On my internet rollercoaster

From: EMMANUEL MATHIEU ROLAND CALOTTE <emmanuel.calotte_at_umail.uom.ac.mu>
Date: Sat, 13 May 2017 13:07:45 +0400

Dear all,

First of all, thank you very much for the warm welcome to the mailing list.
I’m really looking forward to contributing to it.

As Ish Sookun pointed out, I have indeed had my fair share of issues with
the internet in Mauritius. So for my first, non-introductory mail, here is
my story.

It all began during my college days. My brother had just left for studies
abroad and we needed means to be in touch with him. Overseas phone calls
were (shall I say are?) very expensive. So we used those prepaid scratch
cards called EasyCall. But this wasn’t an ideal solution for neither my
brother nor for us here. We needed a reliable internet connection to
sustain Skype or instant messaging services like Yahoo! Messenger and MSN

To begin with, we had a 56K connection with Mauritius Telecom. Yes, that’s
the connection where you couldn’t use the phone while surfing the web.
Everyone I knew were getting their money’s worth of connection i.e. about
40 – 50 kB/s download speed, but at home we were getting a maximum of 14
kB/s and averaging around 4kB/s.

A while later, while everyone was already getting ADSL 256kb/s and 512kb/s
with MT, this new ISP was formed called MTML. They offered a fixed wireless
modem phone with internet download speeds of up to 144kB/s. Tariff was pay
as you go. We couldn’t have ADSL at home because we were too far from the
exchange they said. MTML worked better than the 56K of MT but there was an
itch. At home we wouldn’t get much network bars. I had to put the phone on
the window pane to get at most 2 out of 4 bars. We just had a PC back then.
So we couldn’t move the computer outside or bring it with us on the go
along with our wireless fix phone. So I managed to get about 20kB/s max
with MTML.

The years went by, the wireless MTML fixed phone never fell to its death
(it did fall) and we finally could get ADSL 512 of MT. At first everything
was fine, we could get a good connection for like 6 months of a year and
then the next 6 months, hell would break loose. The green light indicating
we had internet would just go out for a while and come back later on its
own. When it got worst it would go out and never come back. I got fed up of
calling the call centre of MT. They just make you do those silly
self-troubleshooting steps that obviously didn’t work. I knew the
procedures by heart at some point. Once I even had to reset the modem to
factory defaults and reconfigure everything with the help of the
tele-agent. I realise the troubleshooting steps are important to solve some
people’s problem, but can’t they see on their computer it was like the 10th
time that I was calling that day? (Okay I may be exaggerating the 10x but I
did have to call multiple times a day, sometimes when I would call, the
connection to the internet would re-establish, just to annoy me.)

We went to great lengths trying to solve the problem. We changed modems
under advice from the technicians multiple times. We re-did the wiring in
the house completely. MT themselves sent their people to do that. But we
paid quite a lot for this re-wiring and the issue didn’t get solved. The
cycle started again: for a while everything was fine then internet would

At that age, I was dreaming of internet speeds like my brother had
overseas. He would send me these speedtest screenshots that put all of our
internet here to shame. By then, I was also closely monitoring any
developments with the ISPs in Mauritius. I’ve been hearing about fibre
optics for the whole island since I was a kid. Governments promised stuff
that never happened or happened way later and only for the main towns or
agglomeration of people like Port-Louis.

Emtel launched their WiFi max service. I immediately applied for an
eligibility survey. Guess what? We weren’t eligible. It didn’t work. MTML
had this EVDO cards or something that promised 2Mb/s download speed. But
since I had experience with MTML network at my place, we didn’t try that.

Emtel also launched a USB dongle that used its mobile network to provide
the user with internet. But that was way too expensive. Several thousands
of Rupees just to buy the dongle and the data packages were horribly
limited and expensive. The MT unlimited ADSL was still better although we
had a lot of issues. N.B. Orange offered a USB dongle too (I assume after
Emtel, because back then Emtel innovated and Orange/Cellplus copied) but
the price was exorbitant too.

