As the editor of an online magazine that is updated several times a day, the Internet is a critical tool for my team and I. Also, as a member of a web development team doing critical updates and uploads for several clients the Internet is indispensable. So it is totally frustrating the amount of down time we have to deal with in Zimbabwe.
Below is the full text of ZOL’s press statement we got hold of earlier today. The statement is in response to the article published in the Sunday Mail of 10 October 2010, titled “POTRAZ Accused of inaction” The statement will likely be in the press tomorrow or Friday. We posted an article about this issue early today.
If you were in Zimbabwe in early April this year, you probably remember the nasty fallout between ZOL and Telecontract. The one that caused untold misery to over 200 ZOL customers who went for about two weeks without Internet after being disconnected by Telecontract.
Last week Zimbabwe Online, one of Zimbabwe’s largest internet providers, launched ZOLife an Internet and paper magazine offering information and tips about the Internet. Stuff like how to choose a good internet package, some 101 basics on fibre connectivity, VSAT and so forth.
Compared to previous editions of the ICT Africa exhibition, this year’s event saw a remarkable decline in attendance. Visitors to the exhibition park in Harare were so few the place looked empty most of the time.
Zimbabwe Leading Internet Service Provider ZOL launched a new magazine yesterday on the sidelines of the ICT Africa 2010. The magazine is run online as a blog at www.zolife.co.zw and also has a free offline paper magazine to be issued six times a year.
Yesterday, the Botswana fibre optic cable that supplies wholesale International bandwidth to Powertel (a state owned Internet provider) broke. The cable damage was on a section in an area outside Francistown in Botswana.
If you’ve visited the Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) homepage in the last 3 hours or so, you probably noticed something glaringly wrong with it; the website is showing stuff in 2s. There’s a double side menu, double top banner, double adverts, double footer… (UPDATE April 22: fixed)
A bored someone at ZOL must be playing on the site. Or maybe they’re just learning their PHP on a live company site. Hey, maybe it’s just a radical new design!
Last year we posted an article titled “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators”. The article basically pointed out some glaring omissions and commissions on the websites of some of the biggest telecom companies. Most of these errors can be corrected easily with a little effort and within a few minutes.
We promised to do a follow-up article on the issues we noted, so here it is. It’s mostly still the same issues we talked about then and the sad thing about all this is that, for the ones we could reach, we even went to the extent of advising them. Nonetheless, for all you telecom companies, here’s some free website quality check, again.
After the successful transfer of the 200 disconnected customers to Africom last week, we concluded in our weekly round-up, that the ZOL/Telco dispute was finally (and thankfully) over. We were wrong.
TelOne, Telkom Talks
The Herald on Thursday continued with the TelOne/Telkom story that’s been appearing now and again for a while now. This time TelOne spokesperson Mr Collin Wilbes, just confirmed that negotiations are still ongoing but that he couldn’t give details.
We just got another press statement that ZOL has issued on the Telco/ZOL disconnections for publication tomorrow . We’ve uploaded the press statement here, since the ZOL PR page on this issue hasn’t been updated yet (UPDATE (08 April 2010:1300hrs): the ZOL page has been updated)
The statement is titled “Update on unlawful disconnection by Telecontract and disruption of ZOL internet service and response to Telco press statement.” The update: Of the 200 customers disconnected on 25 March, 57 are still offline but will be moved to Africom by the time the statement is published – probably means by tomorrow morning.
The last two weeks have been a nightmare for some 200 Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) customers. On 25 March 2010, a ZOL last mile connection provider, Telecontract, switched off the customers because of a payment dispute with ZOL. ZOL is arguably the largest internet service provider in Zimbabwe. Telecontract (also called Telco) too is one of the largest internet access providers locally.
To explain the disconnection situation, ZOL issued 2 press statements, absolving themselves of any wrong doing, apologizing to customers, and assuring them that they were doing everything possible to get them reconnected.
Two days ago we posted an exclusive interview we had with the ZOL CEO David Behr over the broadband disconnections we posted here on Monday. David Behr revealed some interesting aspects to the story.
