Zimbabwe mobile tariff wars heat up as Telecel launches another free minutes promo

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

TelecelEven as they are in dispute with the largest mobile operator in the country, a traffic throttling issue that has escalated into a full blown “hey, go to hell!” situation in a short time, Telecel has gone on to launch a promotion that will certainly only add fuel to this price war. The promotion, called Super Voice bundles, is essentially modeled along the lines of NetOne’s “dollar a day“, the only difference being that NetOne’s is unlimited.

Here’s how the Super Voice bundles work: buying a $1 worth of airtime gets you 200 free minutes to other Telecel numbers at any time of the day or night. $0.50 gets you 90 mins. The great thing is that for those subscribers that use more than a dollar a day, this plus mega bonus reloaded, essentially means lots of free calls, both within the network and to other networks.

The other not so shiny part of the deal is that the free minutes expire after 24 hours so it’s a use or lose affair. If you were using a total of say just $5 a month, maybe a dollar every week or so, this is good, but not extremely exciting.

We are told the promo is successor to the Mo’Fire promo that’s just been retired. There’s no information on when this one will expire but we’re informed the company is just short of going “unlimited” calls for a dollar right now.

The one thing we asked ourselves when we got the news was whether Telecel has enough network capacity to carry a surge in traffic. Remember there were suggestion in their current row with Econet that the throttling may have been the result of an unplanned for sudden increase in traffic. Either way, lower voice calls are great for the consumer however they come.


  1. ic0n1c

    One word, “Amazing”!

  2. Kingnerdy

    Do they have a license now? Last week I bought a telecel line because my econet broadband was acting up. Well thanks econet broadband is now working. Imagine most of the time telecel network kaX kanongobuda and their internet is veeeeeerrrrryyyy slowwwwww.

    1. lurker133

      Interesting to know where you typically get these connectivity issues. I don’t experience much of this anywhere I go, in the triangle between Westgate, Hatfield, Domboshava. Always a good idea to report to the company, especially when they’re trying to stay in the game.

  3. Danny

    I think they are just trying to keep hold of their subscribers, many are already migrating to Econet since they cant make calls to Econet which is exactly what Econet was trying to achieve!

    1. William Blink Chui

      Some how I beg to differ, in fact I know A LOT of friends and family of have LEFT Econet to join Telecel. Number of reasons but most cited the “bullying” aspect

      1. kupa

        Its the other way round William

      2. Bargain Hunter

        All my contacts who had telecel lines have purchased econet buddie lines. They use telecel lines only when calling other telecel subscribers but otherwise almost everyone has a buddie as the main contact number

  4. KuraiMGT

    Enjoying this saga in my own Utopian way, games (strategic moves and retaliation) in corporate strategic decision making.

    In these times, that’s where multiple sims enable the consumer to cream off the benefits from both corporates.

    1. William Blink Chui

      Ahhhhhh, still tryna figure out what benefits the “other” corporate hase, save for it being the “first number that all my contacts have”????

      1. Bargain Hunter

        Ecocash, to name just one

        1. William Blink Chui

          Great!!! EcoCash is the benefitS that one gets??? Rightly so, it has brought convenience, but just can’t seem to see any other reason why someone will stick with this network that claims to be Christian and acts differently!!!

          1. Bargain Hunter

            Cool man! U have made it clear that you hate econet so just avoid their products. Personally I prefer econet to telecel or netone. Any many of my contacts use econet so I dont feel or suffer any loss from telecel disconnection.

  5. lurker133

    Unlimited calling would obviously be sweeter, but if you seriously want/need to spend more than 3 hours 20 min on the phone on any given day I’d say you have problems. This promotion is so sweet I can’t even give it the side-eye anymore. …on second thought, one thing I would resent is if the out-of-bundle voice credit was used up first when making on-network calls as happened with mega-juice.

  6. Muti

    Can they do that for internet?

    1. William Blink Chui

      Currently one can buy $10+ worth of data within a 30 day period and get 100% bonus for their purchase.

      With on-net calls (and I’m sure SMSes too that hopefully will follow) this revenue is NOT shared with anyone and the MNO keeps all the revenue. However, with cross network calls and internet access (in Telecel’s case) there are charges that are applicable to third parties and hence the room for flexibility is limited.

