Zimbabwe’s state owned weekly, The Sunday Mail says today that NetOne, a state owned mobile network operators, has signed a telecoms equipment deal for 2,000 base stations worth US $200 million with major Chinese telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei Technologies. According to the report, the equipment will enable NetOne to upgrade old equipment as well as roll out new sites.
There’s also mention by a source quoted in the article that the new equipment will “ensure NetOne will provide world-class broadband services on platforms like Long Term Evolution (LTE)”. We’re thinking this just means the equipment will allow NetOne to upgrade to LTE ( a 4G technology) more cost effectively in future and not that they are now going to be rolling out LTE base stations. We can’t imagine NetOne having any LTE rollout ambitions now when there’s so much GSM/UMTS work to be done.
The timeframe of the upgrade is not specified beyond “getting the country to meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on ICTs by year 2015”.
NetOne is one of Zimbabwe’s 4 licensed GSM mobile network operators. The other three are Econet, Telecel and TelOne. Only NetOne, Econet and Telecel are in operation with TelOne apparently still looking for a funding partner.
With about 1.6 million subscribers, NetOne is currently the smallest of the 3 mobile networks in operation. Econet and Telecel have 6.4 million and 2 million active subscribers respectively.