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Econet 'sabotaging' bulk SMS players

03 Oct 2013 at 06:41hrs | Views
Customers have complained against Econet's failure to send bulk SMS, but the mobile giant claims it is simply
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 complements the beauty of bulk SMS.

In some instances, recipients are complaining about not receiving the messages at all as they are reportedly being 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 a mass scale, something they once offered and 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 as the sender's 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 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 they are, however, not living up to this promise they are completely spoiling the service even for the intended recipients. Kubatana and Zimhosts, for instance, first get users to agree to their terms and conditions that their registered details will be used for bulk SMS advertising for other clients when they register to use free SMS thus we cannot classify it as spam especially when they get clearance from Potraz, and as long as users have consented to this.

During the July 31 harmonised elections, Econet Wireless was completely blocking known and popular gateways passing bulk SMS to Zimbabweans reportedly citing that it was a State 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 customer said that the practice was affecting their business.

"They cannot just short change our business model without prior warning," he said.

This problem only seems to be occurring on the Econet SMS platform as the other mobile operators, NetOne and Telecel, are 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 US$0,0025 per text and they have made big business and proved to be one of the most reliable and convenient ways to send messages instantly to hundreds of people at the push of a button.

SMS is being ridiculously charged at about US 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 but worldwide, has been attributed to the resistance of GSM players to cut the SMS costs or rather implement IP-based products which push data online at a much cheaper trading cost.

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:
 Offer a lower competitive rate so we use their SIM cards instead of international gateways

 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.

 Why not first offer their own bulk SMS as an alternative than blocking the existing ones with no warning when thousands of clients have purchased thousands credit and are ready to send. This has left all bulk SMS with no alternative not even time to advise users that they shall be suspending the service.

Every message sent has an intended recipient, personally I am not in support of my inbox being spammed by unsolicited messages and Econet would be right to block such, but it defeats the whole purpose when someone fails to get notified of a private group update simply because Econet has blocked the message for whatever reason.

The subscribers themselves are the ones who should be complaining about being spammed as 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 provider, has 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 five 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 super- brand, 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 businesses 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.

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The writer is the Founding Editor of TechnoMag. More on Tech on www.technomag.co.zw or join us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/technomagzw and enjoy free airtime quiz games. Email: ictarticles[at]technomag.co.zw


Source - herald
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