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Basics Edit

Networks Edit

The Republic of Zimbabwe has three mobile providers:

  • Econet Wireless
  • NetOne Cellular
  • Telecel

2G/GSM is on 900 MHz, 3G/HSDPA is on 2100 MHz. 4G/LTE started on 1800 MHz by Econet and NetOne and soon on Telecel. They had just 146 4G base stations in service at the end of 2015, but this had risen to 647 a year later. Econet claimed 497 of these while state-owned NetOne had 150. The country was home to only 205,000 LTE users in September 2016, with Econet claiming the vast majority and NetOne serving only very few 4G customers. Smallest player Telecel has announced its 4G network launch by the end of 2017.

Econet is the biggest provider with the largest coverage, but also the most expensive. State-owned provider NetOne is the more popular for data, as it's cheaper. In 2016 the government of Zimbabwe has completed the acquisition of a 60% stake in the country’s 3rd largest mobile operator Telecel. To enhance further competition the 1st MVNO license has been released in 2017 to Zimpost, the Zimbabwe postal service.

Pricing Edit

Internet access is quite expensive in Zimbabwe. The cost of establishing a consistent connection is still beyond the economic reach of most people. With over 98% of internet connections in Zimbabwe made via mobile devices, mobile internet packages show of how big an expense it really is: in 2017 the cheapest 1 GB data bundle in Zimbabwe costs $20 for one month’s access. This was the 3rd highest in Africa and sums up to 15% of the average monthly income of a Zimbabwean. As a landlocked country, Zimbabwe is faced with additional costs that come with obtaining access to submarine cables through 3rd party countries that have these cable landing stations.

The expansion of 3G mobile broadband services across the country and the more recent efforts to provide 4G/LTE services have meant that more than half of the population now has access to the internet. Since 2016 the US dollar ($, US$ or USD) is the official currency in Zimbabwe and all prices below are given in US$.

The national regulator POTRAZ directed that all mobile phone operators to increase data floor prices to 2 cents per MB from January 2017. Floor prices are the minimum prices operators are allowed to charge per MB of data. There was a public outcry after some operators increased prices by as much as 500% at the beginning of 2017. However, the steep new floor prices were reversed a few days later following the intervention of the Telco minister.

Availability Edit

SIM cards are sold all over for $0.50 to $3 depending on where you buy it. It's recommended to buy them in the branded stores in town or outlets of the providers at the airport where you will need to show an ID for registration. They can activate it there, while buying it from street vendors is much more time consuming to register.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Edit

Econet wireless

Econet is the leading provider in Zimbabwe with more than half of all mobile customers. It's in contrast to its two rivals privatly owned and has the best coverage at the highest prices in the country. This is added by some hundred public WiFi locations. Note, that national parks are often not covered at all.

Their 2G infrastructure currently covers 82% of the population, but the 3G footprint has not yet reached some of the rural areas connected by 2G systems. It had 4092 2G BTS, 1192 3G BTS and 499 4G BTS in March 2017.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid SIM card plan is called Buddie. Available in their shops and at the airport for around $3 with some credits.

Top-ups are available all over for $1 to $50 giving 120 days of validity, widely available from street vendors. To top-up, enter *121*<recharge PIN>#. 

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate out of bundles is $0.15 per MB. This bundles are offered:

Time Data WiFi Price
24 hours 50 MB 50 MB $ 0.50
250 MB 250 MB $ 1
1 GB 1 GB $ 2
2 GB 2 GB $ 3
7 days 15 MB 15 MB $ 0.50
35 MB 35 MB $ 1
120 MB 120 MB $ 3
300 MB 300 MB $ 5
650 MB 650 MB $ 10
30 days 10 MB 10 MB $ 0.50
25 MB 25 MB $ 1
100 MB 100 MB $ 3
200 MB 200 MB $ 5
400 MB 400 MB $ 10
850 MB 850 MB $ 20
1.5 GB 1.5 GB $ 35
2.5 GB 2.5 GB $ 50

Each data quota is doubled with a WiFi allowance. Activation is by *140# and follow instructions. To check data balance enter *140#. Subscribers get data bundle usage notifications upon reaching 80% and 100% of their data bundle usage. After depletion of allocated data thresholds, and where the subscriber has no other data bundle, out of bundle data charges will be applicable.

