We have watched as Econet has gone from mostly reliable to what they are today. I think we can all agree that Econet’s service quality has been tanking for some years now. Even Econet agrees and they have admitted this in their annual reports.
Now, it’s one thing to have an iffy connection and a completely different matter to not have service at all. General deterioration in service quality is a huge problem but complete outages are something else completely.
On the 9th of May, around 12 pm, Econet faced nationwide service outages. Initially, it appeared as if it was just voice calls that were affected when Econet communicated the following,
We are currently experiencing intermittent system challenges affecting voice calls. Our technical team is working to resolve this issue. We will inform you once this has been resolved.
On the ground, the system challenges affected more than just voice calls, many could not use the internet either. I visited an Econet shop on that day and they had downed their tools, they couldn’t process any sales, no one could cash into their EcoCash accounts etc. You could do nothing in the shops.
It was pretty much like that for the rest of that day. Then around 24 hours later, around 12 pm the next day, on the 10th, Econet shared an update,
Please be advised that significant progress has been made in resolving the intermittent network challenges impacting some of our customers. We are monitoring the system closely to ensure stability. While our teams were working to rectify the connectivity challenges, data was made free from Wednesday at 6:30 pm to Thursday at 3 am.
That whole free data issue blew up in Econet’s face. They decided to tell customers after the fact that they had given them free data. That was always going to be controversial. “You know when you were asleep yesterday? Well, there was an open bar you should have been at.”
That would not have gone well with most but Econet found a way to make it worse. In trying to tell customers that there had been an open bar the previous day, the message they sent out made it seem like the open bar was coming. They had to come out and clarify that there would be no free data. All this happened whilst their network was still facing challenges.
Then later that same day, Econet sent out the following message. Note that it had been close to 30 hours into the outage at that point,
We would like to inform you that the technical challenges that affected voice services on our network have been resolved. Our technical teams are working to resolve some intermittent challenges that may be affecting data connectivity for some of our customers.
Those intermittent challenges that were affecting data connectivity proved hard to rectify. Three days later, on the 13th of May, many customers were still facing challenges and Econet had to give out the following message.
While significant progress has been made in resolving the network challenges, some of our customers may currently be experiencing intermittent data connectivity. We keep monitoring the system for stability.
There has not been any public communication on the matter since then. Some customers say they are still facing these challenges and in their own capacity have gotten messages from Econet acknowledging that the problem has not yet been resolved.
On the 15th of May, close to a week into the data outage for some, Econet sent out the following message to a customer who asked for an update,
We [have] been having Data challenges and the issue is not yet fully resolved. We shall be updating once fully restored.
Today is the 17th, a full 8 days into the outage and Econet has not been able to tell us that the issue has been resolved. Customers are still complaining and I imagine Econet engineers are ‘working flat out to resolve the issue’ but have nothing to show for it at the moment.
What we have are the messages Econet support staff has sent out to those asking what’s going on with their data. Said Econet Support just a few hours ago,
“Thank you for getting in touch. Our apologies we are currently facing a network challenge and our technical team is currently working on resolving the challenge.”
The data challenges have not been affecting every Econet customer. However, for those that have been able to use Econet’s data services, a different problem was being faced. Some customers have been unable to check their data bundles since the 9th of May. They are getting the following message, “An error occurred while processing your request. Please try again later.”
If you can believe it, Econet has had to send out messages via Twitter, notifying customers what their data balances are. The following screenshot shows a customer getting that help at around 12:30 pm today, the 17th of May.
It’s all there in plain text for everyone to see. There is no privacy at all, names, phone numbers and data balances are being thrown around.
This feels unprecedented. Econet has gone for more than a week with serious network challenges. The voice services issue seems to have been resolved but the data connectivity problem persists for many. They said they would update us when the issue is resolved. It looks like we are going to have to wait for a while for that update.
Are you still experiencing these data connectivity challenges or have they been resolved for you? Do let us know in the comments section below.