NetOne em­barks on $485m ex­pan­sion project

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Melody Mashaire Harare Bureau

STATE-OWNED mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work op­er­a­tor NetOne will em­bark on the third phase of its net­work ex­pan­sion project next year, at a cost of $485 mil­lion, a se­nior of­fi­cial has said.

This comes as NetOne also in­di­cated that it tar­gets to regis­ter an ad­di­tional five mil­lion sub­scribers, af­ter it reg­is­tered one mil­lion new cus­tomers this year, as it ag­gres­sively moves to grow its mar­ket share

The coun­try’s third largest mo­bile tele­coms com­pany is cur­rently rolling out base sta­tions across the coun­try un­der phase two of the net­work ex­pan­sion pro­gramme set to be com­pleted next month.

NetOne act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Mr Brian Mu­tandiro said the ex­pan­sion is de­signed to cater for growth in sub­scribers, as the com­pany bids to re­claim its po­si­tion as the big­gest net­work.

He made the re­marks at the launch of the mo­bile net­work’s Tombo 1 base sta­tion in Nyanga on Mon­day.

NetOne was the first mo­bile com­pany to se­cure a mo­bile tele­coms li­cence in 1996, but has been over­taken by Econet Wire­less in terms of sub­scribers.

“The first phase (of the net­work ex­pan­sion pro­gramme), which was un­der­taken from 2010 to 2013 wit­nessed the in­stal­la­tion of a switch­ing net­work in Bulawayo that was done by Huawei, that cost us about $45 mil­lion.

“Be­yond that we went to phase two where $218 mil­lion was spent, we are very for­tu­nate and very happy that Gov­ern­ment raised a guar­an­tee for NetOne that saw the in­crease in base sta­tions from about 400 to 2 300 and we are now go­ing into the third phase, which will see NetOne in­stalling an ad­di­tional 3 000 base sta­tions in 500 new phys­i­cal sites,” he said.

He added that com­ple­tion of the third phase of the net­work ex­pan­sion project will give NetOne enough ca­pac­ity to con­nect 10 mil­lion sub­scribers.

“This will ac­tu­ally bring con­nec­tiv­ity to the full length and breath of Zim­babwe, 100 per­cent con­nec­tiv­ity. It will give NetOne the ca­pa­bil­ity to con­nect at any given time, 10 mil­lion sub­scribers.

“If we as­sume the pop­u­la­tion of Zim­babwe to be 13 mil­lion, it means that al­most every­one will be cov­ered.

“We are bring­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, which makes sure that there is now in­clu­siv­ity.

‘‘We are no longer go­ing to have marginalised sec­tions of our com­mu­nity,” he said.

Speak­ing at the same event, Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy, Postal and Courier Ser­vices act­ing prin­ci­pal direc­tor Ms Beaullah Chirume said Gov­ern­ment is ex­pand­ing mo­bile net­work cov­er­age into ru­ral ar­eas.

“The third phase will be to put up in­fra­struc­ture in all the ru­ral ar­eas and to make sure that we pro­vide those ar­eas with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy like 4G, 4.5G and long-term evo­lu­tion to speed up con­nec­tiv­ity in those ar­eas, she said

Act­ing Netone CEO Mr Brian Mu­tandiro (left) fol­lows pro­ceed­ings at the launch of a Nyanga base sta­tion on Mon­day

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