Web 2.0 and Mauritius

Recently, Mauritius gained a new name, together with its numerous others like the 3-S (4 actually but never mind), Paradise Island, Republic Bananiere, and some others. Now? It has Cyber Island. Is our small dot really a Cyber Island? Frankly? I doubt!

What is it in Mauritius that makes it worthy of the name? We got 2 Cyber towers! Whoaa! Impressive. As my friend Atish once said, "Two lonely palm trees in the Sahara". I found this statement was completely true! So? Apart from our Palm Trees? Virtually nothing!! What's in the Two Towers anyways? Call centres! Loads and loads of them. BPOs. Overflowing! Where's our Programmers' Lodges? Our Data Centres? Our Knowledge Hubs? Our Development Centres? Our Risk Management Centres? Our Security Advisories? Our Watch Dogs? Start counting! You won't go beyond 1-2. Where are they? They are not interested in us most probably. We lack the necessary qualifications. We lack the necessary infrastructure. And we lack the decision-making capabilities to solve the first 2 lacks!

After all, we don't have anything that could term us as a Cyber Island. We ain't got a Silicon Valley, like those in India and US. Our small nation is still not fully computer literate. Right! We got the IC3 program which is a nice initiative. But what does it teach? MS Office! And some basic computer usage. Is that enough to develop our IT culture. I, again, doubt! What we are actually learning in IC3 is just a fragment of a sector of the IT world. Even our curriculum at college level is not really suited. You want one very good example of our syllabus not being amended? This year, all to-be University of Mauritius students were asked to at least have IC3, and/or Computing at SC/HSC level. This is a good move. However, can somebody tell me why we still have Fundamentals of Computer Science (FCS) which teaches us basically the same things as IC3? Either they remove the IC3 requirement and keep FCS, or scrap FCS and keep IC3. I think keeping FCS will be a better choice, since FCS v.s IC3, FCS wins by far! It teaches much more than IC3. IC3 is about MS Office and basics of computing. FCS covers the whole of IC3, and adds more. But why do we still require IC3 as entry requirement!! Duh..

Now, another issue. Our really really poor Internet service. The whole world is slowly migrating to faster, better, cheaper and more reliable Internet connections. This is done for a reason. The Web 2.0 revolution is upon us! Social Bookmarking, Blogging, User-generated content (think Youtube), social networks (think Facebook, MySpace), online applications (think Google Docs), and Online TV in HDefinition are already here! And as you might notice, most of these things are true bandwidth hogs! Don't hope using any of them comfortably without at least a megabit connection. Now I come to my point. Do we have affordable megabit connection here? See below:

NOOooOO!! We don't!! We only have a simple 1 Mbps ADSL connection, and priced so much that you'll need to sell a few organs to be able to afford its monthly price of Rs.6000 = $190 = £100. In UK, you can easily get 8Mbps for around £12 per month. Ok, I might agree that UK has many more customers than us, and so it makes the service worthwhile to implement there. But does that mean that us Mauritians do not have the right to enjoy high speed Internet and the Web 2.0 Revolution? What we require now is not constant price decreases. We need speed. Speed at affordable prices.

Setting aside the price, even the service offered is really not worth it. I have a 512Kbps connection. Ask any Mauritian Internet user about their thoughts about their connection state during the day, and you'll get nearly the same reply: "IT SUCKS!!! DIE BIATCH!" and some other variants. Basically, the speed is soooo low during the day that you can barely use that connection for anything. With my 512Kbps with a top speed of 55KBps, during the day, it rarely goes beyond 8KBps. Meaning I am getting less than 20% of my speed during the day.

Why is that? Simple! Our networks can't handle the load. During the day, businesses, BPOs, Call Centres and all the other big bandwidth hogs use internet. With their big connections, IP over Frame Relay type, they take the whole bandwidth. But our ISPs are smart, and found an easy solution. Traffic Shaping, or some kind of shaping. Business-type connections get top priority, while Home-type users get "what is left" of the bandwidth. The situation returns to normal in the evening. Do not expect to see a rise in speed before 9pm.

What can we conclude? Our Cyber development is being squashed by our poor Internet services. With SAFE monopoly, the delays in EASSY Cable implementation, and the simple lack of good-will makes it difficult for us Internet users to enjoy the service. It is really a pain to see Rs.1860 on my telephone bill, when I see that I can get 16x my connection speed for Rs.1000. But what can we do? Take in the blow. Thank you my Republic Bananiere! Glory to thee, motherland... motherland of mine!

Oh yes, just in case you want proofs about my price and speed claims, check this out.

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  1. carrotmadman6 said...

    Nice article... summarises everything everyone has in mind about CyberMauritius. :P

    Cyber Tower!?! Bof, i find it really very funny that most people think that by building two buildings, we've become a cyber-island. As u said, we are still light-years away from the tech-hubs that are Silicon Valley or Bangalore.

    Yeah, it's really stupid to ask for IC3 at UOM & then redo the same thing with CSE1010e!?!?! I thought it was a little advanced, but no, it's the same thing. A real waste of time.

    The internet - no comments. :D

    ok, one thing i can't understand is whether BPOs or tech-companies, that intend to come to Mauritius, do search the Internet. Coz then, they would have discovered all those complaints about how pitiful our Internet is & maybe never come. :|  

  2. MBB said...

    We were too hasty to call this island a cyber one. Everyone was all excited to be put on the same level as the silicon valley or the cyberahbad. In reality Mauritius has just moved from the primary to the secondary sector, it would have taken many more years to call ourself a cyber island and live by the name. The IT sector is unfortunately still what we can call primitive.  

  3. InF said...

    I fully agree with what you people said. We are still very much in the prehistoric age of IT in Mauritius. And nobody is even bothering to do anything about it. Seriously, we are grossly over-estimating ourselves in terming Mauritius Cyber Island...  


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