Since Econet launched 3G on its network last year in August, the services has had more than a few problems. First it was that 3G itself was only limited to the greater Harare. And just shortly after launch new subscriptions for the service were suspended, leaving millions of subscribers out of this fascinating new service. A few months later, data lines emerged on the black market forcing desperate subscribers to fork out as much as US $150 for a 3G enabled line.
Add the 3G problems to issues with undelivered SMS issues and you have yourself a subscriber base increasingly losing its patience. Literally.
Last week, Techzim was invited to the launch of the new Buddie. There we asked the Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni about the black market data lines and when data services will be opened up to all subscribers. Mr. Mboweni revealed that some individuals have been arrested in connection with the black market data lines. Most arrested on charges of duplicating application forms to buy bulk volumes which are channeled to the black market.
On when data services will be opened up to all subscribers, the CEO said:
You can make calls, 3G calls right now but we have not activated the commercial launch because of the testing that we’re doing at the moment. That test is probably going to take place in a couple of weeks. What we want to do is, those queues that you saw initially, we don’t want to see queues for data. In fact I can safely say that with our network we will have capacity for at least 500,000.
Econet Commercial Director George Barbaressos clarified on the commercial launch: “…in about 2 months, July or August”