By Alois Vinga
Econet Wireless has torched a major public outcry after it increased its data packages by 20 % effective Thursday.
The company justified its decision by indicating that operating costs have escalated over the past few months.
Under the new prices, 8 gigabytes of data is now going for $2 030, 15 gigabytes $3 120, a 25 gigabytes bundle will now be selling for $ 4 350 while the highest bundle with 50 gigabytes will be selling for $6 420.
Several Zimbabweans took it to social media to vent their frustration, with one user @Daddy Roshen posting: “Do you think Econet as the biggest service provider have Zimbabweans at heart or they are worsening the situation?”
Another Twitter user @Rukie called for a boycott of Econet saying: “One time everyone boycotted Econet and it actually worked, can we do that again.”
@Welllence Mujuru asked whether Econet is trying to sabotage the Zimbabwean Economy or just to milk people.
He quizzed why the service provider has become the first to increase tariff hikes coming soon after the introduction of the new currency note.
However, in a statement, Econet defended the latest hikes which they said were prompted by rising operating costs of doing business.
“Econet Wireless has confirmed the review of its promotional bundle prices, saying the average 20 percent adjustment effective tomorrow was necessitated by rising costs. The bundle price adjustment is an average 20 % uplift across the board, and is essentially in response to rising input costs,” a company spokesman said.
The service provider said the latest adjustments, which are still below the approved bundle tariffs by the regulator, will see a two-minute voice call bundle now going for $10.00, up from the $8.40, while a weekly 30-minute bundle will go from $166 to $180.
An SMS daily bundle, consisting of five messages, has been reviewed upwards to $2.40, from $2.09, while the weekly bundle, made up of 75 messages, will now cost $30, up from $23.81.
Econet’s promotional bundle price review, which follows the last review done in March of this year, does not include the headline (or out-of-bundle) tariffs, which remain unchanged, with the last adjustment having been made in September last year.
“In that period, the price of electricity has gone up by more than 180 %, while fuel prices have increased by more than 30 %, between October 2020 and July this year. Diesel went up from an average US$1.00 per litre in October last year, to an average US$1.30 per litre by July this year,” the service provider said.
Econet said the pricing review is designed to ensure the viability of the business and ensure continuity of a reasonable quality of service to its customers.
A recent Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) report said the telecommunications industry had recorded a 34.1 % increase in costs in the first quarter of 2021, with costs rising from $7.6 billion, up from $5.7 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.