Emtel increases Airbox 10Mbps quota from 75GB to 100GB

2 months after Emtel has introduced a fixed quota for their Airbox 10Mbps package, the quota has been increased from 75 GB to 100 GB.

New FUP – 100GB

Additionally, a new plan called Silver + has been launched. It costs Rs 1,034 and comes with 240 minutes of air time.

New Silver + Airbox Plan

BUT needless to say, my previous post, https://internetinmauritius.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/the-only-advantage-of-emtel-airbox-is-gone/ still stands.

The new 100 GB quota for Emtel Airbox is excellent, but Mauritius Telecom is allocating 150 GB for their 10 Mbps since April 2017, 75 GB on the first of each month and another 75 GB around the 15th of each month.

Advertisements

The only advantage of Emtel Airbox is gone!

Emtel Airbox was a much welcomed addition to the already existing offers from Mauritius Telecom. Its main selling point has been its much relaxed fair usage policy which only throttles internet speed if other parties are affected by one’s high internet usage.

Everything changes today, 25 March 2017.

Today, Emtel confirms that a fair usage policy of 75GB is being applied to customers on the 10Mbps plan. Over 75GB, the speed is throttled to 1Mbps download and 512Kbps upload.

Emtel Airbox New FUP

Emtel has lost its main selling point. You have no reasons to opt for Airbox nor to change from my.t to Airbox if you’re already an internet consumer.

Mauritius Telecom my.t have multiple advantages over Emtel Airbox as listed below.

  1. Consistent internet speed throughout the day.
  2. No speed throttling during peak hours
  3. Lower international and local latency
  4. Better international routing with direct routing to Asia, Europe and Africa
  5. Future proof technology, Mauritius Telecom can launch a 1Gbps package any day
  6. Not affected by electromagnetic interference or weather condition

MBC Play and Amazon AWS

MBC, the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation has recently launched their smartphone app on Google Play and Apple Appstore. The application allows streaming of 5 MBC channels namely MBC1, MBC2, MBC3, MBC4 and Cine12.

As streaming platform, they are currently using Amazon AWS for content delivery. In fact data is going out from Mauritius to Amazon AWS servers and back to Mauritius on smartphones. This is wastage of precious bandwidth capacity which could have been used to rid of fair usage policies. On that matter, how the hell are we going to watch MBC channels which consumes ginormous amount of data.

The Solution

Why doesn’t MBC acquire its own Autonomous System Number (ASN) and peer at the Mauritius Internet Exchange Point (MIXP). We should make use of the Internet Exchange Point. From the stats of the IXP, there is a mere traffic going through it since our two major ISPs, Mauritius Telecom and Emtel have private peering agreement, their traffic do not go through the IXP.

MIXP Traffic Stats

With the rising price of Amazon AWS, which is billed per GB, the cost the MBC would have to pay with the increasing number of smartphone consumers will be huge.

As an example, let’s look at the BBC, which allows their users to watch their TV channels not only on smartphone, but also on a computer, and in HD. They have their own ASN, AS2818 and is peering at multiple facilities. This reduces the cost of bandwidth while having to maintain content distribution servers. But above and overall, this is a long term cheaper solution.

The price of internet in Mauritius should not decrease!

YES, the price of internet in Mauritius should be maintained at its current price or increased. While many people believe the opposite, I do not. What we need in Mauritius is an increase in speed, and removal of Fair Usage Policy.

Many of you like to compare the current price of internet in Mauritius with other countries, let’s do the comparison.

 MT my.t  Emtel Airbox  Zeop (Reunion)  Telma (Madagascar)  Telkom (South Africa)  BT (United Kingdom)  Singtel (Singapore)
 Minimum  Rs 499  Rs 934  €29 = Rs 1097  169000 Ar = Rs 1921  R 1188 = Rs 3230  £9.99 = Rs 434  $49.90 = Rs 1257
 Maximum  Rs 3999 Rs 1784  €100 = Rs 3783  269000 Ar = Rs 3058  R 3198 = 8695  £29.99 = Rs 1305  $189.00 = Rs 4761

The table above shows the current minimum and maximum price for fixed broadband offered by some companies in the world. And by analysing the values, you can determine that in fact internet prices in Mauritius are cheap.

What we actually need is a proper increase in price together with the removal of fair usage policies. At low speed and low price, the profit margin is unsustainable for growth and infrastructure development. Contention ratio matters less as speed is increased.

