Just to make sure there is no confusion here, I have better things to dream of– like taking another tropical vacation or living like a Bill Gates to mention but a few. Here, I will look at the fast and untempered internet I dream of, and aspire for all Ugandans to enjoy. We’ve written about internet speeds in Uganda over and over and over again. But, have all these articles and internet speed tests carried out by our bloggers here at Techjaja caused any effect in the telecom sector over the years? In the long run we think, we’ve attained our greater goal, to expose, educate and show the populaces that they need to have value for money when it comes to making the right choice for a choosing the best internet service provider (ISP).
According to a poll we conducted several months ago, the average expenditure per month is between UGX 100,000 and UGX 200,000 with normal distribution along this price point. Of course we assume the majority of these users are dongle and MiFi users and loading UGX 1,000 will be as useless as shutter shades. So now, think about what kind of internet speeds that will fill your hearts desires. Are you being limited by data caps? Are you not well conversant about the principles of net neutrality? Is that amount of money you spend per day, week or month worth the internet you are getting?
Where there are no data caps
As much as we want real unlimited internet, we are always hit by the so-called Friendly user Policies (FuP) that govern our usage of the internet on a particular network and if you exceed your monthly limit, your carrier will drop you down to those undesirable speeds that make a snail seem like the fastest animal on earth. Do data caps have anything to do with network congestion? It’s a Yes and No answer. Of course, “fairness” doesn’t explain it, either. If data caps don’t improve network reliability or performance, why do some carriers now see the need to charge customers more for the same data they’ve been using for years? I know we are dealing with wireless internet in most cases where network resources are largely dependent on the bandwidth or spectrum owned by a particular telecom, but at the end of the day answer is likely quite simple: because these carriers can.
Some carriers take it up a notch and cap their networks to a particular speed and render their 4G -LTE experience useless. Oh, and these Carrier’s PR departments would prefer if you didn’t call it a data cap — since you can pay more to bypass the monthly GB limit, it’s a “data usage plan” or to make it sound more annoying “unlimited data plan”. One of our writers Remmie, penned down the value proposing of having a wtf for video content in Uganda, but with the existing caps, this will yet be another dream to see the light of day here in Uganda, a miracle we still pray will happen one day. We hope the future will be in fiber to home solutions.
Where Net neutrality is paramount
I’ve already written an exhaustive piece about Net neutrality, and I said that it was notion that when you request data from somewhere else on the internet it all comes to you at the same time, and at the same speed obviously at a fair price. And, your internet provider isn’t messing with it in anyway, so the data on the internet is neutral. In the same post I gave an example of FacebookZero, where ISPs prioritize a particular webpage to be charged at UGX 0, (it basically by-passes the billing system) of course to ensure that people don’t misuse the free Facebook, the carriers will strip out the ability to download images or watch Facebook videos with these zero rated webpages. Promotions free WhatsApp calls by some carriers and like commonly known as WFT that give free Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter are a good example of how carriers can manipulate the internet for their own benefit at the end of the day we all know that there is nothing for free in the long run, even if the word “free” exists in these promotions. Once you get hooked and the freebies are done, you will continue to spend on buying data bundles anyway.
Where there is Privacy
Did you know that your ISP tracks and logs down each and every webpage you visit? Well know you know. They have the power to block any website you visit, I think we all experienced this during the previous elections where accessing social media became a luxury that the chosen few who had the time to bypass the restrictions. To prove that they track every web site you visit; if you ever feel like your data has run too fast and you log a complaint to your carrier, if they are hard pressed to prove you wrong or right they will present you with a list of all the websites you visited and how much data each webpage guzzled. Yes, I can imagine the uncouth readers wondering if their carriers have ever analyzed content they consume online. Don’t worry guys the carriers need your money and the government has not yet bought its much-criticized anti-pornography machine. For now, perhaps it will be a good idea for your to go through the proposed 2014 data protection and privacy bill.
It won’t kill to ask for our Opinion
I long for the day UCC will come out to ask for the public’s opinion about net neutrality and other aspects of the internet. Well, they have asked for our opinion on other matters before, so why not this? Well I know they conduct communication seminars that are focused on listening to people’s grievances, but these are only based around Kampala. By the way, the opinion survey doesn’t have to be a complex one for example they could ask us to provide our views on ways/situations where traffic management may be applied by ISPs. Are traffic management measures used to implement or manage compliance with the explicit contractual restrictions (e.g. on P2P or VoIP) of the Internet access product accepted by the user necessary, appropriate, or problematic?
They could also ask questions relating to congestion management, managed services, privacy, transparency, internet restrictions, and the ease of switching internet providers. Such consultations would be a great way for the government and the different stakeholders to research into net neutrality.