I have been talking about being online a lot lately – it is inevitable really, given the circumstances. Now more than ever before, having internet connectivity has turned out to be more than just a luxury. The business service provider and the customer alike cannot afford to completely stay off the internet. Not only is being online central to staying on top of the latest developments and all; eCommerce is on the rise. This whole paradigm shift brings to the fore on the most contentious issues in Zimbabwe, the issue of how expensive it is for people to connect to the internet. In this article, I will just comparatively look at some of the common local internet connectivity options.

TelOne

TelOne is popular for its ADSL packages for both home and commercial premises. The fact that most households or premises already have telephone lines makes setting up easy. Most people I have heard using TelOne ADSL speak highly of it. TelOne is known for swift responses to customer queries, something I have witnessed myself. Their monthly packages start from ZWL$262 – that is for Home Basic i.e. the cheapest. With Home Basic, you get speeds of up to 2 megabytes per second with a download cap of 10 gigabytes.

There are even several unlimited download cap packages e.g. Intense which is ZWL$2087 per month. You get speeds of up to 20 megabytes per second. There is even a package called Intense Extra which gives you speeds of up to 50 megabytes per second with an unlimited download cap. Intense Extra costs ZWL$3478 per month. I have spoken to some people who have used some of those high-end packages – they say the packages are exactly as advertised. You can connect PCs using Ethernet cables or using a Wi-Fi connection. I have seen first-hand, TelOne being used for HD live streaming purposes smoothly.

ZOL

ZOL is also a popular option amongst Zimbabweans. They have 5 major subsets namely, Fibroniks, Wibroniks, VSAT, Wi-Fi Hotspot and ZOLphone. For their Fibroniks and Wibroniks packages, they have pay-as-you-go options and uncapped options. Fibroniks packages start from as cheap as ZWL$147 for Fibroniks Zoom packages. The best value Fibroniks Family Entertainment package is uncapped and goes for ZWL$2261.

Arguably the most popular ZOL service these days is their data Simcard – a Wibroniks package. The pay-as-you-go packages start from as little as ZWL$244 for 5 gigabytes for 15 days with a 15-day rollover. Then there is ZWL$331 for 10 gigabytes for 30 days with a 30 days rollover and so on. The most expensive is the ZWL$1392 for 100 gigabytes for 30 days with 30 days rollover.

The ZOLphone voice call tariffs stand at ZWL$1.20 per minute for calls to NetOne, TelOne, Econet and Telecel. ZOL is good but there are two major issues. One is that of erratic network availability or performance as reported by most users. Two, which is the biggest one, is the limited ZOL coverage in the country. ZOL coverage tends to be found in urban areas – not all actually.

Africom

There is Africom which some people cite as a good internet connectivity package. Their packages start from as little as ZWL$15 for daily 250 megabytes. They have ZWL$150 for 2 gigabytes valid for a month amongst a few other options. There are unlimited browsing options which are Booster Unlimited and Turbo Unlimited costing ZWL$1250 and ZWL$2750 respectively. You can go on their website to learn more about their packages.

These are 3 of some of the most commonly used internet connectivity options for individuals, homes, offices, academic institutions, business premises and so on.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)

There are obviously many people who connect to the internet using mobile network operators e.g. NetOne and Econet. I will just look at those two because they are the most commonly used. Comparatively, most users prefer NetOne to Econet citing better network performance for data services. Thanks to the availability of options to purchase NetOne airtime with EcoCash more and more people have settled for NetOne for data bundles ranging from social media bundles to just ordinary data bundles.

NetOne

One of the outstanding NetOne data bundle is the Hourly data bundle costing ZWL$15. This is 1 gigabyte of data valid for I hour – this has been found convenient by so many users. The best daily data bundle is the 1.2 gigabytes valid for 24 hours which costs ZWL$60. My focus on just the daily bundles is because the weekly and monthly data bundles are not reasonable. For example, a 3.2-gigabyte monthly data bundle costs ZWL$400. NetOne also has One-Fi packages (essentially Wi-Fi packages). They are valid for one month and they are One-Fi Plus (25 gigabytes), One-Fi Ultra (50 gigabytes) and One-Fi Extreme (80 gigabytes) which cost ZWL$400, ZWL$800 and ZWL$1500 respectively. You can dial *171# to access all these packages.

Econet

In contrast to NetOne, Econet does not have an hourly data bundle. Econet also has daily data bundles just like NetOne. They do also have a 1.2 gigabytes daily data bundle valid for 24 hours which costs ZWL$80. Their 3.1 gigabytes monthly data bundle costs ZWL$430. Their private Wi-Fi bundles are 25 gigabytes, 50 gigabytes and 75 gigabytes which cost ZWL$400, ZWL$800 and ZWL$1500 respectively. On the Wi-Fi bundles, they only differ on the ZWL$1500 one where NetOne gives 80 gigabytes and Econet gives 75 gigabytes.

All that I have detailed herein can help you evaluate to see what is best for you. It might be biased for me to point out which packages would be best for you because contexts differ. What I can safely point out is that on the MNOs front, NetOne offers better data bundle packages. As for TelOne, ZOL and Africom, it is not clear cut which is the best. I believe either of them can be the best given certain contexts. It is important to evaluate so that you get the best deals; being online is now inevitable.