The Zimbabwean Perspective

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ZOL Wibroniks LTE Review: Jump in! (though you might want to look before you leap)

It delivers, even if the competition seems to deliver too…

This feisty little thing holds up pretty well
If I were to summarize this review with a single phrase, it would be this: buy this as long as you’re eligible, because if you are, then you need this. That’s pretty high praise for a product I know, but it comes from a place of feeling content more than anything else. ZOL’s Wibroniks LTE package isn’t perfect, but it delivers, and it does that so well that you really wonder why it Hadn’t come out a lot earlier.

Now to be straight, we have sort of been reviewing this service from a specific point of view . We aren’t reviewing this plan directly comparing it to ZOL’s traditional Fibroniks and Wibroniks packages, largely due to this package’s barriers for entry and seemingly intended customer base. How does it differ you ask? Well for starters, ZOL is selling this with just the $10 RTGS line, no mobile router/dongle required with the sim card being able to work in most LTE enabled devices that support local signal bands. As for the intended customer base, well with Econet , NetOne and Telecel all increasing their prices on what sometimes seems like a literally weekly basis, ZOL’s intended customer here is well, everyone. Or at least everyone in a Wibroniks supported area (and those do actually keep being expanded as best as possible even in the country’s current predicament). ZOL essentially doesn’t mind if a lot of people dump their traditional mobile data plans and use their services primarily for data, perhaps only alternating back to their Econet or Netone line when they need to call or SMS someone or use specific services like Ecocash. Those with the benefit of dual-sim devices will likely find this easier and of course some of us want to use this as home Wi-Fi solution, meaning you would either need a second device to tether the whole house to, or get a mobile Wi-Fi LTE router , whether you get the RTGS $699 one  from ZOL or have one handy already (would I be the only one to find this funny if someone bought a TelOne Blaze router just to put a ZOL line in it?) .
And now that you know how you get the service, how does it actually perform? Well we weren’t able to go around the whole of Harare (let alone Zimbabwe) with it but we did test it in Harare’s Kuwadzana and Belvedere areas, with some commutes to and from the CBD thrown in. And to be honest, the service performs…adequately. I mean it’s largely what you would expect from a ZOL service, impressively fast, mostly reliable and essentially reasonable when it comes to their data tariffs. We probably will put a comparison against traditional ZOL packages as well as competitors like TelOne ADSL and Blaze, but right now all you need to know is that performance is faster than Econet’s LTE data packages, though from what we can tell, not by much. It’s dependability that I would put my money on here, as ZOL tends to hold up better in supported areas even as load shedding occurs (which does still affect the mobile network trio to different extents) so you can stay connected more consistently. As for data tariffs, well a comparison sheet against TelOne’s Blaze is below and you can see that once we start talking about monthly, larger data packages for tethering a few devices TelOne has ZOL beat(which is not really surprising considering they launched Blaze a little later).
Data packageZOL LTE priceTelone Blaze price
20 GB$132$102
100 GB$402$248
However ZOL does still maintain a cheaper entry barrier here, with their 2 GB data going for RTGS $52 while TelOne offers only 1 GB of Data for $54. ZOL is likely playing a customer adoption game here, being more focused on just getting people to use their service and again stealing as much from Econet and Friends as possible . They likely know their largest customer base won’t be people requiring unlimited or even 20 GB data plans, it might be the 2-6GB data users that will grow dependent on ZOL as they distance themselves more and more from needing their mobile network provider for data. It’s a long play that could prove immensely useful for ZOL especially if their price to performance ratio stays the same. After all in many countries most internet service providers are also the main mobile network providers, maybe ZOL could essentially do the same here (though their relationship with liquid and Econet might render that moot?).
We’ll check out TelOne’s blaze soon hopefully, but you definitely forget that it’s out there.
The end point here however, is again, should you buy this? Well before we go any further, whether your area has ZOL Wibroniks is definitely something you need to look up (which you can right here). And once that’s done, well we don’t really see much reason to say no to you guys jumping on the ZOL Wibroniks train. Now of course if you’re someone who wants a cheaper solution that can maintain the whole house for a month, TelOne’s Blaze might be a better offering for you. If that’s not the case though, and you largely need something to replace your Econet or NetOne line for data, then we’re pretty sure ZOL’s Wibroniks LTE packages will be more than fine for you. In fact, we’re hoping Blaze gives this thing enough of a run for its money that ZOL even improves their top-tier pricing as well. We said this before, these new LTE based packages from ZOL and LTE  are a huge deal, and right now, they’re the best deal for you as well, and we can’t recommend enough for you to jump in on this!


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