We’re just from the launch of Zimbabwe’s first nationwide broadband service by Econet at an elegant dinner at the Crowne Plaza in Harare this evening. The launch was attended was attended by cabinet ministers, ambassadors and POTRAZ officials.
Econet revealed today that the network cost about a $100 million US dollars to build, and currently covers the country’s major cities. The data network is based on UMTS (3G), GPRS and WiMax technologies, and is linked together by a fibre optic transmission system, with satellite back-up.
Econet Wireless CEO, Mr Douglas Mboweni, said today that Econet Broadband was the most ambitious project undertaken by the mobile operator since its launch on 10 July 1998. He added that broadband would play a pivotal role in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe’s economy.
Three broadband packages were unveiled today; an “On The Go” package for customers on the move using internet capable handsets and laptops, an “@WORK” package for business users and an “@HOME” package for the home user surfing for leisure, school and light business.
Econet first introduced mobile internet services back in September last year but suspended selling the service to new subscribers just after a month citing an overwhelming response. Then, customers were promised new subscriptions would be resumed ‘soon’. Customers have been waiting for the resumption until today.
Whether the one year wait was worth it or not will be answered in the next several days. The prices, which are on the steep end, suggest already that the service will probably not be affordable to a lot of Zimbabweans. We’ll cover the costs of the services in a separate article. The wait might be worth it in terms of quality of service but we haven’t tested that yet so we really can’t say much there.
Some photos from the launch below: