TWO international telecommunications manufacturers contracted by local mobile phone operator Econet have resumed work after temporarily suspending the project during the March and June elections.
According to Econet Wireless corporate communications manager, Rangarirai Mberi, Swedish giant Ericsson and ZTE of China undertook to resume the project that should see the network provider further increasing its subscriber base to 870 000 from 654 000. The two companies had stopped implementing the project due to the unrest during the election period.
“Ericsson is providing equipment to expand the core network, which is made up of the switching systems, Intelligent Network platforms, prepaid systems, as well as new base stations in Harare, Mashonaland and Manicaland,” Mberi said
“ZTE of China is supplying radio base stations for the southern parts of the country, covering areas such as Bulawayo urban and its environs, Masvingo, Midlands, and the Matabeleland provinces. The Chinese company will also build new sites in remote rural areas as well as along the highways.”
This, according to Mberi, will further broaden Econetâ€™s market share and consolidate its position as the largest mobile phone company in Zimbabwe. State-owned NetOne and Telecel are second and third placed respectively sharing close to 40% market share between them.
In a market update this week, Econet chief executive, Douglas Mboweni, confirmed that more than 220 000 lines had been released following the increase in the capacity of the companyâ€™s pre-paid system. He said the mobile phone operator would issue 400 000 lines on the local market before the end of the year.
“Our attention is now focused on completing the next phase of expansion, which will take the companyâ€™s subscriber capacity to 1,3 million by the end of November this year,” Mboweni said.
Meanwhile the mobile telecommunications group has also announced that it still awaits a green light from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) before it rolls out the much-awaited multi-media 3G service. Currently most operators are operating on GSM platform, which is for voice and text only. Effort to get a comment from Potraz on the progress of the new telecommunications technology that was set to be introduced late last year were in vain at the time of going to press.
By Bernard Mpofu