      However, the saddest thing of it all is that Ol’ Big Brother (who cuts off other networks citing “unfair advantages”) who own the data connections (in the form of Liquid) and have the ability to offer such promotions, only sees it fit to give its customers 90% discounts at midnight (if they’re lucky) or worse still $1 bonus after $50 purchases (anyone remember “bonus points”?)

      1. Muti

        Econet $50= 2,5 gig
        Telecel $50=1160 gig +1160 gig bonus = 2320
        So Econet is cheaper. Telecel should concentrate more on data promotions as opposed to voice calls because technically you can call anyone using Voip . i hardly call people using Gsm network.

        1. William Blink Chui

          As mentioned in my post above, flexibility on data is “limited” due to Telecel having to purchase this from other parties as they do not own the bandwidth. Econet is “cheaper” on ONE data bundle and they become cheaper across board? Hmmm…

          On calling any one using Apps like Skype, Viber, I doubt everyone has a “smartphone” like yours or worse still right now the networks seem to be churning out 2G speeds…

    2. kupa

      ma Zimbabweans nekuda zvemahara. Zvakaoma

  7. William Blink Chui

    Dear Writer,
    Just a couple of corrections to your article there:
    1. There is more than one difference (which you state that NetOne’s is unlimited) between this and NetOne’s $1/day promo. Firstly, there is NO time definition of the promo. It is for a period of 24 hours. NetOne’s requires that one can call another NetOne subscriber for 1 hour between 6am – 8pm, then “unlimited” from 8pm-6am the following day.
    2. One has to do more than just topup with $1, they have to “buy” voice bundles, a lot like data bundles to enjoy the benefits.

  8. Malcolm Moyo

    The problem here is Telecel. they must organize themselves and get a license to comply with law, what they are doing is illegal. probably a lot of back hand deals thats why potraz is quiet. The promotions are good but after paying $100 million they will not be offering free airtime like this. i have a number of friends who are now just using econet, people are leaving telecel over this disconnection issue.

    1. William Blink Chui

      Let’s revisit this issue in a couple of days once the licence issue has been resolved and see if Telecel is still offering such promotions. They’re “failure” to pay their licence was not because of lack of funds but simple because of a shareholding issue.

      Sadly Econet would have you believe that if MNOs have “paid” (Econet just paid a part of the licence fee and have a payment plan in place) their licence that they will not be able to offer better deals to their customers. This is a lie!!!

      As mentioned above, let’s see in the next few days once the “licence” issue is resolved whether such promotions will still be offered by Telecel.

    2. mjknm

      all other networks around thwe sworld do this, no econet yakaomera

      1. KuraiMGT

        May be true that econet yakaomera, but have you realised that same Econet group is the one doing the most in terms of investment to improve infrastructure, eg fibre, ecocash, were the first to have countrywide 3g.

        Using an industry lifecycle, the industry is still young (hence more investment is needed to ramp up capacity and improve integration). When the industry has matured, you will surely see the price competition heating up.

        In my opinion, the econet business model is more sustainable in the long term. Telecel’s strategy of price undercutting when you are a small player will only invite retaliation which might actually drive them to the brink.

        I like econet from a business perspective coz they are sharp shooters, they are diversifying their revenue streams, know the value of investing in their infrastructure.

        I would love to see Potraz figures for subscribers trends.

  9. Bond

    Nice article but how do I buy the voice bundles?

    1. mufay

      Dial *146#

    2. William Blink Chui

      Here’s how you can enjoy:
      1. Get a Telecel sim card and register it by dialing *177#
      2. Buy $1 or more worth of credit (you get 100% bonus for this, that allows you to call ALL local networks)
      3. Dial *146# and select option 1. Subscribe
      4. Select either Option 1. $0.50 for 90 mins, or $1 for 200 mins
      5. You will now have a voice bundle (of which you can check the balance by dialing *146#) and also your $1 bonus airtime. Your voice bundle is subscribed from your MAIN balance

      Calls are Telecel to Telecel, voice bundles are NON cumulative, can not be transferred or used when accessing emergency credit (*143#).
      You now have enough airtime to #TellSomeBUDDIE!!!

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