Econet Zero in early glitch as some customers report being charged on free sites

Digital Content

Econet yesterday announced a ground-breaking product called Econet Zero which gives all Econet Broadband subscribers free access to more than 50 educational websites. Amid all the fan fare of the launch of this world first service, the service itself is not working as planned and since last night, some Econet broadband customers are reporting being charged for accessing the zero rated websites.

A few hours after the launch yesterday we tested the service by visiting Wikipedia but our data was charged. Initially we thought it was just our isolated case but we have since been hearing similar reports from around our community.

We asked our Facebook community to give us an early review of Econet Zero and the few that responded said they were charged for accessing the Econet Zero websites. Our WhatsApp group also confirmed that some or maybe all of the websites on the Econet Zero list were eating up data.

We contacted Econet’s customer call center and they told us they would investigate our data usage patterns and get back to us around 6.30. This is a bit suspicious. Maybe instead of investigating as they claim, they are actually using the 3 hours to fix the problem.

The agent also asked me if I was using Opera Mini (a likely problem browser with such services as the Opera servers receive all web requests, downloads from the internet, and then compresses the data to improve speed), to which I told her I use Chrome. Econet however says the service works perfectly with Opera mini.

We sent questions to Econet and their official response is:

    Our engineers are investigating this with a view to having any issues resolved as quickly as possible.

However, an executive at the company told us something more useful:

    We have a team looking at it. We have run tests and it is working what we are trying to assess if there are some sites that use multiple ip addresses (DNS round robin) we may have missed an address. Our system uses a combination of DNS, IP address and traffic type to define the traffic to be zero rated.
    I believe that we should have any last issues sorted by this evening 18:00hrs.