26th January 2021

Zambian Broadband Woes: Fibre Optics All Knotted Up!

All Fibre Providers

We’ve heard all the rage about Fibre Optic (FibreOp) cables being installed here and there, especially in Lusaka. If you’ve wondered when lightening fast internet speeds are coming to a home near you then you are not alone; although, you will be waiting for a long time. It turns out that all the hardwork being put in to installing FibreOp doesn’t have the average Zambian person in mind. The people in mind are the corporations. In fact, corporations are still the number one priority when it comes to installing FibreOp internet/services.

It turns out that the current services being offered by FibreOp providers are just too expensive to afford by ordinary people. On the other hand, we hear that FibreOp network owners were not given retail licenses but carrier licenses; therefore, are restricted to whom they supply internet to. Are they really restricted or perhaps it’s not in their best interest to deal with retail FibreOp as opposed to wholesale? We appreciate economies of scale, but should profits sacrifice the technological advancement of a whole country? How is Bell doing it in Canada? Frankly, it’s tiresome to hear about how expensive the FibreOp infrastructure is and what not, like everything in Zambia isn’t expensive already? We would appreciate this fact, if we at least got to experience the benefit of paying so much for a service that guarantees superior delivery of a product.

fiber_optic_cable

So, what is Fibre Optics? Fibre Optics is the use of thin flexible fibres of glass or other transparent solids to transmit light signals, chiefly for telecommunications or for internal inspection of the body. According to About.com:

Fiber optic cables carry communication signals using pulses of light. While expensive, these cables are increasingly being used instead of traditional copper cables, because fiber offers more capacity and is less susceptible to electrical interference. So-called Fiber to the Home (FTTH) installations are becoming more common as a way to bring ultra high speed Internet service (100 Mbps and higher) to residences.

Wait, 100 Mbps and higher?! It seems we can only fantasize about such speeds in the meantime. There was a recent wrangle with CEC Liquid where they felt apprehensive about providing us with only 10 Mbps. CEC Liquid claimed that this was too much for an office like ours (consisting of 6 people in total), so they offered 1 Mbps instead. Maybe Zambia is not on Earth, but I strongly believe that we (as customers) have the right to demand for the best. I also believe that the Regulator (ZICTA) should look out for the best interests of the Zambian people and the economy of course. I can’t even begin to discuss how FibreOp for consumers will revolutionise this country. Does the word global citizen ring a bell? Imagine buffering and load times a thing of the past. What a  picture!

So far, Zamtel (Zambia Telecommunications), ZESCO (Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation), CEC (Copperbelt Energy Corporation) Liquid, Gilat Satcom, Namibia Telecom, and PCCW (Pacific Century CyberWorks) are the competitors on the FibreOp scene in Zambia.

In other news, Google is betting on broadband. Google said on their blog that their goal with Google Fibre is to build products that will help improve their users’ lives. The search engine giant stated that when it comes to Internet access, it’s clear what provides a better user experience: Fast is better than slow; Abundance is better than scarcity; and Choice is better than no choice. “Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.” Google lauded. Mashable claims that the introduction of Fiber in Kansas City led to a burst of startup activity, not to mention being a welcome option for average consumers. Take a hint guys!

In pursuit of somewhat decent internet speeds, we acquired quotes from different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which you will find below:

Broadband Quotes
Broadband Price Comparison Chart

The interesting thing about all this fibre drama is that retail ISPs can provide FibreOp internet to your homes or office via a leasing agreement with a fibre optic owner like CEC Liquid for example. The catch is that the internet speeds can only be guaranteed by the retailer instead of the supplier. Sounds like accountability issues and lack of transparency. The supplier will supply to the retailer, and the retailer may do as they wish with the internet. Dedicated internet may not be that dedicated after all!

Now that we’ve opened this fibre optics can of worms, please look forward to more posts on the topic as we also look forward to writing them!

Images credit: IT News Africa.

4 thoughts on “Zambian Broadband Woes: Fibre Optics All Knotted Up!

  1. Hi,

    Can you tell me a little bit more about that map? Did you draw it based on your own information sources or is there a single source for it? I am trying to pull together all the maps of terrestrial fibre in Africa together at https://afterfibre.nsrc.org Would love to include this data but need to know more about the source.

    Thanks… Steve Song

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