Just when everyone had agreed that Econet and the other GSM mobile operators in Zimbabwe are scared of VoIP, the largest telecommunications firm in Zimbabwe has come out to launch that very service. Tomorrow, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe will launch Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services at an event to be held in Harare.
This has come as a surprise and we’re quite curious and excited to see what exactly Econet will unveil tomorrow. Expect some live updates on our Twitter stream in the morning.
We’re still trying to get some detailed information from our sources and so far what we have is that Econet will launch a VoIP service that will let subscribers use their ordinary 077 mobile phone numbers. Still it’s not clear how exactly this will work. That is, will this be a transparent-to-the-user kind of mobile VoIP where some Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) servers will provide SIP based services to ordinary subscribers, or if this will be a visible value added option for subscribers with high end smartphones to enjoy cheaper and more convenient calling wherever they have an internet connection. Or maybe a mix of the two.
The other possibility, which the above however kind of rules out, is an independent (of 077) VoIP service bundled with Econet Broadband that will probably be targeted at businesses. Econet has, via Data Control (Ecoweb), the required license to offer such a service so it’s still a possibility.
What’s not clear is how this helps Econet’s revenues in the short term. VoIP has mainly been a disrupter of the traditional GSM and fixed telephony especially for long distance calls. One convenient thing about VoIP is that all locations on the internet are ‘equal’ so long distance costs for the operator are not as high and this saving may be passed on to the subscriber. But again we have no idea if this will mean lower price per minute for the subscriber or just higher margins for Econet.
Help us speculate in the comments below, especially you the Econet guys.