Econet Launches Mobile Broadband Services

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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:

George Barbaressos

Econet Commercial Director, George Barbaressos, Unveils Econet Broadband

Tawanda Nyambirai

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Chairman, Tawanda Nyambirai

Nelson Chamisa

Zimbabwe Minister of ICT, Nelson Chamisa chats with Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni at the launch

Part of the people who attended the launch

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  • Jabulani Chirinda

    Well, prior to the launch in H-Town, our speeds here in blues were pretty bad. I could barely open a page on opera mini let alone on a notebook. This launch should have a lot to do with quality of service than “We have been having it” stuff currently been churned out by econet. GPRS and 3g have been massive let down here, it remains to be seen what this service will be like. Till then, I will be watching from telecel terraces if this new stuff is not another huge marketing hoax. (Telecel on the verge of 3g launch)

  • Kabweza

    Curious too if service quality will improve following this launch. If it doesn’t, that may just be the last straw for a lot of people. Thanks for the information hey!

  • http://www.chinyoka-educational.com Ishe Chinyoka

    I am impatient to start using the service. I believe Econet is currently the leader in data services despite what people may say. Of course, prices may be a hindrance only a few elite gonna fork out lots of money to get this broadband reception.

  • http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/ Mark Hyde

    Is there any information about the existing US$ 25 per month arrangements? Will they fall away? Will we require a new ‘dongle’?

    Congratulations by the way on a most interesting website.

  • Zorro

    So, how do we connect to this Econet service?

    I am still a ZOL faithful though. Even though ZOL hasn’t yet ventured into expanding it’s connectivity options from the traditional Dial-Up, VPN, VSAT etc, ZOL delivers exactly what they promise, Fast-Reliable internet. “You’ll Love it”

  • taribabe

    I will go with Africom in the meantime. Econet i have no trust in them

  • http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/ Mark Hyde

    The Econet Broadband site has come alive and gives some details.

    http://www.econetbroadband.co.zw/

    Not all links work though.

  • Titus

    I have been using Fixed Wimax for the past 4 years. So far I have found it to be the best broadband service Econet/Ecoweb have on offer even though it is far from what I would call a true broadband service. Of late, the service has been degrading and I expect it to degrade further in the absence of full commissioning of their fibre optic link. The launch of new products is a non-event if not coupled with delivery, which is an opportunity for Econet’s competitors to exploit. Where there is satisfactory delivery of service, one can justify and live with the price, IMHO.

  • HH

    On the different Last mile services, it seems Wimax and UHF 700 Mhz are the best. But at about $1000 each for the Hardware and $30 / $35 a month monthly last mile fees, that’s a difficult pill for most of us to swallow. Transmedia and Africom are filling their deep pockets at our expense. Then there is the UHF 600 Mhz platform which is so over saturated, due to Transmedia taking on more subscribers than it can handle, that the service is more down than up.

    It looks like the way to go might be Powertel / Africom, as there are no last mile costs. What remains to be seen is whether they can provide the bandwith and service, and not over congest their networks. It will be interesting to see what contention ratio they use.

    Powertel thought really need to sort out their BGP routing. The last time i tested powertel, The public IP was a Botswana Telecom IP. Does Powertel not have their own range of Zim IP’s, that should route traffic to the Botswana Telecom IP.

    Just my 2 cents

  • Yvee

    If I got it correctly, the $25 per month fee will be integrated into the new “On The Go” package; where you buy your Econet airtime as usual and recharge your phone. You then dial *140# and choose option 1 to convert it to the data bundle of your choice and you’re good to go.

  • kodza

    Just left Econet’s Chitepo branch to ask about the prices and all i can say is eish!. I wonder if Econet’s headquarters moved from SA to Mars!.Judging by the bundle prices i would be inclined to feel that way.Sarcasm aside, this is crazy to say the least,how can you charge 98bucks for 1 Gig.Across the border its a third of that.I guess Team Econet is being less than truthful.Could it be that the project is still incomplete and with limited capacity Econet’s “uninspiring” prices are meant to limit users and project their broadband as the best thing since crushed ice?.I mean how else do you explain all those protruding tubes around town?

  • Yvee

    Called Econet’s broadband associated helpdesk (119) to find out whether my sim card would automatically be converted to a data line or if i had to buy a 3G line to enjoy this on the go broadband. Fortunately I am a very patient person ( i would like to think lol) and bore the endless waiting to be connected to an operator…under any situation i think 7 minutes is just too much to wait to get help thats supposed to be a phone call away. And this when you’ve just launched a product/service that you know people are going to want to ask a lot of questions about! Launching broadband is a good Econet move but they should improve customer service if they want to get serious with their potential clients.

