If I were to make a list of things that I absolutely hate: capped internet connections and paying for my internet on a per megabyte basis would not only make the list but top it as well. I know that there are a lot of people out there who share my malcontent with this sort of pricing model. The paucity of unlimited mobile broadband packages is either testimony to how clueless mobile network operators are or more likely their unwillingness to create deals that they feel will endanger their cash cows. This has resulted in people having to burn a hole into their pockets just so they can stay online while on the move. Today I will share with you an easy and cheap solution to circumvent this problem.
The top 3 mobile network operators: Econet, Telecel and Netone have displayed quite the aversion for unlimited mobile broadband packages and have instead obstinately stuck with charging on a per megabyte basis. There are other operators who offer unlimited packages with Powertel and Africom being popular examples. To use the later you need a special handset that has CDMA EVDO capabilities. These are not as popular as handsets with 3G/GSM capabilities which means you are going to have to do some hunting and most likely end up making sacrifices on the type of handset you buy. Also these other operators only have modest network coverage when compared to the Big Three.
- Buy a mobile WiFi device that can be used on a CDMA network. Powertel has these selling for $80 and Africom used to sell these for $75- I don’t know if the price has changed. If you are frugal like me, then you should visit everbuying.com and buy the MiFi device for a mere $22.
- For what its worth I would recommend buying the MiFi device from everybuying.com. ( Just take care to select the free shipping option otherwise you will end up paying a fortune to DHL and ZIMRA.) And before you start condemning this device for being Chinese you should know that the devices in local shops are probably Chinese too. This device also supports WCDMA which means,even if you are crazy enough, you can use it with a GSM/UTMS SIM card and dongle from Econet/Telecel/Netone.
- This is a plug and play device. It also has an RJ45 interface and can be used as a USB dongle on the host machine. It has a 5 hour battery that you can use to create a mobile WiFi connection for your phone without having to go through all that bundles pain.
- The device is essentially a mini router which means it supports NAT and all the basic voodoo that you would expect from a router.
- I would also recommend using this with Powertel. In case you missed the news you can now have unlimited internet from them for $1.20 per day. Their speeds can be slow sometimes but this is unlikely to affect your surfing speeds on a tablet or phone. And no, handina kubhadharwa.
This is certainly not a perfect solution but it will have to do for a while as we wait for this to be the year of unlimited mobile broadband packages. Sooner or later the operators will give in and we will hopefully be able to see below a $50/month package for all you can eat.
Picture from everbuying.com