The State of Fixed Broadband in Mauritius

Mauritius currently has two major internet service providers. Both are awful.

Mauritius Telecom (my.t, FTTH)

In order for Mauritius Telecom to be able to sell you, residential customers, internet, they need to buy IP Transit from other companies such as Telia, GTT Commnuications, Level 3, etc. Next, transport is required to bring the internet to our little island lost in the Indian Ocean. But above and beyond, capacity is bought as a function of bandwidth not quota.

So why the hell do we have Fair Usage Policies? Internet is being delivered using Fibre-To-The-Home, and since the company can sustain the load during the start of each month, they should be able to handle load for the whole month…FUPs are bullshits on fibre network….

Emtel (Airbox, FTTA|LTE)

Airbox is another story. Network speed is just non-consistent using some weird technology called FTTA, and while the launch of the same product on LTE was much appreciated, this was unfortunately followed by the launch of free 4G SIM swap. This caused an increase in number of devices connected to each base station in an already limited environment. Fixed broadband on LTE should be deployed on another frequency instead of throwing both mobile data and fixed broadband on 1800Mhz spectrum.

While a FUP similar to that implemented by Mauritius Telecom would be accepted for Emtel due to the use of wireless technology, it is still undesirable…but WHY THE HELL DOES MT HAS FUPs?

And seriously, either separate your fixed broadband and mobile data network or just move on to better technology. Google has discontinued the Google Fiber project due to its long ROI and high cost of deployment and are eyeing wireless as the future of delivering internet.

Wireless is the future, just look at some companies in Australia. The Signal Co (https://thesignalco.com.au/) is a great example of a startup which became very successful. Their success has been achieved through the use of high quality hardware coupled with mature technology. Their speed tests stats are great (http://testmy.net/hoststats/the_signal_co) and not like Emtel’s (http://testmy.net/host-history/emtel_limited) which is all over the place. Their reviews are excellent and are even praised for their transparency on network issues (http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2508522).

And this is only one example, just take a look at NuSkope (https://www.nuskope.com.au/) and others.

Technology used includes Cambium PMP450m and Ubiquiti AirMax… but hint: the former is better!

And lastly, has Emtel ever looked at smokeping graphs of their customers? Many look like the graph below.

Smokeping of a random Emtel Airbox IP

How to increase Emtel Airbox LTE & WiFi-Plus Speed?

Airbox by Emtel is currently being offered using two completely different technologies, the first being FTTA (Air by Globtel) and the second (LTE/4G). The 20Mbps and 30Mbps speed plans are only available on FTTA while the 10Mbps package is available on both FTTA and 4G LTE.


Whenever you order the 10Mbps package, request to be put on the LTE/4G network instead of FTTA even if you’re within FTTA coverage. LTE/4G is and will always be a better technology.

LTE/4G is backed by billions of dollars in Research & Development. LTE/4G will always triumph over any other wireless technologies. After all, we are a small island, LTE-A in 900Mhz, 1800Mhz and 2600Mhz band can definitely compete with fibre. TRI-BAND LTE-A/4G+ is the future.,

OPT FOR LTE/4G Airbox.


Back on topic, you will require an Android phone with 4G, the LTE Discovery app, a paper and a pen.

From your Android phone, download LTE Discovery app from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.simplyadvanced.ltediscovery&hl=en

After the app has been installed, follow the steps below.

  1. Launch LTE Discovery app on your smartphone.
  2. Navigate to each window of your house
  3. At each window, note down on the piece of paper the LTE network strength together with the location of the window.
  4. After you have been through all windows, look at the table below.
  5. Place your Huawei modem near the window with Good or Excellent LTE Quality.

The table referred in Step 4.

LTE/4G Quality Net Strength
Excellent -51 to -70 dBm
Good -71 to -90 dBm
Shit -91 to -120 dBm

Always aim for “Good” or even “Excellent”. If your LTE Quality is shit, cancel your service and move to another service provider.

Below are two speed tests performed at -89 dBm on both Orange and Emtel LTE/4G network.

