Data tariff storm . . .

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe founder Strive Masiyiwa has taken a dig at the floor pricing announced by the telecom firms regulator on mobile data, saying such a move works against plans to introduce new services.

Source: Data tariff storm . . . – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 13, 2017

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) announced the new prices for voice and data for bundled services, including promotional packages, effective from January 9. It prescribed 12c per minute for voice calls and 2c per megabyte for data.

Writing on microblogging site, Twitter, Masiyiwa said while the floor pricing was a directive from Potraz, he was not in support of such a regulatory approach.

“It is my understanding that it was a directive from the telecoms regulator. I have never supported this type of regulatory approach. It makes it difficult to introduce new services such as mobile TV, when a floor price is set for data. Very unusual,” he tweeted.

Masiyiwa’s remarks come as fresh information showed that Econet led the charge for high data charges.

According to minutes of a meeting by Telecommunications Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe, Econet proposed a floor price of $0,12 for voice and $0,05 on data.

NetOne was agreeable with the $0,05 for data and the $0,12 for voice, although their initial position had been $0,10, the minutes show.

The meeting was held on October 17, 2016, at Telecel and attended by representatives from the three mobile network firms Telecel, Econet and NetOne.

Telecel had a proposal of $0,11 for voice and $0,005 for data.

“Members noted that for voice, the proposals were close and it was agreed to adopt the $0,12 as a floor price. The difference on the data floor, however, prompted Telecel to request more time to consider their proposal and will revert to members on October 19, 2016,” the minutes said.

Econet chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni said he would not comment on the minutes. Efforts to get responses from other operators drew blanks as well yesterday.

Industry sources told NewsDay yesterday that one of the mobile operators (name withheld) proposed to government on the idea of a floor price, as it wanted to fight off competition from rivals who had rolled out a number of promotions.

After meeting government, the operator is said to have made the proposal when mobile operators met in October. The meeting was inconclusive on the data tariff.

When Potraz announced the new floor price last week, Econet was the first to effect the new charges, drawing revulsion from its subscribers.

Other operators have either made slight adjustments or are yet to do so, with subscribers angry at Econet after it hiked its tariffs for data.

In a statement yesterday, Mboweni said the implementation of the new floor pricing for data was done “in compliance with a directive issued to all mobile network operators by the industry regulator” which has inconvenienced “you our valued customers, but has caused pain in you”.

Econet said it had read and listened to the feedback, assuring subscribers that it took “this feedback with the seriousness that it deserves and we are engaging the regulator on the matter”.

“However, you believe and trust that you are aware that Econet operates in a regulated industry and as the industry leader we are obligated to comply with the directives, which are issued to us by the regulator from time to time and this directive is one such instance,” Econet said.

In response to the floor pricing controversy, Potraz director general, Gift Machengete said the regulator’s mandate was to ensure sustainable and consistent provision of domestic and international telecommunication services.

He said the introduction of floor prices would ensure consistent and sustainable long-term provision of services to all Zimbabweans.

“Floor pricing does not only focus on revenue, but on sustaining long-term provision of service to consumers throughout the country,” Machengete said.