You may have noticed Guroo over the past several days. Or Guro-o if we go by the new service’s domain name and logo. It’s a product by Africom and in case you are wondering how that’s pronounced, it’s ‘guru’ as in expert. It’s a new VoIP service the company has launched. Africa’s first, they are saying.
You can access the service on guro-o.com where you can register for a VoIP account. Once you are registered you can use a VoIP client of your choice but Guroo makes it easy by providing downloads of the most popular clients as well as providing links to VoIP apps in the Google Play Store and Apple Store. Once you are setup, you can buy credit from the guro-opay.com website where you have the option to pay either using Paypal, Visa or ZimSwitch Vpayments. Unfortunately when we tried to use Vpayments (which is the option that will be most available to most users in Zimbabwe) we got this error.
But Guro-o may not be targeted primarily at people in Zimbabwe. The good broadband VoIP requires as a minimum is very pricey and unaffordable for most people here. So we’ll assume it’s targeted at the international market; Africa? The Diaspora? But now out there the competition is not just traditional mobile telephony; there’s Skype and other VoIP services like it so the only cheap call destination will be Zimbabwe. We’re not sure how big a proposition that is but let’s see.
That brings us to tariffs. We are told they are the same as the regular Africom voice tariffs, that is calls to other Guroo (and Africom) numbers are 6 cents per minute and those to other Zim networks 12 cents. Other Zim networks, a source at Africom told us, doesn’t include NetOne. We’re shocked it has taken this long to interconnect!
Of course we’re not buying the “Africa’s first” claims. It’s a VoIP service and there’s nothing first about VoIP in Zimbabwe, let alone Africa. We don’t think they were serious about that so wild claims aside, Africom coming out with guns aimed at mobile telephony is exciting and a sign of changes to sweep the market. Remember Econet launched a similar service last year, and immediately went into hush mode with it, realising it would canibalise a healthy GSM voice cash cow. VoIP’s time is at the beginning and Africom realises they need a foot in. Econet, we’re told, also realises they need to come back actively into VoIP and they’re doing it via an internet subsidiary.
Unlike regular mobile telephony, rolling out VoIP is not dependent on expensive network infrastructure so a foot in first for Africom is a big deal if they can market it well and make money from it!