Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What is Econet?

Information & Communications Minister Raphael Tuju came out with both guns blazing from behind the safety of Parliament immunity and basically called Econet a snake oil sales company or the equivalent of Anglo-Leasing (a ghost) incapable of setting up a mobile phone network in Kenya.

What Impact will Econet have on Kenya? Here is a breakdown of the products and services that they offer in Zimbabwe (1 Kenya shilling = 80 Zimbabwe dollars – and all prices have already been converted)[info from their web site]

Products
Buddie: instant pre paid mobile phone connection from Econet wireless. With Buddie, you get NO hassles, NO credit checks, NO subscriptions, NO monthly bills and of course, an instant connection. Buddie is affordable because it offers you total control over your cell phone usage. It’s up to you how much you want to spend.

Sounds like a typical pre-paid Safaricom or Celtel number so far. So what’s different? You can have a buddy inner circle, which consists of five other Econet numbers of your friends/relatives – and you get 20% savings on each call. Initial Registration is free, subsequent change of numbers will cost 60 shillings
IMHO savings offered by Econet should be more – maybe even up to 50%. Within Safaricom, on a given day, once caller may pay 32 shillings per minute (with Tarific) to call safaricom, while another customer pays 16 shillings (Jambo tariff) –NOTE Celtel already has a package like this for corporate customers who can call select Celtel numbers at discounted rates

Libertie: Flexible service that offers value added services - customers have a choice and can select a package that is convenient and affordable for them, as each package has a different tariff and method of payment. Typical post-paid service as from Safaricom and Celtel Different top ups: With Libertie lines you can only use the subscription or top up vouchers to top up your account and not the Buddie recharge cards. Top up denominations are 250, 500 750 1,000 and 1,500 shillings and you can top up to 25,000 shillings. Any airtime that is not used by the end of the month is carried forward to the next month – and at the end of your 30 days, if you have not paid the next month’s subscription you will be barred from making calls even if you still have money in the account.

Business Partna: Contract package designed for corporate organizations, and gives the customer the real advantage of a wide range of value-added services. It includes unlimited access to airtime, access to mobile e-mail (send and receive e-mails on your cell phones at the cost of an SMS), access to mobile bill enquiries, electronic bills (receive your bill statement via e-mail).

Txt – Short Message Service: Short Message Service (SMS) including Txt – Classifieds (place classified advertising in newspapers via SMS), Txt n’ Score (predict the score of a particular soccer match and stand to win airtime prizes), Txt – Ring tones, Logo’s and Picture messages (provides subscribers with ring tones, logos and picture messages). There is no charge for receiving an SMS from another subscriber. To send an ordinary TXT costs only 2.5 shillings or 12.5 shillings for a ring tone, logo or picture message. already available in Kenya from both mobile companies

Services
Roaming: Use your Econet SIM card whenever you cross borders by connecting to our roaming service – no need to worry about paying your bill in foreign currency for any calls you make while away from home as you will pay when you return from travel. But you must notify Econet a week before travel and a refundable deposit may be required already available to some Safaricom subscribers – they even have a special Traveller tariff

Crisis Centre (Emergency Services) Econet mans a 24-hour emergency service centre in the country and you have automatic access to the Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Police, Safeguard and Rescue services on your fingertips. sounds like Safaricom’s 911 service, but no idea if its free for all – which it should be

Ecomail (Voice mail)
A personal answering service that works for you 24 hours a day. Kenyans rarely use voicemail, preferring to send SMS messages which are cheaper (5 shillings as opposed to a full minute charged for leaving voice mail) and clearer

Call Centre
Econet runs a 24-hour Call Centre that gives advice, directory services, and information to subscribers on products and services. nothing to brag about

Value Added Services
Executive Briefing: This is a value added service available only to contract subscribers. It is SMS based and provides wide range of information ranging from local news to international news. Charges per month are News (63 shillings), Sport (63 sh), Business news (38 sh) ZSE – stock exchange (38 sh) Weather Report (25 sh) or all the above services for 190 shillings per month. Included FREE are a daily inspirational quote, bible verse and breaking news. Safaricom offers these services to all subscribers at 7 shillings per message

News on Demand
Allow subscribers to listen to the latest local, regional and international news through their Econet lines not viable as Kenyans always turn on TV’s at news time

Electronic Bills
Subscribers can receive account invoices electronically instead of having to wait for the post office to deliver. Something Celtel should introduce. this is a good idea, even Celtel should do this, but it’s only for post-paid customers

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