We can all agree that OneFusion is the best data deal on the market in Zimbabwe right now. We also cannot dispute that Econet has the widest network coverage, from 2G to LTE. It is almost September 2017 and I still can’t buy data from one service provider and use it on a different network.
There are two organisations, a Kenyan and a South African one doing something about it. We started deliberations on this a while back here in Zimbabwe but are yet to find a fair solution. What they are proposing is for customers to be able to purchase internet access or data from whoever they want regardless of their service provider. This is where you can buy TelOne data to use on Liquid Telecom’s fibre network.
There is such a thing as open access network and this helps achieve that. This is where there is separation between physical access to the network and delivery of services. A good example would be an open access fibre network where no ISP owns the fibre network but can utilise it. One company would provide the fibre network whilst all the ISPs can provide service over that network. The fibre network company would not compete with the ISPs.
In Zimbabwe Liquid Telecom claims that any ISP can use their infrastructure. Their fibre network is free to use by any ISP. This means if you get Liquid Telecom to install their fibre network on your property you should be able to use TelOne fibre on that. However seeing as ZOL (an ISP), which exclusively uses that Liquid fibre network is their sister company I doubt they are sincere in offering the fibre network. They probably price out the other ISPs.
So technically you can choose whatever service provider you want but realistically you cannot. Even if you have Liquid’s fibre network installed you would still need TelOne to dig up your lawn to provide their own service. That just seems inefficient and it is costly to the consumer. This kills real competition. If I can’t migrate to a different ISP when I want, quickly and affordably, I am not going to.
Even if you could switch whenever you want, the fact remains you would be in the minority. The Liquid fibre network, the biggest in Zimbabwe, is not available to everyone. The majority of Zimbabweans have no access to it. Most Zimbabweans, if not all, are limited to buying data from the network they are subscribed to. That is mobile data too. That means we do not really have a choice in the ISP we want.
Imagine what would happen if all those Econet subscribers could buy Telecel data. Econet would be forced to introduce a comparable deal otherwise they would lose out on revenue. We would have proper competition.
We are still far from this becoming a reality. We have hit roadblocks when it comes to infrastructure sharing. The reason being that the companies that laid out the infrastructure are actually ISPs themselves. It is costly to lay out that infrastructure and forcing them to share it for peanuts is practically evil. The government should have led in laying out that infrastructure instead of waiting for a private entity to do that. That is a story for another day though.
In the end as consumers we would be the winners if an open access network model was implemented. There however are a lot of discussions to be had we cannot get into in this simplified article. The fact remains the infrastructure was paid for by a private company and they should be able to recoup that cost. We need there to be a solution and soon.
Liquid Telecom is one of the fastest growing internet service providers in Zimbabwe in particular and Africa in general. It provides state of the art fibre internet which links Zimbabwe and the Southern African region to the outside world. The company is a subsidiary of... Read More About Liquid Telecom
TelOne is one of the several Telecoms companies operating in the Zimbabwean telecommunications and technology industry. Its main core business revolves around voice, data and internet products and services. "TelOne owns a wide range of telecommunications equipment, varying from various exchanges located in strategic areas,... Read More About TelOne
ZOL is one of the biggest internet service providers in Zimbabwe with a growing coverage base which includes most of the country's major cities such as Harare and Bulawayo. The company provides fibre, VSAT and wireless Internet services to a large range of clients from... Read More About ZOL