Zimbabwe: NetOne opens mobile broadband to prepaid subscribers


Back in October, NetOne announced to its postpaid (some call them contract) subscribers that its mobile broadband tests, which had been running before that date, had come to an end.  NetOne invited the post paid subscribers to enable internet browsing on their lines and be charged US $40 for unlimited usage a month. Quite the attractive offer when compared to other mobile networks.

Then, we speculated that the reason for unlimited was the lack of a proper billing system to charge subscribers on a usage based regime. We confirmed with our source that this was indeed the case.

Providing internet services to post-paid subscribers only meant the internet was available to just a tiny percentage of their subscribers. Nothing to write home about in the grand scheme of things. More so that getting a post-paid mobile line means having a minimum salary of a thousand dollars:

Not anymore. NetOne recently opened up mobile broadband to all subscribers. The internet is now available to prepaid subscribers too at 10 cents per megabyte. There’s no mention of bundles yet. We suspect the $40 a month option is closed but we’re yet to get confirmation from the NetOne PR people about it.

The 10 cents is the same Telecel currently charges for out-of-bundle data usage. Econet charges 15 cents for an out-of-bundle megabyte.

The big-picture story to take away here this is that 2011 becomes the official year that all 3 GSM mobile networks in Zimbabwe launched mobile broadband services commercially. All three have rolled out a mix of 3G, EDGE and GPRS.

For now, Econet is the undisputed leader in terms of coverage. The company has poured a fortune into infrastructure in the past few years. What is not clear at the moment is which provider is giving its subscribers the fastest and most stable internet experience.