Telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe today launched its 5TH Generation network technology (5G) in Harare -the first in the country, with 10 more base stations expected to be set up in the capital during the next two weeks before expanding to other parts of the country.
By end of April, the group said it should have deployed 22 base stations country-wide.
5G succeeds 4G (LTE), 3G(UMTS) and 2G (GSM) network systems at super-fast speed, lower latency and has a high capacity system among other advantages.
Speaking at the launch of the 5G network in Harare, Econet Chief operating officer, Kezito Makuni said the coming of 5G technologies will open up many possibilities in the digital development of the country.
“This is a key digital infrastructure that will further Zimbabwe’s position and promote more digital innovation to keep us competitive as a world digital hub,” said Makuni.
Despite 4G having ushered in smartphones by facilitating multimedia messaging, it however had its own limitations in terms of capacity and speed.
5G will seek to address these shortfalls.
However, Makuni said the group is in the process of ensuring more base stations for the 5G technology.
Econet was the first to take up available spectrum for trials after the regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) availed the resource as part of its National 5G Roadmap drafted in 2018.
POTRAZ said it will avail more spectrums to telecoms operators in the next 24 months for 5G deployment to speed up the transition.
“Potraz is adding spectrum 3.4 to 3.6 Giga heads bands to clear it of legacy systems currently occupying some portions and making it available for 5G deployment,” said Machengete.
He said Zimbabwe has experienced network failure at momentous occasions when consumers will be connected simultaneously hence overwhelming the 4G network and this could be a thing of the past once 5G is fully embraced.
He urged the RBZ to prioritize the telecoms sector in the allocation of foreign currency for operators to be able to procure equipment to set up 5G infrastructure.
Currently, the Central Bank is failing to meet demand for foreign currency from the auction system which has led to payment delays of up to 10 weeks.
Then there is the challenge of high cost of 5G compatible smartphones and data which are also at the center of the success of this latest technology in Zimbabwe.
Other service providers like Netone have also indicated intentions to rollout 5G in future.