Zimbabwe’s average local broadband speed reaches new high

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

zimbabwe-broadband-speedZimbabwe’s average local broadband speed has reached a new high of 6.5 Mbps in the month of May according to NetIndex. Before now, the highest average ever reached was 5.8Mbps. Local broadband speed, loosely explained, is the rate at which one can access internet content from a locally hosted website or app.

This new internet speed ranks Zimbabwe among the countries with the highest local broadband speed in Sub Saharan Africa with only Ghana, Kenya, Namibia and Madagascar ahead who have 7 Mbps, 7.2 Mbps, 10.4 Mbps and 13.2 Mbps respectively.

Other countries in the region – South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and others – all have local broadband speeds below 5.5 Mbps in the month of May.

Zimbabwe’s improvements in local broadband speed can largely be attributed to the continued growth of fibre networks in the country with companies like Liquid Telecom, PowerTel and Telecontract all doing Fibre to the Home installations.

NetIndex’s ranking of all countries globally can be found here. The NetIndex speed ratings are determined through speed tests done by internet users on its website speedtest.net. The system uses a server closest to the person doing the tests and currently in Harare, ZOL and Dandemutande servers are used. In Bulawayo and Mutare, ZOL servers are used.

The data provided by NetIndex has some caveats though. For example, it depends on how many people have done the tests and what internet speed they have. So for example if everyone testing their broadband has a good fibre connection, the NetIndex may calculate a misleading average broadband speed for a country.

High local broadband speed means that local internet-based companies and startup entrepreneurs would benefit more if they hosted their apps and content locally. It also means that international websites that have local caches (like Google’s YouTube) are able to leverage the fast local broadband. Content hosted internationally however faces the problem of travelling a longer distance before it gets to internet users, resulting in a slow web browsing experience generally.

High speed broadband has brought a huge positive shift to how business is carried out locally, how people learn, how health services are provided, and most importantly is an opportunity for new enterprises and startups based purely on the internet. Next week, on the 6th of June, such opportunities will be discussed at the Broadband Forum to be held in Harare. Speaking at event is the MD of Liquid Telecom, the CEO of Dandemutande, Senior Executives from Econet Wireless, TelOne and other companies. You can read more and register for the event here.


  1. fourwallsinaroom

    LSM… we all know that speedtest.net is cooked in Zimbabwe. Case in point check ZOL. On WiMAX you will get anything from 1Mbps+ however true download speeds are closer to 0.05Mbps. The new fair use / shaping policy is responsible for this. So are Zimbabweans really getting 1Mbps when browsing with ZOL? Answer NO! Same issue with the fibre to the home or Gigabit Passive Optical Network. Speeds of upto 20Mbps but shaping and fair use are killing the end user experience. On the flip side, ZOL’s parent’s sister i.e. Econet Broadband on the GO shows real speeds that translate almost 1:1 with the user experience. Naturally you pay for the privilege but when I need something quick, I am using LTE or 3G and it is much better than my WiMAX link.

  2. Raymond Swart

    I’m going to argue that those results aren’t entirely true. While I was being throttled by ZOL the speedtests were still claiming I was getting massive speeds +3mb but in reality was only getting 110k. Not sure how that worked out but I did file an official complaint tith Ookla about it, saying it was misleading.

    Having said that we it does show the potential speeds Zim is capable of when everyone behaves and does their bit.

    1. L.S.M Kabweza

      Do they shape everything or just international traffic?

      1. fourwallsinaroom

        Everything. Trying to download from my public ip on a local provider same story.

      2. Anthony Somerset

        ZOL only shapes international traffic – local traffic is at your package speed – that said you have to find worthwhile local content to use to start with – but the ZOL mirror at least works for linux downloads.

        ZOL peer with ZINX so most if not all local ISP traffic should be classified as local as well too – gets a bit murky in some cases though.

        1. fourwallsinaroom

          nope… i just posted a file on my iWAY link which is a 1Mbps link CIR. Connected to ZOL WiMAX disconnected everyone else on both links and I am failing to get more than 0.1Mbps

          So local is shaped if it leaves the ISP.

