POTRAZ, Zimbabwe’s telecoms regulator is working with mobile telecoms operators to set a new price for mobile broadband that will result in cheaper mobile internet in the next few months.
Speaking at a breakfast dialogue for the Zimbabwe ICT Innovators Fund which is being steered by POTRAZ and the Ministry of ICT – the Chairman of POTRAZ, Ozias Bvute responded to questions on how the high cost of internet would impact the rollout of some of these innovations by saying,
We are in the process of directing our operators with regards to a floor price or a basic minimum price that we feel data should be provided at. We are confident that in the next month or two we should be at a place where data is affordable but is also used responsibly. You are aware that at times when something is excessively cheap it may be used for the wrong purposes.
POTRAZ is yet to share the extent to which the mobile broadband tariffs will be reduced. The cheapest monthly data package is currently set at $30 for 1 GB (for NetOne), a rate which has left Zimbabwe with the third most expensive monthly data plans for mobile internet in Africa.
This change in tariffs, if effected as promised, will be a welcome reduction in mobile internet prices which have consistently been cited by mobile subscribers as being prohibitive.
Tech startups with solutions that are internet based have also been hindered by the high cost of internet which forces subscribers to reduce their spend on internet services.
This is also demonstrated by the massive adoption of cheaper bundled over the top services like WhatsApp and Facebook bundles.
The cost of mobile internet is a major determinant of internet access in Africa and more so in Zimbabwe as the majority of internet connections are made through mobile broadband services.