Continuing the rural broadband theme that has been in the news lately, NetOne – Zimbabwe’s second-biggest operator and a state-owned entity – has announced the next phase of its mobile broadband expansion project.
According to the Zimbabwe Herald news service, the aim of the third phase is deploy more than 260 new base stations. The deployment will focus on rural areas.
Deputy ICT Minister Dingumuzi Phuti has said that NetOne had already upgraded 75 base stations from 2G to 3G and a further 60 to 4G.
The project will also see the introduction of 5G to cater for increased data demand, although details of the timing of this introduction were not given. Nor is it clear when NetOne’s aim to increase population coverage from about 75 percent to 85 percent will be completed.
The MBB Phase III project is a strategic cooperation project between China and Zimbabwe. Huawei will be the technical partner for the project. The NetOne expansion project began in 2011.
The Herald says that equipment has started arriving in the country for the third phase of the mobile broadband expansion, whose cost is estimated to be $71 million.
Deputy Minister Phuti has said that Government was ‘working flat out’ to ensure increased mobile network coverage, especially in the rural areas. There are also plans to familiarise teachers, again especially in rural areas, with ICT for e-learning, and to ensure improved connectivity of institutions and the provision of necessary ICT equipment.
Rural connectivity is receiving a lot of verbal and financial backing of late in Africa. As we reported yesterday, Egypt plans to provide more than 60 million people in rural areas with high-speed internet under an ambitious drive to unlock new pathways for economic growth.