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Speed Test: Zuku 8Mbps VS Faiba 5Mbps

I recently had the opportunity to have two fiber to the home (FTTH) Internet connections. These are the Zuku 8Mbps Internet connection which I have had for over 2 years (and has subsequently been upgraded to 10Mbps for new customers) and a Jamii Telecom (JTL) Faiba 5Mbps internet connection which I have had for just about a month. The Zuku service costs approximately Kes. 4,000.00 per month and includes cable TV and a phone line (ala triple play) whereas the Faiba service costs Kes. 5,000.00 per month just for the Internet service.

On the surface of it, it would appear that Zuku has the better deal since you get faster(?) bandwidth as well as cable TV and phone services for Kes. 1,000.00 less compared to Faiba. Now, I must confess that the only reason that I did get Faiba to begin with is that the Zuku service had been really horrible for weeks on end and I kept finding myself having to resort to Safaricom 3G which only happens to work on my balcony at home – not convenient, ideal or cost-effective. I needed to try out Faiba after many professed it was much much better than Zuku. For someone who does lots of work at home I simply needed a better ‘always on’ and uncapped Internet connection I could actually rely on. So, I bit the bullet and signed up, somewhat painfully so, for the Faiba service.

One huge upside of having both Zuku and Faiba Internet connections at home active at the same time is I was able to more or less objectively compare the two side by side for a couple of weeks. The truth be said having been on Zuku’s fibre service for over 2 years I had experienced everything from hyperspeed bandwidth (no kidding!) all the way down to a slow, erratic and unreliable service. The caveat all along had been the (perceived?) pain and inconvenience of trying alternatives in the market such as the said Faiba, which as far as I know is the only other FTTH service available in my area (no thanks WIMAX!).

In doing my comparisons, Zuku generally worked as well(?) as Faiba on most occasions, or so I thought. Indeed there was an incident where Zuku was up and Faiba was down for almost a whole day which confirms that the Internet can be something of a lottery in Kenya irrespective of which ISP you use? I tried downloads as well as uploads and it was somewhat difficult to determine which service was actually better than the other. So, to make the testing conclusive, I ran speed tests on various occasions and this is what I got:

Zuku 8Mbps Speed Test:

2014-07-06 17.21.56

 

 

 

 

Faiba 5Mbps Speed Test:

2014-07-06 17.09.09

 

 

 

 

In concluding, Faiba was able to achieve consistently faster speeds than Zuku even though the 5Mbps service from Faiba is actually supposed to be slower than Zuku’s 8Mbps service. Secondly, the Faiba service was only marginally ‘off’ what it should have been (as advertised?) whereas Zuku was working at less than 50% of the bandwidth it was meant to deliver. Ultimately, in terms of value for money, it would appear that Faiba is the better proposition, not to mention I have found it to be much more reliable (to-date?) than Zuku.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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40 Comments

  1. Jaffar Mohamed
    July 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm — Reply

    Nice post Moses. I don’t mean to be rude but if one is serious about data and depends on it for work then Zuku is the FIRST option to avoid. I wasted a lot of money on Zuku until i decided its better to pay a premium to the greens and get a service that actually works. There is a lot of positive vibe about Faiba from serious data consumers, i hope they can maintain an acceptable level of service and back it up with good customer care which is a foreign concept to the likes of Zuku.

    PS: Moses, i am banking on you to do a review on the BRCK.

    • July 24, 2014 at 9:28 pm — Reply

      @jaffar Noted & thanks. Once I get my hands on a BRCK you will read a review here for sure.

  2. Omar Ahmed
    July 25, 2014 at 2:43 am — Reply

    I am a network and systems security engineer. So having reliable internet for constant learning and the download of tens of bleeding edge versions of softwares weekly is next to a basic need.

    I have zuku 10Mbps. For some weird reason, my internet was faster while on the 8Mbps. They are unreliable and horrrible, but sadly faiba is yet to reach first parklands (Surprised?…Maybe?….zuku is dorminant here).

