Powertel notified its subscribers today that starting 1 October, all mobile internet will be usage based. That is: subscribers will have to buy Gigabytes of data to use at a time. This is a departure from their daily, weekly and monthly unlimited bundles which they had come to be loved for.
Here are the Gigabyte based bundles that will come into effect from 1 October 2014:
- $23 will get you 1GB of data
- $39 will buy 2GB
- $58 will buy 3GB
- and so on to about $230 that buys 20GB.
The new pricing model just throws PowerTel back into the ordinary service category. This can’t be compared anymore to what Econet offers in the WhatsApp and Facebook bundles arena. Can’t even compete with Africom’s recently announced unlimited bundles (network coverage permitting that is) Zimbabweans are strapped for cash seriously right now and the less in absolute dollars they can pay just to get whatever kind of connectivity, the better. This is why the unlimited app specific bundles make sense. $3 for Facebook only a month means someone will do all their communication, file sharing, Zvirikufaya naKeda video watching and and whatever, on Facebook.
But even if people had the 10s and 20s to pay for mobile internet in a month, Powertel themselves were selling unlimited internet for just $35. Now, that can’t even buy you 2GB. We doubt Powertel has a choice. The internet economics are brutal. The unlimited internet was probably bleeding them too much revenue.
Powertel was relied on by many a startup and students to connect to the internet and download, upload stuff, take tutorials, read and do basic social media stuff. That may change. We don’t know by how much, but if you are a Powertel user, please let us know what this means for your connectivity?