For those of you with internet access in Vietnam, you have probably noticed that your bandwidth has decreased significantly as of late. Like me, you thought it was just a glitch that your ISP would fix in a couple of days. Maybe, like me, you made that one phone call to your ISP who, while struggling with your English, decided to send a technician to see what was wrong with YOUR computer.
I did exactly that yesterday. I contacted my ISP, FPT, after testing my bandwidth online. I was surprised to see that I was got download speeds of 60 Kbps (just slightly faster than dialup). This morning, I got about 400 kbps which seems like a lot but I used to get around 768 Kbps during the day and twice that in the evenings just a couple months ago.
The FPT guy was no help. He tried tweaking my laptop many times and told me that download speeds of 30 Kbps was acceptable. For me, it was not. I got a MegaHome package which offered up to 2048 Kbps. Now I know I could never get that but at least give me 768 kbps like it was several months ago.
To give you an idea on how slow the internet lines are here right now, during the day I cannot download any videos from YouTube.com. At 400 Kbps this morning, the videos at YouTube struggled download just ahead of the media player with stopping during play.
I addressed this with the FPT technician. After about 30 minutes, he finally told me that I should wait one week to a month for FPT to update their systems. He said there are currently too many users.
Now remember, Vietnamese normally do not give you the full truth when they are under pressure so I stopped to see exactly what he was telling me. Hmm, finally I got it. Next week APEC starts in Hanoi (November 12th). Visitors for the conference have already arrived in Vietnam. The conference lasts roughly one week and is very important to Vietnam. Could the bandwidth be diverted for use by APEC attendees up north.
I decided to check the bandwidth at Indochina Capital. Last month, you could download 700 megabytes files in roughly 2 hours with download speeds around 200 Kbps or more on T1 speeds. Today, I tested one laptop at roughly 100 Kbps. The entire network, run on a lease line, was running unusually slower.
Is it related to APEC. My bet is that it is. Vietnam still has limited bandwidth and there is no ATM structure in this country yet so it would have to limit its bandwidth resources during this crucial time. Unfortunately, most of us internet users never expected something like this to happen.
I do not mind giving up some bandwidth temporarily for the conference. My worry is that I will have to pay more in a month to get the same service I received, and already paid for, 6 months ago.
So, if you are wondering why your bandwidth speeds are slow in Saigon, now you know. Now for you lucky guys up north in Hanoi, I suspect your bandwidth may be quite faster than normal. Please let me know…