IT in Africa

3.1 Mb downloads in Benin? For 15 000 FCFA/mo? Are you out of your mind?

Kanakoo Liberty + Netbook

Somebody must have put Benin Telecom’s feet to the fire because they’ve launched a series of impressive initiatives to lower the price of bandwidth for Beninese consumers. They have:

  1. doubled the bandwidth for all DSL consumers. That means users who were paying 25 000 FCFA ($50) for 256 kbs are now getting 512. Users who were paying 80 000 FCFA ($160) for 512 now get 1Mbs. Pretty impressive.
  2. repaired the WiMax network, and we are now getting the 256 kbs that we pay 25 000 FCFA ($50) for, even during peak periods.
  3. launched a new CDMA service (Kanakoo Liberté), promising users download speeds of up to 3.1 mbs for 15 000 FCFA ($30) a month. The USB key to access the CDMA service is 45 000 FCFA ($90).

Suspicious of the good news, I borrowed a new Liberté modem from a friend and spent the weekend putting the service through its paces.

Benin Telecom’s customer service is horrifically bad. As in, I called and asked what the password to connect is, and they told me that not only is there not a password, but that I must be doing something wrong if the software’s asking me for one. A few emails to the Beninese tech community later, and I had a solution. Yes, there is a password, and yes, it’s the same password for every modem: 11111111. Don’t lose it, y’all.

This modem, unlike the previous Kanakoo version, works with Ubuntu out of the box. No more mucking around with wvdial. This is huge, as none of the GSM modems play well with Linux.

The modem consistently downloads at 600kbs. I got speeds of up to 1.2 mbs off-peak. Not as good as 3.1m, but definitely better than 256k.

I’m hesitant to call the new service an unmitigated success because I was in love with WiMax until Benin Telecoms overloaded the network, and oh! hey! weekly (sometimes daily) downtime is awesome. So let’s call this a reserved recommendation. It’s cheap enough to make it worth a try.раскрутка

4 thoughts on “3.1 Mb downloads in Benin? For 15 000 FCFA/mo? Are you out of your mind?

  1. Thank you for all your reviews, I am always in Porto-Novo week in week out and don’t really like the idea of going to a cafe as I’m always with my 3G USB dongle when I am home in Nigeria. Not long ago I heard about konakoo 3G CDMA/EVDO modem which I wanted to buy but stopped because I heard the maximum speed you get is 256/kbs. Because I don’t like browsing at night when I should be sleeping, and knowing if a network speed is just 256/kbs, I can’t get same during peak hours, I decided not to buy. But reading on your post that you get between 600kbs and 1.2mbs makes me want to reconsider. Like I said, I’m always in Porto-Novo, I will be glad if you can confirm I will get the same speed there.
    If I have to chip in something here on your complaint about their customer service, the truth is that some of them are not properly trained or not at all to understand the technology. You can imagine a care center lady in Nigeria argueing with me that EDGE is 3G, she will not agree until she confirm from her superior after which she confessed she had been employed long before her company came out with the services, yet she does not know the difference and she is a customer agent!.
    Thank you again.

  2. Now the situation is sader .I can hardly reach 20 kbits/s albeit at night I can get 40kbits/s. However this is verry far from the promised 3mb/sec and I noticed that I just use 0.1 to 5 percent of the promited bandwidth.

    I live in Cotonou.

  3. pls does anyone knws hw 2 set a kanakoo CDMA EVDO moderm 2 work with any other sim in Nigeria, (davis3k4@yahoo.com)pls i need it urgently

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