          Now if i try move data from Econet WiMAX to ZOL WiMAX its flying no issue but what good is that?

          1. Anthony Somerset

            then that sounds like iway don’t peer with ZOL then either directly or via ZINX

  3. Gary Rhodes

    I find coming from Sa, data in Zim sucks and is well over priced. So you can brag about the speeds which I don’t believe as a Zw connection is never constant. The worse being Econet!! Over conjested.

    1. Ndini Wenyu

      Be kind enough to compare actual figures here. which ISP in SA and what do they charge compare with a similar package service in Zim. I just did a quick check on the Internet. In SA there is Telkom ADSL and 3G what else is there?

      1. Gary Rhodes

        Hi there, I suggest you read “My broadband Sa” which will keep you updated with all the good stuff one can find regarding Broadband in Sa. Eg Mweb uncapped 2mbps @ZAR199 plus adsl rental = ZAR 356. ( USD37 a month ) Only Telone offers capped 10megs at USD 30 p/m and speed of edge quality. But hohoho Zim has come a long way in the last few years and it is exciting regarding Broadband, one just has to be patient!!

    2. Anonymous

      i suppose with econet, it depends where u are accessing from. Generally in harare, save for a few trouble areas the speeds are quite good. Kindly share where u were testing from

      1. fourwallsinaroom

        3G and Econet WiMAX I am connecting to Pockets Hills. The LTE dongle I have does not work here but in town I am unable to pin point which base station exactly. Will probably need to get a log dump and then figure out the BSID.

        On a side note, Econet WiMAX in the Carrick Creigh / Borrowdale Brooke area is on steroids and I absolutely love it.

      2. Anonymous

        Hi there, kwekwe! Can’t c why Harare shud always have all the glory!! It’s like talking about the dark ages.

  4. purpledragon

    I have been able to get 5Mbps while of optic fibre. Unfortunately the same test on Econet 3g and Powertel will never exceed 0.8Mbps. Even after having loaded my econet line with bundles worth $10 I am still unable to watch a youtube video in one go. Obviusly most of the test were done by people on very fast links which is not the majority of internet users.

    1. Ndini Wenyu

      Whose fiber are you using?

      1. purpledragon

        I am using ZOL

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  6. Anonymous

    so Zimbos are now rigging speedtest results as well.Shame

  7. mwalimu

    Just a clarification from the way I read this post. The speed tests are local speeds only. Those of you complaining about youtube, this post is not for you. This is about the speed you will enjoy from your home in Belverdere accessing http://www.classifieds.co.zw . On a different note this then calls for localisation of a lot of web services such as youtube, google etc.

    1. kilotango

      very well said…. and infact a local google cache was an option at once stage, but people in zim know much better than everyone else… :


      1. Anthony Somerset

        A Google cache does actually exist in ZIM! – Liquid & ZOL host it in Harare

  8. joo

    This talk of shaping etc from my experience only applies to international content, were as this test is measuring local speeds?

    From my experience at various isps is that they burst their international so the first 5-10 min to an international source is fast then they shape it hard, this messes with speed test scores but also means web pages load nice and quick but downloads are hurt.

    I have a home fibre package from YoAfrica, I get 60-70mbs local traffic, but because it is a home package it is shaped something aweful during the day (which is fine that is what I have paid for) at night I get 5-10 mbs sustained sometimes even going as high as 20 mbs depending on other users in my pool. All in all as a home package I think it is fantasic, I can stream 720p youtube on 2 different devices and be downloading torrents in the background all night and they have never complained to me about usage.

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      Who is your last mile provider? Liquid or Powertel? I ask because powertel home last mile is upto 10Mbps and Liquid charges 118 per Mbps on local metro links. If you are hitting 60-70 on a metro link you must be one hell of a buxed up person or incredibly lucky and someone overlooked your configs

      1. Anthony Somerset

        I’m going to guess its Liquid provided GPON – which stands for Gigabit Passive Optical Network

        so in theory you could burst to 1gbps for local traffic! – again it depends on local traffic being available and for the other end to be capable of such speeds – I’ve heard of some ISP’s/website hosts hosting it on there office 20-40mbps connections!

