What’s the best sort of deal you can get on mobile broadband from Zimbabwean telecoms operators? With the way the telecoms industry is going through a lot of changes, that’s the one question that will get multiple answers this year.
This weekend we saw Econet’s own response through the introduction of its Dream Data Bundles. Priced at $1 for a daily allowance of 300 MB and $2 for a 3-day 750 MB package, this is probably the most generous Econet’s been in terms of broadband. Ordinarily, data bundles from Econet put 10 MB at $1, a 200 MB bundle at $10 and 500 MB at $20; rates that are more or less mirrored across all local mobile networks.
There is one huge disclaimer though; these Dream bundles only apply from 12 am to 5 am, something that I think steals a lot of appeal from the new package. It looks like this graveyard shift strategy, which is used in other markets by different operators, is meant to boost Econet’s revenue by capitalising on off-peak periods that have lower data consumption patterns from subscribers.
The Dream isn’t a response to Extra and Lite Bundles?
While it’s easy to look at this as Econet’s response to the public outcry against the operator’s adjustment of the social media bundles, there’s actually more to suggest otherwise. The Dream Data Bundles have offered no concessions to social media. If you have Facebook, WhatsApp or Opera Mini bundles, you can’t access them on the dream bundles.
Dream bundles are meant to sell the internet as a complete package (albeit with Night Owl conditions), rather than in portions/bundles that require Econet to offer more for each service to make it seem appealing. It’s safe to assume that this is just the first of many trials on different broadband packages that Econet will work with, outside the complications of Over-The-Top(OTT) services like Facebook or WhatsApp bundles.
Sure, Econet can say all it wants about how it competes on value rather than price, but the broadband landscape has changed rapidly in the past few months with entrants like TelOne coming in, brandishing WiFi services that are 90% cheaper than everything else from the mobile operators. More than anything else, it looks like Econet is responding to these players that want a piece of the mobile broadband action and are pricing their way into the game.
Broadband is going to be a fertile ground for product experimentation because of its increasing contributions to Econet’s bottom line and while OTT services like bundles did very well for Econet and every other operator, there’s only so much that can be done to profitably modify them without agitating loyal users.
Econet’s gambit will be that products like these new dream bundles cultivate an appetite for internet services outside Facebook and WhatsApp. This is where the huge financial benefits in broadband actually lie in the long term.