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Econet launches Wi-Fi in kombis

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Matthew Masiyazi, Head of Broadband at Econet Zimbabwe

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Econet Zimbabwe has today introduced WiFi in public transport in Harare.  The company will have WiFi installed inside kombis for customers that are commuting in and out of the cities. Eventually they’ll also have the WiFi service in long distance kombis.

Speaking at the launch of the service, Econet executive, Mathew Masiyazi said the plan is to roll out the service to the rest of the country by August this year. “We’ll have 250 routes covered by August” he said.

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Econet customers will be able to buy WiFi Zone bundles to use in Kombis. Customers will however also be able to access the WiFi zones using the Double Up Bundles if they purchase the regular data bundles.

Here is the offering:

Econet has always had fixed WiFi Zones around the country. Some 300 of them we heard today. So WiFi by Econet is not new, but WiFi in kombis is.

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45 thoughts on “Econet launches Wi-Fi in kombis

  1. ndogara mukombi here ini? Its only 10mins to get to town from my place.. They are just reacting to the One-Fi Launched by NetOne which i acknowledge as one of the best so far.

    1. You are very right. There would be very little emergency wifi use for someone who lives 10 minutes away. But kune umwe munhu anogara 20 or even an hour away from their home. I’m sure this is targeted at that user, not you, my good sir/madam…

    2. Iwe unenge unovenga. are you saying in those 10 min, you dont use internet, you dont whatsapp or stream videos etc. If you dont have anything objective to share, gara pasi. Apa its free.

    3. How can it be a reaction to One-Fi when it was launched just last week?? You think they rolled this out, sorted costs, partnerships & logistics all in a week? Ita serious

    4. With all due respect chimdhara, do you mean the fact that u stay 10 mins away from twn means that its a poor product??? What of someone travelling say from Kambuzuma, Budiriro & Chitungwiza???? So you mean 10mins its not enough to chek say one’s important email as an example?

    5. @Chimdhara…..It took you less than 10 min to write your comment (maybe on free WIFI futi)….so dzikama mumwe wangu

  2. I am only interested in one thing. What type of connection is being used as a backhaul? It cannot be LTE because Econet’s LTE hardly works when you are seating in your home or office let alone in a Kombi as it weaves through traffic. If it’s 3G how are they going to share that given the same limitations apply in terms of speed.

    1. The Zimbabwean Road Traffic Act does not condone use of phones while driving. You are expected to stop your vehicle, switch off engine and then engage in phone conversations. Failure to comply is liable to jail term or a fine.

      1. I don’t think you understand this at all. I am asking what’s the technology being used to connect the kombies to the internet backbone? It has to be wireless technology of some sort. This is a kombie you are not driving, the driver is so your Act does not apply.

        1. A mispost. Response was directed to Sagitarr on,

          EW stands a great chance of being sued if an accident occurs and the driver was online…

    2. Do you mean access network ie from the kombi equipment to the nearest base station?

      From the base to the core is what can be classfied as backhaul or from base station to another base station if there is no fiber to the cor?

    3. Econet LTE is sublime my friend. Just depends on the area. But for me in town & at home, it’s just sublime. Compares well with ZOL Fibroniks when it’s not shaped.

    4. Why are you so concerned with the upstream connection? It can be anything, from 3G to satellite. You can actually share a 3G connection. I don’t think a user should expect a super fast connection, just a sufficient enough connection. Obviously bandwidth will be throttled for each connection.

      1. @Macd Chip I was referring to the connection from Kombie to BS. @Chirau Sharing a Zimbabwean 3G connection should just be a crime. It hardly works on one phone in some areas let alone in a moving Kombie with a potential 18 users.

  3. Whilst this idea has its merits, kombis are already dangerous as it is (unlicensed/ drunk/reckless driving). Now a new danger will be that the drivers may also want to “show off”” (like most such drivers) and go online…..whilst driving.

    EW stands a great chance of being sued if an accident occurs and the driver was online…using this product.

    1. The Zimbabwean Road Traffic Act does not condone use of phones while driving. Youvare expected to pull of the road, stop your vehicle, switch off the engine and then engage in phone conversations. Failure to comply is liable to jail term or fine.

  4. So are you suggesting drivers in Zimbabwe did not have mobile data until now?

    1. I am going to say something the author here is probably too polite to say. You should read the article and Google unfamiliar terms before you comment and sound like an idiot.

      1. This was actually in response to Sagitarr’s comment, Garikai, seemingly suggesting kombi drivers did not have ways of going online until now. Its clear who the Wi-Fi is meant for: no need to Google, but you need to chill

    2. I am simply saying EW has now enabled easier access to mobile data with this Wi Fi product, which is obviously targeted at passengers. Previously, there was no implicit Wi Fi access but EW has added easier access (which is a good thing). Just pointing out the new danger from what I hope is a minority of irresponsible drivers….

