There are no limits like Orange where after downloading a certain amount, your speed gets decreased. The FUP does mention that your speed can be decreased if you violate the FUP and provides a list of possible violations including the usual download of copyrighted material, spamming, transmission/reception of illicit material among other things. Otherwise, the FUP says that if you use the service responsibly, network usage is not limited monthly. At least that part is clear.
  • No wires / digging. The technology operates wirelessly. Emtel installs a dish on your house and you require line of sight to one of the 5 antennas currently deployed. Line of sight meaning you need unblocked straight-line access to the tower. If there’s a mountain in the middle, you’re not ok. Emtel will conduct a site survey before giving you the service to see if the installation can be done.
  • You get the Wifi modem / router for free. I believe Orange will be charging for that? Not sure. No word on the make and model unfortunately. I’d be curious to know what it is. Probably a Huawei of some sort.
  • You get telephony for free within some range of minutes. You can see the packages above and more info available on Emtel’s site. Calls are free to fixed phone lines in Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega for 60/120/180 minutes on the 10/20/30 Mbps package.
  • You also get no rental fees for the line and free CLI (Caller Line Identification – shows the phone number of caller) for free.
  • You get a free 1GB email address on Emtel’s 1010 service, if ever that interests you. The domain is quite nice and short: yourname@1010.mu.
  • Installation’s free and according to Emtel, done within 5 days.


And now, the cons for there are still a few, although Orange doesn’t solve all of these:

  • Not the whole island is covered. The east and south parts are mostly in the dark. Mountainous regions are in the dark. If you live in a valley, you’re in the dark.
  • If you don’t pay by direct debit, the prices are Rs. 50 more than advertised per month. Not exactly a cons but you should still be aware of it.
  • There is a minimum subscription of 12 months. If you cancel before 12 months, you pay the remaining price of your package for e.g. 10 Mbps, you cancel in 6 months, you pay Rs. 934 x 6 to Emtel to cancel.

EDIT (22/06/15): Yashvin pointed out that his Orange Fiber service is also bound by a 12-months contract.

  • You need line-of-sight to get access to the service. If you don’t have it, no service. Or at least no guarantees.
  • It’s a best-effort service. You may not get the speed advertised as it’s based on wireless. If it’s raining for e.g. you can get service degradation. Or if there’s a big tree between you and the antenna. Or a mountain. Or a house. Emtel is clear on this. With Orange’s fiber, the speed is going to be guaranteed (I hope!). There is no guarantee of speed with Orange, although ICTA wants to act on it.

EDIT (22/06/15): Jochen comments that WiMAX is not affected by rain. According to my own knowledge, wireless systems are affected by weather conditions. Researching online did not give a final answer. Some studies claim that weather is not a problem while others noticed significant degradation of performance.

  • No word on latency, which could be an issue for gamers. You don’t want to play online with high latency. We’re talking around 150ms max to be bearable. Anything beyond that is considered lag.

EDIT (22/06/15): According to __Sun__, ping to South Africa Dota 2 servers are around 120ms. That’s alright. We should be seeing more figures as people take the service. I will add any findings here.

  • The Fair Usage Policy could be clearer and does not provide much details of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Also no mention on how it is going to “limit your usage” if you do violate some term. No word on the kind of monitoring that’s done. The warning is also not guaranteed.
  • Nothing on the type of IP address that you get for example if it is public so you can host some game servers or something. You can’t use the service to host business-services by the way. See the FUP.

That’s about it I believe for the analysis of the service. For now, we wait and see what happens as the service gets deployed. More interestingly, we wait for Orange’s response. Hopefully the caps will go…

EDIT (22/06/15): There’s also word that CanalSat Mauritius will be offering Internet services soon, possibly by bundling the AirBox offer as part of their existing offerings. Waiting to see what happens.

  • Just a few points to complete your post :

    – Bharat has already installed their cables in my region (Triolet)

    – No wires / digging.
    Hmm, not really. At least 1 hole in your wall to pass the cable from the dish to your modem, unless you want to pass the cable through your window 🙂

    – I understand that most heavy downloaders will get trapped in the FUP because unless you are connecting to a remote machine the whole day long (or keep looping music videos / tutorials on youtube set on 1080p), I can’t see how someone can reach the maximum limit legally. Even most full-movies watchable online have been uploaded illegally.

    – Wifi modem / router for free
    I have the new orange’s fiber 10mb at Rs499 ( capped at 10gb) and they provide the modem equipped with wifi.

    I’m now looking forward someone to review the Airbox at their place but anyways, I think that I’m already bound to Orange’s 1 yr contrat to the fiber.

    And thanks for the post 😉

  • Matt27

    The fair usage policy is tough! That line of sight test might be a problem for a lot of people too… :/ Anyway, some innovation to scare the crap out of Orange is good for us customers!

  • Tushal

    Hi. I have read the agreement of Emtel. You can cancel it if you give a 4 month prior notice.

