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The $32 million fibre project from Powertel: A sign of better service and tariffs to come?

Powertel Logo 2014
The new Powertel Logo for the re-energised campaign

No, It’s not rebranding again but ZESA Holdings’ IAP Powertel was in the Herald today for “getting a fibre connectivity via Botswana”.

Not that this should be taken as anything new really, considering the fibre backbone that runs though Botswana has been around for years and at one point carried most of Zimbabwe’s traffic. Who can forget how It’s disruption always meant widespread internet service outages and slowed service.

Thankfully the infrastructure landscape has changed significantly since then with operators like Liquid Telecom making advances in the market along with Dandemutande, Africom and and TelOne.

Interestingly though, the same article touched on Powertel’s plans for a $32 million fibre optic backbone network project that should improve connectivity. The project is supposed to start in 2015 and will require the installation of 1850 km of cable.

At face value this sounds promising. Powertel seems keen on improving service delivery and if broadband infrastructure improvements are anything to go by this could mean a service and package adjustment that is worth smiling about at least.

For Powertel that would make sense considering that the IAP has been catching a lot of flack for dropping its unlimited internet packages and adopting a usage based billing system. So one wonders if the adjustment to a more expensive billing system was meant to finance this continued network improvement?

Frankly speaking I’m hardly sold on this latest Powertel effort and I don’t see this fibre network project happening, well not anytime soon.

Seeing that Powertel is a parastatal and that a lack of visible activity from State Owned Enterprises has been known to be avoided by chronic announcements of projects yet to happen (and rebranding), all this sounds like politics as usual.

Whatever plans that Powertel has for 2015 it should pay close attention to the outrage from subscribers it lost in 2014. Granted that tariffs aren’t lowered overnight, but in an increasingly competitive Internet service space Powertel should have a very solid plan next year, fibre projects and all, to offer value to its customers.

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