…when everyone has been having so much fun in comments without me. On Friday the connection, which had been almost unusable for three days, failed completely, and the phone lines too. Vodafone blame Friday evening’s storm, but the problem had started long before that.
Fascinating comment from Sembe:
At 3kbps, you should be using a simplifying proxy server like loband.org. For urgent communications, it might be best to set up a telnet service (using pine for email, lynx for web surfing).
Internet telephony services in Ghana are routed through the SAT-3/WASC cable, which is jointly owned by Ghana Telecom and 35 other telecoms. Local ISPs are assigned 2Mbps bandwidth, and supply it to subscribers at an average speed of 1kbps.
The common alternative is to use a VSAT satellite system, but this is more expensive and is rather clogged in West Africa. Additionally, MTN & Zain are now offering GSM or 3G mobile access.
Things are set to improve, though. Glo has just laid the Glo1 fibre optic cable from UK to Nigeria, which should be operational soon, and the Main One cable from Portugal should be installed by May 2010.
The sad truth is that every advance in new technology leaves Africa falling further and further behind.
supply it to subscribers at an average speed of 1kbps
. Think about that.
We had a microwave link to a satellite provider which theoretically gave us dedicated 512 kbps – for about $4,000 a month. My UK connection is 20 times faster and 200 times cheaper – so costs 4,000 times less per kbps. In fact our “dedicated” capacity had been sold many times over by the satellite ISP, Zipnet, and speedtests usually showed about 30kbps. Corrked ISPs are part of the whole complex problem
Last night the phone lines came back and I rushed down to post something when the electricity went off. This had happened so often in the last few days that the generator had run out of diesel, while a UPS only survives a few months coping with a dozen outages a day – and that is with a $10,000 voltage stabiliser on the house. [This was written yesterday and attempts throughout the day to post it failed. So I got up at 6am this morning to do it].
All this is in “normal” circumstances. Imagine the logistic nightmare facing the aid agencies in Haiti, with the same kind of level of base infrastructure, and then most of that destroyed by an earthquake.