Social media packages Edit

For social media users these bundles are offered:

  • WhatsApp and Twitter bundles:
    • 20 MB WhatsApp, 10 MB Twitter, 20 MB WiFi for 24 hours: $ 0.30
    • 90 MB WhatsApp, 45 MB Twitter, 90 MB WiFi for 7 days: $ 1
    • 220 MB WhatsApp, 110 MB Twitter, 220 MB WiFi for 30 days: $ 3
  • Facebook and Instagram bundles:
    • 20 MB Facebook, 10 MB Instagram, 20 MB WiFi for 24 hours: $ 0.30
    • 70 MB Facebook, 35 MB Instagram, 70 MB WiFi for 7 days: $ 1
    • 220 MB Facebook, 110 MB Instagram, 220 MB WiFi for 30 days: $ 3

Public WiFi Edit

Econet runs a network of public WiFi hotspots that can be used with vouchers. Some hundred hotspots are available in the country and in "kombis" = public transport in Harare. To find one you can download the Econet Wi-Fi Zone app for Android and iOS.

iOS users need to download their Econet Secure Config while Android users can directly select Econet WiFi by selecting EAP method SIM, choosing the Econet SIM and connect. These bundles are given out for public WiFi valid for 7 days:

  • 100 MB: $ 0.50
  • 500 MB: $ 1
  • 1.2 GB: $ 2
  • 3.5 GB: $ 5

More info Edit

NetOne Cellular Edit

Netone

NetOne is the 2nd provider in Zimbabwe by user numbers, but they started even before Econet. The state-owned company is co-managed with TelOne, the national landline operator.

In 2017 it has 5.8 million registered users, and while it's some way behind market leader Econet Wireless with its 6.4 million users, NetOne has been the country’s fastest growing operator in recent quarters. It's seen as the cheaper alternative, but with lower coverage, less 4G/LTE coverage and reliability (coverage map).

Availability Edit

SIM cards starting at $ 0.50 are sold in their shops. (store locator). Top-ups are sold on the street.

Data feature packages Edit

Their out of bundle rate stands at $ 0.07 per MB. These data bundles called "MO'Data" are sold:

Price for 24 hours for 7 days for 30 days
$ 0.50 - 50 MB 25 MB
$ 1 300 MB 111 MB 55 MB
$ 2 1 GB 250 MB 100 MB
$ 3 1.7 GB 429 MB 150 MB
$ 5 833 MB 250 MB
$ 10 2 GB 500 MB
$ 20 1 GB
$ 30 1.5 GB
$ 50 2.5 GB

Activation of these bundles is by *171#.

Social Media packages Edit

For social media users these bundles are offered:

  • WhatsApp bundles:
    • 40 MB for 24 hours: $ 0.27
    • 100 MB for 7 days: $ 0.87
    • 250 MB for 30 days: $ 2.80
  • Twitter bundles:
    • 40 MB for 24 hours: $ 0.27
    • 100 MB for 7 days: $ 0.87
    • 250 MB for 30 days: $ 2.80
  • Facebook bundles:
    • 50 MB for 24 hours: $ 0.27
    • 100 MB for 7 days: $ 0.87
    • 2300 MB for 30 days: $ 2.80

Activation is by *171#.

More info Edit

Telecel Edit

Telecel

Telecel is the smallest operator in Zimbabwe. In 2016 it was bought by the government from Vimpelcom, now Veon, as it was threatened to be shut down. It has a smaller coverage (coverage map) than the other two and no 4G/LTE so far. In 2017 4G/LTE is rolled out, but hasn't commerically started.

It's user numbers declined to 14% in 2017 and it's future isn't decided yet. There is pressure on the government to merge both NetOne and Telecel. After several years of subscriber losses, partly due to uncertainty surrounding its ownership and licensing issues, the government is looking to turn the business around ahead of a possible sale.

Availability Edit

SIM cards are sold for $ 0.50 or more in their stores (list). Top-ups are sold on the streets. Their prepaid SIM card is branded as telecel go.

Data feature packages Edit

Data by default rate is $ 0.12 per MB. They offer these bundles:

  • day bundles called "Happy Day" valid for 24 hours, activation by *470#:
    • 300 MB: $ 1
    • 1 GB: $ 2

These data packages are available:

Data Validity Price
4.8 MB 30 days $ 0.50
9.5 MB $ 1
76 MB $ 3
142.5 MB $ 5
394 MB $ 10
800 MB 60 days $ 20
2 GB 90 days $ 45
4 GB 120 days $ 75

Purchase bundle by *144#. Data may be cheaper in their new "Mega Boost" combo packs:

Data SMS on-net

Calls

off-net

Calls

Whats

App

Validity Price
20 MB 10 5 mins 2 mins 5 MB 24 hours $ 0.50
50 MB 15 15 mins 4 mins 15 MB 24 hours $ 1
150 MB 30 30 mins 10 mins 60 MB 48 hours $ 2
350 MB 125 60 mins 15 mins unlimited 30 days $ 5
1 GB 300 150 mins 25 mins unlimited 30 days $ 10

Activation is by *480#. They WhatsApp allowance can't be used for calls.

These following night bundles with "unlimited" data are valid 11pm-5am:

  • for 1 night: $ 1
  • for 7 nights: $ 2
  • for 14 nights: $ 3

Activation by *470#. Browsing speed is limited to 2 Mbps. Further restrictions are not known.

More info Edit

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