Orange LTE/4G Speedtest on Band 3 (1800MHz)
Emtel LTE/4G Speedtest on Band 3 (1800MHz)

Tips:-

  • If you’re not receiving 4G, only 3G, cancel your service.
  • Signal strength is always better the higher you place your phone/modem, so start from the highest floor in your house. (Indoor not outdoor)

Unlimited internet by Emtel, Airbox

Airbox is an unlimited wireless internet introduced by Emtel in June 2015. It is available in three different speed tiers of 10Mbps, 20Mbps and 30Mbps and its coverage was quite limited at launch and restricted due to the requirement of LOS (Line Of Sight) from the BTS (Base Station) to the customer’s premises. This is due to the use of very high frequencies which have low penetration capability but high bandwidth capacity. The so called technology is Air by Globtel (http://www.globtel.si) which is a modified version of DOCSIS but instead of using coaxial cable for transmission, data is transmitted over the air.

How good is Air by Globtel (FTTA)?

Days after the launch of Airbox, people all around Mauritius were praising Emtel for the introduction of an unlimited high speed internet. The only other high speed internet is FTTH by Mauritius Telecom which is unfortunately capped at 75GB for 10Mbps, 300GB for 20Mbps and 500GB for 30Mbps. The data cap for 20Mbps and 30Mbps are not mentioned on company’s website but the data caps can been viewed at (https://internetaccount.orange.mu) for those subscribed to 20Mbps and 30Mbps packages.

After the Airbox craze, it all started to tumble down, basically free falling. People were complaining all over Facebook of awful speed and intermittent high latency to gaming servers. However the speed issue does not seem to affect every subscribers as seen at (http://testmy.net/host-history/emtel_limited) while the high latency issue can be mostly attributed to the use of DOCSIS which was never meant to be used for transmission over the air.

But why Air by Globtel? During the recent years, there have been major leaps in Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) due to the availability of reliable and cheap technology to distribute internet to customers wirelessly without compromising on speed or latency. Some of the technologies are Cambium PMP450m, Ubiquiti AirMax, BaiCells LTE and custom solution by Ericsson as used by Australia NBN Fixed Wireless. Among all these proven network solutions used by many WISPs around the world, WHY AIR by GLOBTEL? WHY and WHY? Through a quick look at their website, the technology is not actively being developed and has been deployed to very few countries with low speed internet packages.

Now , one and a half year later after the launch of Airbox, Air by Globtel technology has not been deployed all around the island of Mauritius, there are still five base stations with the one at Pointe Aux Canonniers relocated to the east region. So what can we learn from this? The technology was most likely not up to their expectations.

Enter Airbox LTE.

On the 30 January 2017 during a press meet, Emtel announced the expansion of Airbox using the 4G LTE technology rather than using Air by Globtel (FTTA). The service is available in all region of Mauritius. However only the 10Mbps package can be had using 4G LTE for now and the modem supplied is the Huawei B310 with a single external antenna. It should be noted that deployment of LTE is very expensive as compared to the other technologies mentioned above, but for Emtel, the use of LTE technology actually saves cost as it makes use of existing infrastructure currently being used for mobile data.

Latency over LTE has also been known to be quite constant with little fluctuations, this would be ideal for gamers although latency to south east asia is very high since Emtel does not peer or buy transit from asia. (http://bgp.he.net/AS30999#_peers), but big praise to Emtel for replacing Cogent with Telia.

However with the launch of LTE-A in many developing and developed countries, why didn’t Emtel take this opportunity to do same? This would have been the ideal replacement for the whole Air by Globtel network, with the ability to offer both 20Mbps and 30Mbps packages over LTE-A.

Now a question which many may have asked themselves, will the speed suffer over time? Only time will tell. Not overselling and keeping track of the number of users connected to each LTE eNB is critical for the future success of Airbox LTE.

On another note, ditching FTTA for 4G LTE was the best decision ever made, there are still major improvements such as replacing the indoor modem with an outdoor roof mounted one for better stability and better signal reception and also improving international connectivity is key. Keeping up to date with the latest tech innovations is also a major factor for Emtel, keeping in mind that their direct competitor can double their speed plans with a flip of a switch.

On a final note, will MTML chime in? MTML has deployed very few LTE base stations in 2015 with coverage in Port Louis and Plaine Wilhems, but since the end of 2016 (http://defimedia.info/chili-investit-rs-100-m-pour-etendre-son-reseau-4g), the real deployment of LTE in order to cover the whole island has started and it was estimated to be completed by the end of February 2017. (Deployment still ongoing as of April 2017) MTML provides mobile services under the  ChiLi branding and the latter has been very aggressive in terms of pricing and marketing in 2016. The year of 2017 looks very promising for them, only time will tell who will lead the follower.