  • Gerry

    Do you remember this?

    http://www.techzim.co.zw/2010/04/econet-officially-opening-new-large-call-center-tomorrow/

    All this pomp and fair just to wait 7 minutes for assistance. Econet set the bar up high for themselves so they should take the criticism.

  • Zorro

    Thank you TechZim for giving us a platform to express out frustration with Econet, you’re the only one that’ll listen… cause Econet sure isn’t.

  • HH

    Considering that the bandwith econet is selling, is via their own Fiber cable, these prices are ridiculus. I see no light at the end of this econet tunnel. The pricing that econet give to ISP’s might be just as high, so it doesn’t look like the ISP’s will be dropping prices much if at all. P.S. Even if they could drop prices, why would they !!!!

    In other words, if you can buy a banana for 3 cents, and sell it for 10 cents, why would you want to cell the same banana for 5 cents

  • Zorro

    Just came from the Econet shop along Herbert Chitepo. Sorry folks, if you weren’t already on the previous $25/month package then there’s no joy for you. The techs say if your line wasn’t activated then you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get connected. Possibly 1 to 2 weeks they say.

    For contract customers who were already connected, you get a capped 200MB per month, there after you have to find some other way of connecting on another line.

    Surprised…? I didn’t think so,

  • Kabweza

    What??

  • Chikos

    Well its interesting how these so called technology companies. First they act as if they are doing us favor, I think if there were serious competitors by now someone would had the whole market. Promises and promises which never live to our expectations. They say we are upgrading the network, next there so many cross lines, messages do not get delivered and your balance gets credited but I wanted the message to get to the recipient. There are so many internet connections in the CBD and all the these ITC companies concentrate in the CBD mind all those people live in the High density suburbs and would still want the service. We are being made to pay for what we do not understand, if you ask for bandwidth they give you the (device) modem capable bandwidth we want the actual bandwidth and please consider all areas of the country not the CBD only. I want to have access in Warren Park good one for that matter.

  • SaFaith

    The new 3G modem is disconnecting every 5 minutes. The help site on econetbroadband.co.zw is crap. real crap. how can someone just load an open source template and make it an Econet help search engine?

    Speed is good though (may be because of fewer users). However heavy users of home internet like myself will now pay through the nose. On average i will need 2GB a month and at $200/month that’s steep.

    Guys can u provide feedback on the MiChoice thing from Africom and Powertel’s uncapped data @$50/month. The latter two options do make sense especially when prices are gonna be this steep.

    Econet’s prices are not fair at this point in time. I am skeptical about Africom, Powertel and Telecel coverage given that Powertel doesn’t work in Sunridge/ Malborough area.

    At least for the next moth i will still be using free internet from Eco Chinyii.

    Love their effort because eventually prices will come off and speeds improve

  • JamesM

    I have just been to Econet and Africom’s offices and here’s my experience. At Econet Avondale, upon hearing Econet’s prices everyone came running outa-of-there exclaiming holy sh$t haikona mhani! At Africom on the other hand, people were falling over themselves submitting their applications for broadband.
    Econet should go and shove it! period! So I guess the rumor that they bought (read bribed) a past Telecommunications minister to prevent foreign competition entering the Zimbabwe market are certainly true. Look at their broadband internet prices. That’s just insane! Imagine if we didn’t have an Africom? Think about that for a second!
    Go on Econet keep selling that FREE LIFE INSURANCE we really need that

  • Richard

    I spent $30.00 on 100mb of data this afternoon. If it’s possible my internet connection is worse than ever. The web page showing google earth coverage does not work and there are no listed prices for the @home, @work hardware and cell phones offered. The advertised 119 number does not work either. How does a company this useless make sooooooo much money?

  • http://tnashroy.wordpress.com tinashe

    hahaha you guys just have to go and use internet cafes. coz in the world trade center, for example u can pay $1 and downoad 100Mb in those 30 minutes on a good day… how bout that … I will say this again ECONET SUX and will always suck… I just dont get why ZIm companies like powertel and otherISPs cant capitalise on that…

  • JamesM

    “How does a company this useless make sooooooo much money?”

    They buy government influence to prevent real and better competition from outside coming onto the market. Didn’t you see Nelson Chamisa’s picture above? They are already onto him!!!

  • Jabulani Chirinda

    well spend the whole day, kind of testing the service, its not bad. I have noticed that it switches btwn edge and HSDPA more frequently at heavy downloads. Time will tell whether this is a winner, let me keep my words for now. the prices are more of hearsay for now. even the website is not spot-on on pricing. let us know if there is solid proof.

