Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


WhatsApp calls not working on 3G, EDGE connections in Zimbabwe

So, since yesterday, we’ve been calling friends using the new WhatsApp calling feature. What we were curious to test is ofcourse if the WhatsApp Calls feature is the big disruptor to the mobile operators that it’s been hyped to be. That WhatsApp Calls are some special thing we don’t have already in the form of Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype etc…

So far, sadly, the conclusion is that WhatsApp calls are only good when you’re on a high speed WiFi connection. In Zimbabwe at least.

We tested WiFi (fibre) to mobile (3G, Edge etc…) as well as 3G to 3G and we couldn’t hold one conversation. The call connects and rings yes, but on answering the call, the app doesn’t get into conversation mode so you never hear each other.

We’re defaulting this to the fact that we have very poor mobile internet – I hardly get a good Econet data signal at my home in Harare, I have to place the 3G modem on big stick or in a tree for data. Yes, seriously. And it’s been like this for over a year now! The failing WhatsApp calls are just confirmation how bad it is.

A call to friends and family in South Africa and Botswana (MTN &  Orange respectively) network however was flawless. We experienced the “better than a regular” voice quality everyone’s been talking about.

I hope WhatsApp fix this soon. In fact, I expected better from them especially after they made the world wait so long, presumably while they made the most data connection smart app ever. Not so smart it turns out. At least not yet. I’m able to make calls on Viber, Skype and Facebook using using my current 3G mobile internet, so there’s no reason WhatsApp should fail to nail it.

As for the question of how big a disruptor WhatsApp calls are: that regular mobile voice calls (and therefore revenue) are taking a hit is obvious, but how much of that hit is going to be compensated by the rise in data usage is unclear for now. As one colleague at an operator in Zambia said today:

Data elasticity is also higher as more content gets consumed (virality) imagine talking to you friend excitedly about something then sending them the link, picture or video — they are less likely to ignore you. However, the problem/limitation is devices – by now Skype for mobile would have nuked us – and networks (3G/WiFi) are still limited in bandwidth/reliability.

What’s been your experience? Are you able to call and talk to contacts that are using 3G, Edge etc…?

Update: We just communicated with Econet and they told us their staff are making calls and receiving them fine over 3G. The problem, said the representative is probably just poor signal in some areas. Full article here.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

36 thoughts on “WhatsApp calls not working on 3G, EDGE connections in Zimbabwe

  1. SO sad indeed. It is only a few in ZIm who can afford Worldclass Internet connectivity. So much for Econet’s noise about rolling LTE when i cant get a 3G signal at home

  2. I have been having intermittent connection problems with some people in Zimbabwe. More so for people on WhatsApp bundles, those calls never got through. WIFI to WIFI as you said is working brilliantly. I have also called lots of people here in Namibia who are on 3G (and maybe Edge as well) and the calls seemed to go through as we could talk albeit with a small delay.

    These are teething problems that i’m sure will go away as WhatsApp perfects their algorithms and throws more server resources at this problem, so this is temporary. And also remember our activations are not 100% sanctioned by WhatsApp so these problems are expected. All I can say is i’m excited by this, this is freedom. Which of course threatens the Econets et al. But thats not my problem.

  3. I think the same goes for Viber and to some extent Skype calls. I never really manage to have Viber-Viber call with someone in Zimbabwe when one or both are on 3G. Skype is “hit and miss”, it might work or it might not

  4. Even if you use Facebook Messenger you get a problem when making calls. Locally connectivity is poor but when you call regionally or overseas the connection is superb. Telecoms in Zimbabwe is poor.

  5. I think we need to consider how many people own the Shamshungs, huwaeeeyi’s! Those phones all have GPRS and EDGE with no 3G. Given contention for bandwidth at any base station and expecting a call to be decent over 2G is not reasonable. Also what is the maximum upload speed for 2G? I believe its close to 4 kB/s in optimal settings so real world 1kB/s

    1. yet with my samsung s4 i cannot get a constant 3G or HSDPA connection. always hovering around EDGE. and am on eco*&^%

  6. Anybody wants to activate calling feature on whatsapp…?
    Plz msg me on whatsapp 9412345246

  7. You guys are plain crazy and extremely stupid, was there ever an official word from WhatsApp that they’ve rolled out a voice call feature? NO! so why are you complaining? Why you complaining about an unofficial feature?

  8. 0773528283,please call me on the given number to activate my whatsapp call. Thank you in davance

  9. someone please call me we have to make an effort to spread this in zim 0772342164

  10. This is just a PSA, maybe tchzim could post it to the facebook page. Scam messages promissing activation have started circulating trying to cash in on the whatsapp call hype. Here is the one i got “Hey, i am inviting you to try whatsapp calling click here to activate now –>” (obscured link to prevent accidents!)

  11. i activated calling on my phone which is fine
    then tried to activate my other phone its not working l have upgraded the apk file
    l can only receive but the calling button is not appearing on my other phone
    someone help

  12. please call me on this number to activate my whatsapp voice calling +263 772 944 389

  13. Can someone please call me on +263717327676. Let’s spread this in Zimbabwe guys

  14. I managed to activate mine on my CDMA phone and its working (am using africom). I had to use the bundles though as their unlimited internet product won’t allow me to download

Comments are closed.