There are many things to complain about when it comes to Mauritius Telecom's "Internet" services. In fact, there are so many I do not even know where to start. As such, I'm probably going to end up just rambling at a certain point without any due regard for structure, flow, and all the intricacies of Shakespeare. However, it does not matter because whining about the crap Internet in Mauritius never gets old. It's actually almost become a hobby for many people now. This is made even more thrilling by the blantant fact that Mauritius Telecom is impervious to any kind of criticism and very clearly taking its users for jokers.
Since the world is now primarily about money, I will start with the rates of the different Internet packages offered by Mauritius Telecom. There are two kinds of packages offered which are MyT and ADSL. The main difference between the two packages is that MyT also includes the availability of digital TV channels while ADSL is only concerned with connecting you to the Internet (sort of). The points covered in this post are based on MyT but I have no doubt whatsoever that there is absolutely no difference with the ADSL package (which is supposedly worse than MyT when it comes to Internet speed).
Up to December 2011, the rates for the different MyT packages were as follows:
MyT 1Mbps - Rs. 999
MyT 2Mbps - Rs. 1,699
MyT 4Mbps - Rs. 2,999
However, after everybody kept pointing out the exorbitant prices practiced by Mauritius Telecom for what is essentially a crap service, these prices were finally lowered at the start of December 2011 as follows:
MyT 1Mbps - Rs. 949As you can see, the decrease in price is as big a joke as it gets. While you could say that the 2Mbps and 4Mbps Internet package rates were lowered by Rs. 200 and Rs. 500 respectively, most home users typically go for the MyT 1Mbps Internet deal, where the new rate is only Rs. 50 lower.
MyT 2Mbps - Rs. 1,499
MyT 4Mbps - Rs. 2,499
In a world where Internet bundles are getting supremely fast while incurring a more than reasonable cost everywhere else, Mauritius is one of the few places where a Rs. 50 reduction is considered worthwhile. With prices going up everywhere and wage rises stalling, Rs. 949 is still a lot to pay for an Internet connection that is usually extremely slow and quite unusable during weekends. On weekends, even the Google home page takes a long time to load and Gmail often redirects its users to its crap-connection format.
I also cannot forget the multiple times the Internet connection is down either due to cable problems or a fault in the server. This obviously always happens during peak hours when everybody needs to go online to check their email, bet on Champions League matches, or stalk other users on Facebook (I hear it's very common nowadays). In July 2011, Mauritius was even faced with a strange but not unpredictable situation where the island completely went offline. The cause was a server failure at Mauritius Telecom which caused everybody to be deprived of an Internet connection from around 11am to 7pm.
Such an event is highly ironic given that the government still apparently wants Mauritius to become a strategic IT hub in the Indian Ocean. "Cyber towers" have been set up to this effect and many companies that simply cannot function without an Internet connection now make up Ebène. However, on that fateful day, dozens of companies were suddenly unable to function, which effectively resulted in a loss of revenue and a lot of free time for employees.
Moreover, the speeds advertised and billed for are lies. This has even become a recurring joke among both Mauritius Telecom MyT and ADSL users as it is widely known that the download and upload speeds are far from what users are paying for. This is evidenced by the following test run on a 1Mbps connection in Port Louis 10 minutes from Mauritius Telecom (not that it matters but I enjoy being picky):
If you have a problem with your Internet connection, the support provided by Mauritius Telecom is non-existent regardless of the package you signed up for. For example, I was once deprived of my online personae for a whole weekend because some dumb ass messed up the cables while performing some other maintenance routine.
Upon phoning Mauritius Telecom and informing them of the situation on Saturday (the day the cables went poof), I was informed that the earliest a team could come over would be Monday as they did not provide support on weekends. Moreover, those two days without Internet connection (also typically the days when I am actually able to go online) would not be reimbursed. Even if the technicians came only a whole week later, I would still need to pay for a full month package.
I fail to see the logic behind this reasoning. Mauritius is supposed to be a "cyber island" but Mauritius Telecom, the company most Mauritians are relying on for their Internet connection, cannot ask its personnel to work during weekends? Even more amazing is the fact that they consider charging their users for an unusable connection completely normal.
This is not a one-off situation either. I know many MyT and ADSL users who have had to wait a few months before Mauritius Telecom would send people to fix their Internet woes. Obviously, the two or three months they could not go online were still being billed. Any attempt to get a reimbursement would be met by being put on hold for 20 minutes. Once those 20 minutes had elapsed, they would then be told that not grabbing their money does not fall in line with Mauritius Telecom's practices.
This is what the Internet in Mauritius has come to. Unfortunately, as long as Mauritius Telecom holds a monopoly, things will not change. The latest "new rates" I covered at the beginning of this article clearly show this. Unless another company comes to challenge Mauritius Telecom and offers cheaper but reliable Internet, Mauritians will have to endure the lousy connection speeds while paying small fortunes to get absolutely no support once their Internet craps out on them...which happens a lot in Mauritius!
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