The expansion of fibre networks in Zimbabwe is fast growing over the past few years, as it brings fast broadband speeds to users. In the Full year 2017 report Protraz stated, “The total national backbone fibre length as at 31 December 2017 was 8,765km up from 7,707km recorded as at 31 December 2016.”
The growth signifies the general investment being made by different Internet service providers with a bid to offer the best service as well as to remain competitive in the broadband provision space.
The country recorded an Equipped international internet bandwidth of 102,080Mbps in 2017 from 75,385Mbps in 2016, showing that internet connectivity is improving.
Subscribers have realised a shift over the few years with fixed line users having vast options to chose from unlike the past were Telone dominated the space with Digital subscriber lines. The coming of fibre on board has enabled end users to choose from the best and from their budget as fibre has a prove to be a bit rigid when it comes to cost.
A lot of fibre infrastructure players are now laying cables in major towns and cities. This means more options for cooperates, estates and neighbourhoods installing fibre bringing options to end users.
One of the common issues ISPs deal with is the confusion between the Fibre Network Operator (FNO) and the Internet Service (ISP) as the ISP is the consumer-facing half for most fibre users.
The FNO and ISP meet in Data Centres in order to cross-connect our networks. In terms of providing a great experience to the client, both entities need to be performing optimally. Last year Telone launched a Data Centre accommodating other ISPs.
Liquid Telecoms, Powertel, Africom, Dandemutande, just to mention a few, have been in the rush to eat the market share cake which is seen to be the future as far as internet provision is concerned. Clients in different cities are on the hook to grab fibre internet in a bid to enjoy efficient services.
Connectivity in Zimbabwe of fibre by different FNO’s is lagging with lag time between the time of order and house connectivity is still below expectations.
The ISPs constantly communicate with the FNOs on install scheduling, however, at the end of the day, the time taken from order placed is in the hands of the FNO.
It’s a similar scenario when it comes to fibre cable breaks and the subsequent repairs.
Pricing: Zimbabwe has always had one of the expensive internet charges across the region, with multiple ISPs offering multiple packages across multiple networks, comparing prices and speeds also becomes problematic for users. With some ISP advertising what they can’t offer to their customers.
As the link speed increases, the fee per month for that line to the ISP increases. ISPs must, therefore, take the cost of providing connectivity on a particular fibre network into account when pricing their products.
Performance: So, you know when will order fibre through an ISP, have to wait for the fibre network operator to install it, and that when it is live you must be careful to compare pricing to packages on other networks.
But now your fibre line goes down, or is very slow whose responsibility is it to fix it and who do you call?
Although many ISPs now have their own fibre links with neighbourhoods like Telone, Zol, Powertel other ISPs they will be riding on Fibre Network Operators. For example, Zol uses Liquid fibre for their Fibre connections.
At times, the FNO may be experiencing an issue and at times it may be the ISP. When a client is experiencing an issue, it is the responsibility of the ISP to investigate thoroughly and, regardless of whether the issue is on the FNO side or ISP side, do everything they can to restore the client’s link back to optimal status.
Some ISPs in the country they take long to solve connectivity problems. It is a good idea is for consumers to research an ISP before signing up with them, as fibre connectivity is extremely bandwidth heavy.
It is important for the consumer to choose an ISP that invests heavily in their own network infrastructure and one that can handle the traffic of all clients on fibre links, particularly at peak periods.
Another factor which can affect a client’s fibre experience is the hardware they use. Wi-Fi routers and hardware in the home have a significant impact on your experience.
Many users believe that “Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi”, but a high-quality router has a significant impact on the Internet experience in the home, said the ISP.
Choose quality routers with client orders, but still encourage clients with large properties to consider investing in mesh networks.
Customers should know the type of connection they want, the speed they need and how they want to use the internet for best results.