    Given, I do get 1MBps(MegaByte) speeds, but I have to download after 11pm at night. During the day, the most you will achieve is about 3-4Mbps(MegaBit).

    Their customer care is thoroughly untrained in both customer service and basic networking. Complaining will get you a harsh, “we only guarantee 10Mbps at the local loop”

  3. Bruce Pakinton
    July 25, 2014 at 10:23 am — Reply

    I am on the 8Mbps package and I have never had any problem with it. I recently ran a speed test and it gave me 9.8Mbps which is great. I can stream movies and it doesn’t hang or anything! Not to forget, the TV isn’t as bad either.
    So here’s at least one Zuku customer who’s pleased. I haven’t tried out anyone else, my friend recommended this as the fastest so I just upped and signed up. I sure as hell hope it keeps this way!!!

  4. Jisas Lema
    July 25, 2014 at 10:23 am — Reply

    Thanks for this post Moses; Been considering which of the two services to get and this post definitely helps; Having used Zuku’s business and home internet before, they definitely need to up their customer experience game!

  5. […] recently did a blog post here comparing the Faiba 5Mbps service to the Zuku8Mbps. Their prices are significantly higher with […]

  6. […] recently did a blog post here comparing the Faiba 5Mbps service to the Zuku8Mbps. Their prices are significantly higher with […]

  7. Mr. Smith
    July 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    Moses, have you tried a VPN connection on either Faiba or Zuku to see if your overall speed improves? Right now I’m in Botswana and when I experience slow speeds or an intermittent connection directly through the telco, I find I can sometimes get more reliable performance when connecting through a VPN. My VPN endpoint happens to be in the US.

    • July 30, 2014 at 6:40 pm — Reply

      @MrSmith I have never tried that. Not sure how this would improve bandwidth speeds to be honest but I have no need to connect to a VPN in my work. Thanks for the tip!

      • Mr. Smith
        July 31, 2014 at 12:03 pm — Reply

        My theory concerning VPN use and apparent speed/performance improvements could be the result of the network management (and international transit cost management) practices of the ISPs themselves. If, for instance, the ISPs perform traffic management by IP address/domain or Deep Packet Inspection, VPN use would tend to thwart such management and could result in better performance.

        Something else I just thought about is the DNS infrastructure of Zuku/Faiba. It would be interesting to see if switching to a different DNS resolver (Google: 8.8.4.4; OpenDNS: 208.67.222.222) could provide better results.

  8. yvonne
    July 30, 2014 at 8:19 am — Reply

    Good review. You’ve helped me decide.

  9. […] recently did a blog post here comparing the Faiba 5Mbps service to the Zuku8Mbps. Their prices are significantly higher with […]

  10. […] recently did a blog post here comparing the Faiba 5Mbps service to the Zuku8Mbps. Their prices are significantly higher with […]

  11. September 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm — Reply

    As much as the figures may be accurate, I wish to point out the following:

    1. shared bandwidth has the potential to vary across board and a standard speed test at one time will yield unreliable results since the number of users online at one time or their bandwidth usage, cannot be determined based on one speed test. The best approach to this would be (at least) 10 random speed test figures at random times for each provider averaged out.

    2. You are reviewing value for money. I pay 4,300 for Zuku 10Mbps, and I get good confirmed internet and throw in cabled TV. Faiba offer only internet (5Mbps) at 5,000 which is more money for less product.

    So I think the conclusion above is based on insufficient data but still if value for money is the goal, the Zuku takes the cake easily. I welcome thoughts on the same, if anyone sees different.

    • September 2, 2014 at 6:08 pm — Reply

      @DM Thanks for the feedback. I do not think its so much a question of insufficient data? I did several speed tests at various times of the day on a number of days and what I got in both cases was more or less consistent – Faiba was consistently faster and delivered as advertised – Zuku was not even though it is still very good value for money with a triple play offering. The issue at hand for me was quality of internet and whether they were really apples and apples or not? Clearly, they were not.

