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Is internet in Zimbabwe really that much cheaper?

Recent discussion on several technology-related discussion platforms in Zimbabwe seems to give a general perception that internet connectivity is now affordable in Zimbabwe.

Affordable? I was sort of disturbed by this as I have been trying to figure out an affordable solution that works for my phone and my home for a while now.

The TelOne $15 ADSL Home package is good if i overlook the fact that I have to fork out over $100 to get it. Plus, once I get it I have to contend with only 2 GB a month. I don’t want to invest more to just to get a Windows 10 download.

What about my regular downloads? What about during the day? I can’t wait to receive WhatsApp messages and critical email after hours only.

Obviously some would say get the Africom MiChoice packages and churn out $25 for 3 Gig and look out for promos. I could go for ZOL and get 2 Gig for $15 or unlimited for $49. I could get unlimited Yo Africa WiMax packages for a whole $70 (Not an option really). Powertel, Telco, the list is long.

From the looks of it, you can get good sit-down-to-it internet for $25 plus. Anything above this is either promotional or worth losing sleep over as ISPs seek to give away unused capacity during the night. I don’t want to be a charity case and I don’t want to live from promotion to promotion jumping from provider to provider looking for sloppy leftovers.

Internet is only cheaper for me when I don’t have to look for a hotspot somewhere to get connected. I don’t intend on sitting down in a park or awkward place somewhere where a naughty tinned beans advert with a scantily dressed woman can just popup and attract accusing glares from societal prefects.

I find it hard to believe that internet is cheaper when the only mobile packages available require me to sit down and plug in a dongle onto my laptop.

What about when I am driving, can’t I Hello Google my boss that I will be late. I want to use my navigator apps to look for directions if I want to. I want to browse the morning tabloids in a kombi traveling to work. I want to Periscope from my phone while I am walking and share the wonders of police running battles with street vendors and I cannot do that with 10 MB for a dollar and I don’t want to wait to download the video and send it via TelOne WiFi.

Let’s be honest, what use is 350 MB per dollar if its only found in 60 locations countrywide? Combined from different providers there are less than 1000 WiFi hotspots in Zimbabwe open to the public. What use is 1 GB for a dollar if I have to lose sleep (Dreams) for it?

For me, internet is only affordable when I don’t have to invest too much into getting it. It should be a service not an asset. I don’t want to draw a landline home, I don’t want to buy a dongle, and I don’t want satellite dishes and mini towers on my yard.

I just need to pay, if possibly, directly from my mobile device and get it on that device without moving an inch. I don’t want workarounds like Connectifying or tethering my connection when friends come around. I cannot buy a 3G router for over $60. Internet should be as affordable for them as it is for me.

It seems the only solution would be mobile data which is ridiculously expensive at an average 10 MB across all networks. We either need these packages reviewed or we need more providers to come up with more innovative access provision at affordable rates. A broader WiFi connectivity solution should be deployed with haste to make internet access more affordable.

I still feel internet is not affordable in Zimbabwe and I believe both ISPs and IAPs are not doing the best possible to correct this. With projected data consumption hikes in the next few years, i still feel these guys haven’t found a working formula and are more involved in immediate to short term benefits and profits at the expense of longer lasting solutions that benefit everyone.

For most of us, that internet is expensive and it will become clear when Facebook deploys its terrestrial Aquila drones over your community.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

18 thoughts on “Is internet in Zimbabwe really that much cheaper?

  1. well said..we have become so used to being overcharged for services in zim that a small reduction or promotional price is considered a privilege hence the ‘its now affordable’

  2. Africom ` s packages are realistic, I tell you from experience, me I use the bronze michoice $5 package that last for a week,they say no downloads but I can do all the downloads enough for my smartphone and tablet (an average of 20 applications incld the heavy apps,whatsapp,skype,opera..) .The speed is also good in the cbd with slower speeds in my residential area where I stay,but still good enough to watch a video on u tube,and evvrything else, the only thing I can’t do with Africom is accessing data from my rural home,

  3. such is life bro, in a developing nation is where poor people pay 4x the price of those based in usa. Thumbs up for noting this regardless of some errors ommited in yo article, I saw large number of techzim fans cry fool on net nuetrality yet they dont even afford mobile internet alone. most of us relay on home internet or promotional bundles like the one meant to trigger insomania mode.

  4. writer,i can feel your anger but when you say its expensive,you mean its expensive relative to which countries? companies? i mean you did not give an example.

  5. 3G/mobile is expensive in Zimbabwe compared to Zambia, SA, Mozambique and even Malawi. I know cause I visit on a regular basis. Other forms of access (wiMax, ADSL, fibre and so on) is more complicated. It is pointless to compare to SA. For the other countries mentioned: fibre to home is extremely rare and very expensive. ADSL only works well in Mozambique, in other countries it works as “well” as here (ha!). Wimax access is more or less on same levels of cost . As noted, forget SA where all this is way cheaper and faster

  6. Three questions –
    1. How much data do you consume on mobile per month
    2. How much data do you consume on your fixed device per month
    3. Where are you based during the day and at night?

