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Slow internet complaint ‘ill-informed’

30 Sep, 2021

Mobile operator Vodafone says complaint about internet speed made on social media was “ill informed”.

Owner of Pacific Divers and the Sails Restaurant, Stephen Lyon took to social media to express his frustration over what he viewed as “worse and worse” internet service provided by Vodafone.

On the local Facebook page, his post was supported by well over 200 likes and 90 comments.

Speaking with Cook Islands News on Tuesday, Lyon said the poor internet had negatively affected his work that relied on video meetings via online app Zoom and live streaming sports.

He said video meetings occasionally cut out and sports events would buffer while being streamed at the Rarotonga Sailing Club.

As part of the complaint, Lyon said Vodafone had not been transparent when he confronted the company about his problems.

Vodafone’s chief executive officer, Phillip Henderson said the company noted Lyon’s complaint made on the local Facebook page but had not received a complaint from him in the past two months.

Lyon said the problems he faced should not be there now as the Cook Islands is connected to the Manatua cable – a submarine fibre communications cable capable of delivering enough internet capacity to download 300 high definition movies every second.

O3b satellite was what Vodafone used to deliver internet before the Manatua cable was set up and is still used in some instances by the company.

Henderson said Lyon’s access to the cable or the O3b satellite depended on which plan he had subscribed to.

“Our lowest priced plans are assigned to O3b and in reality, there is very little measurable difference in performance between O3b and the Manatua cable at this time,” he said.

Vodafone took to its Facebook page to address Lyon’s complaint and said the standard and value broadband plans use O3b while all other plans including all its mobile ones utilise the Manatua Cable.

“If individuals are experiencing problems it is likely to be more to do with the local access or home network connection,” the company said on its post.

“We are seeing an increasing issue with too many devices active on the home WiFi network with little knowledge on how well the home network is delivering to the home devices.”

The post said Vodafone signed up to use the Manatua Cable in September last year and has since doubled its international internet capacity.

Since September 2018 to this month, Vodafone said average usage had tripled. Facebook video usage had doubled and Netflix had increased by six-fold.

“In spite of some comments that the internet service has worsened, these measures can shed some light on the user experience,” the company said.

“These measures indicate that customers are using and consuming more internet capacity than ever before, at a time when the economy is severely depressed and money is tight.

“This is in part due to the additional capacity that Vodafone has on the Manatua Cable, the increased caps rolled out last year on internet plans and the customer appetite for data packages deals.”

Competition and regulatory authority chair, Bernard Hill regulates telecommunication services in the Cook Islands which includes Vodafone.

Hill said on Tuesday the existing distribution network, made up primarily of copper wires was the reason behind slow internet speeds.

The cable which has lots of data capacity needs to go through the narrow bottleneck of the distribution network, he said.

This would continue until the distribution network was upgraded, Hill said.

Vodafone said the increased demand on internet usage exceeded the capability of the copper network.

The company said it was accelerating the rollout of fibre with business connectivity taking priority. It said there were already over 700 active fibre connections that serviced government, hospitality and schools.

[Thursday 30 September 2021 |Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Cook Islands News]