EXPANSION of Econet Wireless’s mobile network at a cost of more than $200 billion (US$35 million) is nearing completion, with most major components of the network to bring capacity to 500 000 c
ustomers by the end of 2005 already commissioned or being tested.
Econet has been releasing lines at the rate of about 5 000 a week since the beginning of June.Econet chief executive, Douglas Mboweni, said engineers from various international contractors that were working on the upgrade had either already gone back or are undertaking commissioning and testing equipment before switching it on.
In addition, the expansion to the short text message system has been completed, which has significantly improved the speed of transmission to local and international networks. Short messages transmitted via the Econet network are now being received instantaneously and real-time by customers on other networks.
“The only outstanding work is the completion of the long distance microwave system linking Bulawayo to Harare, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, and will allow new base stations that have been installed in the city to be connected. This work is expected to be completed by September and will enable the company to start progressively releasing more lines,” Mboweni said. He said the connection of new customers, which has already begun, will be done on a phased basis and the company was connecting new customers at the rate of 5 000 a week since the beginning of June.
This will be increased steadily as more and more equipment is commissioned, additional capacity is released and the network is stabilised.
“Full utilisation of the available capacity will continue to be affected by other factors which are beyond the companies control such as power load shedding and fuel for the generators as well as other components that have to be procured from time to time,” said Mboweni. He said although this major upgrade work is at an end, Econet will continue to invest in the network to deal with localised problems that are common in this type of system as well as continually improve quality and coverage. Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the largest mobile network operator in Zimbabwe, is part of the Econet Wireless Global Group, and is wholly owned through Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Econet Wireless Holdings Ltd.