Later the same day, we had another exclusive with the other side, Telco CEO Shadreck Nkala. Below is the transcription of the Interview. Like ZOL, he also reveals some issues that have not been apparent before this interview. Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Shadreck Nkala: It is very unfortunate. People abuse the facilities that they get provided.
Tech Zim: You feel abused?
SN: Yes, we’re feeling very seriously abused.
TZ: How were you abused?
So, today we finally got a chance to talk to the David Behr, the ZOL CEO. Below is the full text of the 1 on 1 interview we had with him this afternoon. He basically explains more on the dispute between his company and Telecontract we reported earlier this week. We’re hoping to have a similar talk with the Telecontract CEO if we can get hold of him. (UPDATE (04 April 2010: 1148hrs): here is an exclusive with Telco CEO, Shadreck Nkala.)
Tech Zim: I’ll just start with the current status, after the update on the website and the press news release, what’s going on?
Since ZOL came out with the story about its fallout with last-mile network provider Telecontract, we’ve been trying to get more details about the issue from the two. It hasn’t been easy. The Telecontract CEO, Shadreck Nkala, is said to be in meetings all day and all we get are promises that he’ll call back. Same thing with the ZOL CEO.
Can be frustrating this job sometimes! So, we’re left with no option but to go the informal route.
Anyway, we’re getting information that ZOL is in the process of moving all clients to Africom, the company bringing in the SEACOM fibre from TDM in Mozambique.
We’ve been hearing rumours over the past week that Telecontract was threatening to disconnect all ZOL clients if ZOL didn’t let them bill customers directly. The rumour was confirmed yesterday when ZOL issued a press statement to explain what was going on in this troubled marriage.
The arrangement that has been working for the two telcos until recently, was that ZOL would sign up customers for the upstream internet service they have and use Telecontract for the last mile connection to the client.
We thought we’d do a map of all the Wi-Fi hotspots in Zimbabwe to help people locate the nearest hotspot from any location. We started with the ISP that has a good number of them dotted across the country, ZOL. Because of that, this is by no means exhaustive.
There are more hotspots in Zimbabwe and if you know any we didnt include here, please just tell use where it is and we’ll put a marker on it. Better still, open the map in Google Maps, login with you Google account and make the changes yourself! Once we have enough hotspots from different providers we’l drop the ZOL title and pin the ZOL tag to specific hotspots.
We hope it helps you find a hot spot near you!
In obvious reference to Econet’s delayed full rollout of data services to mobile, subscribers Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) is telling customers they don’t have to wait – we have great wireless broadband spread across the country and it is available right now! The message was sent out in a promotional email to customers titled “Introducing ZOLspot Wireless high-speed Broadband from just US $30. Faster than 3G and available today all over Zimbabwe!”
To use the ZOL wireless broadband, customers buy a prepaid scratch card available at any ZOLSpot and get immediate access to the Internet. The scratch cards are valid for 6 months from the first time you use them.
Starting this month, Zimbabwe’s leading Internet Service Provider, Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) will be offering VSAT Internet services. VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) is an Internet solution capable of delivering high speed Internet to any location through satellite connectivity effectively, allowing very remote areas without telecommunication infrastructure to connect seamlessly to the internet.
Getting your own ZOL VSAT installed will cost US $1,800 (setup fees) and a minimum monthly subscription of US $180.
2009 came with a shift in ICT policy direction by the government. Customs duty on ICT equipment for example was suspended and currently ICT hardware suppliers only need to pay 15% VAT on imported equipment. Most positive change has generally been attributed to the energetic Minister of ICT, Nelson Chamisa.
Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) scooped this year’s ICT Africa best stand prize beating close contenders Yo! Africa, Toshiba, The Ubuntu Team and WebDev! Before the announcement, almost everyone I spoke to agreed ZOL had beat the other exhibitors hands down. Everyone except ZOL themselves; “Zvine politics izvi Makani, hatimbohwini hazviiti” (This’ a political game Makani, we […]