Econet launching 3G in August, cuts connection costs

22 Jul 2009

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator by subscribers Econet Wireless will launch commercial 3G services alongside an expanded 2.5G data service on 28 August, writes the Zimbabwe Telegraph. Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said the GSM operator was ready to roll out a comprehensive package of data services based on 3G (W-CDMA), GPRS and EDGE technologies. The new range will be launched initially only in Harare, but extended to all major cities by the end of the year, with the 3G service targeted at the top end of the market and post-paid contract subscribers. 3G capacity will initially be limited to 55 000 customers. Mboweni added that the cellco’s GPRS network, which does not support video applications but enables internet browsing and e-mail services, is already being offered to a limited market and would now be substantially expanded with the company’s utilisation of new bandwidth. ‘GPRS is also being used for other critical services such as vehicle tracking systems and point-of-sale terminals,’ he said. Regarding the introduction of EDGE services, Econet says its network in southern parts of Zimbabwe is EDGE-ready.

In other Econet news, The Zimbabwean reports that the firm has cut prices of its bundled handset/SIM/airtime starter-packs in response to the government’s removal of duty on mobile phones. Mboweni said: ‘We are grateful to the Finance Minister for the concession. Our response is to immediately pass this benefit on to the consumer through this reduction. We are not taking any mark-up on the handsets. In fact, as a gesture of goodwill we are reducing the price even on handsets for which we had already paid duty.’