Tigo’s Unlimited Mobile Broadband: An Alternative to Vodafone’s Data Capping?

Tigo unlimited-internet--web-(242-X-190)

In light of the recent announcement by Vodafone to cap fixed-line broadband, the reaction to has been really not positive as many subscribers feel they are being short-changed, having signed on for unlimited net access only to be told there’s a cap. What some customers cannot really understand even more is that, the initial uncapped data was for GHC 45 whereas the new price has been increased to GHC 65 and the data capped to 15GB per month. Seems here that price is very much a variable in the equation here and people are not ready, willing or have the ability to fork over more for less.

I have been searching around to find if there could be a solution to this “problem” Vodafone is intent on creating. This is proving difficult as the only fixed line operator in Ghana is Vodafone. They are capable of giving the subscriber the better speeds through wired connection to your home or work place. I however, tumbled upon a too-good-to-be-true offer by Tigo from Millicom Ghana Ltd. They are offering “unlimited” data packages for daily, weekly, and monthly subscriptions for both mobile phones and internet usb modems.

Modem (Unlimited) Charge(GHC) Validity (days) Active Download (GB)
Day Browsing 2.49 1 0.5
Week Browsing 10.99 7 3
Month Browsing 39.99 30 8.5
Handset (Unlimited) Charge(GHC) Validity(days) Active Download (GB)
Day Browsing 1.99 1 0.2
Week Browsing 6.99 7 1.5
Month Browsing 22.99 30 3

The packages are somewhat limited in that they normally come with limited active download capacity. When I called their call centre to enquire about those packages (of course I don’t believe in the unlimited tag), I was told that the weekly subscription for example, has an active download limit of 3GB of data for a subscription of GHC 10.99. The call centre lady told me that in the case the 3GB of data is  exhausted, the subscriber will still have access to the internet for basic web surfing, social media and email just that download would be extremely slow, real slow.

This package for Tigo can be looked at in several ways. For a heavy net user as in a person who is a streamer and downloader, this is a good bargain. But for someone who uses the internet for basic tasks as email and social media, this may be somewhat n unnecessary dent in the pocket.

All the same, it offers a very competitive alternative to what Vodafone is currently offering for fixed broadband. Just do the mathematics; if you are to pay GHC 65 for 15GB data on a fixed broadband and you are offered 8.5GB active downloads of data for GHC 40 a month on mobile broadband, what do think?

I however, have a problem with their rates for handsets. They are giving way too much data for a week than a user can possibly use at an expensive rate. GHC 7 cedi for a phone internet plan for a week is expensive and unnecessary.

Regarding speed, from a personal experience, I have experienced an average of 70KB/s on mobile subscription. The call centre lady could not give me any specific answer when i asked for speeds for the various packages. What good will an unlimited data plan be if the speed is bad.

I will update this article when I get more info on speed and other packages from the other telcos. Please share with me your thoughts and suggestion through comments.

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Vodafone’s 15GB Fixed Broadband Data Cap

On Wednesday, November 14, I got a text message from Vodafone and it said:

“Dear customer, from Nov 28 2012, your fixed broadband package will have 15GB of internet allowance valid for 30 days. Your monthly fee will be GHC65 per month”

Wow! I never thought this day will come and even if I did this was not how it was supposed to be. I, as well as the several customers of Vodafone fixed broadband signed up for “unlimited data” downloads at specified speeds with respect to the individual packages we chose. So now it is a shock to find out that I will be limited to only 15GB of data for 30 days at virtually the same price.

I got another text message the following day, Thursday, the 15th:

“Yesterday’s fixed broadband text message was for new customers only. Your new 15GB allowance starts on 15 December, 2012. Thank you.”

Like that solves anything; I signed up for 70ghc for an average speed of 120 KB/s even though Vodafone claims to give me 2meg. (I don’t know if they are confusing mebi with mega).

Well, upon my calculations, I realized that in the case I continue using my data service in the same way as I have always been using, per say I use it for 24 hours non-stop download at my average speed of 120KB, then I’m going to exhaust my data allowance of 15gb in approximately a day and half for 65ghc. That is preposterous.

Some of you may ask what the hell I might be downloading that might need me to exhaust 15 GB of data overnight! Well, let me give you a scenario. There are a lot of companies and businesses who rely heavily on the internet, in these days of IT, to run their business. Examples are Web Design firms, advertising agencies, job and HR companies, data entry firms, software companies, online learning centres, internet cafes, modern day business with international affiliations who do video conference meetings via media like Skype, googlechat  and facebook. For whatever package they subscribed for, their cost of business is going to go up significantly.

