Zimbabwe’s recent mobile broadband tariff adjustments which saw a sharp increase in the cost of data before a reversal undersigned by POTRAZ, the telecoms regulator, have created a lot of debate and controversy.
When Econet Wireless, the country’s largest mobile operator adjusted its tariffs in line with the floor price set by POTRAZ the increase kicked up a storm as subscribers voiced their concerns with new steep data prices.
It was viewed by everyone (ourselves included) as the first case of mobile operators complying with POTRAZ’s directive. However, reliable sources close to the matter have pointed out that it was actually Telecel which was the first to adjust its tariffs.
We reached out to Telecel for comment and response on this issue. The operator is yet to respond.
In December 2016, Telecel reduced the data allowance on its daily bundles by half triggering complaints from its subscribers who were comparing similar packages from the other two operators.
According to sources, this was actually Telecel’s compliance with the directive for new data prices. All operators were aware of the increase and the data of compliance set for the 7th of January 2017 and Telecel, which had lobbied for a lower data price had adjusted its tariffs with a view for further negotiation.
After the tariffs increase was reversed Telecel reverted back to the data bundles prices it had before the adjustment in December.
This information indicates that not only was Telecel was the first operator to make the adjustment, but it also managed to pull it off without causing a furore because its tariff adjustment was somewhat reasonable.
Econet’s adjustment, on the other hand, put a greater strain on its mobile subscribers, with its new data tariffs set at 5 times the figure which was marked as the floor price.
It also places the statement that Econet made in its defence under a certain level of scrutiny. Econet has said that it adjusted its tariffs after realising that other operators were not following suit – a claim that’s now questionable considering that Telecel’s own response to the call for tariff adjustment came before Econet.