Goodbye Powertel, hello…

Posted by Read 16 Comments

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So you have read about my niggardly thoughts on Powertel’s bundles. I really hate not knowing what I am going to spend on my internet connection in advance. The good news is that I know exactly how much I am going to spend on my internet next month: $50.

After Powertel’s switcharoo I went out and found rebound love in the arms of iWayAfrica’s rocket mobile internet. Rocket has been around for a while now, we wrote about it last year. It is rather surprising therefore that no one has done a review of the service up until now.

This is an EVDO (an evolution of  CDMA) based service just like Africom, Powertel and, I am told but have never been able to verify, Telone.

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Rumor is that iWayAfrica’s Rocket service makes use of Powertel and Africom’s network boosters but provide their own bandwidth in addition to using their own network boosters, an arrangement that has given them extensive coverage in a short space of time. I or the folks at the iWayAfrica desk could not confirm the rumor however.

According to the folks at the information desk Rocket Mobile internet covers the following areas:

  • Harare: Causeway, Ardbennie, Msasa NRZ, NRZ, Kopje, Pockets Hill, Westgate, Moffat Heights, ZESA, Warren Control,Kamfinsa, Kuwadzana, Belgravia, High Glen, Zengeza, Waterfalls, Warren Park, Helensvale, Kopje Plaza, Sports Club, Chisipite, Arundel, Aspindale, Good Hope, Century House, Msasa ( Has no utility power) and Airport
  • Bulawayo: NRZ, Montorose, Nkulumane,Pumula, Cowdry Park, Lobengula, UBH (Has no Utility Power), Highlanders, CBD and Power Station.
  • Chitungwiza: Makoni, C-junction, Zengeza,Pinewood and Aquatic Complex
  • Mutare: Dangamvura, Cecil Kopje and Fidelity.
  • Gweru, Bindura, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Ruwa, Rusape and Norton.

As far as I could gather this is a list of the network boosters that they can make use of. It would be nice to have all this information on a colour coded map showing exactly where you can get a signal and make use of the service but it seems Zimbabwean ISPs have an aversion to that practice.

If you live within the vicinity of any of these areas you should be able to get a signal. The service makes use of EVDO Rev A which has an approximate base station signal coverage of about 29km so if you live in Harare you should be able to get a signal pretty much anywhere. For example I live in Epworth ,12 km from the Airport and 8 km from Ruwa as the crow flies, so I am able to make use of both base stations.

The service will cost you $50 per month and you do not have to go through this bundles nonsense. Their USB dongle costs $35 so you have to pay an initial cost of $85 for the first month.

It is also possible to use your Powertel (my Africom dongle appears to be locked to their network) dongle with the service but you will still have to purchase their dongle nevertheless. I have discovered however that ZTE USB dongles do offer better results when compared to Huawei dongles on sale at iWayAfrica so if you have one of the former you would do well to switch the new SIM card into it. As usual this is a prepaid service.

Although their website says the set up is so easy, it could be done by a child, is not exactly true. Perhaps because their Huawei modem does not allow for great service provider customization you will have to enter some of the settings manually.

I have found out that Google’s DNS service is much better than their inhouse DNS. The service also uses Mweb South Africa as the internet gateway so you might have trouble/luck when dealing with IP-based services like name.co.zw and selfservice.dstv.com.

The speed is nothing to write home about but it is decent during peak hours and can be awesome during off-peak hours. It is not at all unusual for the connection to yield speeds of 2 Mbps during this period.

speedtest

Speeds are tolerable when using a download manager.

A routine download during peak hour

A routine download during peak hour

Rocket might be a safe haven if you are running away from bundles, require an affordable internet connection without fretting about how much you have used or bundle messes and just want to pay a fixed amount for an internet connection that is usable and mobile.

iWayAfrica also provides you with a customer login portal to change your email password and check your balance, a feature that appeals to my parsimonious self.

Have you used iWayAfrica’s Rocket mobile internet? What area are you in? How has the service been for you?

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16 Comments

  1. macd chip says:

    Today Powertel and Telone had a crawling internet speed, it couldnt even open a google page! I feel sorry for their customers. These Patriotic ISPs makes a joke of technology in Zim.

    At 59 bucks plus a bit of shapping Zol is providing a stable and value for money internet compared to most.

    It can have erratic dns issues though once in a while which you can sort easily by switch to google dns servers.

  2. Tboy says:

    Gari do you really live in epworth?

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      Yes I do.

      1. zaniest says:

        But they say there is no electricity there,what do you do for power?

        1. Garikai Dzoma says:

          What? True there are some crappy parts in Epworth but there are good places as well. It’s just like any suburb and of course there is electricity pretty much everywhere. I live in the plots area and not in the area they call Magada (the crowded area). I like the experience though where else can you see goats and cattle near Harare.

          1. Farai says:

            Ahhh Fio yasarirei nhai? 🙂

  3. Nash says:

    Yeah, Gari! Are you really from Mahalapye??

  4. Rangarirai says:

    If someone is a student like me. You know how hard it is to chase the expensive!
    However, since i am no longer friends with Powertel i am still undecided whether to go with Africom or IwayAfrica!

  5. manu danha says:

    Garikai…of course you don’t!…live in Epworth

  6. purpledragon says:

    Obviously this package is worth the money………….. powertel will rue the day they chased us away

  7. @n0n says:

    No place called “Highlanders” in Bulawayo

    Is that a crude joke?

    1. Garikai Dzoma says:

      The list said there is coverage in Byo Highlanders it may be a mistake or may be it means something to them. I dont know.

    2. TerraMeijar says:

      The closest to Highlanders that I can think of is Highmount. Or maybe they meant Highlanders Football club?

  8. taurai says:

    why cant you guys just make a comparative table of all the the internet providers in zimbabwe, toona which is best,with a month long survey dealing with price+value for money,coverage, speed etc

  9. buddy says:

    can u tell me how these ISP guys block downloads. And how to get around it. TSOTSI style

  10. buddy says:

    because this browse but dont take is silly.

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