Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications company, has brought the highspeed Fifth Generation (5G) mobile broadband technology to Bulawayo after establishing five base stations in the city.
5G speed tops out at 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) and offers an extremely low latency rate, the delay between the sending and receiving information. From 200 milliseconds for 4G, it goes down to 1 millisecond(1ms) with 5G.
It was launched yesterday at the Econet stand in Hall 4 during the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade