So the problem with “free” is that after your customers have enjoyed it for a while, whatever adjustment you make to the price, however cheaper it is than your closest competition, if it’s not free, you’re going to make a lot people unhappy. ZOL will be announcing tomorrow that their free ZOLSpot WiFi is finally coming to an end. Users will be required to pay. It’s cheaper than the competition yes, by far, but it is not free anymore.
Information we have received form the company is that starting
tomorrow 11 May, customer will pay amounts starting from $15 for 5GB.
In comparison, TelOne last month introduced a service that provides 100MB for a $1. TelOne is much more expensive ofcourse on a per MB of data basis ($50 for 5GB) but by allowing customers to spend just a dollar at a time, it’s structured way more friendly and will still attract the mass market that’s looking to spend a bit for a bit of internet.
‘A bit at a time’ is a way of the mass market that the mobile operators have mastered, which is why its rare to across an airtime street vendor that has lots of $5 airtime vouchers. But ZOL’s probably not targeting mass market.
Compared to MAXspots which uses the old internet cafe model of a dollar for 30 minutes, there’s really just no point comparing. And moving on to the daylight robbery that is Econet WiFi zones where you are charged 15 cents per MB of data out of bundle, again, there’s just no point comparing! So these prices are very good. But not free.
In terms of payment, it looks all digital; Paynow (EcoCash, Telecash, Mastercard, VISA), topup.co.zw and probably directly via the EcoCash menu as they are an Econet Group company.
The more impressive bits about the announcement: First it’s that the number of ZOL hotspots around the country has passed 200 which is quite something. They’re gunning for 300 more in the coming months they say! Second, it’s the integration to the ZOL’s home internet fibre service that great to see. According to ZOL, subscribers to the home internet can register devices on ZOL’s website to have them access hotspots
for free using their home data. Just fibre though it seems so you WiMax folks are out of luck which kinda doesn’t make sense but there you are!
ZOL also says the WiFi technology they use is very robust which means chances of finding a Zolspot down are very slim, but if you use their WiFi, you probably know this already.