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Fair usage policy and Internet in Seychelles |05 June 2023

• Internet set to improve in Seychelles


Seychelles NATION had the chance to dive into the intricacies behind Internet usage in Seychelles and the impact of fair usage on internet growth and accessibility.

A representative of the department of Information Communications Technology (DICT), who wanted to remain anonymous, explained that fair usage is a traffic management policy to aid service providers manage their networks and prevent some users from consuming an excessive amount of bandwidth, which could impact broadband performance and experience for everyone else.  There are many reasons why ISPs would want to install fair usage, especially in countries with limited bandwidth. One of the reasons is to minimise congestion in the network.

Only a couple of years ago, there were only two unlimited Internet packages on the market and most of the packages offered customers a capped amount of data.  However, we are now seeing some unlimited Internet packages offering a certain amount of data, measured in Giga Bytes (GB), that the Internet Service Providers (ISP) provide customers with per day and exceeding the limit leads to a slower Internet speed. 

In the context of price per GB per day, it has certainly improved and be made more accessible than before.  Just a couple of years ago, most of the packages offered customers a capped amount of data. Compared to today, where the 2099 unlimited package from Cable and Wireless grants you 30 GB per day. “If you are on a package offering 30 GB per day, it means you have a total of 900 GB per month, which is more than enough data for some people,” said the representative.

However, DICT recognises that these types of services may not be for everyone. “Thus it is important for the service providers to continue to look at the services they are offering and also look at the demand and how their clienteles are using the Internet. They have to be aware that some users tend to use more streaming services while others download large amount of data at different point in time.  For example, ‘Gamers’ tend to download large amount of data to update games, while some individuals may stream movies in 4K resolution.  Therefore, operators have to be aware of those types of activities and to tailor the packages to accommodate them. 

One of the suggestions is for the operators to adapt the Fair Usage by providing unlimited Internet packages with allowable data for a month, rather than on a daily basis.  For example, an operator can offer an Internet package similar to the 2,099 with a total of 600GB for a month, exceeding the limit the Internet would slow down.  This could accommodate demographics such as gamers in Seychelles. Another suggestion was to give 900 GB per month for the same price.

When the minimum daily cap exceeds the FUP limit, the Internet kicks in at only 4Mbps instead of the 25Mbps you were being provided with before. “Increasing the minimum speed is a decision for the operators to make, and this is usually based on the availability of international bandwidth, Internet usage and demand and all other costs involved.  However, the representative explained that overtime, it is very likely that the minimum speed would be increased further in the near future.

The representative explained that the difference between the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz with regards to the WIFI routers is that these numbers refer to two different “frequency bands” that your router can use to communicate or transmit data to the devices.  Under normal conditions, the 2.4GHz will support less capacity than the 5GHz.  The minimum download speed of your Internet package is not dependent on the frequency of your device, for example mobile phone, or tablets, connected to the WiFi router.  However, a customer may experience slow Internet speed if the devices are old or faulty. 

“On our end we cannot force operators to change their speeds.  Operators understand the business, the cost and their cost implications. Our role is not to impose our will onto them but to act more as facilitator for the sector.  One way this is done is by promoting competition through the establishment of a healthy and competitive environment with multiple service providers and an environment where customers have a choice of quality services at reasonable prices.”

The regulator regularly engages with the service providers and make suggestions and recommendations on the services that they offer and regulatory measures that the department plans to implement. 

In terms of if the servers are able to handle large amounts of traffic should another wave of Covid hit and everyone has to work from home and do online classes, the DICT representative stated “I cannot say that all servers would be able to handle all traffic, but I have full confidence that it will be able to. When Covid-19 first started we had only one submarine cable. Now we have two active cables with a third on the way.  The ISPs are installing fibre optic cable almost everywhere.  Fibre optic cable can carry more traffic, so naturally they will have to install network equipment and servers that will be able to cope with the demand. Upgrades are not only made in people’s houses but internally at the ISPs themselves.”

For example, we are seeing Cable and Wireless and Intelvision extending their fibre network Airtel has also launched new data centres all these are important ‘upgrade’ to provide more and better services and deal with much more traffic. Intelvision during Covid-19 did not have a submarine cable, and does now but yet to be operational. 

“Covid was in 2019 and I believe that we are better prepared now in 2023, so a lot of things are changing.”

However, the representative also stated that the real question to ask is whether Seychelles has the services and facilities to use if ever Covid was to hit again.  Thus, they need to make sure that they have as many people and services online so that we can work at home and follow classes better than before if it we are to face another Covid situation. 

More competition in regards to Internet is always welcome in Seychelles for more options and cheaper prices, and DICT encourages voting with your wallet. “If you see that the ISP is not providing a good service, you should switch to another ISP.” 

To conclude, the representative stated that there is a lot of movement happening in provision of fixed broadband services including unlimited Internet. However, one sector that needs to be thoroughly looked into is mobile service especially prepaid.

“Data on mobile is too expensive compared to WiFi”.  There is room for improvement for mobile prepaid.

Seychelles NATION got in contact with Cable and Wireless to better understand fair usage and Internet as a whole in the country.

“At Cable and Wireless Seychelles (CWS), we recognise that Internet services are a contended Service which means that customers which are on the same network are sharing this service,” they explained.

Therefore, in order to maintain a balance between different connections on the network, an FUP is implemented as this is a method to control significant congestion.

The complete details of their FUP for their different internet packages can be found on their website under our Terms and Conditions. At this point in time, CWS is applying a reduction in speed, until midnight, when unreasonable, excessive, or fraudulent usage is recorded. After that, all performance restrictions are lifted to equally benefit all their customers by ensuring they are provided with a seamless connection.

In addition, there is no traffic type or content restricted or limited within a client’s FUP. However, on reaching your FUP the lower speed will impact on the quality/experience for services/content related to heavy streaming or downloading. “We have done the necessary to ensure that activities such as browsing and email can still be accessed effortlessly and freely even if FUP has been exceeded.”

There is no direct link between FUP and Peak Times. Although, during peak times the chances of reaching the maximum speed of the package may be reduced due to a greater strain on resources.

“Due to the efforts that we have made for our setup, customers are expected to reach the maximum speed of the unlimited package above 70% of the time, to ensure a good value for service, as we have recorded that most customers are not reaching the FUP threshold or even noticing the feature.” 

To further benefit customers, CWS has also recently revamped its unlimited packages to ensure that popular streaming services, Netflix and YouTube, are not accounted for as part of FUP management. Therefore, our customers are encouraged to stream as much as possible on these two platforms.

To conclude Cable and Wireless Seychelles caters to customers who constantly hit the mark for their FUP, by offering the flexibility of upgrading to a higher package. For a faster and more convenient option, CWS also has an affordable selection of Giga Unlimited Boosters available that can be purchased instantly by customers.

Seychelles NATION also tried to reach out to Airtel. However, due to structural changes, they were unavailable for an interview.


Sunny Esparon


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