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Are the new Airtel BIS rates BS?


Effective today, the Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) subscription rates have been increased by Airtel Zambia which has not been received well by subscribers with many threatening to leave the network and switch to predominantly MTN.

There are also many complaints that the BIS is slow in many areas on the Airtel network so the price hike is an added frustration.

In an email, Airtel responded to our query stating that they have ‘in the last month communicated directly to all BlackBerry users regarding the new tariffs which have come into effect today (January 5th, 2016). SMSes have been sent to all concerned customers to make them aware of the new tariff plan as per ZICTA guidance’.

For those asking if ZICTA is aware, well, the procedure is that before increasing or decreasing any tariffs, they write to the telecoms regulator (ZICTA) who either approve or disapprove. ZICTA then writes back with their decision and the need to communicate to customers who are affected by the changes.

Airtel has explained that the adjustments upwards is to meet the cost of the service from its providers:


Here are the new BIS rates:

Airtel BIS rates 2016

If you have an existing active subscription, it will be charged at the new rate the next time you purchase another. If you are on the auto-renew subscription, your next bundle purchased from today will be charged at the new rate.

To answer the question is the new BIS rates BS? Yes, because slowly the service meant for the majority of the population that cannot afford the normal data bundles used on other operating systems is slowly fading away, making it expensive to use as well. We know the economy is facing hardships but that trickles down to the very last end user who feels the pinch of it all. Hiking BIS rates by almost 100% was in bad taste right now. They’re clearly more ‘business-is-business’ than ‘we-serve-the-customer’ at this point.

MTN’s BIS rates are:

Blackberry Complete

Monthly K77

Weekly K25

Daily K4

Blackberry Social

Monthly K60

Weekly K17

Daily K4

Blackberry Absolute

Monthly K130

Weekly K35

Daily K5

Some rates are cheaper on both networks for the same plan.


Tech Blogger & Marketer.

5 thoughts on “Are the new Airtel BIS rates BS?

  • What about your predictions yesterday? I think you are starting to contradict yourself as a tech blog because it seems to me you aren’t being objective or analytical in certain issues that you are raising. I clearly mentioned that it is IMPOSSIBLE for any network provider to cut prices and offer cheaper services because of externalities such as high inflation rates, unstable exchange rates, dramatic policy implementation etc.

    • Lars A. Gundersen

      Zaraki, 2016 is still young and there is a lot of pressure in the industry and historical evidence to suggest prices for data services will decrease overall once market gets closer to maturity. It can still happen in 2016 despite this price hike.

  • would have loved you to also add ZAMTEL BIS as well because if am not mistaken they are still cheaper than MTN thus this article would not have looked like an MTN endorsed article

  • Lars A. Gundersen

    Those are just tags for the site not specifically for the article.

  • Andrew the tags, like Lars said, are for the entire site. Every great blog should have some. The ones specific to the article are right at the top if you’re keeping tags 🙂

    As for the other question incase you didn’t see the response see on Facebook here it is: Our predictions are based on our personal views of where the tech sector is headed. Predictions are qualitative and open to debate. Your views on network operators being unable to reduce prices is based on the current economic profile in Zambia. We based our predictions on where we see the year going. Our reasoning for decreased prices is as follows: increased competition in the data space, declining voice and sms revenue. This will further be compounded by additional capacity in Africa from global CDNs leading to lower IP Transit costs. What happened today is only a singular service in the providers basket of goods; our prediction was for the entire basket of goods. I hope this goes someway to answer your questions.

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