Zimbabwe mobile internet speed tests produce shocking results!

Batsirai Chikadaya Avatar

There has been a lot of debate on mobile data bundles lately.

The debate has generally been centred around NetOne and its One Fusion and The One data products/promotions.

NetOne’s introduction of these products has without a doubt disrupted the mobile data market.

Seemingly, NetOne figured out the balance between the right product and pricing for the Zimbabwean consumer.

Basically, we like anything as close to free as possible.

But, as we have continuously learnt in tech, there is a cost to “free”.

Arguments against NetOne’s products make reference to its history of questionable network reception, data speeds and consistency.

To put the argument to rest we decided to conduct our own speed tests around Harare.

We used two devices on different operating systems, a Nexus 5 running Android and an iPhone 6 S Plus on iOS.

Both devices are LTE enabled.

We had previously bought a NetOne LTE line to test One Fusion so we had that in place.

We purchased Econet’s $1 bundle for 250mb and bought Telecel’s  300mb daily bundle for $1.

We chose 4 locations, Greencroft Shops (along Lomagundi Rd), City Centre (Harare Post office area), Warren Park 1 (shops), Kuwadzana 4 ( shops), a reason for these locations will be given later.

We considered a test fail if either download/upload failed, and we gave each network 5 attempts at connecting.

Both had to work for a successful test (surprisingly we had a lot of fail cases).

Our tests started at 13:00 hrs, peak time, and ended around 15:30.

We used Speedtest for all our tests.

So here are some of our results, and below comments of the experiences we encountered:


CarrierConnection TypePeak DownloadPeak Upload
netone-mini3G (HSPA+)1.25 Mbps2,52 Mbps
unnamedLTE18.70 Mbps9.57 Mbps
telecel-vs-econet3G (HSPA+)3.89 Mbps1.84 Mbps

City Centre (Harare Post Office)

CarrierConnection TypePeak DownloadPeak Upload
netone-mini3G (HSDPA)1.02 Mbps1.73 Mbps
unnamed3G (HSDPA)4.09 Mbps0.11 Mbps
telecel-vs-econet3G (HSDPA)1.43 Mbps0.05 Mbps

Warren Park

CarrierConnection TypePeak DownloadPeak Upload
netone-mini3G (HSDPA+)0.9 Mbps0.72 Mbps
unnamed3G (HSDPA)Failed Failed
telecel-vs-econet3G (HSDPA)FailedFailed

Kuwadzana 4

CarrierConnection TypePeak DownloadPeak Upload
netone-mini3G (HSPA)Failed Failed
unnamedLTE0.76 Mbps0.40 Mbps
telecel-vs-econet3G (HSPA)0.4 Mbps0.23 Mbps


Firstly, the reason for the locations.

To be honest we initially wanted a head to head challenge of LTE speeds on Econet and NetOne.

We went to Westgate Shopping Mall and failed to get an LTE connection on NetOne, Econet LTE was on, but to keep it fair we relocated.

Working off the advice of a colleague (Nigel), we went to Greencroft.

NetOne has a base station there and we expected an LTE connection.

Long story short, throughout our entire test the NetOne connection never went on to LTE.

We continuously hot swapped lines between devices, to no avail, even though NetOne claims to have 150 LTE enabled base stations.

We left Greencroft, down Lomagundi into King George, passed Avondale shops headed to town, passed Parirenyatwa Hospital, all the way into the heart of town, parked opposite Harare Post Office, left after about 30 minutes, passed NetOne building, into Samora Machel Ave, drove down to Warren Park,left, headed to Kuwadzana 4, left again, then drove back to Marlborough (office) via Harare Drive…. No NetOne LTE.

If you have experienced NetOne LTE please let us know where in the comment section for our next LTE test. 

Econet also let us down with issues of  LTE connection consistency with connectivity going down oddly in the city centre and Warren Park.

Secondly, the results were truly disheartening across all networks.

Although Econet performed above expectations at Greencroft, all other tests produced lacklustre results.

At a point, I couldn’t even load our TechZim web page and access WhatsApp messages in relatively good times, even though the networks maintained a 3G connection.

In some areas Telecel and NetOne signals were non-existent, with Telecel even dropping to EDGE connection.

Warren Park and Kuwadzana are still in Harare and are considered relative hubs of activity, so for networks to have such performance is shocking.

The test slowly turned into the realisation of the poor state of mobile internet access in Zimbabwe, data bundle or not.

LTE is not a major factor when considering mobile internet, as most people do not have LTE enabled devices, but even for the select few, LTE connection is questionable.

We expect the NetOne hype to fade away as people start to realise the true cost of cheap mobile data.

The pricing seemed to have captured consumer attention, but will NetOne be able to deal with a surge in mobile data subscribers on their already stuttering network?

Econet, as the largest MNO, should address network issues, besides the poor network in the city centre, the poor network  in high-density areas was the most disappointing.

Please run speed tests wherever you are and share your results in the comment section, but be advised that a speed test can consume upwards of 30mb of data if you are in “prime” network areas.  




  1. Muzukuru

    There is an error in the Longtitude and Lattitude numbers for Kuwadzana 4 and Warren Park

    1. Batsirai Chikadaya

      Thank you for the heads up, manually changed them now.

  2. Munhu


  3. Munhu

    For NetOne Sim cards you need to have it activated. have you checked with NetOne.

  4. Peter

    That’s the state of internet in zimbabwe in general – lucklustre! Speedtest too tends to overinflate the tests as it has servers hosted by ZOL and TeL-One! html5 tests are more accurate.

