By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Zimbabwe`s largest mobile network by subscriber base, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is reportedly “sabotaging” thousands of bulk SMS services in a move that has frustrated many private players as Econet continues to “unmask” the cool sender ID which compliments the beauty of bulk SMS.
In some instances, recipients are complaining about not receiving the messages at all as they are reportedly blocked, or simply not pushed.
Most private players who called TechnoMag complained that their services were being disturbed by Econet without any formal warning and fear that this is a deliberate move by Econet as it also seeks to offer such a service on mass scale, Something they once offered and sharply terminated thereafter.
Most bulk messages which are being sent to Econet numbers are being received by recipients with the actual sender number showing, instead of the “cool” customised name. When and If Econet delivers the message, they are instead showing a UK or Indian number like a sender number.
Most Bulk SMS service providers in Zimbabwe provide the service from Indian based gateways and they are seeing the bulk message being unmasked, causing them to lose business as bulk SMSs without the customised sender ID are often ignored by recipients or simply treated as spam.
Players who would have paid to have their bulk SMS delivered are complaining that the effectiveness of their message has been reduced and are therefore demanding refunds from the numerous bulk SMS players in Zimbabwe.
Previously Econet had pledged that it would be “protecting” the interest of its clients by safeguarding them from unsolicited spam messages, but this however does not hold water as they are completely spoiling the service even for the intended recipients.
Kubatana and Zimhosts for instance first gets users to agree to their terms and conditions that their registered details will be used for bulksms advertising for other clients when they register to use free SMS thus we cant say its spam especially when they get clearance from Potraz, and as long as users have consented.
Few weeks, back during the Zimbabwean harmonised elections, Econet wireless was completely blocking known and popular gateways passing bulk SMS to Zimbabweans reportedly citing that it was a directive. Ironically all other mobile service providers kept pushing the bulk SMS service uninterrupted.
“For bulk SMS players, this will lead to thousands of dollars being lost per day since Econet has the largest subscriber base in Zimbabwe” said a player.
Another service provider expressed anger and said that “ this is so bad for our business, they cannot just short change our business model without prior warning”.
This problem only seems to be occurring on the Econet SMS platform as the other mobile operators, Netone and Telecel have been reported to be delivering the same message properly.
Econet Wireless has been blamed for “sabotaging” the service as it has big plans to offer the same service to its subscribers hence eliminating and frustrating potential competition.
Bulk SMS services are as cheap as $0.0025 per text and they have made big business and proved to be one of the most reliable and convenient way to send messages instantly to hundreds of people by a push of a button.
SMS is being ridiculously charged at about 8 cents across all service providers in Zimbabwe, making Whatsapp a very popular competitive service which charges a fraction of a cent on the amount of actual packet data sent.
Today the growth of Whatsapp, not just in Zimbabwe alone but world wide has been attributed by the resistance of GSM players to cut the SMS costs or rather implement IP based products which pushes data online at a much cheaper trading cost.
All mobile operators in Zimbabwe do not make money from incoming SMS as sender keeps all- which means promoting them on their network may not make any business sense, while their platforms and their mandate should enable the movement of information without hindrance.
Instead of blocking the internet based bulk SMS, Econet should simply
1.offer a lower competitive rate so we use their simcards instead of international gateways
2 Why not ask bulk SMS to contribute some small fee for every incoming sms or let alone offer the service at a much competitive price tag and offer the locals to redistribute on their behalf.
3Why not first offer their own called bulksms as an alternative than blocking the existing ones with no warning when thousands of clients have purchased thousands credit ready to send. This has left all bulksms with no alternative not even time to advise users that there shall be suspending the service.
Every message sent has an intended recipient, personally I would never suppot my inbox to be spammed by unsolicited messages and Econet would be right by blocking such, but it defeats the whole process when someone fails to get notified of a private group update simply because Econet has blocked the message for whatever reason.
The subscibers themselves are the ones who should be complaining about being spammed as the the spamming service providers would then face the wrath of the law or disconnection not Econet on behalf of the subscribers.
Needless to say, Econet , like any other service providers have been bombarding us, the subscribers with text messages of their services or products we do not remember at all signing for, ironic no one is blocking these ones to “protect” us. single message to thousands in not more 5 seconds.
Unfortunately Econet Seems not perturbed about these worrisome business ethics where the customer comes first and this is truly not a good way to hog the limelight for a superbrand, unless they really just do not care
Today Organisations, Churches, banks,schools, clubs and groups of people have adopted this type of service for instant messaging across all networks.
Imagine how many business have been affected, even groups and churches like Christ Embassy, UFIC, ZAOGA, and NGOs too- highly depend on the bulk SMS service to push their messages as a very affordable way to deliver messages.