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Cellular firms hike charges

by Kudakwashe Vhenge

By Llyod Takawira

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and NetOne have reviewed voice, SMS and data bundles charges in line with tariffs approved by the regulator in August last year.

NetOne reviewed upwards its bundle prices last week, while Econet has adjusted the charges with immediate effect.

Telecel Zimbabwe is expected to follow soon as the telecommunications industry battles viability challenges.

“Please note, we are reviewing our voice, data and SMS bundle prices, effective March 2010. The bundle tariff is still as approved by Potraz on the 25th of August 2020,” Econet said in a notice to its customers this week.

Said NetOne; “Dear valued customer.  Please note that our bundle prices have been revised with effect from today (05/03/21). For information please visit our social media pages,” reads a message sent to customers.

Bundles are promotional voice, data and SMS packages with a fixed validity period, offered by mobile network operators at significant discounts to normal, out-of-bundle services.

Operators offer bundles in packages valid for a day, a week and a month. Market analysts, however, believe the new bundle tariffs are not cost-reflective, and would not allow companies to retool and offset the negative effects of inflation.

Prices of goods and services in Zimbabwe have been steadily increasing in the past few months as telecommunication companies, whose tariffs are regulated, face declining revenues in real terms, coupled with growing foreign debt and foreign currency shortages that have resulted in low infrastructure investment.

While several countries across the world are already targeting faster, 5G network rollouts, mobile network operators in Zimbabwe are still battling to upgrade existing 3G and 4G networks, with the costs of 5G implementation thought to be too high for them to consider at this time.

Potraz director-general Dr Gift Machengete, last month stressed the need to balance affordability to consumers and ensuring that mobile network operators remain viable.

“Potraz would like to assure the nation of its commitment to continue enhancing data affordability for all citizens whilst at the same time ensuring operator viability. This is a delicate balance that requires concerted effort, including fiscal intervention to address declining disposable incomes,” he said.

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