  5. Disappointed

    I’m an Econet contract subscriber and my account manager has not offered explanation on why I have no (zero/nil) data connection in Chitungwiza where I stay. His name is David if you want to verify…

  6. Andrew

    I am not taking NetOne’s side but your tests are very biased, I use my NetOne on LTE almost all the, it rarely fails to connect on LTE. For NetOne sims, 4G capability is not automatic, you have to swap your old SIM for a 4G capable one. Of course it’s not all the time that you get a 4G connection, but for me especially in Harare, I have 4G like 90% of the time.

    1. tinm@n

      Your comment is of no use without stating where you are, the phone you use, the time and day there’s this LTE or 4G reception.

      Otherwise, it’s pretty much useless!

      1. Cde Tempo

        At least s/he is in Zimbabwe, so we have one more data point: there is somewhere in Zimbabwe NetOne performs almost seamlessl

        1. tinm@n

          “Somewhere in Zimbabwe”?

          Maybe this isnt your topic or site.

          Still useless for people who intend to provide meaningful & reproduceable information to both consumers and NetOne as a service provider.

  7. Dee

    NetOne Speed Test in Harare CBD (Town House)- Result: Download=0.27mbps, Upload=0.53mbps
    Econet Speed Test in Harare CBD (Town House)- Result:”Network communication issues”

  8. S

    The author of this article anedzungu. I even doubt his technical abilities. He owes Netone an apology for misleading customers.

    1. Langton

      Why cant you highlight the areas where he /she has shown poor IT technical abilities? Remember writers should write in a a very simple and non-technical terms

  9. S

    Don’t mislead the public

  10. Richard

    I cannot believe this speedtest on the part of Netone, those results are shocking and different from the ones i obtained using a samsung galaxy s4 in different parts of Harare.

  11. Anonymous

    What a misleading report,

  12. Ini

    Instead u should have run a poll and let folk do the work for you then engage them using your social media not this kind of misleading report. A lot of things affect the speed test results and you are cebtering your findings on just YOUR phones.

    1. Empress

      Brilliant suggestion with probably much better results

      1. Langton

        Such that you hi-jack the process?

      2. tinm@n

        Yes. Brilliant for rigging by upset service providers who can send hoardes of employees and shills to skew the results in their favour….


  13. Anonymous

    After buying an lte dongle for $90, and buying bunles for $100 the speed was out of this world but felt cheated as the joy didnt last a month was told that Econet was doing a promotion and in any case it was only supposed to work in Willowvale area blah blah, l stay in Glen View and now have the useless lte dongle as a reminder on how l was cheated

    1. Cool

      Urikuda mari ???

  14. Gary

    Have always said Zim has one of the worse speeds in Africa via LTE or H+.. They should all be fined for not performing by Potraz.. But being slack Zim they will get away with it.

  15. Anonymous

    haaa net1 makeke

  16. Tindo

    Is your experiment reproducible?
    How did you ensure that it wasn’t the circumstances of that day that influenced the results?
    Are those locations, devices, times etc. representative samples?
    Would you get the same results if you were to buy more or fewer bundles?

    Has the argument really been put to rest?

  17. Student

    All the tests Telone as the server. Please educate me on what this means. Though Econet would be on ZOL or something like that. And if they all go through Telone, why do they connect at such different speeds?

  18. Rational Ear

    The results are representative of the nature of our mobile networks – we can’t blame the reporter for whatever findings he got. What he experienced I argue is exactly what the majority of consumers experience. Not everyone knows that you specifically have to call Netone to have LTE enabled for your SIM – something I had to do after getting frustrated with lack of LTE connectivity!
    I will run my tests and share results too, but all I know at the moment is that when I need decent internet speeds, I have to switch to Econet’s LTE.
    Netone may cry foul to this report, but they owe people an explanation, they advertise and sell SIM cards which they claim support LTE and yet the LTE doesn’t work out of the box and they don’t even give instructions on how to have LTE enabled – you just have to figure it out on your own that you must call them when you really need the LTE.

  19. tinm@n

    Well done!

    Any sane consumer would appreciate or share information on their own experiences,with all parameters instead of being emotional about the results.

    It’s expected that representatives of the companies will complain on their behalf, or attempt to discredit the results…but these experiences are more or less what people go through with possible variations due to device differences

  20. tich

    Nkayi netone speed 4.57mbps down and 2.29mbps upload, for econet 1.91mbps down and 1mbps upload

  21. M

    Econet LTE reception is very good and stable in the Arcadia/Braeside area. Did a test and you can view results here: http://beta.speedtest.net/result/5621389942 with real world download speeds normally between 8mbps and 16mbps.

  22. Nyasha

    I find it funny that you used an iPhone 6s that came out last year with an android phone that’s 3 years old. Surely the iPhone 6S has a cat6 modem and the Nexus 5 has a cat3

    1. Keith

      Those are the devices they have, and they don’t need to use the latest gadgets as the bulk of the population do not have them anyways.

  23. Anonymous

    I use econet lte, and live in Greencroft. The speeds are good here but I get zero, no internet connection at all in the CBD.

  24. Langton

    I stay in Hillside and Telecel’s 3G connection us pathetic and I am tired of reporting the issue.

  25. godreck

    250kb is the max I am getting on Netone LTE….. I GUESS PANE FAULT OR something

  26. miBroadband

    I live in Borrowdale West and i did my LTE speed test on both Econet and Netone. Using Huawei P8. And on all the tests Netone was the victor. It not only had fast ping of 24ms on all tests as compared to Econet which always fluctuated above the 28ms mark. The speedtest dot net roamed above the 38Mb/s for Netone whilst Econet had maxxed out at 26Mb/s. If you want to try it come at cnr Whitwell and Teviotdale Road

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