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  • Hi,
    Good summary and I read a certain excitement between the lines.
    But there are a couple of issues I’d like to address here… if you don’t mind.

    Despite the “effort” of Bharat as well as Orange since 1+ years to provide Fiber to their clients, it should be mentioned that Emtel just launched that product officially. Furthermore, you can check your eligibility for FTTH by Orange on their website, and certain people have reported that they might get Orange Fiber by 2018 earliest. While speaking to 2 independent people at Emtel it was said that Airbox coverage is planned to be completed by mid of 2016. That’s roughly 12 months from today… Having a launch with already 60+% of the population being covered is very positive. Plaines Wilhelms region might be next on the map to receive Airbox service.

    You mentioned the same con three times: Mountainous regions, Line-of-sight and big tree, house or whatever. IMHO, you might have put this into one bullet point. 😉
    That’s exactly the reason why Emtel does the site survey prior to installation and activation of the contract. It’s exactly the same as for Emtel WiMAX. BTW, bad weather conditions do not “degrade” the connection signal compared to satellite reception. Eventually, you might consider to review that aspect by some research.

    Your argument regarding speed on Orange’s fiber is guaranteed. Well, why do they write “jusqu’a” in their advertisement? And why are there some people complaining about low speed during rush hours? This doesn’t sound like guaranteed service of connectivity.

    Regarding the IP address, well, it would be very pleasant that Emtel would be allowed to finally offer their IPv6 services. Emtel is IPv6 ready since 2012 but obviously someone doesn’t want to approve/release it to their clientele. Regarding business usage their will be an Airbox package for corporate coming soon.

    Rs. 50 more if not using Direct Debit seen as a con? Hm, two rotis less per month cannot really harm anyone being able to afford such an internet connectivity, or? 😉

    BTW, what’s the average installation time period of Orange to provide their Fiber service, given that you’re able to have their service? Despite the ridiculous fact that they’re asking you to have copper-based fixed line in order to provide you with a fiber connection.
    What are the installation fees by Orange?

    So, are you going for Airbox? And why or why not?

  • Inf

    Cheers Jochen!

    Some comments on my side:

    – There is no confirmation that it’s WiMAX technology unless I missed it somewhere. If it’s something else, it could be affected by bad weather. There’s also the part where you might have to take down the dish during cyclones and cutting the connection.

    – Orange’s fiber was supposed to be guaranteed. Read that somewhere on the papers. There’s also the act that calls for ISPs to provide at least their advertised speed. It was announced in a budget speech a few years back but I’m not sure if it’s really enforced. I can’t find the original source but here (https://www.telegeography.com/products/commsupdate/articles/2014/04/29/icta-to-impose-minimum-speed-obligations-for-isps/). I can only hope the speed advertised will be guaranteed.

    – Rs. 50 for direct debit additional can be a con too for some people. Well you’re already paying Rs.900 so 50 isn’t too bad but it’s still something. I suppose for the advantages you get, it’s worth it.

    – I’m not in Orange Fiber coverage yet. No idea how long it takes.

    – I am considering the AirBox actually but was afraid of the 12 month minimum. Now that Tushal says you can cancel with 4 month notice, I may give it a try. Why? Mainly because it’s cheaper and no caps even if I’m not a very heavy downloader. The 20Mbps is tempting.

  • Inf

    Where did you see that? I can’t find it on the Airbox website…

  • Hi,

    Not sure why you still insist to argue about the bad weather. And no it’s not WiMAX but the same principle just in an enhanced and advanced version. It’s like WiFi standards a, b, g, n – Does your WiFi suffer under heavy rain? 🙂

    Well, Orange and their promises regarding bandwidth. If they would be true why would people be so excited about Airbox? Anyway, no speed won’t be guaranteed except if you pay a Service Line Agreement (SLA) for big money with any ISP. So, based on the circumstances that literally none of the local ISPs “guarantees” you connectivity – what’s the problem with it now?

    Orange Fiber: Check your telephone number or address online on their site. In my case it’s even beyond there 3years planning, meaning sometime after 2018! Ridiculous!

    Even though, I’m not an Orange client, IIRC, they also had a 12-month bond for first subscribers to Fiber. Anyway, there are two sides to take into consideration. First, if you’re absolutely not happy and Emtel cannot provide the expected / guaranteed service you have the right to cancel without any penalty. Second, I doubt that you might consider to cancel if you’re absolutely happy with Airbox. 🙂

    I’m all in for the 30Mbps package, and already chasing Emtel to give some priority to the west coast of the island. 🙂

  • Hi Yashvin,

    So, your Orange Fiber contract is also with a bond of 12 months?
    Well, that’s a good reasoning to update the article, isn’t it?

  • Adrian Huggett

    Yes but as you are signing for a one year contract, you’ll still be liable for those Early termination charges if you terminate the contract prior to the end of your contract. the 4 months notice only tells you that they will ultimately take back their product and cancel your subscription 4 months after you noticed them of your choice.

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