Release: Econet Targets 100% 3G coverage countrywide with new Infrastructure Investment

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which according to industry data controls a commanding 98% of the LTE data customer market share, has announced a major data network upgrade that will see the mobile network market leader achieve 100% 3G coverage across the country by the end of this year.

Announcing the developments at the company’s Msasa head office in Harare yesterday, Econet Chief Executive Officer Mr Douglas Mboweni said the upgrade exercise had already started.

“The upgrade started in March this year, at the beginning of our new financial year, and should be completed by the end of this calendar year”, said Mr Mboweni.


“We are essentially ensuring that each and every one of our existing 2G sites countrywide – in towns and in rural areas – are upgraded to 3G sites” he said, adding that the upgrade had already begun in parts of the country.

“Matabeleland, Bulawayo and Harare provinces are now already complete, with all sites in these provinces on 3G as we speak,” he said.

“We are pleased to let our customers know that in the coming few months, accessing our Smart Data Network from anywhere in the country will be so much easier, particularly in the rural and farming communities” said Mr Mboweni.

Econet Wireless has the widest geographical mobile network coverage in Zimbabwe, covering 82% of the population.

The latest data from the industry regulator POTRAZ (Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) shows that Econet has a total of 4,092 base stations (or 52.2% share of total mobile infrastructure), in comparison to industry peers NetOne, which has a total of 2,691 (or 34.5%), and Telecel, with 1,025 (13.2%) base stations.

The company leads the country’s three mobile network operators (MNOs) in data network coverage, with more coverage than the other two MNOs put together. It has 1,192 3G base stations (51.2%), compared to NetOne’s 771 3G base stations (33.1%) and Telecel’s 364 3G base stations (15.6%).

Econet, which reported 10.2 million connected customers at the end of February 2017, also leads in LTE (or 4G) network coverage, with 499 LTE sites (63.7%) to NetOne’s 284 LTE sites (36.3%). It supports 269.000 LTE customers on its LTE infrastructure, compared with NetOne, which supported 2,165 LTE customers as at the end of March 2017.

According to the POTRAZ report, Telecel has not yet deployed LTE technology. The MNO was recently acquired by the government.

Confirming the Econet upgrade, Mr Kezito Makuni, the company’s Technical Director, said the upgrade exercise would see Econet cover most of the country’s population with 3G technology.

“Upon completion, we will have covered close to 82 percent of the population with fast and reliable 3G and LTE coverage” said Mr Makuni.

“Our customers will be able to enjoy our data products and services at much faster access and browsing speeds wherever they are and wherever they go in Zimbabwe,” he said.

A 3G (or Third Generation) data network is the typical mobile broadband network with Internet download speeds of up to 100 times that of a 2G data network (GPRS or EDGE network), and it works best on smartphones.

“With most populated areas covered, going forward we will be focusing on the customer experience of our subscribers, ensuring that they get impeccable quality of service wherever they are”, said Mr Makuni.

Econet has invested over US$1.3 billion in the Zimbabwean economy since 2009. It has created over 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly, through resellers and distributors of its wide variety of products and services, that include, among others, voice products, data services and EcoCash – the popular mobile money transfer service.

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12 thoughts on “Release: Econet Targets 100% 3G coverage countrywide with new Infrastructure Investment

  1. Whilst other countries are already talking about 5G, we are pushing out 3G. In 2 to 3 years time, when we eventually get 5G, (and others are on 8G or something), they will be calling it a “First in Innovation” for Zimbabwe. 🙁

    1. Sei kungo shora. Name one country that has implemented 5G and explain what is 5G. How have you maximised on the use of the 3G and 4G and to what extent has it limited your innovation and productivity. How did you apply 2G, 3G and 4G and what bottlenecks did you come across. Very good article techzim.

      1. A simple Google search can answer you, but if you are lazy, India has implemented 5G. It’s very simple minded to think that to get to 5G, or whatever the current G is, one must follow a path from 2G to 3G to 4G then 5G. If perfectly fine to jump a stage. Why should we lag behind just because what’s being implemented is better that what’s currently there, when there are better options? They could be rolling out 4G countrywide instead. You get better service, faster data speeds and asynchronous voice and data. I’m not sure what innovation you expect the users of the service to do, the service provider is the one who is supposed to be innovative. Or, should we go back to using landlines and post till we exhaust the full “innovation and productivity” of those technologies…

        1. @Imi…. you take a simplistic view of the world. Moving from 1, to 2, to 3 etc. But business does not work like that.

  2. In some areas in Mat’land we still waiting for Econet to install their first Base Station coz we still using Botswana SIM cards ???

  3. If you look at the LTE numbers they tell a bigger story. There is not enough numbers in the market to carry the LTE network to make a reasonable ROI. Therefore the setting up of 3G will be good investment in the medium term. 3G technology is mature and therefore a little bit cheaper. It is a mass market game. Econet are on the right track.

    1. The LTE numbers are reflective of the LTE coverage. The numbers cannot be high when there is low coverage. Besides that, everything starts rolling out from low to high. At a point, 3G also had low coverage and thus low numbers. The ROI will always be there, and reasonable too, regardless whether it 4G/LTE or 3G.

  4. Every time I come to Zimbabwe I find the claim of fast LTE by MNOs ridiculous and laughable. I use Econet when I visit and the LTE OS atrocious and hardly ever works. I find myself looking for a wifi connection because the LTE connection is a joke. When I am in SA on the MTN LTE, I stream YouTube videos, scan through Instagram, view and send emails from my phone without a second thought. I have been unable to do so on Econet’s so called LTE network. It’s been a constant source of frustration. So I’m not hyped by this promise, until they actually deliver reliable LTE connectivity that works.

    1. When was the last time you were in Zim and used Econet’s LTE? I live in Chitungwiza and I’ve stopped paying for Dstv because I am able to stream using Econet’s LTE network. Its fast, averaging 12Mbps based on tests.

  5. In Highlands the 3g coverage is so poor u get a no signal icon? And what browsing can one achieve with 2g? So Econet have false claims about their 3g coverage.

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