Africom’s Guroo: A VoIP game changer
AFRICOM, Zimbabwe’s converged telecommunications operator, has scored a first by launching the only real Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service in the country.
After years of promises by mobile operators and serious attempts by other large networks to completely eliminate VoIP, Africom finally launched the game changing application Guroo (pronounced guru).
Africom CEO Rudo Mudavanhu said of the launch: “After close to 18 months of working on the product, we are glad to finally announce that we are now offering a flagship product not for just the Zimbabwean market but world over, this is real and affordable VoIP service.”
By using Guroo, subscribers will officially now be charged only six US cents per minute for every call they make to Guroo numbers. For any call outside Guroo, the subscriber will be charged only 12 US cents to cater for the terminating charges, which is still quite low compared to the current market charges of 23 US cents.
In its simplest form, VoIP is a technology that allows anyone to make voice calls while using the internet. Applications like Skype have been leading the VoIP world but these are only limited to Skype to Skype calls with the option of paying an extra fee to call mobile phones or landlines.
While real broadband speeds are now attainable in Zimbabwe since the inception of fibre optics, all the current mobile operators have ignored calls to launch VoIP-based applications to enable their subscribers to benefit from the affordable communication platform.
Although companies like Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in the past hogged the limelight over the launch of their VoIP services, it failed to fly for reasons well known by all technology experts; VoIP destroys mobile operators’ income base.
Africom head of marketing Prosper Mutswiri said: “Guroo is not coming as a competitor to these players. We are only complementing what the other players are already doing; remember Guroo still works well even if you are using your Econet, Telecel or Netone sim cards.”
Simplify put, Guroo is just as good as Skype, although much lighter and cheaper. It allows users to call any other number as if they are using a standard smart phone.
Unlike such packages as Skype and Whatsapp, Guroo can still make calls to subscribers outside its network, whether the person is registered or not.
It comes with its own dialler to call even landlines. This technology makes it a first in Zimbabwe and indeed Africa.
“This application has shattered borders. It is the appropriate borderless technology for this generation, which will make communication affordable to almost everyone who can afford a simple smart phone. All one needs to do is load the application for Android, Apple or Windows platforms,” said Mudavanhu.
“We want the passion and the adrenalin to be driven from Africa; this will then mean that we are also creating massive local content for Africa.
“There is no need for us to be pushing traffic on the international platforms like Skype. By joining Guroo you are also increasing the economic growth of Africa, this is why we call it Africa First.”
Another interesting aspect of this technology is that there is no need to change your current cell phone number since Guroo is independent of any network. By registering a user is automatically given a Guroo number.
Whether one is in Harare’s central business district, Mutare or the rural areas and connected to the internet via whichever medium they can still call any cell phone number or landline via Guroo.
Another interesting aspect on Guroo is the roaming ability for anyone outside Zimbabwe. Users can still be contacted at local call rates of as low as six US cents as long as they have their device connected online.
The telecoms industry has been sour for all mobile phone operators as they have been reeling from the effects of whatsapp another IP based product which is seriously chewing in on the revenue mainstream.
Although Africom is pioneering the Guroo application in Zimbabwe, it is only the official master reseller of the African Initiative which has also been launched in South Africa.
The application can run on any network platform and Africom runs the technicalities behind communicating over the application.