  5. Our fellow Zimbabweans always find a way to be critics about anything that Econet do. Its very sad most people who criticize Econet about anything it does they actually use their services. #Stop being Critics if you can do better than Econet have that business idea roll out

    1. Any product that is worth its salt can stand criticism. Every product goes through critical analysis as it evolves, we are not all grade zeroes my friend. Stop trying to be a cyber cop – you won’t win that one.

  6. This could be an interesting play by Econet to re-launch mobile payments on Kombis > Pay your fare with EcoCash = Get free Wifi access during your ride! (Pretty good deal, I’d say!)

    Remember… One of the main reasons why previous attempts failed was a lack of incentives for passengers & drivers to adopt EcoCash as a payment method.

    WiFi enabled Kombis also opens up opportunities for real-time tracking & arrival time prediction. Allowing passengers to plan their journey in advance & Kombi owners to manage their fleet.

    Commenters should consider the bigger picture before launching their attacks.

    1. Ecocash kombi didnot fail because people were not willing to try it.

      Its major contributor to failure was the kombi driver and hwindi. There was no easier way for them to steal so they didnt like ecocash. I hold a Operator License for kombis and hav them parked now.

      1. Agreed. That’s why I said “passengers & drivers.” It requires better incentives on both sides. ‘Free Wifi for EcoCash payers’ could be part of the solution. Tackling corrupt practices is obviously the harder issue to address. But who’s crazy enough to think a seamless, user-friendly & modern public transport system in Harare will be built in a day!

    2. Fleet owners that are tech-savvy already have tracking units fitted in their kombis primarily to manage & control abuse, trips & fuel. I don’t know how kombis (unlike conventional metered taxis) can help one to plan a journey – because kombis operate on a 100% load factor basis, i.e. it will not depart until full. Heaven knows when that “one asara” passenger will pitch up. If our businesses start valuing time – a lot of things will fall into place. Like I said, I wish this product success, our country is really desperate for such.

  7. Wasn’t sai sai team working on a similar concept ?If i recall they presented and won at Demo Africa 2014. What became of that team/start up ?

    1. They might have been, but did they got enough backup from operators and got to sign a commitment to launch and a strong NDA, if not, then it becomes one of those good ideas waiting for someone to pickup and use with no restrictions.

    2. Yeah, we were, I was the co-founder and lead developer on the startup, for a long time. I guess if this project succeeds in the long run, we have to find comfort in the idea that we had a proposition at the time. At the time we felt kombi passengers were an appropriately related group of users to benefit the most from our peer to peer cache technology.

  8. I would suggest Econet start by making sure their current WIFI infrastructure is up to scratch. Just today I bought daily data bundles that come with wifi bundles and when I tried to use them at their wifi hotspot in at 5 Ave Shops the system was down an I couldn’t connect. Similar instances have happened to me at Belgravia shops and Avondale. It’s really disappointing. I felt cheated. So if you cannot even maintain your current wifi infrastructure how can I have confidence in this new idea u have now. We need consistency Econet please.

    1. that one at 5 avenue is always down and looks like it is joined by the one at the harare airport

    2. True that. EW needs its core business to be as hassle free as possible before extending its tentacles everywhere….

  9. It boils down to this: those who need it will use it, and those who don’t, won’t. Ko vanhu vakugwadziwa nei?

  10. EW seems to be trying to do everything. There is nothing wrong in doing this strategically, perhaps the challenge is implementing these new ideas well enough for them to be successes. To date, I think Buddie & EcoCash stand out as successes, but there are some half-baked ideas that are out there, it’s natural that some products do not make it. ConnectedCar, for instance, hasn’t turned out the way EW had hoped. One hopes this new initiative succeeds.

  11. i buy a 250mb data bundle on a daily basis which means everyday i have 250mb of wifi that i am pretty much unable to use because i dont have access to an Econet wifi zone unless i want to dedicated an hour everyday after work to go sit in a random foodcourt in the CBD jus to exhaust this data. at the same time i spend 30minutes in a kombi just to get into town, and another 30 going home, so this idea actually kind of excites me because now i can spend my wifi data without compromising the time for any other plans. update all apps and catch up on the data hungry snapchat on my way to town. YES!

  12. lol…for me combis presented an opportunity to meet someone new each day. with this good move by econet an “invisible curtain” has been erected between me and the person next to me…..lol

  13. Regai vari innovative vakuratidzei kuti zvoitwa sei kuramba mungaramba henyu but benefit muchazoiwona pamberi apo…inga wani econet yakavharirwa panze gore riya tisati taziva mafoni..asi nhasi hamusi imwi mukubhadharwa zvimapiece job via ecocash???criticize but u wont stop them who are destined to make things happen…ngaiuye wifi mubhazi totoida!

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