Powertel’s bundles a bad idea

Garikai Dzoma Avatar



I have been a member of the Powertel mobile family since 2010. My three friends and I were fourth year Accounting students at the University of Zimbabwe. Econet had just scrapped their $25/month unlimited package as they moved from what was perhaps a testing phase into the big leagues.

As poor college students we wanted an internet connection to help with our research since we had a crappy university connection that sought to connect 14 000 students to the internet via  a Telone VSAT  at 1.5 Mbps.

Ingrained in our accounting DNA was the need to be able to anticipate and manage our internet costs in advance. We pooled our funds, bought a modem and paid the subscription.

The modem, if I still recall cost us $150 and the subscription $50 so each one of us chipped in with $50. Each month we would take turns to use the modem and the one laptop that we had to research.

Most of the accounting textbooks in the main library were hopelessly outdated and I doubt I, nor my friends for that matter, would have done as well as we did if we did not have this useful, if somewhat intermittent internet connection.

I left college a while back and in 2012 I bought my own modem. Powertel might not have had the fastest or most reliable internet connection but it was affordable and its cost predictable as it satisfied my pathological need to control costs.

I feel the need to say that I am not a bandwidth hog. I do not leave my computer on at night running torrents nor do I indiscriminately download every file that I can get my hands on.

I use the connection to download a couple of Linux ISOs a year, update my antivirus, update my Ubuntu installations, watch a few videos and a couple of other downloads.

I just don’t like having to fret over what I am going to spend on my internet. I would be happy to spend $50 as I used to do back then instead of $35 so long as I do not see the words bundle on my bill.

What many will find irksome however is how sudden and fundamental this change is. I know most ICT companies are control freaks themselves, they create these burdensome Terms and Conditions which places a lot of responsibilities on the customer and consumer and reserve all the power to themselves.

If you do not believe me just read your cellphone Network provider’s Terms and Conditions; you will be shocked by what you signed up for. What prevents most service providers from acting as erratically as Powertel is doing is the fear of losing customers.

Every change in price is a balancing act. The principle of elasticity of demand is used to try and predict the overall effect of a business’s price changes to Total sales.

Prices of such things as toll fees and airtime can be seen as being inelastic, to a certain extent. When the government increased these fees and introduced an airtime tax the effect, I expect, would be inelastic as people still have to make calls.

Internet charges are a different matter however they do tend to be elastic. A price change, which is effectively what Powertel is doing, will likely lead to a serious fall in Total Sales Revenue collection as people either cut back on their spending or leave the company in droves. I am not sure but I think this move is in line with the government’s desperate need to raise more money for their Consolidated Funds.

I believe currently each leading mobile Internet Service Provider has its own selling points.ZOL has its awesome mobile WiMax, Econet has its elite brand and the WhatsApp bundles, Telecel has their promotions and WhatsApp bundles, Africom its great service and phone deals, NetOne has ummm… I don’t know, something.

The thing is that every company has its own tag line and selling point and Powertel’s was that they could give you unlimited internet for a fixed price; recently $1.20.

I wonder how they are going to sell it now: they don’t have all those other bells and whistles like WhatsApp bundles and their voice service does not appear to be interconnected even though its $1 cheaper than Africom. How are they going to sell it and prevent what is going to be an undoubtedly a massive exodus?

I doubt they even know considering a lot of their ads including online ads are still touting the $1.20 (50 cents per day) deal. It may be that even their marketing department was caught unawares by this change and did not have enough time to craft a new message.

The current ads are now totally misleading even fraudulent considering the u-turn from Powertel. I wish them the best pushing their new bundles. Personally I think its a bad idea. Like a lot of people, I have been wrong, but this time I feel confident enough to say the bundle model is a terrible idea from Powertel.

God,how are they going to sell this?


  1. juss

    2 month ago was my last purchase of powertel unlimited. 90% of the time, i failed to open gmail! Was shocked by the con

  2. Dzinaishe

    So true Powertel bundles are a bad idea. Its better to choose an expensive package from a faster service provider than telecel

  3. Tendy T

    Goodbye Torrents.

