We just got information that Ecoweb, the ISP arm of Zimbabwe telecoms giant, Econet, will start selling their 4G mobile WiMax next week. According to our source, Ecoweb is just waiting for an approval of the proposed pricing by the telecoms regulatory authority POTRAZ.
We got a glimpse of the pricing and hey, dear reader, if you want a piece of the latest (and ideally fastest) mobile internet in town, please prepare to reach deep into your pockets. The mobile WiMax dongle like the one pictured here will cost US $170. The dongle attaches to the USB port to enable your PC to connect to the WiMax network. Like Econet’s 3G, internet access is a flat monthly charge. But don’t let that ‘flat’ word fool you; it’s US $100 per month!
A usage based billing method has also been proposed but charges start at US $70 for half a gigabyte. Ecoweb’s competitor, ZOL is currently selling a gigabyte for $110 through its wireless hotspots spread across the country. Not to compare Wi-Fi to mobile WiMax of course; in terms of usability mobile WiMax is significantly superior.
There’s no telling if Ecoweb will stick to these prices at launch, and frankly we hope they don’t. Our advice to them is to revise downwards in the region of 50 – 60% to make it worthwhile for the typical Zimbabwean internet user. But then again, maybe this is not targeted at the average internet user.
4G, a cellular wireless standard, is the 3G successor. Econet launched 3G services on its network in August last year but suspended new subscriptions just a month after launch, citing capacity issues and has not resumed new subscriptions since.
Ideally, with mobile WiMax you should realise speeds in the range of 100Mbps. But please, don’t expect to get that, and it’s not just a Zim thing. Like any Internet access technology, the actual internet speed is as good (or as bad) as the outgoing international link. Downloads and uploads to local Zimbabwe sites should be reasonably faster though.
Will you buy yourself some 4G mobile WiMax at launch? We’d love to know your thoughts.