TelOne brings us Wifi hotspots

The Web Banner on the TelOne website
A big welcome to the great initiative that is TelOne Wifi Hotspots

TelOne has given us Wi-Fi hot-spots. I will not lie but this is great progress in respect to internet service provision for Zimbabweans. At this rate, there will be internet in every household and at every street corner for Zimbabweans. I tried to do some research and get some views on the TelOne Wi-Fi hotspots but all the articles I have bumped into sound like one press release.

Some people are curious about how the hotspots work. What TelOne has done is that they have placed agents at their hotspots (for the randomly placed ones), they have liaised with shops and generally with airtime and newspaper vendors to be distributors of the wi-fi tokens/vouchers. When you get to a hotspot you connect to the hotspot and it will take you to a hotspot home page when you try to open a page in your browser. it is on the page that you enter the details on your voucher (Login details) and then you are all set!

The Pricing for TelOne Metro Wi-Fi Hot-spots is really reasonable. They are providing three price ranges: $1 – 100mb (cheaper than Econet, we know), $2 – 240mb, and $5 – 600mb. They are also planning to provide time-based vouchers in addition to the data based ones. According to the TelOne website, recharge vouchers can be purchased around the city. They said:

Vouchers will be distributed through:
• TelOne client services offices
• Zimpapers affiliated vendors
• Selected supermarket chains and retail stores
• Other selected distributors

Given that list, I have a feeling I won’t find a voucher when I need one.

Who is TelOne competing with in terms of providing Wi-Fi services in the Harare metropolitan area? For the Harare Metropolitan, they will compete with Zol, Africom, Umax, Yo Africa, Telco, Krazey Spot…that’s who. Sadly each and every one of those is currently providing the service better than TelOne. TelOne’s competitors are providing a mixture of wifi for home, café/restaurant and on-the-go use. Despite supposedly having the most infrastructure, all of TelOne’s competitors provide better reach than them in terms of Wi-Fi Services.
Below is a quote from a Techzim article that talked about the Wifi hotspots, (TelOne did not seem to give the list on their site):

“TelOne has introduced WiFi hotspots around the city of Harare and 10 sites have been cited as being online already. These sites are
• Mupedzanhamo
• TelOne Centre for Learning
• Julius Nyerere Way
• Runhare House
• Cleveland House
• Roadport/ Amtec
• Montagu Heights
• TelOne Shop Harare Showgrounds
• TelOne Shop Joina City
• TelOne Shop Borrowdale
The Metro City WiFi project is being rolled to other parts of Zimbabwe, but, just like the FTTH we are yet to get definitive dates on when this will show up in other corners of Zimbabwe.”

Given the very limited coverage of each hotspot as I experienced recently, it makes some of the locations really ridiculous for hotspots. TelOne centre for learning is obviously not a hotspot they have set up for consumers; Montagu Heights would not have been a bad location if they expect us to sit on private premises while we use their Wi-Fi since the whole area near Montagu Heights that they cover is only the front of the two flats next to Montagu Heights (Private Property). as far as hotspots go, they should know what they want to give us. wifi to use on the go? wifi to use while I have coffee? these should have been thought about.

IF FEELS AS THOUGH TelOne is obsessed with competing instead of providing a service, they have chosen to start by servicing the areas that are already well serviced instead of taking advantage of the gaps in the market. Other suburbs further out of the city need internet and even though people are obsessed with fibre, if TelOne had fitted every household with a landline(and hence opened the door for ADSL) while liquid was digging and told them $30 could get them internet, even PowerTel would have had a hard time coming in with their 30 dollar dongle service two years ago.

Instead of hoping former glory will bring customers on a silver platter, TelOne needs to step up and make good competitive and marketing decisions. TelOne was the biggest telecoms company back in the day and when competition came they showed they were not willing to up their game. Now TelOne needs to realize that THEY are the underdog…there is no shame in starting in smaller cities, or starting in the second biggest city (Bulawayo) which I have lived in quite recently and know is internet starved. A huge potential market for TelOne.

Obviously, Harare is the hub of business and everyone wants to start their stuff in Harare but TelOne, in my opinion, should have considered starting elsewhere. Harare is full to the brim with competitors in terms of internet service provision and starting in Harare would seem to be a bad decision. Ok, maybe “bad decision” isn’t the right term. What I should have said, or the question I should have posted is: Wouldn’t It have been better business wise to start in poorly serviced cities around Zimbabwe, I believe they would have been able to make a lot more money in a shorter period of time. Problem is, TelOne will want to go to the smaller cities when they see other ISPs making money and with the efficiency of their competitors…it will not be a good thing.

I am not sure if TelOne will prove me wrong on this one. We will wait to see if they will drop the ball on this one, they have a chance to come back and take the market (or what remains of it at least.) In 2011 TelOne had ADSL when there were very few reliable and fast ISPs. Adsl for me is still very fast internet capable of challenging any of the other service providers. Luckily for everyone else, TelOne discount themselves as the competition with their half-hearted advertising campaigns. It is not 1997 anymore…Landlines aren’t the biggest market anymore (though you should not get me started on how you are losing this market to Africom and Zol too).

As an after-thought, the scratch cards thing is kind of cool…but because of the lack of an Ecocash integrated payment method (and a lack in widespread sources for vouchers), it lacks the convenience of me walking out of the house to the nearest hotspot. It now means I will always have to go look for a scratch card first and then make my way to the hotspot…too much work! Just thinking about was so tiring I subconsciously walked to a Zolspot

Edit: well the good news is that we have heard that TelOne has taken the WiFi Hotspots to Victoria Falls as well. that’s awesome. Now the rest of Zimbabwe is waiting.

Another Edit: I wanted to ask TelOne where I can get the vouchers then I bumped into this post where they didn’t give this gentleman an answer:

Yeah!! You still didnt say WHERE!!!!
Yeah!! You still didn’t say WHERE!!!!

going through the Facebook page and the comments are good entertainment.

Reference sources :

http://www.techzim.co.zw/2015/04/the-new-telone-fibre-and-wifi-hotspot-launch-in-pictures/

http://www.techzim.co.zw/2015/04/as-vic-falls-gets-telone-wifi-and-liquid-fibre-will-it-become-a-tech-hotspot/

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