News Slow internet is frustrating

Tien, the manager of a computer store in the paper bridge district of Hanoi, said: “It used to take only a few seconds to download a file of several hundred megabytes. Now I count my blessings and the download is successful.”

A reliable internet connection is critical to the success of any computer store, he said.

Tien has signed up to internet packages with three different providers and has even installed an internet booster to ensure maximum connection speed even if one of the operators experiences an outage.

In Hanoi, a person measures internet speeds with a personal computer and mobile phone. Photo: VnExpress/Luu Quy

However, earlier this week, four of the five undersea cables linking Vietnam to the world snapped. In fact, Vietnam currently has only one fully functioning submarine cable, which slows down the internet between Vietnam and the rest of the world to a crawl.

On January 30, when Tien tried to download some software from a foreign website, he was shocked to find that the download speed was less than 1Mbps, hundreds of times slower than before.

That has upset both stores and customers, he said.

Software installations that normally took just a few minutes now suddenly take much longer due to slow network speeds.

Even the most basic Internet browsing activities are not as smooth as they used to be.

Tien often plays 4K YouTube videos for customers to check the screen quality of the equipment. But now, all the videos he tries to play are downgraded to the lowest quality.

On e-commerce sites, the high-definition images customers use to check the quality of products they’re considering buying have been blurred.

Nhat Anh, who heads a digital startup in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan district, is stressed out by user and operational issues whenever his company’s internet goes down.

“Unreliable internet connections slow down my employees’ workflow,” he laments. “Customers who are unable to access the service also believe there is a problem with our service.”

January 30, vietnam express Surveyed more than 5,500 users and found that 93% of respondents had slow internet speeds, while 5% had no change in internet speed and 2% had faster internet speeds.

Some Internet Service Providers indicated that this is a more serious Internet connection problem than they have experienced before.

Huynh Anh from HCMC said that whenever the internet at home fails, he usually switches to 4G. He complained that this approach is currently “useless”.

“Due to the nature of my job, I have to access social media sites for professional purposes every day,” he said. “However, even a single image took a long time to load. Both Wi-Fi and 4G connection speeds were poor.”

No image displayed when using the Facebook app on a mobile phone with an LTE connection in Hanoi, January 31, 2023. Photography: VnExopress/Luu Quy

No image displayed when using the Facebook app on a mobile phone with an LTE connection in Hanoi, January 31, 2023. Photography: VnExopress/Luu Quy

What is slowing down my Internet connection?

Internet speeds in Vietnam have been erratic for several months after connection problems with submarine cables AAG, APG and AAE at the end of 2022, with connections via AAG and APG completely cut off.

Also, the Intra Asia (IA) cable experienced problems on January 28th.

The latest rupture means only one submarine cable, SMW3, which connects Vietnam globally, remains operational.

A representative of internet provider Viettel said it was the first time that four major submarine cables linking Vietnam to the rest of the world had problems at the same time. Operators have implemented all the best solutions to deal with this problem.

A representative of VNPT said that the simultaneous problems of these four cables means that Vietnam’s international Internet connection will be more or less affected, especially during peak user hours and those online activities that require high Internet bandwidth (online games, video streaming, etc.).

Service providers said they were working with those managing submarine cables to resolve the issue and deploy other measures to optimize data transmission. But many people say their internet connections still haven’t gotten any faster.

The unusual internet transmission issue comes as Vietnam struggles to advance its communications infrastructure.

As stated in its 2022 annual report, the Ministry of Information and Communications aims to bring 76% of the population online by 2023.

One of the goals of the telecommunications industry between now and 2024-2025 is to increase regional and international Internet connectivity, with the goal of making Vietnam a regional connectivity hub.

However, international links linking Vietnam to the rest of the globe are considered insufficient.

Vietnam currently has seven submarine cables connected: SMW3, AAG, IA, APG, AAE-1, SJC2 and ADC.

The fastest data for December 2022 shows that Vietnam’s fixed broadband internet speed reached 82 Mbps, ranking 46th globally, while mobile internet speed reached 42 Mbps, ranking 51st globally.

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