In the late 1990s and early 2000 we used to have a few Internet cafés and dial-up users but this is no longer the case in 2010 with a number of Internet cafés being opened. A lot of individuals and organisations are now online which translates to a higher demand for bandwidth. I use the Internet on a daily basis and have noticed that the Internet speed has deteriorated in most Internet cafés in Harare.
My observation with most of the ISPs is that they seem to be overwhelmed with new business which in turn chews most of the bandwidth available but at the same time do not increase capacity to satisfy client consumption.
Out of the more than 10 ISPs I have been familiar with since I have been using the Internet 10 years ago, it is sad to note that none of them is operating in good faith.
They are doing little to ensure that service delivery is good. They claim to deliver a certain amount of bandwidth but when we compare with the situation on the ground there is a huge disparity when it comes to the internet browsing speed. The connection can be so bad that to attach a single small file using a web-based email facility can be a nightmare. When we call for the technicians to come and attend to us they take forever to visit our sites. Is this not cheating?
I feel it is time the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) allows more players on the market who can also supply bandwidth. Competition is healthy. We need a good service and value for our hard earned money. Though we have a host of local ISPs, there is still some kind of a monopoly. I am not sure if these traditional ISPs are aware that in developed countries, Internet access is free.
For as little as US$13 a month one has unlimited access to the Internet at high speed, send and receives emails, make free local calls, chat-online and also benefits a lot of extra services using a single digital line.
The same thing can happen here in Zimbabwe, only if the laws that hinder foreign investors in this field are removed. My view is that there are still a lot of opportunities in the ICT sector. Let us not take advantage of each other, exploit one another for the love of money.
We are all Zimbabweans after all. Let’s practise professional business ethics.
To make matters worse some of the ISPs run their own Internet cafés thereby directly competing with some of their clients who are in the same business.