New tariffs – POTRAZ says it consulted the mobile operators, they actually wanted even higher prices

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Zimbabwean telecoms, mobile broadband, mobile penetration, smartphone, Zimbabwean telecoms

Zimbabwean mobile subscribers have been hit by an increase in broadband tariffs following a directive by the telecoms regulator, POTRAZ, to set new floor prices for voice and mobile data bundles.

The regulator’s directive was that all voice calls should cost at least 12 cents per minute and all data bundles should be priced at a minimum of 2 cents per megabyte (MB).

POTRAZ has drawn a lot of criticism from subscribers because of the resultant increase in the cost of mobile broadband. However, the regulator has justified its actions and highlighted that the operators were consulted before the prices were set and they actually proposed higher floor prices.

In an article published by the Chronicle that quotes responses from the POTRAZ Director General, Dr Gift Machengete, he admitted that subscribers weren’t consulted since the considerations which were made were for the costs of service provision which are relevant to service providers only.

According to Dr Machengete, the mobile network operators (Econet, NetOne and Telecel) on the other hand were consulted and they had in fact proposed floor prices of between 1 cent and 5 cents per megabyte (MB). This would have resulted in an even higher tariff increase.

The 2c/MB floor price which was settled upon was actually drawn from a 2014 Bottom-Up costing model which also took into account growth in data usage.

Dr Machengete also justified the high cost of internet citing issues like Zimbabwe’s landlocked nature, the low national population that negates opportunities for volume discounts plus the duplication of infrastructure.

Nothing personal, just business

Although we are yet to get the mobile operators’ side of the story (they haven’t commented on the floor prices), it shouldn’t be surprising that they wanted higher tariffs.

From the onset, POTRAZ highlighted that the floor price decision was meant to protect the mobile telecoms industry. It has been facing a decline in revenues brought on by the slow death of voice communication in the face of Over the Top internet services like WhatsApp and Facebook.

An opportunity for the operators to increase the revenues on broadband makes business sense and they would want to make the most of it even if it meant affecting popular products like WhatsApp and Facebook bundles which were actually killing them at discount to the subscribers.

Having the regulator enforce an increase would at least make subscribers pay more while also making it easier to pass on the blame of affected internet economics to the “guys who set the prices”.


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  1. Chief Of Protocol ??

    “Dr Gift Machengete, he admitted that subscribers weren’t consulted since the considerations which were made were for the costs of service provision which are relevant to service providers only.”

    So subscribers are not consulted yet they are ones who pick up the tab ?. I would really to see mobile Internet usage for Q1 after the new tariff regime goes into effect

  2. Disgruntled

    This calls for us for us subscribers to boycott their products as a way of raising our concerns

    1. Lee

      u mean boycott nd go offline? I beg to differ.

      1. Dee

        Maybe the alternative is to boycott the expensive ones!

      2. Frank Moyo

        U seriously think portaz cares if you go offline?! Infact that is what they actually want, as few people as possible online or with access to net. No more sharing political videos, organising demos, alerting outside world of abuses.

  3. knock out

    this is a punitive hike, and honestly those conspiracy theories about the ‘true’ motive behind it all is starting to make sense to me. the timing is just too good to be true, making this a potent one-two punch combo with parts of the cyber security bill.

  4. Mwanza

    Potraz needs to grow a pair, but anyway conspiracy or not this will fund the elections next year, how? I don’t know but my Government will make it work either through taxes when profits improve to donations for development by the operators.

    And thank you Potraz I needed a reason not to give my operator more money, fortunately I’m not addicted to WhatsApp and so I’m really good. This will,work out somehow and boycotting will not work there still needs to be a solution, even if the whole country protests, we need solutions on the table not emotional responses.

  5. Nicollo Colla

    Conspiracy theory or not it works for the government cause they get to shut down social media “abuse” and the SPs cause they get to laugh all the way to the bank. We are the ones who suffer, but as usual we will just tuck tail and do nothing about it even though this has far reaching consequences, not only for the ordinary consumer of telcom products but for business and the economy as a whole. The economy depends on communication to function and products like social media bundles alleviated the cost of doing business. Apart from that, this hike is a violation of our rights and impedes our freedom to express ourselves and our opinions. We are not taking this nearly as serious as we ought to be.

  6. Candy

    Its high time we migrate to #OneFusion.

    1. Tapiwa

      One Fusion will be regulated by POTRAZ soon so say goodbye to cheap prices and slow internet speeds from Netone 🙂

  7. Optimus Prime


  8. nomoney

    peoplea are literally spoending what they have so in a way revenue may actually decrease as we spend what we already have or switch to wifi and ohter means of cheap internet

  9. Mercy

    These charges are way too high. So Potraz is now regulating like this?

    1. Tapiwa

      It seems POTRAZ doesn’t want internet to be affordable or accessible to the everyday Zimbabwean 🙁

  10. Frank Moyo

    It’s a well known fact that the new portaz boss is a CIO. Enough said. Those with passports I suggest looking to greener pastures. This country is a joke

  11. Rookie

    Pakaipa!! Soon the other two Operators will be implementing the same.

  12. Analyst

    Looks like providers still got the high prices they wanted. POTRAZ sets the floor price $1 for 50MB. Econet then goes to charge $3 for 50MB. Maybe POTRAZ was going to set a maximum price as well if they had consulted subscribers.

  13. Langton

    I think MNOs went behind our back to avoid backslash from subscribers…

  14. Man Fidza

    it was a political move the MNOs were more than willing to comply with.I wonder what would have happened if internet was used by mainly rural people and if ZANU PF benefited a lot from the internet…..I just wonder.

  15. dick sucking cowards

    f@ck potraz. f@ck their mothers and fathers and goats too! f@ack them all thieving sons-of bitches!

  16. Anonymous

    thy bn fuckin us fo long n we cant do anytin abt it,thy want us off air,ts as simpl as tht,all the otha reasons thy ar givin ar jus masks

  17. techboss

    if operators actually wanted higher tariffs then maybe they paid someone at potraz to put these floor prices because it does not make sense for a regulator to kill orninary people like that it only makes sense for operators because there in it for the money. its all about business after all and in business we pay to get our way.

  18. techboss

    mmmmm but that is corruption

  19. Rookie

    yaaaa true corrupt POTRAZ. I hear some of their bosses are on the Econet payroll. why did Econet rush to implement when Telecel and Netone are refusing.

  20. kuku

    back to our old traditional way of communicating using tsamba. viva zimpost