  • Blessing Ngwenya

    $98 for 1 gig data?watch out econet…africom will grab all your customers just like that..they are offering the same data bundle for just $15.econet should revise its prices…thumbs up though for your innovation. Zimbabwe was lagging WAAAAY beghind tech.

  • Chikos

    It is still very expensive, i wonder how we Zimbabweans think. We are so happy that we have internet thats right but can you check the prices and the quality of service. That $15 is what bandwith? To make it worse its only avaialable in the CBD. If buy the Africom modem you are stuck with even if their bandwith is bad. Wait for the next three weeks you all be complaining. All I am saying is these companies need to provide good quality service, value for money even if I am a cent for 1 gig.

  • JamesM

    Why wait 3 weeks? Africom has been on a free promotion for a month!!! Free downloads, music, linux distributions the whole shebang we have had tried it all, and it works. Any doubts about speed and bandwidth would have been answered during that time and not when their paid services kick-in.
    If you are looking for an example of an internet service that flopped soon after its introduction, I will spell it out for you. It’s called Econet GPRS!

  • Chikos

    I agree with you on Econet but where you do you the africom service in the CBD right. So what happerns to those in other areas. If the Africom testing was done Nicodemusly how can we know its performance besides only a few people where testing now is the real test.

  • Chikos

    I agree with you on Econet but where you do you get the africom service? in the CBD right. So what happerns to those in other areas. If the Africom testing was done Nicodemusly how can we know its performance besides only a few people where testing and now is the real test.I think these guys should stop thier marketing guys from advertising things that are not there. Thanks

  • JamesM

    I connect to Africom superbly from Waterfalls where I live.

  • munhu

    I think most people complaining here do not know the situation at hand. Its no use for anyone comparing these companies coz no-one offers true broadband. This is a global issue affecting our nation. Unless and until those working on their fibre are done then we can start talking. Otherwise be contend with whats there, only that the prices are are ridiculous and service is poor as you say. My advice, if you cant take it, leave it, until you are sure and convinced it improved, other than complain. You think they care?

  • Chikos

    If we do not speak out, they will continue to milk out some ignorant people for the love of internet. It‘s high time these companies put their act to get and we let them know what we expect. We cannot live with substandard service when they are capable of doing better. These econet, africom, powertel etc are just selfish, how can they have so many fiber going out of the country why can’t they work together and bring something better, they just want the whole cake and it alone that cannot happen. They just have to work together.
    This fiber thing was promised long back and we wonder if it’s going to be done!!!!!!!

  • JamesM

    If you don’t speak out you will be offered FREE LIFE INSURANCE instead of fair-priced broadband you desperately need to run your small-home-office business and earn your livelihood.

  • Nick Tembo

    I noted when i plugged in my E220 modem it switched from EDGE, WCDMA to HSDPA and after 5 minutes i went offline. Imagine you are dowloading a large file it means you will loose at the end of the day in terms of usage. Econet guys pls reduce the tariffs and make your platform stable.

  • Tapiwa

    Dear TechZim :-)

    I’m sure you have 1 or 2 contacts at econet which you can ask if these prices are final for the next month or so. I don’t want to have to move to Africom because like it or not the Econet service has drastically improved in the last day or so because of the new upgrades…and the Africom service just might dwindle as the sudden influx of new subscribers they’re getting from people running from econets ludicrous prices will greatly increase.

    Also, what type of connection does Africom have to the ”Global VAILLAGE”? We know, econet is building that fibre and powertel has that saturated fibre cable thats struggling for capacity already.

  • Brian

    I have had nothing good to say about any of the service providers in the last month or so, but must admit that the new Econet 3G service is really good. The web page you want is there in an instant despite my home being “in a dip” and needless to say, I am a happy chappy. Well done Econet – you have done us proud.

  • The Scrutineer

    First off, the fibre connection probably will not be the saviour everyone expects. Surprisingly enough Neotel were having trouble keeping Seacom up, running and stable. I am not sure if the situation as improved.

    In terms of Econet. ARE THESE GUYS F%&^%&KIN RETARDED?.

    They proudly talk about their @Home, @Work and On the Go packages. Has Econet ever run a survey asking customers how they use the internet.

    Here is a surprising titbit I read on http://www.broadband.co.za Apparently in South Africa 65% of internet users use 3G despite its “high” cost. This is surprising when you consider that internet connectivity in SA is much greater than in Zim and ADSL is “widely” available and very cheap.

