Econet launches free MMS trial

Cellular network provider Econet has launched a free trial period of its Multimedia Messaging Service, which will be available to Econet customers on an unlimited basis until the end of the year.

Users need to have an MMS-equipped cell phone, which has been a standard feature on many phones for the last five or six years. All MMS messages will have a one megabyte limit, and as of January 2012 will cost 15 cents per message during peak periods and a cent less off peak.

Critically for Zimbabweans, MMS allows people to share pictures, audio or video files as easily as sending a normal SMS.

MMS, much like an SMS, is a pay per message service that allows anyone with an MMS-supported cell phone to share multimedia content. Like SMS, sending and receiving the messages is dependent on the mobile network’s coverage and, in Econet’s case, MMS is possible through its 3G network.

MMS is widely considered an ‘old’ technology in an age where internet-based messaging services have taken over the comparatively ‘traditional’ SMS type service.

The advent of smart phone technology means more people are using systems like Blackberry Messenger, iMessage on iPhone and downloadable free smart phone apps like WhatsApp to share content, without paying individual message rates. These services all depend on mobile internet access rather than network coverage and by bypassing the cell phone providers in this way, messaging on these formats is cheaper.

Econet Broadband Chief Commercial Officer, Leon de Fleuriot, said that the MMS platform wass unlikely to be a key service. He said last week that this kind of service had been largely superseded by the more advanced internet-based messaging systems.

Promise Mkwananzi, the Secretary General of the MDC-T Youth Assembly, said the launch of MMS was a “progressive and welcome move,” which he said “will definitely be embraced by more people than Econet expects”.

“We really encourage people to familiarise themselves with this technology, and grab it with both hands,” Mkwananzi said.

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