Telecel Zimbabwe yesterday celebrated its attainment of more than one million subscribers at a function held to coincide with the end of the Harare International Festival of the Arts, at which it was one of the major sponsors.
Telecel took the opportunity to announce that it will launch 3G and GPRS data services on its network within the next two months. Indications that Telecel was going to launch internet services started back in January.
Telecel, which less than a year ago, was considered the third largest of the three mobile networks in Zimbabwe, has become the country’s fastest growing network. It is now the second largest by subscriber numbers.
Expansion of the network’s customer base has been rapid. It has mainly taken place in the first four months of this year. Econet has also been rapidly increasing its subscriber numbers and recently announced that the network was carrying more than 4 million subscribers, making it four times as big as it’s closest competitor. Once the largest mobile operator, state owned NetOne is lagging behind with only about 600,000 subscribers.
Telecel Zim has taken advantage of the bulk discounts available through its partnership with Telecel Globe, which is its major shareholder, and Orascom Telecom, Telecel Globe’s parent company. Telecel Zimbabwe has brought into the country high capacity base stations and other network equipment, which it is deploying throughout the country.
The company took the lead early in the year in reducing the high cost of SIM cards from about USD $15 to just $2. This forced Econet to also revise its SIM card prices downwards, which it did at the end of March.
Telecel also started bundling the SIM cards with basic mobile phones in a starter pack with prices ranging from $23 to $38, depending on the handset. The handsets available with these starter packs are Samsung B100, Nokia 1209 and 1208, Mtech and Leo.
Telecel also slashed the cost of calls to major international destinations to the same cost as a local call. International calls from Telecel lines to South Africa, the United Kingdom, China, India, Australia, United States, Canada and Dubai now cost just US 25c per minute.
Calls can be made at this cost to any landline or mobile number in these countries, with the exception of Vodafone and MTN numbers in South Africa and the United Kingdom, which cost 35 cents per minute.
In another promotion dubbed “Mega Juice Card’ Telecel includes US $2 bonus airtime with every US $1 mega juice top up made. The bonus time is of course only available when calling another Telecel subscriber.
Addressing government ministers and invited guests at a cocktail party at the National Arts Gallery, Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Aimable Mpore highlighted the speed with which Telecel is expanding its subscriber base. He pointed out that many people who previously had been unable to afford a mobile phone, now had one.
Like Econet, Telecel is a major network expansion drive and is installing base stations in locations that didn’t have Telecel coverage. Among the places where base stations have been installed recently are Guruve, Insiza, Kotwa, Ngezi, Rushinga, Headlands, Macheke, Acturus, Esigodini, Mvurwi, Beatrice, Centenary, Goromonzi, Shurugwi, Chatsworth, Juru and Nzvimbo.