Bye Bye Bandwidth, APEC is here


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 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…


  1. Hey Kevin. I’ve just discovered your blog through Charvey in Vietnam’s link-up. Interesting posts….! I will be browsing the archives when I should be working. I’ll add you as a link on my blog — the number of bloggers in Saigon has really taken off!

  2. Helu, I’m a Vietnamese Teen. I know what u thought about the bandwidth and the behavior of FPT technician. I experienced it before. Im using MegaVNN served by Vietnamnet. My bw is about 80 kByte per second (~650 kbps). U should check the unit again.

  3. Sorry to get in here so late, but I just got to this posting and need to add some thoughts here. On the day President Bush was here (20 November), my FPT service dropped (seemingly) to 1kbps or less, if that is possible. Nothing was moving. My wife called FPT and screamed and yelled for a half-hour, and they finallly sent a technician over. He brings up his bitrate measurement program and shows me that the service was providing the 1,536 kbps promised under the MegaStyle program. I showed him that the NYTimes site was crawling in at virtually 0. Then he types in a URL for a Vietnamese newspaper and it pops right up! The lesson learned here is that the overseas internet connections were brought to a halt by overseas media focused on APEC and the leaders’ movements. My wife had to eat a bit of crow.

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