We just established that Econet suspended activating more subscribers on their mobile internet services since the beginning of October 2009. Apparently, this was because of an unexpected massive uptake of the 3G, Edge and GPRS services by subscribers which caused some network instability. Activated subscribers are still enjoying the services.
Activation of more subscribers will be resumed by the 1st of December 2009 in what they called the “second phase” of data services implementation. Along with this will come the change from a flat rate billing method to a usage based one which itself is perfectly timed for the Christmas holiday season when subscribers are not too wary of loosening the purse strings a bit. There’s still no answers on how exactly the usage billing itself will work or how much it will cost. The only indication so far is that it’ll be in line with regional standards.
Other regional operators like MTN and Vodacom use what they call data bundles. The data bundles are measured in megabytes (MB) so you’d get for example a 100MB data bundle. A typical data bundle has an in-bundle rate and an out-of-bundle rate. You pay a flat monthly fee for all in-bundle data, but once you burst the in-bundle data limit, the out-of-bundle rate will apply per MB. For example MTN South Africa charges R80 (about US $10.33 converted at today’s interbank rate) for a 100MB data bundle and once you’ve used it up, you start paying the out-of-bundle rate of R1.50 (US $0.19) per each megabyte.
Worth noting that the bigger bundle you buy the cheaper it is per MB for both in-bundle and out-of-bundle. Both MTN and Vodacom allow unused data bundles to be carried over to the next month for up to 2 months. If Econet adopts this method of billing, it will work out cheaper for non-intensive internet users. Intensive users who’ve been downloading videos, music and pictures (who by the way hold much of the blame for Econet’s decision to suspend new data subscribers) will have to fork out for the entertainment.