Zimbabwe's biggest mobile network operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe made upward adjustments to its data bundle tariffs in a largely expected move. This was after State-owned operators NetOne and Telecel's data bundle prices had been adjusted a few days back.
The new data package aptly named 'Smart Data Bouquet' came into effect on the 29th of April 2019 is very different from the data bundles that customers were familiar with.
According to Econet the idea behind these data bouquets is to promote the use of other applications in use and popular today or was once unknown. The most interesting feature on these bouquets is how they have been structured in a way that has caused so much outcry from its subscribers. It appears that Econet is somehow out of touch with reality as their bouquets fail to offer much in terms of what most Zimbabweans use on a daily basis.
The new data bouquet portfolio now offers a wider selection where subscribers are given more options to choose from including Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook combined with Snapchat while still maintaining daily, weekly and monthly bundles.
A monthly data bouquet worth RTGS$10 will give a subscriber 270MB which is 32,5 percent less than the 400MB a subscriber used to get for the same amount prior to the changes. Before the new tariffs, an RTGS$5 data bundle would buy 200MB, but as a result of the changes, it will now purchase 130MB, a 35 percent decrease.
However, not all bundles have been slashed though, as a subscriber who used to get a monthly bundle of 25MB for RTGS$1 will now get 50MB if they pay RTGS$2. Those who want a close to a dollar deal will get a 20MB bundle costing RTGS$0,90. This is not much of a difference to the old 25MB bundle that cost RTGS$1 prior to the new changes.
Video and Wifi bouquets have been included in the new portfolio.
The new prices are Econet's way of aligning its business with the rampant price increases in the economy, as the local currency continues to diminish in value following the new monetary policy which has prompted suppliers effecting price increases on their products and services, as operating costs have surged.
Econet's group Media Relations and Corporate Communications executive, Mr Fungai Mandiveyi spoke on the latest move.
"The adjustment in prices, reflected in our new data bouquets, is a direct response to the rise in service delivery costs across the industry," he said.
"While the new bundles offer a lot more value than before, the floating of the local currency to the USD, which led to the devaluation of the local currency by over 300 percent and the three-fold increase in fuel prices, among many other things, have significantly increased our costs and necessitated the upward price adjustment in order for us to be able to continue to deliver quality service, and for the industry to remain viable," said Mr Mandiveyi.
Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downward trajectory exacerbated by the unavailability of foreign currency. The chief cause of these increases is the cost of international bandwidth, an imported commodity, which the mobile network operators whose payment in done in the scarce foreign currency. The need to upgrade their networks, both hardware and software continuously is also a critical area where the availability of foreign currency is key.
It is beyond a reasonable doubt that WhatsApp and Facebook are the most popular social media sites closely followed by Twitter which has gained momentum locally in the past few years. The latest bouquets are a far cry from the usual bundles that had in a huge way managed to keep millions online. One point of note is how Pinterest and Snapchat are not that popular and their inclusion doesn't make sense to many subscribers.
Fingers are off the pulse of the data needs of subscribers who are the businesses and who without a proper adjustment in bundle sizes beyond where the limits have been for years might eventually find a solution elsewhere. The internet revolution obtaining in Zimbabwe no longer accommodates megabytes but is in serious need of gigabytes. Such is the scale of data needs, price increases are inevitable, but they have a huge impact on subscribers.
Econet has described the new data bouquets as ideal and one can access them using the following:
Kindly follow the steps below to view the offerings.
* Select option 1 -Data Bouquet
* Select the duration option i.e. daily, weekly or monthly