On connectivity in Benin

7 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Very enlightening post on connectivity in Benin. I find it interesting that with all the technology that's available, connectivity is still so much of a hassle. In Lagos, Nigeria where I live, I pay close to $100 (equivalent) for a rather decent 400kbps connection. It's not always 400kbps especially from around 9am to 3pm during week days as the speed drops a little but I've been using the service for about two months now and I'm very satisfied. In learning about the history of the company, I'm made to understand that they were really terrible in the past but of recent, they've done phenomenally well. Customer service is very good and the service is superb.

    I might also want to chip in here that competition is important in bringing out the best of these companies. My feeling is that there's little or no competition amongst the ISPs in Benin and so they really don't bother how satisfied their customers are. My belief is that with time as more options for connectivity are being created are there are more entrants into the market, these companies will sit up and begin to offer good service.

  2. theresac says:

    You're absolutely right about competition. Everything goes through
    the state ISP. Benin Telecom has a monopoly on the SAT-3, and forces
    everyone to go through them, (and I do mean everyone, including int'l
    calls via GSM networks with their own satellites).

    The big WiFi provider leases bandwidth from the state. When their
    product took off, they didn't have enough capacity to deal with
    demand. Still don't, actually. A connection to the backbone is
    expensive, and more so due to the state monopoly. Plus, the state
    doesn't exactly make it easy to increase the size of the pipeline.
    It's a bureaucratic nightmare.

    However, a lack of demand also creates problems. There's a nascent
    tech sector, but there's nowhere near the demand for cheap bandwidth
    that Lagos has. Not as many people. Not as much business. Not as much
    money floating around. It's a catch-22. Demand won't grow until
    prices go down, but prices won't go down until demand creates a market
    big enough to handle a few competitors.

    The bright shining star is actually the GSM networks. Slowly but
    surely, they're rolling out 3G connectivity all over the country.
    It's the same price as slower, less portable alternatives, and doesn't
    require any investment on the part of the end user other than a cell
    phone suitable for tethering.

  3. Tim says:

    3G in Benin! That's awesome. We didn't see so much of the Internet boom until the GSM companies came. Let's watch this space. I'm pretty confident something really good is about to happen in Benin.

  4. Steve_Song says:

    Hi Theresa, You say that the WiFi operator leases bandwidth from the state? So the ISM bands are not unlicensed? That is not good news. It seems it is only when spectrum is unlicensed that you get really innovation in delivery.

    You may have read about the successful Television White Spaces – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_space_(telecom… – campaign in the U.S. aimed at opening up unused television spectrum for wireless broadband. Worth looking at and lobbying for in any country where rural connectivity is a challenge.

    Out of curiosity, what is the default price to send an SMS in Benin?

    • theresac says:

      Same network SMS = 25F (0.05 USD)
      Different network SMS = 50 F (0.10 USD)
      Int'l SMS = 75 – 125 F (0.15 – 0.25 USD)

      I actually have no idea whether the ISM bands are licensed or not.
      Probably, because everything's a hassle here (I will find out,
      though). Getting a license to become an ISP can take up to two years.

      When I talk about leasing bandwidth, I mean that the only pipe into
      the country is owned by the gov't, and so all ISPs have to lease that
      bandwidth in order to connect their subscribers to the internet. Or
      maybe we're talking about the same thing … ?

  5. Steve Song says:

    Thanks for the SMS info! In terms of whether ISM bands are unlicensed or not, that is a question of is it legal to offer Internet infrastructure using WiFi gear or do you have to first pay for a license to do so from the regulator.

  6. Asad Ansari says:

    Hello everyone
    Currently, I am working for a leading IP based communication service company in India called Net4India. We are planning to expand our horizons and I was looking for channel partners or strategic alliance to share business interests in the African region. We’re providing VoIP services (call termination) to destinations across the world – including India on whole sale and retail basis. Along with VoIP services we provide facilities such as data center facility (ISO 27001 certified), business email services, domain registrations and hosting (we are India’s leading domain registration company) and we also offer Microsoft Hosted Dynamics CRM services.

    Currently, we are interested in providing VoIP services along with our web products and services – Domains, hosting and email solutions.

    It would be great if we could move forward and start a fruitful business relationship.

    Asad Ansari

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