Recently, Telecel introduced a voice for data promotion. For every $1 worth of airtime purchased, subscribers receive $1 worth of data for free. The company has not yet rolled out a formal campaign to launch its data services which have been operating under the radar for nearly two months. Prior to this the network has been running a trial service for over one and a half years.
The promotion is a welcome development locally for small to mid level data users and perfectly suites those mobile only usage. Telecel’s data capabilities were previously questionable as it did not control any access to international bandwidth and thus was slow and erratic. Techzim has reached out to the company to find out its position in this regard.
Telecel currently charges US$0.10 per megabyte. We have communicated with the company to find out how long the free data promotion will last. With the new offer Telecel effectively out dribbles its competition.
Econet Wireless, the nation’s leading network has a robust data network through its strategic relationship with Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless International. With the largest number of mobile subscribers in the country (almost 3 times the size of the second largest), Econet has taken advantage of the its near monopoly status to charge high data rates (US$0.15 per megabyte currently).
The state owned mobile network; NetOne recently flighted press ads promoting its upcoming data services. As a parastatal, the company has an advantage of piggybacking on TelOne’s international fibre bandwidth (through EASSy) or through PowerTel’s SEACOM access. Powertel actually operates from NetOne’s Kopje building. The pricing strategy is yet to be seen. As recently reported, Telecel’s bigger brother advantage in the Vimpelcom Group will lead to a lot of cost and expertise advantages as the group is the sixth largest telecoms operator in the world.
Africom, a CDMA network and Internet Access Provider, has silently gained data customers through its game changing $18 for 1 Gig campaign (and US$0.11 for a megabyte thereafter). The company is now making a leap towards voice services. Its major undoing is the second fiddle position CDMA has found itself in around the world as GSM is the defacto standard worldwide. The ‘why buy another phone’ debate can perhaps be answered by the cheaper (by more than half) voice costs the operator and others (Spiritage and PowerTel) are charging.