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 looks like the graph below.

Smokeping of a random Emtel Airbox IP

Increase speed & Decrease latency – Emtel Airbox LTE and Wifi Plus

Airbox by Emtel is currently being offered using two completely different technologies, the first being FTTA (Air by Globtel) and the second (4G LTE). 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 4G LTE network instead of FTTA even if you’re within FTTA coverage. 4G LTE is and will always be a better technology as long as fibre backhaul is used.


Back on topic, you will require an Android phone, the Network Signal Info app, a paper and a pen.

From your Android phone, download Network Signal Info app from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.android.telnet&hl=en

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

  1. Launch Network Signal Info on your smartphone.
  2. Navigate to each window of your house
  3. At each window, note down the Net Strength from the Network Signal Info app together with the location of your window.
  4. After you have been through all windows, find the lowest value, disregarding the ( – ) sign.
  5. Place your Huawei modem at the location with the lowest Net Strength value determined in step 4.

For example, if you have obtained the following values

Windows Location Net Strength
Living Room Window -89
Dining Room Windows -101
Room 1 Window -67
Room 2 Window -50
Room 3 Window -76

The lowest one, disregarding the negative sign, would be Room 2 Window. So you place your Huawei modem near the window in Room 2.

Tips:-

  • 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 packages 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 was 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 3.0, 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 seen 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 has been a 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 B315 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 TeliaSonera.

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 BTS 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 is estimated to be complete by the end of February 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.