Techzim

Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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Ecoweb Launches Mobile WiMax

Last week, we revealed that Ecoweb was going to launch mobile WiMax this week. They just did. But that’s not the news. The news is this: It’s a staggering US$ 290 to get connected. The USB WiMax dongle, US$ 175, and the monthly bandwidth subscription, US$ 115.

We say that because when we discovered that Ecoweb was planning to charge $170 for the USB WiMax dongle and some $100 monthly subscription last week, we complained that this was way too expensive. And to our surprise, at launch the service is US$ 20 more expensive.


Axis Solutions Gets Cisco Select Certified Partnership

Axis Solutions has met the Cisco resource requirements for Small Business Specialization to become a Cisco Select Certified partner. This means Axis Solutions has demonstrated that it is qualified to sell, install and specifically to support Cisco solutions for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market.

Cisco Systems is a leader is communication solutions and known world over as the backbone of the Internet. Cisco is a common name in ICT network implementation in Zimbabwe and most companies have Cisco devices as part of their enterprise networking infrastructure.


Someone Just Pushed The Wrong Button On The ZOL Site

If you’ve visited the Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) homepage in the last 3 hours or so, you probably noticed something glaringly wrong with it; the website is showing stuff in 2s. There’s a double side menu, double top banner, double adverts, double footer… (UPDATE April 22: fixed)

A bored someone at ZOL must be playing on the site. Or maybe they’re just learning their PHP on a live company site. Hey, maybe it’s just a radical new design!


Ecoweb’s 4G Mobile WiMax Coming Next Week

We just got information that Ecoweb, the ISP arm of Zimbabwe telecoms giant, Econet, will start selling their 4G mobile WiMax next week. According to our source, Ecoweb is just waiting for an approval of the proposed pricing by the telecoms regulatory authority POTRAZ.

We got a glimpse of the pricing and hey, dear reader, if you want a piece of the latest (and ideally fastest) mobile internet in town, please prepare to reach deep into your pockets. The mobile WiMax dongle like the one pictured here will cost US $170. The dongle attaches to the USB port to enable your PC to connect to the WiMax network. Like Econet’s 3G, internet access is a flat monthly charge. But don’t let that ‘flat’ word fool you; it’s US $100 per month!


ZOU Starts Using Open Source eLearning Platform Claroline

On Thursday, the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) officially launched a new Learning Management System website, ZOU Online. The new system uses the open source eLearning and eWorking platform, Claroline, and like typical Learning Management Systems, it allows lecturers to build online courses and manage learning and collaborative activities on the web.

The Zimbabwe Open University has implemented the new system in partnership with a local ICT company. We’re yet to establish which ICT company this is. We will let you know once we find out.


Axis Solutions In New Partnership With The Westcon Group

On Thursday we attended the launch of a new partnership between Zimbabwe ICT infrastructure solutions provider, Axis Solutions, and South African based distributor of converged communications solutions, Westcon. The event was held the Crown Plaza Hotel in Harare.

The event started with a presentation of the Axis’ main current drive and main business focus, which, as explained by Axis support executive Emmanuela Manyowa is information security, ICT service management.


Portnet is HIFA 2010 Official IT Partner

Portnet Corporation this year will be official provider of Information Technology services to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). This means Portnet will basically provide all the computer systems running HIFA behind the scenes.

This is your servers, racks, switches, routers, desktops, laptops, networks and the like. Printers and document management equipment and systems as well. Yes, there’s all that going on behind the scenes to make HIFA the perennial success it is!


Update on Zimbabwe’s Broken Sites: Still Broken

Last year we posted an article titled “Zimbabwe’s Broken Websites: Telecoms Operators”. The article basically pointed out some glaring omissions and commissions on the websites of some of the biggest telecom companies. Most of these errors can be corrected easily with a little effort and within a few minutes.

We promised to do a follow-up article on the issues we noted, so here it is. It’s mostly still the same issues we talked about then and the sad thing about all this is that, for the ones we could reach, we even went to the extent of advising them. Nonetheless, for all you telecom companies, here’s some free website quality check, again.


New Twist to ZOL/Telecontract Dispute: Telco Threatens To Sue

After the successful transfer of the 200 disconnected customers to Africom last week, we concluded in our weekly round-up, that the ZOL/Telco dispute was finally (and thankfully) over. We were wrong.


Weekly Roundup – 10 April 2010

TelOne, Telkom Talks
The Herald on Thursday continued with the TelOne/Telkom story that’s been appearing now and again for a while now. This time TelOne spokesperson Mr Collin Wilbes, just confirmed that negotiations are still ongoing but that he couldn’t give details.


When Solar Meets Wireless – A Rural Telecommunications Solution – Part 3

Telecom Center (Phone & Internet Center)

Think of a telecom center as a setup with phone, e-mail and internet services. This model is pretty common in urban setups. And this model could be used for remote centers and even some urban centers whose electricity supply is more often off than on.

As such the telecom center will have 3 distinct elements: phone center, internet center and the control system.

