IT in Africa

Facts, lies, and conjecture: Benin Telecoms’ latest blow up

What we know (facts):

  • Our Internet connection has been out since last Friday.
  • So have those of all other WiMax clients.
  • Non-WiMax clients of Benin Telecoms have been having problems since Friday for certain types of downloads and have experienced unusual bandwidth shaping.
  • Connections from other ISPs sometimes work, and sometimes don’t. There is probably a pattern, but we don’t yet know it.
  • .bj domains are up and down and up and down (currently down).

What we’ve been told by Benin Telecoms employees (lies, truths, and half-truths):

  • Benin Telecoms isn’t recognizing WiMax customers’ passwords.
  • Employees of Benin Telecoms shared their passwords with friends so that said friends could use services for free.
  • Benin Telecoms employees are having password problems (including the only person there who can check account status).
  • Benin Telecoms has never seen a problem like this before (and is panicking).

What we think (100% conjecture):

  • Sharing passwords that give access to sensitive information is BAD BAD BAD.
  • Benin Telecoms has no idea how to fix this.
  • This seems to be a perfect storm of overselling bandwidth, poor security, password sharing, cheap equipment, and lack of expertise.

I’m currently using Moov’s USB modem (GPRS) to connect. It’s not bad for checking email, web stats, and occasional blogging, although I wouldn’t recommend it for anything heavy duty, as the connection’s quite unstable.

Hopefully the connection will be back next week, and we’ll be in the free and clear. Otherwise, Bertrand and I will be in the uncomfortable position of looking for a new ISP. For now, we’re using Moov, and hopping around Cotonou looking for cybercafés that work. An hour or two here, an hour or two there—it’s expensive, but it’s the only way to stay in business.

What a way to end the year, Benin Telecoms.


2 thoughts on “Facts, lies, and conjecture: Benin Telecoms’ latest blow up

  1. LOL, sounds like Telkom in South Africa.
    Are you sure Telkom don own Benin Telecoms. I feel your pain and frustration.
    Why can’t things just work. It’s things like this that give Africa a bad name internationally.

    I was just in the UK for a month. You can’t believe the difference in service there. Oh, and by the way, bandwidth is unlimited, you can get 20mbs. Theya re falling over each other to get your business. SO different than here.

    Wish you all the best with this.

    BTW, haven’t seen you around my blog for a while. What up girl?

    1. Ugh. We have our connection back now, but it cost us an arm and a leg. :-P

      You’re right about the blog thing! I used to follow your posts when you peeped them on GatorPeeps, but for whatever reason, I fell off the ladder there. Are you on Twitter? I can’t handle more than one microblogging client at a time!

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