Vodafone vs Vodacom

Vodafone vs Vodacom
Vodafone vs Vodacom

From the 1st of April we will have Vodafone competing against Vodacom for our money in Zambia. Vodacom currently owns iConnect one of the original Zambian ISPs and Afrimax uses the Vodafone brand to establish an in-country presence.

Afrimax, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, started in 2010. We have built up the largest portfolio of 4G TD-LTE spectrum in a number of countries across Sub-Sahara African.  We are now starting commercial operations in our licensed markets, bringing the Vodafone brand to new parts of Africa and providing world class products and services to over 220 million people in the Afrimax-Vodafone markets.

Why are they competing in the same market?

iConnect was the original 4G network with their WiMAX platform and their refreshing marketing campaign around a parrot was new on the scene, the two factors resulted in massive growth culminating in them being awarded Number 1 ISP by the regulator; read our article on that here. Several innovations were launched by the network soon after the Vodacom purchase, these included 4G WiMax, rebranding, iConnect stores, free web and domain hosting with business packages, the Google global cache and numerous others. In the recent past the company seems to have lost its imagination and core value proposition with no new data products, a marketing campaign around chitenges and growing customer discontent.

iConnect onlypazed
iConnect #onlypazed campaign

Onto the scene steps Afrimax, the new entrant. Afrimax will launch a 4G LTE network much like MTN Zambia. Afrimax is a Vodafone partner and Vodafone are a 65% share owner of Vodacom. Vodacom own 100% of iConnect. Afrimax will launch under the Vodafone brand on the 1st of April and will service the personal and business market segments for data services. If Afrimax Zambia emulate Vodafone Uganda with their personal segment packages of ZMW8.49 per 1GB for a daily bundle they will be a welcome disruption in the market, forcing a much needed shake up of the fixed wireless product offerings.

Afrimax are investing CapEx (Capital Expenditure) and leasing the Vodafone brand in a new company rather than refresh the entity owned through a subsidiary, this is not good use of capital when taken at face value. The CapEx investment includes a new data centre in Roma, capacity leases from Liquid Telecoms for metro fibre, tower lease from IHS, spectrum purchase from the regulator and hardware purchase from ZTE and others. Would it not have been better to spend that capital upgrading iConnect’s network and rebrand that? Why have a franchise competing with a wholly owned company? The investment has the ability to erode iConnect’s revenue, weakening their place in the market.

Vodafone Global Partners
Vodafone Global Partners, Zambia will be shaded red next year

There is no mention of a 4th operator but we have to ask the questions why spend the money? Who will be left singing

Disclaimer: The author used to work for iConnect 

11 thoughts on “Vodafone vs Vodacom

  • …written by a former employee not confident enough to identify himself. Disgruntled maybe? Forced Out? Both?

    • Hi Patrick if you click (my name) on my profile you will clearly see who I am and what I did at iConnect. At the beginning of every article the author is listed.

  • Vinni has been around the ISP world for a while now, and this article is very informative. I’ve been an iconnect client for a while, and believe me, the services have really gone down

    • I ditched iConnect because of poor home internet service, using an outdoor radio, and went to Zamtel ADSL, which is a lot better, with 2 Mbps download speeds for a K400 (real) unlimited download plan. Unfortunately, in February this year, Zamtel ADSL experienced a major breakdown, resulting in erratic ADSL services. I suspended my account and switched to MTN 4G, which is okay, so far.

  • of late Zamtel has been taking the iconnect place believe me coz i’ve been the one who removes the iconnect equipment to instal the zamtel ones if the client hasnt done that already or theres no better alternative place for the ZAMTEL equipment

    • Which Zamtel equipment are you installing in place of iConnect equipment? ADSL, FTTH or what?

  • MTN has impressed me with their expansion of 4G services in Lusaka. The start was very slow in January 2014, with just the MTN headquarters and a few, randomly selected areas in the CBD of Lusaka covered. Now, just about every major population centre in Lusaka is covered by 4G. It is not blanket coverage, but it is good enough. The coming of Vodafone is most welcome, unfortunately for me, I have invested in two MTN 4G routers now. I paid K1,200 for the first one and I got the second one for “free” after signing up for a K999 deal to get 40 Gb of data and a “free” 4G router.

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  • True about iConnect. Been a customer for almost 3/4 years now. And say up to now did not get any personalized email address(despite frequent follow ups on the matter). And like that was not enough. As a customer, can not be able to login into the customer account on the excuse of “Maintenance Works”, which apparently have been for years now. How inconveniencing. Time to move.

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