This test system is for 8 phones and 8 workstations.


Econet Opens New Call Centre As Subscriber Base Crosses The 4 Million Mark

Today, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe opened a new call centre in Graniteside, Harare. The large call center (see pictures below), which has the capacity to handle more than 15,000 customer calls an hour was described by Econet CEO, Mr. Douglas Mboweni as “the biggest and most sophisticated in the country”.

Mr. Douglas Mboweni took the opportunity today to announce that the mobile operator’s subscriber base had passed the 4 million mark and that this exponential growth in subscriber numbers had spurred the need for the larger and more modern call center.


ZOL Issues An Update On Disconnections, Warns All Telco Customers About Telco’s Liquidity

We just got another press statement that ZOL has issued on the Telco/ZOL disconnections for publication tomorrow . We’ve uploaded the press statement here, since the ZOL PR page on this issue hasn’t been updated yet (UPDATE (08 April 2010:1300hrs): the ZOL page has been updated)

The statement is titled “Update on unlawful disconnection by Telecontract and disruption of ZOL internet service and response to Telco press statement.” The update: Of the 200 customers disconnected on 25 March, 57 are still offline but will be moved to Africom by the time the statement is published – probably means by tomorrow morning.


A Message To ZOL And Telecontract: It Didn’t Have To Come To This

The last two weeks have been a nightmare for some 200 Zimbabwe Online (ZOL) customers. On 25 March 2010, a ZOL last mile connection provider, Telecontract, switched off the customers because of a payment dispute with ZOL. ZOL is arguably the largest internet service provider in Zimbabwe. Telecontract (also called Telco) too is one of the largest internet access providers locally.

To explain the disconnection situation, ZOL issued 2 press statements, absolving themselves of any wrong doing, apologizing to customers, and assuring them that they were doing everything possible to get them reconnected.


Deported Telecel Managing Director Aimable Mpore Now Back At Work

We just got news from Telecel that the deported managing director, Aimable Mpore is now back in Zimbabwe and working at Telecel again. Mr. Mpore’s appeal to the government of Zimbabwe against the withdrawal of his work permit succeeded and he returned to work yesterday (Tuesday), after arriving back in Zimbabwe on Monday.

Mr Mpore left Zimbabwe early in February, after his work permit was withdrawn for failing to reveal some information on circumstances surrounding his expulsion by the Cote d’Ivoire government last year.


Econet Officially Opening New Large Call Center Tomorrow

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is officially opening its new call center in Harare tomorrow. Econet has built a new advanced call centre to handle increased traffic from its growing subscriber base now standing at more than 3.2 million.

Speaking about the opening, Econet CEO, Mr Douglas Mboweni said that massive growth had increased demand for service and support, which Econet has responded to by building a new and larger facility to field more calls from its customers.


Telecel Subscriber Base Reaches Almost One Million

Telecel Zimbabwe now has close to a million subscribers, the company’s international partner, Telecel Globe, revealed on Thursday. Telecel Globe chief executive Kai Uebach told a media briefing in Harare that Telecel Zimbabwe had invested heavily in developing its network. It was rolling out in the region of 170 base stations countrywide.

He said the quality of the network signal, which in the past had been poor, was now good. Telecel had also invested heavily in stabilising the network, through investing in generators and batteries so that the network could continue operating well even during prolonged periods without mains electricity.


When Solar Meets Wireless – A Rural Telecommunications Solution – Part 2

Solar Powered Wireless Access

This is a viable avenue of implementing rural telephony in a bid to redress the knowledge and information gap between the urban and rural populations, amongst other things.

There’s no need to explain and expand the clear relationship that exists between information technology and development of a country. Access to information and communication on the fly, bridges the digital divide that generally engulfs the bulk of African countries. This is usually measured as teledensity: the number of connected phone users per 100 people.


Exclusive Interview with ZOL CEO, David Behr Over Telco Disconnections

So, today we finally got a chance to talk to the David Behr, the ZOL CEO. Below is the full text of the 1 on 1 interview we had with him this afternoon. He basically explains more on the dispute between his company and Telecontract we reported earlier this week. We’re hoping to have a similar talk with the Telecontract CEO if we can get hold of him. (UPDATE (04 April 2010: 1148hrs): here is an exclusive with Telco CEO, Shadreck Nkala.)

Tech Zim: I’ll just start with the current status, after the update on the website and the press news release, what’s going on?


Strive Masiyiwa Shuts Down Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (April Fools)

Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless has given instructions to shut down the Zimbabwean operations of the now global telecoms company. The instructions are for the mobile operator to close down business by the end of day 01 April 2010.


ZOL Moving Disconnected Customers To Africom

Since ZOL came out with the story about its fallout with last-mile network provider Telecontract, we’ve been trying to get more details about the issue from the two. It hasn’t been easy. The Telecontract CEO, Shadreck Nkala, is said to be in meetings all day and all we get are promises that he’ll call back. Same thing with the ZOL CEO.