    So Econet are essentially wasting their time. In Zim PTC never introduced uncapped flat rate dial up. This leaves ADSL (difficult to get) or the other platforms of choice, namely UHF and more recently WiMax. (I run a little ecommerce venture and I would say 80% of my customers surf at work purely because our site and email gets very little traffic during evenings and weekends). This means that 3G will be the connection of choice for everyone from a corporate user (yes, companies have been using the $25 connections because they are cheaper than an ISP offering) all the way down to a mother who uses her cellphone internet connection to keep in touch with her kids in the diaspora.

    Add to that the Zim educational level. The desire for information per capita is probably higher in Zim than anywhere else in Southern Africa. This means that it may be almost “impossible” to satisfy the demand for bandwidth.

    Someone needs to wake up and get with the program. PORTRAZ with their stupidity and Econet with their greed are destroying massive amounts of potential. Useless fact – the Simpsons (Homer Simpson and Bart Simpson) is scripted in America, the animation is done in South Korea and then everything is sent back (via the internet) to the States for the voices to be added. Its no accident that the S. Korean government has as a policy the desire to see internet as fast as possible as cheap as possible, to the point where any new building is required to be connected to high speed fibre.

    All Econet needs is a 2 Tier Pricing model. Tier 1, full HSDPA and crazy speeds (at a price) for those who want it. Tier 2 is a flat rate EDGE package. The slower speed of EDGE means it has an inbuilt cap bandwidth cap.

    Today is a Saturday and I was able to download 200MB in less than an hour which is super cool. The stupid thing is that from the looks of things, lunchtime and afternoon weekdays the broadband is not that “broad”

  • Kabweza

    The tariffs are final. if they get revised it’l probably be because of the negative response with subscribers.

  • http://www.bizsetup.wordpress.com max

    Africom working well in Msasa/ Greendale

  • Tapiwa

    Wow..EconeT is FAST!..They finally turned on 3G on at my house in Meyrick Park yesterday. Average download speed is 256kbs!!..what zol is giving people on ”fixed broadband”1. And when I get my Iphone back, I’ll be ably to check the 3.5G speed which’ll probably send me into a frenzy of downloading excitement.

    Pity Im moving to africom though as I was loving their service and their prices. However,I phoned africom and they said they’re modem runs on CDMA-EVDO REVA, a current technology thats blazing fast in the states..Upto 3.1Mbps when all is running smooth. So I hope I am as impressed by these guys.

  • HH

    Tapiwa,

    If you don’t mind, can you go to the DOS prompt and do a tracert to any international site.

    Would really like to know the responce times and their routing.

    It will be interesting if they are going out via their own Fiber or via Powertel’s

  • Tapiwa

    I wish I could HH but Im not that technically savy. :-(

  • Brian Ellis

    After having complimented Econet on their speed, I now feel the need to withdraw that comliment as it has actually become worse than before – oversubscribed maybe – who knows but can’t even open a local webpage – and for the price we are paying, it is just not good enough.

  • Bianca

    please can someone let me know if econet fully support the blackberry and do they have contracts for them?

  • Julian John Timire

    I am getting upset with the automated response from econetbroadband that tells me my line needs to be registered first when i have already done the same but over n over each time i get this message.Come on guys show smoke,update your registry and give us the access that is long overdue.Maybe i need personal advice or is it attention?How can i go about getting activated on broadband,i dont wanna travel 100km to Victoria Falls for this as there is no ECONET shop in Hwange(another short coming)

  • tawanda makore

    dear sir/madam
    i a stone sculptor based at number 66 air port road in harare i was happy to see you introducicing inter net on phones ,as amattre of fact it havr chang the life of many art from our workshops because before,we could go to the city center to send our mail but noe we can do it at an time any where.that have also given me the idear of making an adveret for yoy about how connecting with customera over sea have now been made easy.for more information you can contact me on this mobuil number0772913293/0733988633

  • Makura

    This disconnecting every 5 min is annoying and getting expensive to say the least.I have an attachment in my inbox and its only 10mb,i was trying to download it and everytime it has downloaded 7mb the modem disconnects and i have to start all over again because email attachments do not support resuming downloads.I have given up now because i have used at least 48mb trying to download 10mb of data.now who is going to re-embase me for all the MB’s that i paid for with my hard earned cash only to go down the drain,with out me using a single bite from 50MB.Something or same one has to give me back my money or MB’s.Now i have to go to a internet cafe to download a email attachment,so whatsthe use of having this so called 3g moderm.