ZIM DATA PRICE INCREASE: Here is what we know at this stage

On Wednesday Zimbabweans woke up to a shocking increase in mobile data price (particularly with the biggest operator Econet).

The issue was laid squarely at the door of the country’s Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe which last week had announced a ‘floor price’ for voice and data charges.

According to a leaked document first published by Techzimthe country’s regulator had a meeting in which Econet pushed for a floor price of 5c/MB and 12c/minute for calls. NetOne agreed to this while Telecel pushed for a 11c/minute and $0.005/MB charge. Potraz published a 2c/MB position.

The MNOs also wanted the floor prices to apply to Internet Service Providers (which put unlimited Internet offers not only at risk but the dreaded 2008 pricing where a user would need thousands for Internet).

After Econet increased its pricing to five times the floor price recommended by Potraz,  Telecel and and particularly NetOne stuck to their old regimes asking Potraz to reconsider.

Econet’s founder Strive Masiyiwa issued a Facebook post saying he was against floor pricing:

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.

Econet followed this up with a statement in which it said it felt the pain of subscribers and placed the blame for the new regime at the door of the regulator:

We 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.

Zimbabwe’s ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira via Twitter that he is on holiday and will ‘get to the bottom’ of the issue when he gets back at the end of January.