When Africom launched its mobile phone service last month, it conspicuously lacked one thing any mobile operator needs to offer voice – Interconnection to other operators. The company only had live interconnection to the country’s smallest mobile operator (by number of subscribers), Telecel. The interconnection deal that matters most, the Econet one, wasn’t done yet.
Not surprisingly, Africom didn’t disclose it clearly in their launch adverts in the press that interconnection was an issue. You’d only learn of this deal-breaking fact after reading the fine print or attempting to buy an Africom SIM card at the Africom stores. And considering Africom has the lowest voice tariffs in the country, this was a quite the frustration.
Africom has fixed it.
Well, a huge part of it at least. Starting this week (6 July), Africom subscribers can now call Econet numbers.
This is clearly a big deal as Econet is the largest mobile operator in the country, but again, Africom is not blowing the trumpet over this achievement. In fact, the new mobile operator has curiously not even mentioned it. When we called today the Africom offices today, no one would speak on record.
We’re told interconnection with the state owned operators, TelOne and NetOne, should be coming in a week or two. Then international interconnection after that.
Interconnection in Zimbabwe is clearly a problem. The issue always comes up when we talk to executives at new telecoms companies entering the voice telephony market. And the issue seems very sensitive. The problems are known but no one will dare complain publicly about it, lest they make life more difficult for themselves.
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