You’ll remember that some four months ago, Telecel Zimbabwe started testing a co-branded Opera Mini browser for its subscribers. The browser was being automatically pushed to Telecel subscribers’ mobile phones. Today, Telecel just announced through a press release that they have now entered a partnership with Opera Software for this.
So what exactly are you getting here? Basically, Opera Mini is the best browser out there for feature phones. Any phone actually. It improves the whole experience greatly; speed, layout, ease of use etc… You will also have some of your speed dial icons replaced Telecel’s own, which is good for some and obviously not so good for those that prefer total control of what goes where.
One thing our sources speculated on back in February was that, along with the official launch of this partnership, Telecel would provide free access Facebook to its subscribers. We don’t see that anyway in the release. Free Facebook access via mobile network operators’ mobile broadband connections is already being offered in other countries in Africa and Telecel locally is known for knocking down prices and freebies, so they’ll probably eventually provide it. Or they may be beaten to it by competition.
Here’s the full text of the press release:
Telecel Zimbabwe’s parent company, VimpelCom, has entered into a partnership with Opera Software to deliver a mobile web browser optimised for low cost handsets, enabling mobile phone subscribers to access the internet with ease.
The co-branded VimpelCom Opera Mini mobile browser is being launched across all the group’s operator brands in 18 countries, making it possible for more than 200 million VimpelCom customers to access a rich, fast and data efficient mobile browser that is ideal for low cost mobile phones.
Customers of Telecel Zimbabwe, which took part in a pilot test project with Opera Mini beginning on February 20, are already able to access the browser. The new browser can be accessed from mobile phones by visiting m.opera.com, which is the official Opera Mini mobile website.
Telecel Zimbabwe is among the first of the group’s operating companies to benefit from the VimpelCom-Opera partnership. It is the only Telecel company and the only VimpelCom subsidiary in Africa being included in the initial launch of the browser.
Other countries in which the VimpelCom optimised Opera Mini browser is being launched in the first phase are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Russia.
Later in the year and early next year a further 12 countries will be added, including Algeria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Ukraine, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Telecel Zimbabwe managing director John Swaim said the Opera Mini browser had already demonstrated its potential among Telecel Zimbabwe customers during the test phase.
“It is a smart mobile browser that delivers a fast, improved internet browsing experience for low-cost mobile phones and yet reduces the amount of data transferred over our network,” he said.
He said the demand for mobile internet access was rapidly accelerating among Telecel Zimbabwe’s subscribers, as it was in other emerging markets, where it is outpacing the penetration of smart phones and the deployment of 3G networks.
“The VimpelCom Opera Mini browser will enable all our customers to experience the mobile web and the exciting benefits this brings,” he said.
“It enables us to deliver a fast, enriched, enjoyable, user-friendly and data efficient mobile internet service to our customers, regardless of how advanced their handset is,” Mr Swaim said, adding that the browser would help customers to embark earlier on their journey to a smart phone internet experience.
The Opera browser employs advanced compression technology, allowing users to dramatically expand their web experience with each and every megabyte they consume, while keeping costs down.
“As our customers will know, providing high quality services at an affordable cost has become one of the hallmarks of Telecel Zimbabwe,” Mr Swaim said.
“Providing the best possible value for money is one of the core values we committed ourselves to when we rebranded in February this year. We are therefore delighted by the new possibilities that the partnership between our parent company and Opera Software have opened up for our subscribers.”
In addition to offering cost effective access to the web via a mobile handset, the VimpelCom Opera Mini application places high importance on user experience and functionality.
Customers can customise their own browsing experience and access their favourite pages with one click, directly from the home page, using speed dials. Multiple browsing sessions can be enabled through dedicated tabs.
VimpelCom chief commercial officer Mikhail Gerchuk said in most of its markets VimpelCom will be the first operator to provide this innovative mobile service.
Opera Software chief executive Lars Boilsen said the partnership would enable VimpelCom subscribers to better enjoy the mobile web.
“The Mini-Opera mobile browser is already loved by more than 160 million users worldwide and we are continuing to look for ways to help users further embrace the growing trend toward mobile web access,” he said.
“With over 200 million subscribers and many popular operator brands in different regions, VimpelCom is in a great position to contribute significantly to the mobile web boom we’re experiencing worldwide.”
And here is the VimpelCom release announcing the same thing but at global HQ level.