With NetOne introducing new OneFusion packages it’s only right that we take a look at why they may have made this move and if it actually makes sense.
How this began…
The uproar around the OneFusion service started about a week ago when subscribers started complaining about airtime running out much quicker than normal. Facebook and Whatsapp also stopped working as advertised, with pictures and videos proving hard to access.
NetOne’s lack of a clear response did not help them or their angry subscriber base. Eventually, NetOne released a statement but they didn’t talk about a solution. 22 hours ago they promised to resolve the situation within 24 hours but it is not yet clear if normalcy has been restored (NetOne subscribers are you viewing FB pics and Whatsapp pics without any disturbance now?)
We reported on the new OneFusion packages and now it’s time to take a look at why the packages make sense or why they actually don’t make sense. Remember there’s always two sides to a coin so let me try explain…
Why this makes sense
It’s all about turning a profit, and NetOne hasn’t managed to do so in a while.
Back in January, we reported on the fact that OneFusion may actually have been a failure. Unfortunately, the fact that OneFusion managed to pull in a sizeable (or is it sizable) number of subscribers (over 350 000) did not directly translate to profits for NetOne. In fact, there was a decrease in revenue since the introduction of OneFusion. This is why NetOne finds themselves in this position where they now have to revise the OneFusion package in order for the promotion to become viable for NetOne.
Last year NetOne failed to pay their telecoms license fees and this negatively impacted government revenue. The forfeiture of such fees might have been acceptable to the old regime, but with new sheriffs in town the pressure is on to perform and NetOne may not necessarily be allowed to avoid or negotiate these fees under the new dispensation.
The fact that NetOne is government owned also means that any debt incurred by NetOne is also a debt of the Zim government. In this new Zimbabwe that is being said to be ‘open for business’ the government is probably looking for ways to avoid being ravaged by debt and is probably breathing on the neck of NetOne which may be why they have been forced to revise their OneFusion offering.
In any case, the government as a shareholder wants to reap from whatever investments they have sowed into the telco over the years.
Turning a profit will also be of interest to the government and to NetOne as there are investors interested in them. Obviously, a profitable NetOne will be more enticing than one that is burning a hole in their pocket. Remember the government seems keen to let go of a number of the companies they own. Telecoms companies make sense if they go because they are too capital intensive and the government may achieve more by regulating them more stringently than by owning them.
Why this doesn’t make sense
The new OneFusion packages might lead to an exodus if subscribers don’t like what’s on offer.
An exodus might leave NetOne in a disastrous position and it will be interesting to see how the subscribers react as this will probably have a big bearing on NetOne’s future.
This is always the problem when you want to win market share through promotions
The revision of OneFusion also doesn’t really address the complaints of the subscribers. Judging from NetOne’s response you would think the subscribers were complaining about having too much data, but this is not the case. OneFusion users were complaining about disappearance of credit and inability to view media on Facebook and Whatsapp, as we mentioned at the start of this article. So this move to bring out new packages might be a move that was already in the works and is now being put into place after the catastrophic events that have befallen NetOne.
I know that catastrophic sounds dramatic but in a few years I think you will give me a firm handshake and acknowledge that this was indeed a catastrophe. Personally, I don’t see NetOne coming back from this one anytime soon but I hope they can recover quickly for the sake of competition at least.
They may have to stick through this change actually so that their bouncing back is not a promotion led bouncing back which is not sustainable. Their bouncing back should be a value proposition led bouncing back and that’s going to be harder but more sustainable.
The comments section is always open. Give us your take on the new packages and why they make sense or not.–techzim