Zimbabwe’s state-owned fixed telephony operator TelOne says that its ongoing network upgrade programme is aimed at increasing its total number of subscribers from 350,000 to a million, under a multi-million dollar set of contracts with Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei Technologies. TelOne managing director Hampton Mhlanga said the first phase of a project involving deployment of consumer ADSL broadband access was expected to be completed at the end of this month. Ongoing work involves new fibre-optic transmission links connecting major cities and towns, with the new backbone already virtually complete between Harare and Mutare, while the rollout of a southern link is nearing Bulawayo. A USD58 million deal with Huawei will expand ADSL ‘to the rest of Zimbabwe,’ the telco claims, as reported by Bulawayo24.com. Other work being undertaken by the company includes restoring fixed line infrastructure in areas affected by equipment theft and vandalism which has cost TelOne ‘millions of dollars.’ Mhlanga said this and other factors including ‘poor service’ resulted in the PSTN operator’s subscriber base falling from a peak of around 450,000 to 350,000 currently. TelOne is owed over USD250 million in outstanding bills from defaulting subscribers.
Mhlanga, as quoted by the local press, stated: ‘We are targeting at raising our subscriber base to one million from the present 350,000 once the upgrading is complete. Part of the work will also see two core switching centres being put in place connecting the 153 exchanges… our first phase to be rolled out is the ADSL. TelOne Broadband is expected to be completed by the end of December. It is our flagship product and it is ideal for residential and small to medium scale enterprises.’