    The reason while I ask this is simple
    Two providers so far to my knowledge have a solution for the internet mess at a relatively low cost.
    I ll start with the not so reliable option first

    1. Africom – Africom offers closed user group accounts if you request it. my company tried this. What this means is if you get the 12gig wifi for $60 you can also tie your smart phone into that same 12gig bundle or get a mifi device (they dont have them in stock anymore) This means when i am on the go I can download stuff and when I am home I can also download stuff. The only things you cant share are the unlimited things (afri-afri calls, or 25 a month unlimited browsing). Problems is the network is always down, problems with WiMax, base station has no power, cdma is not so great for them from an uptime side. but when it works, we got decent speeds maybe 1-1.5Mbps.

    2. Zol dont really like them either, but thats more personal and the lack of personalization options. If I get a ZOL business account via Fibroniks there is some serious beauty to be had. First things first installation is free so first thing to do is get a Mifi Device for use on WiMAX this will set you back $55. The monthly access is $175 but, if you are in town and there is Wifi there are ways to be creative about how you recover that $175, for instance if you can find 5 neighbors in your area to share that with its $35each or get your company to foot the bill!!!. Now this package comes with free unlimited zol spot access for 5 devices! So you setup your android phone, android tablet, iphone, ipad and of course your laptop for that free access. Worst case you buy 1gig of data for $9 whenever you do not have zol spot access and use the afro mentioned mifi device. If you are lucky and your employer / business can afford the $500 a month for the office package thats 35 devices for ZOL spot which is a really really sweet deal because you can swing it for the bosses, managers and few others in the office. Would have preffered it if ZOL had a better tie in with Econet for 3G data. 5devices with 2Gb each would be a nice addition.

    3. Pay the $55 for Mifi WiMax hope you have coverage and then pick your monthly $9per gig to $49 unlimited each month.

  7. Just wanted to point out that @$49 per month ZOL is dirt cheap. Assume a 25% overhead on your link thats 247 Gigabytes per month. Thats 20c per gig! Now of course you need to saturate your link 30days a month to exact that kind of pricing. This is where ZOL wins,they know some people will download 1Gb the whole month, others like me will download a little more 😉 so it balances out, especially when your base stations have a minimum of 100Mbps backhaul and there is a plethora of them available.
    Now assume an over head of 75% Pricing comes out to 27c per gig. Still cheap
    Finally at 100% overhead I can still pull down a healthy 155Gb per month. and that works out to 32c give or take per gig.

    This is vs their $9 per gig on the pay as you go.
    Of course the issue comes into, will you saturate that link 24/7… Will you always have signal. And most importantly do you have enough hard drive space, and or content to download.

    1. I just think this whole idea of downloading 200gb per month is insane honestly unless you’re into live streaming. Just downloading stuff because you can is not a good practise for everyone else. Consider the power you waste (ZESA), hard drive space required, might as well just open a data center for your downloads. Also from what I pick bandwidth hoggers rarely ever user 25% of all the data they download. Please use internet wisely 🙂

  8. wel Zol offers the unlimited packages $49 on modem or $39 with 1mbps on fibre but to my surprise my friend uses the most expensive one of speed up to 2mbps but looks like its only limited to 200kbps. I use zol the $29 the earlier package with 512kbps which only download at speed of 20kbps. To answer your question yes internet is a cheap lie.

    1. hey… like i have always said not a fan of ZOL… and iWay is my favorite isp for now. I am going to step up and protect ZOL here. I have had nothing but good speeds lately. Can you post a link to something you are downloading and I will try download it and see what speeds I get and post a screen shot. on my 1Mbps subscription with ZOL i usually get between 85-99% link utilization. What base station are you hitting, what time are you downloading and are you sure you are not been shaped? (i have two base stations in my area and i can tell you for a fact, one is always around 1Mbps the other closer to 3Mbps) would love to tell you the name of base station 2 but ZOL might throttle it!!! If you know how to fiddle with your WiMAX, go into the settings and check the frequencies, select one if its fixed WiMAx, its a time process, but I found if I do a ping -t i can go through each of the frequencies and pick the one with the strongest signal, and lowest latency.
      Zol also has an up to 3Mbps WiMAX not sure which one your friend is on..

  9. In Canada, mobile data charges average around $75 for 5GB/month, a first world country where even though they have healthy disposable incomes, they also call this expensive.
    I would be comfortable if this Econet monthly bundle either had an increase in the amount of data you get for the same price, or the price went down.
    I find that even with wifi at home, I still need to use quite a large amount of data when I’m away from home but given the way the signals are absolutely terrible in the BYO CBD, I’d be better off starting my own mobile telecommunications company or building a portable cell network transmitter.
    Or maybe I should just switch carriers. Been a loyal customer with the same number for almost a decade now but never been rewarded.

  10. Its so sad to read such and realise how some of us are privileged living abroad. I pay £0.00 unlimited broadband in Fiber too for 12 months for as long as i take a home line with the provider. We watch things like Netflix 24/7 and download tonnes of data a day, and have over 10 gadgets connected to the hub and still no dent to the upload or download speeds. In Zim i think its lack of competition and its only natural suppliers are cashing in. With time maybe things will get better. This side you have unlimited data on your mobile tariff, paying £14 a month and also 2000 minutes across networks. So in just under £30 you have data home and away 24/7. let’s hope with time things improve.

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