BY TANYARADZWA NHARI
ZIMBABWE’S biggest mobile telecomnunications firm, Econet Wireless yesterday launched the country’s first high-speed Fifth Generation (5G) mobile broadband technology, moving the domestic market in line with global trends.
The launch was made in partnership with global technology giants, Ericson and ZTE.
Econet will kick-off the service in Harare before expanding to other Zimbabwean markets during the course of this year, according to a statement released at the launch.
The rollout demonstrated Econet’s confidence on the Zimbabwean market, where it has already invested over US$3 billion in infrastructure since its inception in 1998.
Douglas Mboweni, chief executive officer at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed giant, said the 5G rollout was an important milestone for the company.
He said the technology would bolster Zimbabwe’s capacity to become a full-fledged digital economy.
“The 5G technology will transform the way we all live and work, offering customers significantly greater network capacity, ultra-low latency and super-fast broadband speeds that open vast possibilities for our individual, business and enterprise customers,” he said.
The firm was allocated test spectrum in multiple bands by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for 5G technology services.
The new technology will yield far higher speeds — up to 100 times faster than earlier broadband technologies.
“The technology allows several devices to be connected at the same time, allowing for new automation possibilities, seamless communication and inter-connectivity between multiple smart devices, commonly known as the internet of things (IoT),” Mboweni said.
Econet chief operating officer Kezito Makuni, said the launch of 5G would allow the company to meet growing demand for data and complement its growing 4G network, boosting overall mobile connectivity for Econet customers.
“Our 5G network will offer new use cases while at the same time helping us meet existing demand for mobile broadband services,” Makuni said.
The launch of 5G cements Econet’s position as the technology and telecoms leader in Zimbabwe, where the company was the first to launch 3G and 4G services.
Potraz’s sector performance reports shows that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company has long been a leader in infrastructure investment in 2G, 3G and 4G.
Potraz director-general Gift Machengete, who was the guest of honour at the launch, commended Econet for bringing 5G to the Zimbabwean market at a time when the demand for data and telecom services is very high.
He said the introduction of the super-fast technology in Zimbabwe meant the “future has finally arrived”, adding that he expected the technology to herald industrial and societal transformation.
“5G, indeed, is ‘The Technology’; it is the nervous system of the digital economy, where everything whether biological, mechanical or chemical will have to be connected somehow, anywhere, anytime, with zero delay and almost unlimited capacity,” he said.
He noted that for the country to enjoy the full benefits of 5G, the telecommunications sector will require foreign currency support for network expansion and procurement of critical core network software.