  12. Brian
    September 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm — Reply

    Zuku claim that the internet is not shared on their website. http://www.zuku.co.ke/fair-usage . We have we have Access Kenya 1mbs at the office and sometimes it clocks 93mbs and 7mbs at it’s slowest but we have an average of 83mbs down and 75mbs up on a 1mbs package. I don’t know about JTL but Zuku are using cheap DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems that affect the data rate.
    A week ago i signed up for the Zuku 1mbs package and i have never seen anything above 0.97mbs down.
    Lets wait and see if safaricom will change the game.

    • mhando
      December 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm — Reply

      i agree with you Zuku are using cheap crappy hardware. We also have 1mbs Access Kenya in the office and it clocks 97mbs up and 84mbs down with over 40 users connected.

  13. Sammy Njoroge
    September 21, 2014 at 8:24 am — Reply

    Nice review but I also happen to be one of the Zuku clients having a good experience at the moment

    90% of the time I’m OK with their service and the rest of the time I’m dropping packets like crazy. However I live with it considering I’m paying 4000 for contended “8 Mbps” and most of the time it works vs having to pay ~160,000 for the actual cost of 8 Mbps dedicated in kenya.

    I also believe Zuku customers are currently split across multiple contention zones based on their physical location. Having lived along Gitanga road the experience I had for 2+ years was terrible. Packet loss was constant and one Zuku support guy told me they had loads of interference issues on their infrastructure in some locations. I moved to Kirichwa road and the experience was immensely different. I can now stream Netflix at 720p, play on Xbox live quite reasonably so I’m happy 27 out of 30 days in a month. A friend who has a connection opposite Nairobi hospital for 2+ years has never had any experience of contention at all, for him it’s been roses and unicorns and he swears by Zuku.

    My main issue with JTL is their peering and international links. Last year I used them for an event and they provided a 50mbps link. I noticed YouTube, vimeo, Facebook etc were laggy despite the awesome bandwidth. A little digging and I found out unlike any sensible ISP they do not host any CDN mirrors. No “Google cache” so YouTube is streamed from Europe, gmail interface takes longer to load etc. No akamai cache so Vimeo, Apple(iTunes) and Facebook(static content) are being pulled from 200ms away. This was last year so that might have changed.

    Lastly I stick on Zuku because I have a hack that gets me my 8mbps or close to that as long as I can push 8 Mbps locally(which happens all the time) I have a google cloud compute instance that’s hosted in Europe, leveraging on the knowledge that Google has a POP in the region (which means ISPs handover their traffic locally into the Google network) I run a VPN instance on the VM in Europe and my traffic routing now becomes

    Home—zukuhq—googleincountrypop—googledc—internet

    The main gain here is that I get a very preferential route into Europe(internet), only downside is I loose the benefit of local CDNs. Basically i do this whenever I need to work the rest of the time I’m off VPN. I believe the same logic should work with Amazon EC2.

    Disclaimer: I may or may not work for one of the companies listed here.

    Would it be possible to provide test results from measurementlab.net, especially from the NDT tool.

    • Muriithi
      November 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm — Reply

      This is great. Doesn’t running a VPN violate service terms?

      • Sammy
        November 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm — Reply

        Running a VPN server that terminates at my zuku router as a profitable gig would probably violate their TOS. However in this case its a remote VPN service. All I’m doing is tunneling my data out. To zuku this is purely traffic to the internet

    • Sky
      March 1, 2015 at 2:31 am — Reply

      Sammy, so the disadvantage of the VPN is slower latency?
      What if one does the VPN on the R50? Will one get those speeds?

      • Sammy
        March 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm — Reply

        The disadvantage of the VPN is that you don’t benefit from any data that your ISP might have cached locally since all your traffic is encrypted all the way. As an example when you are watching popular Youtube videos in most cases the ISP has it hosted on a cache locally so you get a better experience.

        Regarding latency on my compute instance hosted in Europe I get ~150ms which isn’t that bad.

