How to activate LTE on your NetOne line, its type and why they use USIM over SIM cards now

Batsirai Chikadaya Avatar

Yesterday, TechZim was able to spend the day with a member of NetOne‘s Network Optimization team and an Engineer from Huawei Zimbabwe (NetOne’s network infrastructure vendors) to test mobile internet speeds around Harare.

Apart from the speed test, we were able to ask a few questions on NetOnes elusive LTE connection shedding light on a few issues we and other subscribers were facing with their network, the issues included:

How to get NetOne LTE?

If you are a new NetOne subscriber

  1. Visit a NetOne shop and ask to purchase an LTE USIM card for $1
  2. BUT before you leave, have your LTE USIM card ACTIVATED for an LTE connection.
  3. Make sure you are able to get LTE connection before you leave the NetOne shop, if possible run a quick speed test to see if you are achieving LTE speeds.

If you have a NetOne LTE USIM but not getting LTE:

  1. Visit a NetOne shop and have your LTE USIM activated
  2. Or, call NetOne customer support on 123 and request your LTE USIM activated for LTE,
  3. Or, send NetOne a message on either Netone Facebook page or via NetOne Twitter request to have your LTE USIM activated
  4. Word of advice, have your cell phone number in hand before yo make the call.

If you are currently a NetOne subscriber with an old sim card:

  1. Visit a NetOne shop and replace your current SIM with an LTE USIM for free
  2. BUT before you leave, have your LTE USIM card ACTIVATED for an LTE connection.
  3. Make sure you are able to get LTE connection before you leave the NetOne shop, and if possible run a quick speed test.

What type of LTE do they have?

NetOne currently uses Category 4 LTE Band 3 @1800MHz FDD (frequency division duplexing).

Category 4 implies the LTE class, at Category 4, NetOnes LTE has peak download of 150 Mbps and upload of 50 Mbps.

FDD Band 3 has an uplink of 1710 – 1785 Mhz and a downlink of 1805 -1880 MHz. Basically, FDD means you’re using a slightly different frequency for uploading and downloading. The benefit of this method is less possible interference and better reception.

However, certain types of phones may not be compatible with NetOnes LTE, check your device compatibility either here or here.

What is a USIM and why is NetOne not using a regular SIM card?

SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Module) are used to communicate on GSM networks and with the introduction of 3G, it’s highly recommended to use a USIM card to access 3G networks and above. Although it is possible to access 3G and LTE with a simple SIM card, according to USIMs has the following advantages as compared to the SIM:

  • A USIM is a tiny computer which is able to handle several mini applications,
  • A 3G (UMTS) handset equipped with a USIM card can be used to make video calls, assuming the calling area is covered by a 3G network;
  • Regarding security, a new algorithm is integrated (it’s derived from recent researchers in cryptology). It allows to protect you from unauthorized access to your phone line,
  • Your calls and data exchanges are encrypted using keys computed by the USIM, and these keys are stronger than those provided by SIMs.
  • The phonebook is much bigger on the USIM, allowing thousands of contacts (instead of a maximum of 255 in a SIM). Each USIM contact is also richer, for instance, it can contain email addresses, a second or third phone number, etc;
  • Contacts in the USIM are stored much more securely on the USIM as compared to using the phone memory.

NetOne should consider pre-activating all their LTE USIM cards pre-sales. Since the LTE cards are already branded LTE subscribers expect LTE connection, having to activate it is an unnecessary step and burden to the subscribers.

The NetOne sales team is also partly to blame for this confusion,  they are the initial point of contact with the public. When a customer purchases an LTE card they should immediately be offered the activation, evidently, this is not happening.

Lastly, NetOne should communicate with its subscribers. If they have a new LTE sim card existing subscribers should be made aware of it and how to get it.

Also, the process of activating LTE should be communicated, they are aware of the LTE cards in circulation and it shouldn’t be difficult to send an SMS with the steps to activate LTE.

The more NetOne stays mum about its LTE the more the public gets sceptical of its existence, it is up to the MNO to clarify and fix thes issues, but the clock is ticking.






  1. Anonymous

    I feel the process of accessing the 4G is complex and NetOne may loose to competition juss like they are doing on mobile money

  2. Rational Ear

    I think they don’t advise customers to activate LTE because they know there’s a capacity problem. Since the beginning of September, I’ve been experiencing extremely slow internet speeds on their 4G connection. The last time I had experienced such poor connections was during the 2G era

  3. Cool

    Good job guys

  4. kudzanai

    and did you forget to give us your tests outcome , lols

  5. Chenje

    What’s the whole point of all this hassle? World over where I have been to you just pop in a sim card and 4g will connect. Econet is straight forward as well. Why should I endure such hassle to access Netone LTE

  6. ZidyaVanu Mugomo

    “NetOnes LTE has peak download of 150 Mbps and upload of 50 Mbps.”

    is this some kind of a joke? Who in Zimbabwe has ever got 150Mbps using NetOne? I’m currently using NetOne LTE and the highest speed I’ve ever got was 250kbps

    1. Edmore M

      peak. maximum posible

      1. ZidyaVanu Mugomo

        Okay Edmore, we have a maximum possible speed of 150Mbps, but people on the ground are actually getting 250kbps. Does that really makes sense to you?

      2. Langton

        its basically theoretical!

    2. godreck

      Maximum us 250kb on Netone LTE… KKKK 3G IS MUCH FASTER THAN 4G … THIS IS CRAP.

  7. Mercy

    Why so complicated? Coz somone got a massive back hand to purchase this complicated equipment or equipment that no body else wanted!

  8. Muzukuru

    Secure on Netone?! I have tears in my eyes right now. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. They probably read our messages to find all those people abusing social media.

    And a theoretical speed of 150mbps, now that is just a bad joke.

  9. drudaa

    Ma BlackBerry z10 operates on lte bands 2 4 5 17….and netone is operating on band 3……so does tt min kut I cant access lte on my z10

  10. Macd Chip

    “…NetOne currently uses Category 4 LTE Band 3 @1800MHz FDD (frequency division duplexing)…”

    Batsirai, if you check here, it is saying NetOne is using Cat 3 launched in Nov 2014:

    This might explain poor speeds people are getting because Cat 3 is less than 100Mbps. And do not forget these are speeds in laboratories, not production.

    Either way, the process of getting LTE is too much hussle, this a business where the telco much be doing a lot to please customers, to get more customers but it looks like getting customers is not there priority, they are chasing them away by using these complex way of getting a straight forward service.

    This exactly explains why NetOne was the first to get operator license, yet its the smallest of the 3

  11. Anonymous


    1. Anonymous


    2. Batsirai Chikadaya

      Rather present your case in a dignified manner and corrections can be made, please do not use such language on on platform

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