  4. macd chip

    I know what brought the sudden change.

    As xmas is getting closer, some pple were handed shopping lists by their spoiled ” her indoors” and carefree kids not also mentioning smallhouses.

    A meeting was called! Faces green with envy bcoz looking across, their sister company Telone just got $98 million in time chrismas shopping and they have nothing.

    Now to rub more salt into the wounds, Telone is saying they will connect a patry 20k homes using that money. Also NetOne havent even announced h9w they will use there funds, which to those in the know high performance flash cars have already been ordered.

    How else can they fund themselves to compete with other brothers in other patriotic companies!!

  5. no security in zim

    well the mistake is that i dont think there will be an improvement on speed. i might as well go back to africom which will get me the speed that corresponds with what i pay that is between 120-300 kb/s
    and anyway it would have been better to sell 5gb for $29 and 15 for $50. cause wlets be honest most epople dont spend anything close to that in a month

  6. Casie

    Truth be told Powertel outdid themselves here… They killed the goose that lays the golden eggs.. How can they even think of bringing back capped data? How in this earth would use capped data, Econet and telecel already provide social media data bundles for at least $6 per month. What people need is unlimited internet for less than $40 per month,. Anything more than that is very expensive. Internet is a necessity, These guys should understand that or else i think pretty soon they’ll close shop like Brodacom ……..

  7. ADM

    ZOL Wimax is anything but AWESOME!

    1. Anonymous

      But ZOL still needs to bring down their Internet charges to affordable levels and go for volumes. Just look at their fibre optic broadband costs/changes. ?…… simply to high for the vast majority of Zimbabweans

  8. Maxwell Christian

    They sold their dongles like hotcakes at about $22 and have realised that they have made a killing and now they are changing the terms midstream. The Powertel day time speed is quite a concern, I wonder whether it will improve. It was because of this capped data, that my NetOne dongle became a white elephant at home, so shall also become the Powertel dongle. I will start paying for my Tel One ASDL for about $25 for 10Gig a month as compared to Powertel’s $161 for the same 10gig.

    When I complained at Joina Powertel about slow day time speeds about 2 – 3 months back, I was told that they were going to do something that was going to improve speeds, maybe this is this capped data effective 1st October 2014.

    Presently, there is no foolproof way of knowing the amount of data you have up or downloaded especially if you lose connection somewhere along the way, I hope such a facility will be there with effect from 01-10-14.

  9. What what!

    What a deal breaker

  10. huniland

    nxaaaaa saka mukuda kuti torent rangu re 7gig riri pa pause ndipedzise nei.

  11. seda

    anyone want a dongle for 5 bucks

  12. fish

    i started using pwrless netwk and paid unlimited this mnth my moderm connect with xnetwrk so if anyone with $10 i wil giv him even though i bought it for 59 guys kanawanga usati waishandisa its better uende kutelone nguva ichipo

  13. KEVIN

    This whole thing is a shananigan… 1) vachasara ne zesa chete pajoina city paya, 2) Movin over to either telone/broadacom/econet… anyone else wanna go hand them their modems back

  14. movers

    Telone is not that straightforward guys to get ADSL. You need a LAND LINE phone, not those codless, but actual COPPER wire coming to your house via those black cables on poles. Problem is Telone has no more than 300 000 land lines the whole of zimbabwe. So its like one in 500 house has telone infrastructure.

    So as much as telone has a good deal on internet, its for the minority. Real deal is on Africom. Although they dont cover the whole country, they at least reach million plus residential and business locations across zimbabwe major cities

  15. Anonymous

    Powertel is very dissapointing indeed. They told us a while ago that the poor speed was because they were duped into buying sub-standard equipment. So that implies speed and connectivity will not improve soon. And now they are shifting goal posts with no explanation after a massive customer recruitment drive. Its high time Powertel started learning to keep their word and stop making false promises to the consumer. Where does all this fit in Zim-Asset?

  16. Orakle

    au revoir powertel..

  17. Anonymous

    They gon bring the unlimited net bek very soon simply coz an averge Zimbabwean can’t aford these nu prices.