Livingstone Marufu recently in Masvingo
Communication bills for companies and individuals are set to decline significantly when TelOne completes its National Broadband (NBB) network upgrade project next month funded under a $98 million loan facility from China’s Exim Bank.
The company has already connected 98 percent of the targeted customers nationwide.
Under the modernisation plan, TelOne, has replaced the entire network and has embarked on a backbone fibre optic transmission and broadband access project that offers enhanced data services over and above its traditional voice service.
TelOne’s Infrastructure director Engineer Lawrence Nkala, told The Herald Business in Rutenga that the network upgrade will help the communities and businesses around the area to be connected to enable locals to enjoy world class communications.
“We have managed to connect all main points across the country and we are 98 percent complete as far as the national broadband network project is concerned. The network modernisation project, which began late last year, was expected to be completed between 18 and 24 months, but we are way ahead of schedule as we are set to complete the project in June,” said Eng Nkala.
Through the project, TelOne’s telephone exchanges have also been upgraded, resulting in the modification of area codes and landline numbers across the country.
Eng Nkala said of the $98 million loan facility, the company has so far drawn down $90 million with most payments up to date. Also, the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls microwave radio link has been upgraded, including the Mutare – Harare – Bulawayo – Plumtree fibre optic backbone link.
However, TelOne broadband project across the country is under threat due to theft and vandalism.
The telcoms company is embarking on a vigorous awareness campaign to prevent such vandalism of its facilities. TelOne was up in arms with the locals after they dug past their fields and grazing areas, with people resisting the laying of cables.
TelOne managing director Chipo Mutasa, through the company’s retail division director Joseph Machiva, encouraged local leaders to embrace technology for their own good.
“This project will help you to access information from any part of the world and it is your duty to ensure that you protect this infrastructure for your own good. As we speak, Government has gazetted an Act that anyone found damaging these cables will be jailed for 10 years,” said Mrs Mutasa.
Telone said key focus areas include working with stakeholders to tackle the scourge of network theft and vandalism, which has this year alone seen at least six convictions. TelOne believes that sharing infrastructure will help reduce capital expenditure for its expansion project.
The regulation will (also) help to reduce the environmental degradation as new infrastructure will only be deployed where existing set up does not suffice to meet the requirements of a new player.
Econet, however, has been reluctant to share its infrastructure with other mobile operators, claiming that it invested a lot of money on its network at a time when its competitors “chose to deploy their money in large fleets of cars, multi-storey buildings for their executive offices, and various other assets”.
Since its launch in 1998, Econet says it has ploughed over $1,5 billion in infrastructure and owns about 80 percent of all telecommunications infrastructure in Zimbabwe.