  14. December 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm — Reply

    Hi Moses. I am fed up with Zuku. How can I reach the faiba guys to get connected to the 5MBps data plan?

    • December 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm — Reply

      @felix drop a line to them on email? Check Faiba.co.ke.

  15. Vincent
    February 17, 2015 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    Thank you for this. I will definitely avoid Zuku. Please update when a more reliable cost effective Internet service provider enters the Kenyan market.

  16. Sky
    March 1, 2015 at 2:16 am — Reply

    Moses, how is faiba doing?

    • March 1, 2015 at 12:04 pm — Reply

      @sky its working just fine for me. No complaints. Delivers as advertised which is all that really counts 🙂

  17. muchai
    March 2, 2015 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    Thank you for the ultimate decider..made it easy for Me to choose wisely…faiba I hope you will treat me right and make me nice and to zuku(my ratchet gurl) It’s not you it’s me I hope you have a prosperous life

  18. April 29, 2015 at 10:19 am — Reply

    For me Zuku is WAAY better hands down. The results below confirm my assertion 🙂

    http://www.speedtest.net/result/4324623952.png

    • Wangai
      January 30, 2016 at 12:22 am — Reply

      You tested against a server in Nairobi, try Ping a server in say, South Africa, London, etc…

  19. Omar Ahmed
    June 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    Gotta say, zuku upped their game, and doing the math even if I pay for R20Mbps and I get 50% actual speeds, it is still half what JTL charges.

    Faiba is waaaaaay overpriced.

  20. Wabs
    December 22, 2015 at 9:48 am — Reply

    Moses, has your view changed? kindly let me know & thanks for taking the time!

    • December 23, 2015 at 9:53 pm — Reply

      @wabs I have not been able to test Zuku since when I did this review and switched over to JTL’s Faiba.

      • wabs
        December 24, 2015 at 7:36 am — Reply

        Thanks bro, I just wanted that confirmation to switch to JTL faiba. Happy holidays!!

  21. Wangai
    January 30, 2016 at 12:31 am — Reply

    There is a large growth of an online community that I am a part of and that is the online gaming, streaming community, Now when it comes to internet providers i have wished that FAIBA could expand there reach into other areas of Nairobi so that we can have that uncapped proper connection. Zuku ( even the 20mbps) does not provide the best value for money especially with instances of downtimes, high ping to servers that are hosting the online games and Bandwith caps. I am not pleased with ZUKU even in the slightest.

    • Mwaniki
      March 4, 2016 at 1:13 pm — Reply

      hi i work for Faiba where are you located mr Wangai

  22. dede
    April 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm — Reply

    hi
    in fact faiba its a shared platform like zuku so you can play online games
    only the first month and after its not possibe even skype with only 1 call and no vide
    WHY ? coz they put your ligne on FUP i experienced 2 times first month its ok after was not possible so i called FAIBA .. send email and like usually nothing so i stoped and this year in febuary i came back and the same thing .. first month it was ok and could play some MMOs like elde rscroll online …. but now same pb i cannot do what i want .. most of provider put torrent …online gaming on FUP …..

  23. Rosh
    May 23, 2016 at 10:10 pm — Reply

    Hi
    I am using Zuku 15mbps, the cheapest package currently and to say the truth I feel cheated. During the day WiFi is strong and stable but at night, it’s so weak you can barely use Netflix or even open your browser.
    In addition Netflix has an option of checking network speed, and at night it drops to as low as 7 and even 4mbps. As a consumer I feel exploited. ..I don’t even use their phone or tv. ..am only in zuku for the wifi. They need to answer for their exploitation.

  24. May 26, 2016 at 5:04 am — Reply

    There is ZUKU 4Mbps currently being rolled out. For Ksh 2000/= its the cheapest and fairest product. It is however not triple play, just internet. I have been using it for 6 months now and I get a constant 540kbps – 600kbps download. It might not seem much but its always constant and with Netflix I get up to 1080p resolution. Couple that with a vpn service that helps me unlock ALL the USA channels on Netflix and am good.

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