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Zimbabwe to have 100% 3G coverage in 2017

Zimbabwe to have 100% 3G coverage in 2017

Zimbabwe's largest provider of telecommunications services, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe announced a major data network upgrade that it says will allow it to achieve 100% 3G coverage across the country by the end of 2017.

Techzim reports that the telecoms provider, which according to industry data controls a commanding 98% of the LTE data customer market share, has already started with the upgrade exercise.

"The upgrade started in March this year, at the beginning of our new financial year, and should be completed by the end of this calendar year," said Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni, announcing the developments at the company's Msasa head office in Harare.

"We are essentially ensuring that each and every one of our existing 2G sites countrywide – in towns and in rural areas – are upgraded to 3G sites" he said, adding that the upgrade had already been completed in areas such as Matabeleland, Bulawayo and Harare provinces.

Confirming the upgrade, Kezito Makuni, the company's Technical Director, said the upgrade exercise would see Econet cover most of the country's population with 3G technology.

"Upon completion, we will have covered close to 82% of the population with fast and reliable 3G and LTE coverage," said Makuni.

Econet Wireless has the widest geographical mobile network coverage in Zimbabwe, covering 82% of the population.

The latest data from the industry regulator Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows that Econet has a total of 4 092 base stations (or 52.2% share of total mobile infrastructure), in comparison to industry peers NetOne, which has a total of 2,691 (or 34.5%), and Telecel, with 1,025 (13.2%) base stations.

The company leads the country's three mobile network operators in data network coverage, with more coverage than the other two MNOs put together. It has 1 192 3G base stations (51.2%), compared to NetOne's 771 3G base stations (33.1%) and Telecel's 364 3G base stations (15.6%).

Econet reported 10.2 million connected customers at the end of February 2017 and also leads in LTE (or 4G) network coverage, with 499 LTE sites (63.7%) to NetOne's 284 LTE sites (36.3%). It supports 269.000 LTE customers on its LTE infrastructure, compared with NetOne, which supported 2 165 LTE customers as at the end of March 2017.

"Upon completion, we will have covered close to 82% of the population with fast and reliable 3G and LTE coverage," said Makuni.

According to techzim, Econet has invested over US$1.3 billion in the Zimbabwean economy since 2009. It has created over 20 000 jobs directly and indirectly, through resellers and distributors of its wide variety of products and services that include, among others, voice products, data services and popular mobile money transfer, EcoCash.

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