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Why are TelOne and ZOL sim cards geolocked?

You may or may not know that TelOne and ZOL sim cards don’t work the same way as other sim cards like Netone, Telecel and Econet’s. If you buy one it will only work in that particular area you live or the particular area you filled in on the application form. 

But why do they do that? Shouldn’t they just work everywhere? You can watch the video below.

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The simple answer is managing congestion. When you use a sim card, the device you put them in connects to a base station closest to it. TelOne and ZOL do not have many of these base stations so they need to manage the ones they have to make sure the service you get is the decent kind.

With Geolocking, TelOne and ZOL use your address to see which base station is close enough to you so you can be connected and then check if the base station still has enough capacity to add more users like you and me. There is a limit to how many users a base station can handle.

In fact, most TelOne base stations are now so full that they have stopped selling lines to new subscribers.

The other reason why these sims are locked is that they are meant to be an alternative for the existing services that TelOne and Zol already have. If you look at ZOL, they primarily targeted their Wibroniks in areas where they have not laid out fibre or Fibroniks and also medium to high-density areas where it is more economical to use LTE rather than digging fibre cables to every home.

TelOne, on the other hand, went for areas with either no existing service or areas with their slower and more troublesome ADSL so that Blaze LTE can be a viable alternative. Also, it’s again cheaper for them to go the LTE route than to try to connect hard lines to every home.

So don’t look at ZOL Wibroniks or Telone Blaze LTE as a mobile data substitute for your NetOne, Telecel or Econet. These two lean heavily towards being a slightly more flexible alternative to fixed internet rather than a substitute for mobile internet.

It’s also worth pointing out that ZOL is Geolocking newly issued sim cards. The ones issued out before the geolocking announcement around mid 2020 still have the privilege of using Zol’s LTE services wherever it is available.


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3 thoughts on “Why are TelOne and ZOL sim cards geolocked?

    1. Not likely. (Because your line will be registered to a base station in/closest to the area you reside)… I’m assuming they can re-register your line again, should you happen to change locations.

  1. An important consideration is that it may be regulatory. Remember TelOne and ZOL have IAP class A licenses. In my mind the only logical difference between that and the universal/converged license the likes of Econet are on is the “mobility”. The product must remain fixed LTE, otherwise the cat is amongst the pigeons. No need to pay $137m lol

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