        1. fourwallsinaroom

          GPON is using NAT no public IP’s for ZOL clients. How are they hosting a site that say iWAY could use? Right now if I check my links I have the following
          196.2.x.x – iWAY 1Mbps true CIR no complaints
          10.x.x.x – ZOL $59 package plenty of complaints
          10.x.x.x -Econet 2.5c/Mb – avg 1Mbps but no speed advertised (note this uses econet dns and not zol dns, strange as its the same base station, just different authentication no certificate required here and username is @ecoweb.co.zw)
          10.x.x.x – Tel*One – I dont even use it any more
          10.x.x.x – Econet 3G not enough airtime to test at the moment but speed test last reported around 5Mbps

          That said how would I get to a server on ZOL (econet backhaul) WiMax from my iWAY address?

        2. fourwallsinaroom

          Oh and Anthony you are assuming that I am coming of the first Splitter, remember the more splitters down the line, the slower the speed.

      2. joo

        My lastmile is Telco, they were very efficient on their installation, could a couple of weeks after paying and did a nice job without messing up my garden etc. I was very impressed.

  9. Ndini Wenyu

    Its hard to please everyone. I find many contributors to this site very negative bunch!!. Busy battering your ISPs!! yet you are busy consuming their services. I say there are choices you don’t like your current ISP vote with your feet. You buy a 1Mbps package you demand 10Mbps. You buy a shared/contended service you demand 1:1/cir service. I have been around the world as have many of you. broadband speeds are just the same as here. International users to do spend days and nights revving their links like Zimbabweans do. Grow UP!!

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      Look the problem I have with ZOL (have worked with them since Data Control days) is when I had my ADSL link which gave me 2GB per month peak and unlimited of peak I was the happiest person. Always got my 1Mbps CIR and the only challenge was if the DSLAM went down or if tel*one did something. Then I got moved to WiMAX and the service was unlimited but it was a game of luck… some days you could get amazing speeds, spend the day on youtube watching silly clips and other days it just didnt work. Now ZOL kept changing things quietly… and when ZOL says they have enhanced your service it means we have just taken away another liberty that you were used to. Now given that networks/internet is my line of work I understand the need to squeeze out the last penny for every 1Mbps that comes from Seacom, Eassy and WACS. Redundancy does not come cheap, but at least let me get my old plan back… I will gladly pay the extra $$$ if the service is on par. If you follow me on techzim answers and here you will find that I run to EWZ WiMAX links (indoor and out), Tel*one, ZOL WiMAX on EWZ backhaul and iWay. Now for EWZ and iWAY i pay a considerable amount but not once have I ever called to complain to either party about the speed or quality of service. ZOL can do much better and thats the bottom line. Further to that I would never recommend GPON, would rather go the dedicated two core fibre from the nearest pop route aka metro link to my ISP. ::end rant::

      Sorry one last note I would gladly settle for 95%uptime with 1Mbps CIR vs upto 20Mbps shared (un advertised contention) with 99% uptime. So be creative about your plans.

  10. Ndini Wenyu

    I think you answered yourself. Stay on 1Mbps CIR. I am sure you pay enough for it. I am just amazed how an article about local speediest turned to ISP packages. If LSM and his Techzim wrote about Coffee machines. I would not be surprised if the conversation your ISPs performance!!

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      Look my final point is speedtest on CIR says 1Mbps and I get close to that when browsing I wont complain. now if speedtest says to me 8Mbps and I get 0.01Mbps I will definitely complain. now if LSM talks about coffee well we can discuss JAVA and not ISP’s altho at some point I may point out that my applets are loading slower on ISP xxx.

  11. fungaizw

    For best test results use testmy.net And if you want to use speedtest if you are on ZOL do not use ZOL server use the Dandemutande server but i recommend testmy.net for all speed tests

  12. Anonymous

    Which Zimbabwe are they talking about?

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