Econet in massive network overhaul

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Perimeter wall at the Econet Wireless head offices in Msasa, Harare.

ECONET Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ) Limited will soon invest amounts running into several millions in a core network project to replace obsolete equipment that is causing disruptions to its data and value-added services, businessdigest has established.

By Melody Chikono

The country’s largest mobile network operator has engaged ZTE, a leading Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company, to supply equipment for a multi-million core network project set to commence soon.

The mobile network operator intends to replace its Ericsson equipment which is now obsolete, it has emerged.

The mobile network operator has been experiencing network disruptions, a development that has triggered barrage of complaints after subscribers failed to get reliable service across all its products.

In 2008, Econet undertook a similar process that saw the Swedish giant, Ericsson, supplying equipment to expand the core network, which is made up of the switching systems, and intelligent network platforms while ZTE supplied radio base stations for the southern parts of the country.

Econet Group CE Douglas Mboweni confirmed the project, but would not be drawn into giving the exact project cost as Econet is in a closed period, but said his company was engaging the central bank for possible foreign currency funding as well as other sources.

“I can’t possibly give you a figure to the work as you might be aware we are in our closed period. We are hoping to announce our results end of May. We will also then give an update as to what else is happening in our organisation in terms of operations. You will then get your specific answers,” he said.

Mboweni said the group was also facing foreign currency challenges as everyone else in the country.

“Our equipment comes from outside Zimbabwe and foreign currency is a challenge that is facing everyone so we always do our best in terms of actually managing that area so we are in consultation with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We are also looking at any creative way we can actually pursue in terms of actually bringing equipment into Zimbabwe so we talk to our suppliers as well in terms of what can be done. We have payment plans with our suppliers we always do unfortunately I can’t divulge the details.”

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