Years went by and a new ISP surfaced. This time, I learned my lesson and
didn’t get my hopes up. Enter Bharat Telecom in the realm. They promised
Fibre to the home (FTTH), with TV packages at the lowest price etc… Months
or shall I say years went by till ‘Bees’, the internet service from Bharat
Telecom, surfaced. Fibre optics cable to the home. You could see all the
purple wires deploying in several areas, starting with Quatres-Bornes, if I
remember correctly. Needless to say I wasn’t about to try that one soon.
They didn’t launch a TV service yet and at first they offered contract-less
plans or ‘sans engagements’ but that changed to a 12 months binding
contract. Also, their Facebook page is filled with people complaining. So
if anyone has had a good experience, no, scratch that (I doubt anybody had
any good service from any ISP ever), if anyone of you have got speeds they
promised in their packages, let us know.

At home, MT finally agreed to bump up our speed to 1Mb/s. Things were less
chaotic but eventually we still suffered from internet cuts… Still no MyT
for us or anybody in our locality. MT and Emtel are now openly at war to
cover the island with fibre optics or to provide fibre optic speeds. Emtel
launches Fibre through the air causing panic at MT (yes, I’m speculating).
They even offer a TV service with Canalsat. The means Emtel uses to offer
this speed is a bit weird from what I read. A small dish with direct line
of sight… anyway although a good part of the central plateau is covered,
guess what? I’m not. So it seems, I’ll keep waiting.

MT retaliates by speeding up the deployment of its fibre network around the
island. The war is raging on. Casualties? Probably me with my luck.

Meanwhile at my sister’s place in the south of the island, she got MyT
straight away. Everything was awesome. Not a single issue… for about a year
or 2. Speeds were as promised, TV worked fine and there are Fibre optics
deployment in the area, meaning she would soon have fibre. She’s getting
8000 – 12000 kb/s as attainable download speed, and as actual download
speed, she’s at roughly 6000 kb/s. I’m told you need at least 5000 kb/s
download to get MyT which is why at home I can’t get MyT. This bandwidth
goes mostly to the TV and the rest to your download speed. At my sister’s,
its 1000 kb/s (1Mb/s or 100 kB/s). Her upload speed is about 300 kb/s

Everything was awesome until it was not. A little while back, she started
having an issue. When the TV was on – no more internet, or the internet
slowed to a crawl. She suddenly went from 6000 kb/s to 3000 kb/s. That
certainly explains why the TV lags, as if you are buffering a video on
YouTube or why when the TV is on, she barely has any bandwidth left. I
called Orange, they sent a technician. He didn’t even have to come at my
sis place to fix it, he did it remotely. Alright, problem was solved. Now
the neighbour’s internet is acting up. Technicians came and fixed that up.
Soon my sister’s internet started acting up again and in the same way. I
don’t know if there is a correlation between the neighbour’s internet and
my sister’s, but I think there is.

One morning, I hear Emtel firing back at MT in an advertisement saying they
now offer their fibre service all around the island. WTF? How did they
solve the line of sight issue? By using their own 4G network, of course. MT
has no options left than to keep accelerating deployment. Unfortunately for
my sister, at her place she doesn’t get any network bars for neither Emtel
nor Orange. Yeah, in the modern age of 2017, she says, “Atan mo sorti
dehors, pas p gagne reso endan.” Somehow MTML works inside the house.
Anyway, no Emtel fibre over the air for her, I suppose. Let’s wait for MT.

Matter of fact, I am writing this email while in contact with MT
technicians since around 10:30. They are trying to fix the problem. I just
hope I will be able to send this later…

That’s about it for my experience with internet in Mauritius. I hope you
weren’t bored. I’m certainly not the only one with internet issues but I
think I’ve had plenty already. Did any of you have it worse?

Needless to say, I still don’t have fibre, neither at home nor at my
sister’s place. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want fibre optics just for the
speed *cough* ridiculous 75GB cap *cough*, but I hoped it would solve
issues like humidity that we have with copper wiring. Yet, my friends (they
all have fibre by now) tell me they still get internet cuts at times. Is
that true?



P.S It's 24 hours later: I just got online. Yeah I was internet-less since
yesterday. The tech guy came, tried to fix the problem. He couldn’t. Yet he
said he’d come soon (dumb me thinking he was trying to fix the problem at
the exchange or whatever…). He left and never came back. This morning
another tech guy called. He came, fixed the issue, and he left. It was a
simple issue with a connection box that the other guy failed to notice.

Received on Sat May 13 2017 - 09:08:05 PST

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