PowerTel Opens Up 3G To More Subscribers As Mobile Broadband Competition Heats Up

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We’ve just learnt that PowerTel, the state owned Internet Access Provider, has opened up its 3G service PowerConnect, to more subscribers. Powertel launched the mobile Internet service in 2007 but stopped signing up more subscribers after its network system reached capacity.

Opening PowerConnect to new subscribers follows a network expansion project that has seen higher capacity base stations for the service being installed to augment the existing infrastructure. In addition to the greater Harare, coverage is also extending to more cities. According to PowerTel sales and marketing manager, Mr. Willard Nyagwande, the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru and Kwekwe will be switched on in the coming two weeks.

Mr. Nyagwande also revealed that the expansion project has boosted the 3G subscriber capacity to about 10,000.

You will realize ofcourse that the past two months have been about the launch of mobile broadband services from two other leading Internet access providers. Africom launched its own 3G service just a few weeks ago and were it not for some internal delays we hear are going on there; the provider would have released the mobile broadband tariff schedule four days ago. Econet, the largest telecommunications company in Zimbabwe just suspended its Ecoweb 4G service in preparation for the launch of a more comprehensive Econet Broadband service in a week from now.

The consumer is getting bombarded with so much choice it’s hard to imagine that just three months ago, the only mobile broadband solution was the insanely overpriced Ecoweb 4G service. The providers are throwing in a service every week you can be forgiven to think we have a mobile broadband war brewing right before us. And such neck and neck competition benefits none other than us the consumers.

If we were to compare compare prices that have been released to the public so far, the PowerTel service would take the most affordable service award. But affordability doesn’t speak for quality of service, and Techzim hasn’t tested the new service yet so the jury is still out on that one. PowerTel is charging a flat monthly charge of US $50 for uncapped bandwidth.

Mr. Nyagwande hints they may revise it downwards and we suspect PowerTel is waiting for the Econet and Africom tariff schedules to see if they can beat them by a few dollars. We’re trying to get more details about the Africom service post the one month free bandwidth promotion, and we’ll update once we do. With the widest coverage and the biggest purse, Econet will probably make it very hard to beat their price. But Econet doesn’t have the cleanest record when it comes to service quality.

What are your thoughts? Will you buy the PowerTel service? Will you wait for Africom launch of paid mobile broadband? Or maybe you’ll wait for Econet. Please let us know in the comments below.


  1. kodza

    seems like the broadband wars are beginning to take casualties-the customers themselves.My connection provided by Powertel has suddenly seen a drop in quality and reliability and im left wondering if i should pay for this month or just wait to try Econet again.It seems the Zimbabwean customer is now spoiled for choice,unfortunately not all of it comes our way

  2. Deiey

    We are all spoiled for choice true, and the key to make the dicision lies in how affordable the service will be against the quality of service each organisation is going to privide. Let us look at it this way, at the moment all these broadband service providers have one issue in common, poor quality in service, Econet toping them most as it is some sort of monopolistic organisation. For the benefit of the doubt, it is wiser to wait and see who will grab the chunk of our choice…

  3. Muroro

    I can see a broad band bubble developing in the market place. Not that I would complain about competition on the supply side of the broadband value chain, but the truth is that the bubble will develop unless services on the demand side grow rapidly (and critical mass of new user segments adopt and get hooked to data) there wont be sufficient broad band spend to be shared around. And thats not all folks!…there is another broad player testing. Lots of choice in broadband offerings at the moment but collapses and consolidations of providers, going forward.

  4. sir allen

    my money is on econet but the one who offers the cheapest unlimited bandwidth will be my choice.africom needs to open some offices in the CBD if thy ar thr then thy shld let us knw hatinga vafambire kueastle.

  5. Bob

    I suspended my PowerTel account because it was getting so bad. I’m on Econet now and although it’s clearly not 3G,it’s not too bad – the biggest plus being that usage is unlimited.

    I think I’ll wait a couple of months till things settle down and make my choice then.

  6. Titus

    I fully agree with you. The article about ZIAPA,(or more correctly Telco) fighting ZOL and WiFi last mile connectivity, demonstrates the shallowness of marketing and business strategy by this crowd. It appears they are all fighting for the “Who was First” crown whilst totally disregarding the critically important element – service delivery that customers can swear by. I do not see room for more than 3 access providers with enough bandwidth to satisfy this very young broadband market whose growth potential is not that big anyway. It’s all a game of numbers; we’re not China, India or Nigeria!

  7. maston

    i guess i’m all too used to the hype these companies create only to be disappointed.lets wait and see

  8. Robert Matibili

    I have been hopping about from one network to another and i really uceeded in making myself more confused. When is the jury out? Why has TechZim not tested all of these providers and give us a fair assesmet of each. Todate, so far, i think the cheapest internet is offered by one obscure company that charges usd10 per month for unlimited acces via a usd160 modem and simcard. I have been on this service for the past two months and it works just fine. It does drops here and there, but its easy to reconnect. This service is however quite absurd if i take the modem to my office in town as i will ot be able to connect or/ once i connect, the speed will be unbearable. But at home in the high density surbabs of Fio where i reside along willowvale….the service is greater than any i have ever seen. As long as noone can beat this service,i will stick to this company. Altenatively, i have been making contact with get2netbroadband. Its a cheap satellite internet service which charges usd49/month. I havent tried it, i am in the process of acquiring it. I expect the usual problems of POTRAZ, but i will get thru them as i intent to install this service kumusha and quietly pay my bills and make no noise about it. As it is, POTRAZ is the biggest impediment to cheap internet access in ZImbabwe. Unless we deal wih the elephant in the house head on….we will continue being sweet talked by these local companies as they cant afford to charge less because of the prohibitive licence charges they are compeled to pay to POTRAZ. For now, i surf the net discreetly on my affordable service until this creature is tamed. HAPPII SAFING

  9. Titus

    Agreed. Potraz is the greatest impediment to the country’s ICT growth. It’s time we had a lobbying group that stands for the interests of the end-user, corporate or individual. Perhaps you might like to read my comment on ZOL’s Press Statement

  10. Tendai

    YES, YES and YES i will buy powertel’s product. I think we can all witnesss to what econet did when they launched their product…..In fact they are still doing it nw….They lost my vote. Id rather give powertel a chance, at least they havent betrayed us ….YET

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