As promised last week, Zimfon today launched the new unlimited calling service targeted at the Diaspora. The service, if it sails through with no problems, maybe result in Zimfon (and Africom) terminating most of the international calls to Zimbabwe as, from what we can tell, the value proposition is quite significant. That said, it’s not clear if the regulator will let it fly seeing the line between this (international VoIP traffic routed via a local VoIP operator) and “traffic refiling” is quite blurred.
So how does the unlimited calling service work? Like so:
- A person in the diaspora gets a Zimfon VoIP line along with an app from Google Play or iTunes or any other VoIP client if they want. The service, from the way we understand it so far, is essentially an Africom VoIP similar to a Guro-o line in everything but name and app branding.
- Via the Zimfon website, the new diaspora client then proceeds to buy an Africom device & sim for their family here in Zimbabwe.
- In Zimbabwe the beneficiary of the diaspora bought device is then notified by Zimfon and they go pick it up at the nearest Africom or Zimpost shop. Over 100 branches thanks to Zimpost.
- The diaspora customer is then able to make calls to this beneficiary, and anyone with an Africom line, for a flat monthly of $13.99
According to Zimfon’s announcement today, the service will be available starting tomorrow.
The lingering question right now is whether this is legal according to Zimbabwe’s telecommunication laws. That is, can Africom (or an agent of theirs) legally sell a telecoms service to a customer who’s not in Zimbabwe. What about Know Your Customer (KYC)? A Zimfon representative we spoke to today, Brett Chulu, said as far as they were concerned, Zimfon is perfectly legal.
According to the release today, Zimfon was launched on May 23 at Zimexpo in Dallas, Texas. Aside from the new unlimited calling package, Zimfon already offers calls to Zimbabwe starting at 6 cents a minute (to Africom lines) and 12 cents a minute to other Zim networks.