Weekly Roundup – 20 March 2010

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PowerTel and the BTC Fibre Deal

There was an article in this week’s Sunday Mail on PowerTel’s fibre deal with Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. Again no mention of the bandwidth capacity being purchased. We searched around and found this pdf on the BTC website. It says “…under the agreement with BTC will get access to direct international undersea connectivity with the SynchronousTransport Module One (STM1) at a maximum of 155Mbps.”

The PowerTel managing director, Samuel Maminimini made the following comments on the launch:

“The more bandwidth we get the lower the price and this will translate to lower charges to the customers. We are proud to be the first company in Zimbabwe to connect to the submarine cable systems via terrestrial optical fibre.

This is our new bride to the product lines. The deal with BTC (Botswana Telecommunica-tions Corporation) will have a major impact inasfar as internet speed and cost is concerned and is a major milestone in changing the perception of the quality of internet and ICT services in general.

The Zimbabwe population will now enjoy more global services such as e-education, e-commerce and e-world. Currently, most of the Internet bandwidth for Zimbabwe is coming from satellite services or terrestrial microwave links.

These have limitations on capacity and quality of service. The connectivity to BTC is through optical fibre which has “unlimited” bandwidth and excellent quality of service as it is linked to other submarine cable systems like SeaCom, SAT3, East African Submarine System and WACs, amongst others. Quadruple play services such as voice, video, data and Internet, which are bandwidth-hungry, have become a reality for Zimbabwe with this deal.”

The director used the opportunity to remind everyone that PowerTel was the first to bring 3G to Zimbabwe when they launched the PowerConnect CDMA services in 2007. We’ve written to PowerTel to get more details, so more on this next week.

G-Tide Expanding to Botswana

The mobile brand that has been loved by many and hated alike is expanding to Botswana. G-Tide Zimbabwe managing director, Munyaradzi Gwatidzo had an interview with Sunday Mail scribe, Darlington Musarurwa. According to the article, the company is targeting 17 Africa countnries and has already gained a foothold in Swaziland, Burundi, Lesotho and Zambia. The company’s flagship product, the G-Tide mobile phone, has been very popular among low income earners in Zimbabwe. It has contributed greatly to Zimbabwe’s rising mobile penetration rate. it’s been criticized though for being nondurable. Gwatidzo revealed plans of setting up a G-Tide manufacturing plant this year.

POTRAZ Issues Ultimatum to Mobile Operators

The Herald yesterday reported that POTRAZ has issued an ultimatum to mobile operators to ensure all active lines are registered by the operators by August this year. Responding to this, the Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni is quoted: “Worldwide this is standard practice. It is not for regulatory purposes only, but as an operator you’d want to know whom your customers are. This is critical in the event of abuse of the system. You know who to approach. Even in South Africa, all SIM cards are registered.” The same article also says POTRAZ has also directed the mobile operators top introduce per second billing. Our comment on this in an article in a day or so.

EASSy Undersea Cable To Land On Kenyan Shores Tomorrow

Reports during the week indicate the Cable should land tomorrow, 21 March 2010. Some mandatory testing will start in April and commercial use by June 2010. A Light Reading post quotes the West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) CEO, Chris Wood: “I am extremely happy with the progress being made on the vital construction phase of EASSy. The project continues to run as planned, with nearly 70 percent of the cable now laying in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. We expect to start testing the system at the end of April 2010, in readiness for the System Ready for Service date on 30 June, 2010.” WIOCC owns a 30 percent stake in EASSy.

Its landing has rekindled the question of the high expectation of reduced connectivity costs. Where consumers expected a 90% drop in bandwidth prices, they have had to do with only a small disappointing drop. According to this article on Business Daily, market players blame the slight dip in pricing on the existence of long term contracts with international fibre and satellite.

MWEB South Africa Announces Cheap Uncapped Bandwidth

Next door in South Africa, MWEB shocked the ISP market with the announcement of announce uncapped broadband. Our local Mweb here in Zimbabwe has been quite silent since merger with AfricaOnline last year. mybroadband.co.za carried out some tests on the new service and confirmed “..early test results are very promising.” You can find the pricing here.

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