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.