Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


PowerTel launches a CDMA voice network without interconnection

PowerTelThe print Financial Gazette this week had a supplement with an announcement by PowerTel that the company is unveiling a voice network. It’s the voice network we first heard of more than a year ago when PowerTel said they were all set to launch and that interconnection agreements were complete. This week’s announcement confirms they over-promised  both on the “set to launch” and the interconnection front.

The company revealed this week that not only have they not interconnected with the other voice networks in Zimbabwe, they don’t have a billing system yet. “Interconnection has been finalised with other networks and we just await delivery of a state of the [art] billing software to launch at a large scale and with interconnection” says the announcement. And because there’s no billing system, like the mobile broadband service, voice is being sold on a flat monthly all-you-can-eat basis.

It’s clear from the announcement that PowerTel is considering the tariffs the main selling point here. Unfortunately, even at US $9 a month for unlimited calls to other PowerTel numbers, it’s not that attractive for the average consumer.

A competing CDMA network, Africom, already offers unlimited on-net calls for $10 a month and it doesn’t seem they have managed to attract any mass migrations from the 3 GSM networks in Zimbabwe. Now consider that Africom has interconnection with just about all the voice networks locally, and international interconnection. $1 less, for the significantly reduced offering of no interconnection is unlikely to send any business PowerTel way. Unless of course, being a government department, they come up with the some creative schemes to sell to civil servants.

As strange as it is in a country where mobile users complain about the high cost of voice telecoms, the real issue here for Africom and PowerTel is CDMA vs GSM and not high tariffs vs low ones. This is why all three GSM operators have ignored the more-than-50% lower tariffs by the CDMA competitors. If CDMA providers would resolve the difference of technology issue it would really go a long way helping their case.

In the announcement this week PowerTel proposes that new subscribers bring dual SIM mobile phones that accept both CMDA and GSM sim cards. Makes sense yes, but which prospective customer is going to go out looking for such mobile phones downtown?  How many shops are stocking these handsets? Why not just tell the customer to come and get the dual GSM/CDMA handsets at PowerTel (deposit free even) and pay them off over say 4 months along with the $9 monthly subscription? I know even I would consider such a deal.

Again PowerTel, the civil servants.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

8 thoughts on “PowerTel launches a CDMA voice network without interconnection

  1. The company revealed this week that not only have they not interconnected with the other voice networks in Zimbabwe, they don’t have a billing system yet. Kikikiki.

    How come technology companies always have loose ends when it comes to product launches? In this case, don’t be surprised to see an advert next week where they will be sourcing for a new billing system!

    1. They must “infrastructure sharing” the billing system and interconnection with the other state-owned telecoms companies, Telone and Netone. But hey when it was switched off by Econet over interconnection fees, Netone itself told us it had the same billing system for 10 years. ha ha

  2. Dear powertel, please perfect your data network before adding all these bells and whistles that will probably only make the internet worse as if by some odd chance people pick up your mobile service, voice usually gets more priority over cell towers meaning that our bad internet will just become worse.

  3. kudos to Powertel, you have just defined “half-baked” better than the Oxford Dictionary by giving us a real life example. That’s very brave of you to put your life on the line like that. I will remember you.

  4. Mr Kabweza, why don’t you consider becoming an IT Consultant for these “IT and Communications” companies of ours. Their minds seem to go blank the minute after conceiving a worthwhile idea. Particularly when it comes to conceiving ways and means to draw customers to purchase their services and products. And I thought these companies have highly qualified personnel with the know how to come up with such simple things… Where is the innovation! Surely for us to brag that we’re the most learned of Africans is unfounded! Oh wait… we are schooled but not learned. Just saying.

  5. smh @facebook-1609897541:disqus to talk about expertise in some of these institutions is laughable, nepotism is the qualification hence the standard…when will we stop taking the discarded carcass of the 1st world and try and implement here, such technologies like CDMA have been discarded by most telcos in the developed nations in favour of more IP centric implementations but we on the other hand hope to find honey in dead carcasses like Samson did…….#sadtruth

  6. I saw an advert in the press recently. They are calling for bidders who can supply a biiling system and a VAS system, yet they have launched their product kkkkk! The other thing is they should approach renowned and efficient CDMA handsets manufacturers so that they can source gadgets to sell as a bundled package. Jus look at what other operators are doing. Econet, NetOne, Vodacom, MTN, CellC, Verizon Wireless, AT&T etc… They bundle their their data & voice services with gadgets

Comments are closed.