MOBILE telecommunications giant Econet Wireless says it has slashed the cost of calls to other mobile phone operators’ networks by 60 percent in what seems a direct reaction to growing competition. However, Econet Wireless said the tariff markdown, the steepest ever introduced on the domestic market, would be sweet news to cash squeezed subscribers as the service becomes cheaper.
Econet Wireless said the new tariff was “unconditional” and would be “effective immediately on all packages and at all times of the day”.
In a statement, Econet Wireless chief executive officer Mr Douglas Mboweni said that all Econet Wireless customers would now also enjoy Buddie Zone tariffs that can have call discounts of up to 90 percent.
“Econet will mount an extensive campaign to show that it not only has the cheapest tariffs but it also has the best value for money,” said Mr Mboweni.
“Our tariffs are unconditional and we do not ask you to buy something extra or spend so much to get something. When we give, we give. We are not the largest operator by accident,” he added.
He said Econet customers knew that the value they get in terms of coverage, network quality, services, products and tariffs could not be matched.
Mr Mboweni dismissed the notion that Econet Wireless was afraid of competition, especially from Telecel with whom Econet Wireless had a messy public spat leading to the termination of interconnection between them.
“We have the cheapest tariffs and it will remain that way. We have the best coverage and we will continue to broaden it. We also have the largest range of products and services and we will keep investing and introducing more,” the mobile telecoms giant’s CEO said.
Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile telecoms operator had an acrimonious fallout with its fiercest competitor Telecel, the country’s second biggest mobile phone operator, over allegations that the latter had been engaging in unethical business practice.
Apparently, Econet Wireless was peeved when Telecel Zimbabwe slashed tariffs by 50 percent in a bid, ostensibly, to woo subscribers as competition continues to scale new heights in the telecoms sector.
Econet’s reaction to the development was both brutal and ruthless, simply reducing the call completion rate from over 90 percent to, initially, 37 percent, 19 percent, 10 percent and eventually zero percent.
The company claimed that it was obligated to disconnect Telecel because the company did not hold a valid licence after its expiry in June this year. Econet further claimed that Telecel had not been subjected to burdensome financial obligations of renewing the licence as it had, having to make arrangements to pay US$137,5 million for the 20-year licence.
The mobile phone operator only reconnected Telecel after the intervention of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, which had also eventually agreed to renew the firm’s licence.
Government had earlier indicated Telecel’s lopsided shareholding, steeped 60 percent in favour of Egyptian firm Telecel International, was reduced to 40 percent with majority interest going to local shareholders.
Zimbabwe has three significant mobile phone operators with State owned NetOne being the smallest by subscribers of the three operators.