Can be frustrating this job sometimes! So, we’re left with no option but to go the informal route.

Anyway, we’re getting information that ZOL is in the process of moving all clients to Africom, the company bringing in the SEACOM fibre from TDM in Mozambique.


Ecoweb To Launch Mobile WiMax In April

Ever since Ecoweb announced the coming launch of mobile WiMax last year in October, we’ve been waiting eagerly here at Techzim for further announcements and possibly, a launch date.

This didn’t come until last week when Ecoweb finally said something through their Econet investor relations page. Ecoweb, a wholly owned subsidiary of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe revealed that it is in the final testing phase of mobile WiMax project and will be opening it up to subscribers in next month.

Speaking about the deployment, Ecoweb General Manager, Tororiro Isaac Chaza said:


Econet Reduces Mobile Line Sim Cards To US$2

Econet announced today the reduction of its mobile line’s price from US$5 to US$2. The US$2 includes airtime worth a dollar. This follows a similar move by its closest competitor, Telecel Zimbabwe, about 2 months ago.

Adverts by Econet in the local press today urge customers to act now as ‘offer’ is only “valid while stocks last!” We’re not sure what exactly is meant by this statement. Maybe Econet will revert to the $5 when they run out ‘stocks’. And the ‘stocks’, is this the physical sim cards itself or capacity on the network?


Telecontract ‘Illegally’ Disconnects 200 Zimbabwe Online’s Broadband Customers

We’ve been hearing rumours over the past week that Telecontract was threatening to disconnect all ZOL clients if ZOL didn’t let them bill customers directly. The rumour was confirmed yesterday when ZOL issued a press statement to explain what was going on in this troubled marriage.

Some background:

The arrangement that has been working for the two telcos until recently, was that ZOL would sign up customers for the upstream internet service they have and use Telecontract for the last mile connection to the client.


Telecel Launches ‘Mega Juice Card’, Subscribers Get US $2 Bonus Time For Every $1

Telecel Zimbabwe launched a new promotion dubbed ‘Mega Juice’, at the weekend. The new Mega Juice card, which costs US $1, gives the subscriber $2 bonus air time, effectively giving away three dollars worth of air time for the price a dollar.

The Mega Juice air time however is only valid for 24 hours from the time the air time is loaded or, in Telecel jargon, from the time the mobile phone is ‘juiced up’. As is the case with such promotions, this is valid for calls within the Telecel network.

Using the Mega Juice card they can talk to other Telecel subscribers for about 13 minutes for one dollar. With an ordinary air time card they would only be able to chat for about four minutes.


Weekly Roundup – 27 March 2010

Telecel Zimbabwe Shareholding

The Fingaz on Thursday revealed a new twist to the Telecel Zimbabwe shareholding question. Apparently Telecel International may have to cede more than just 11% shareholding to local entrepreneurs. Telecel International agreed to a POTRAZ requirement in 2007 to give up 20% of its 60% shareholding but it didn’t.

Depending on how the inclusive government deals with this, “The company could be forced to honour its initial deal it signed with Telecel Zimbabwe to offload 20 percent from its current 60 percent shareholding to indigenous players in the venture.”


Canonical Releases Beta 1 Of Ubuntu 10.04

Canonical released Beta 1 of Ubuntu 10.04 today. The latest version of the OS that brought Linux to the people is scheduled to be released on the 29th of April. It’s a long term support (LTS) release, and this time named after a cat, ‘Lucid Lynx’.

The Zimbabwe loco team has been active the past couple of years promoting the Ffee OS, and last year registered a milestone when the Parliament of Zimbabwe moved over all their desktop and server computers to Ubuntu 8.o4.


Chips Computing Services Wins Best Achiever Award For X3 ERP

Chips Computing Services has won the Best Achiever Award for Sage Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) X3, barely a year after the product was launched in Zimbabwe.

Chips Computing Services, which holds the Sage Pastel franchise in Zimbabwe and is the official distributor of Sage and Pastel products, won the award, which is based on sales, ahead of many other participants from across the world, including South Africa and Australia.


Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa Holds Impact Assessment Workshop in Zimbabwe

The Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) will, starting tomorrow, hold an impact assessment training workshop at Elephant Hills in Victoria Falls. The 2 day workshop is aimed at providing forums where awareness of the need for impact assessment in the policy and regulation making processes are discussed.

The workshop is being attended by regulatory authorities and the SADC region telecommunications and internet service providers.

CRASA operations manager explains in the secretariat message for the workshop:


Weekly Roundup – 20 March 2010

PowerTel and the BTC Fibre Deal

There was an article in this week’s Sunday Mail on PowerTel’s fibre deal with Botswana Telecommunications Corporation. Again no mention of the bandwidth capacity being purchased. We searched around and found this pdf on the BTC website. It says “…under the agreement with BTC will get access to direct international undersea connectivity with the SynchronousTransport Module One (STM1) at a maximum of 155Mbps.”

The PowerTel managing director, Samuel Maminimini made the usual promises business leaders make after achieving such milestones: