Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the country’s largest telecoms firm, says it has put at least a third of the country’s population, estimated at over 12,4 million, on its mobile phone network and about 400 000 on its broadband service.
This is more than double the combined customer base of its two competitors, Telecel and NetOne.
The expansion has further boosted the country’s mobile phone penetration rate, which in August was estimated at 52%.
In a market update, Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said total subscriber numbers increased to 5,012 million by November 30 from 4,6 million four months ago, adding the demand for new lines remained strong.
“Econet continues to account for the majority of all lines sold in the market,” Mboweni said.
“The increase in the subscriber base has been made possible by the ongoing network expansion.”
He also said the telecoms operator had connected 432 312 subscribers to its national broadband service launched in October.
The broadband service is technically backed by the company’s fibre-optic network with a direct connection to the SEACOM cable in Durban, South Africa.
Mboweni said Econet had completed the backbone project which enjoys dedicated capacity on SEACOM cable through its South Africa-based parent, Econet Wireless Group.
The project entailed round-networking base stations to the network’s three switches to carry back-haul traffic from the switch to base stations, replacing the existing satellite-based microwave radio links with fibre-optic cables.
Microwave radios have limited capacity that often causes congestion and reduces uptimes.
The fibre-optic project will place Econet as one of the most diversified telecoms operators in sub-Saharan Africa and boost its capacity to offer a multiplicity of innovative value-added products, from voice and data to Internet interchanges, at high speed and reduced cost.