Telecommunications companies get green light to increase voice, data and SMS tariffs

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The herald

Business journalist

Zimbabwe’s Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) has given the green light to telecoms operators to increase off-plan tariffs by 30% on average as the industry continues to fight rising input costs.

State-owned mobile network operator NetOne was the first to adjust its tariffs yesterday while Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and TelOne said they would adjust their overall tariffs on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe’s telecoms operators slightly adjusted the prices of promotional offers, but overall tariffs had not been revised since September 2020, despite a general rise in prices for goods and services over the past 12 months.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Minister Jenfan Muswere recently told parliament that the telecommunications sector is struggling to secure foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe auction system ( RBZ), needed for infrastructure investments, capital spending and the servicing of growing external debt. , estimated at over US $ 1 billion across the industry.

“The foreign exchange needs of these companies are so huge that they cannot be fully obtained through the auction system,” said the minister.

According to the latest pricing schedule, NetOne’s 10 gigabytes (GB) will now cost $ 2,500, down from $ 2,000, while 25 GB of data was valued at $ 4,250, down from $ 3,500. A 50 GB data plan now costs $ 6,250, up from $ 5,000.

At the same time, TelOne’s new voice rates for landline-to-landline calls have been revised up to $ 6.34 per minute for local calls, while landline-to-mobile rates now drop to 7.38 $ per minute.

The state-owned fixed line provider’s 10 GB residential broadband plan has gone from $ 1,082 to $ 1,499, and a 20 GB plan now costs $ 2,698, down from $ 1,948.

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator, Econet Wireless, also adjusted its voice plans from $ 0.1070 per second to $ 0.1668, and SMS were revised to $ 2.05 from $ 1.64. The company’s data plans have been increased to $ 1.58 per megabyte (MB), from $ 1.26 per MB previously.

Potraz CEO Dr Gift Machengete recently said the country’s telecommunications operators need significant capital investments to stay relevant, especially at a time when demand for ICTs has increased due to the pandemic. of Covid-19.

“The need to invest more in digital technologies, skills, resilience and innovation can never be overemphasized,” he said.

Dr Machengete further indicated that foreign exchange shortages were having a significant impact on the sector and urged the government to find ways to help telecom operators.

“The shift to the auction-based currency market system apparently eased inflationary pressures, but did not completely eliminate them, as the prices of goods and services, including fuel and energy, continued to rise. be adjusted in accordance with the dynamics of the new exchange rate regime. He said in the latest industry report.

“Notwithstanding the above, currency shortages continued to disrupt the economy as a whole, with implications for network expansion, upgrading and maintenance, adversely affecting the quality of service as demand for data increased for operators.

Foreign exchange constraints have also affected universal service projects targeted at rural and underserved areas, ”added Dr Machengete.


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