Take the internet cafes for example. They rely on the “unlimited” feature of the Vodafone fixed broadband to operate within sense. Now, where they have a data cap, guess what’s going to happen? Their cost of business is going to shoot up because the cost of their “raw material” has just gone up. And I promise you, they would transfer that cost to you and I who frequent the café day in day out. So your average internet café cost for an hour’s voucher is going to go up. Businesses would start charging higher fees to in order to offset the cost coming from the data capping since they will be forced to buy extra data.

Elsewhere…

I have been to many internet forums which featured topics on internet download speeds and services they come with. Some places enjoy 10 times the speed we get here in Ghana for almost half of what we are paying. Check out examples of comments below taken from an article published some 2 years ago and compare it to our current situation in Ghana:

Alex: In ROMANIA, we pay 9.25 euros/month for 100 mbps unlimited traffic + free ZTE HSDPA 7.2 Mbps usb modem with 5 GB traffic per month, after 5 GB the internet speed will be really slow!

thor94: for me (france): 35€/month for 100mbps (ftth) unlimited traffic+ unlimited phone (land+mobile around the world)+ HD TV (more than 150 channel)

Miti_bg: I am from Bulgaria. I pay 17 euros for Internet and cable TV. My internet is 50mbps and I get 60 channels. For 25 euros I would get 150mpbs and 150 channels. By the way – it is super reliable. I am with this company for 6 months now and the internet haven’t stopped even a single time. With my previous supplier (I stayed with them 1 year and the internet stopped 4 or 5 times – between 5 minutes and 2 hours each time).

Peter Pain: Ukraine, $18 per month. gigabit (1000Mbps) connection to entire world, unlimited bandwidth. Free Digital TV 150 channels. 100Mbps costs $9.

(For more info, check out here, here and there.)


Reactions…

A lot of people I have spoken to physically and online seemed very peeved about the intended action by Vodafone. They don’t see why Vodafone should do that and have been venting their frustration on Vodafone social media pages. There has even been a group formed on facebook to protest this action. But I don’t know how this can really have an effect unless the likes of PURC and Consumer Bureau step in to stop this madness.

Customers seem even more annoyed that Vodafone will announce such a major event through text messages instead of say… a press conference or press release where there can be a call for more clarification or protest. No explanation. It is just like saying that “We’ve got the fixed lines and we can do whatever the hell we want to do with it. SO take or go to hell.”

Vodafone does not have any comments regarding the data capping on their website or facebook page. Any attempt to ask questions on the facebook page goes unanswered and these questions are being deleted as they are posted. It is as if Vodafone is trying hard to keep this on the quiet side and try to slip it down the throat of the present customers without alarming the new ones.

Concluding…

Critically looking at these figures makes me feel strongly that Vodafone has no moral right to cap data limit on fixed broadband. Vodafone rather has to improve service by giving me better speeds and extra services. Otherwise, I would draw the conclusion that Vodafone wants to kill businesses by making them unsustainable. Vodafone wants people to lose their jobs by forcing pay cuts and unemployment, by reducing profitability just for the mere fact that they can do it because they only have fixed broadband in the country. That is unfair business practice.

Start of the First Mobile Entrepreneurship Training in Ghana

So today, I started the Mobile Web Entrepreneurship training program at the ICT Directorate of the University of Ghana. I was lucky to be selected among the numbers who applied for the training program being organised by the Mobile Web Ghana, a subsidiary of Web Foundation.

The aim of the 21 day training program is to equip participants with the skills and know-how of developing and deploying mobile applications to meet the demands of the Ghanaian market especially. It involves the training of two categories of persons with respect to expertise and previous knowledge. The first is the Technical aspect which is made up of the tech-savvy guys who have knowledge in web development and software programming. The other aspect is the Business track trainees. They [we-I have no idea of developing] are taught in the handling of the selling of the apps developed by the tech squad.

The instructors are from all over the world and they would be taking their time to teach us a variety of skills that would teach us what all these things are about. I hope to be able to learn as much as I can because it is something I am very passionate about.

The main sponsor is Vodafone. The trainees have been grouped into teams and each is supposed to bring up a possible mobile business idea and then develop it into a viable one. At the end of the training, the team with best mobile application gets whopping GHC 15,000. I say whopping because I can think of a lot of stuff I can do with that much. I pray that I be able to get that [some of that] meat. AMEN.

I partnered with one software developer called Alfred. He is thinking of creating an app that would allow persons in the rural areas to access first-aid services via mobile and I am thinking of integrating the mobile payment systems into online purchases using mobile apps. We are still sorting it out.

Quality IT education in Ghana is quite expensive. You need to be quite loaded when you approach the pace setters in IT education like IPMC and NIIT. The universities don’t give that much in-depth tutorials like these but at the end of the day, it is quite rewarding. The benefit being that I’ve not seen an unemployed IT person [yet] in Ghana.

I’ll keep you posted.

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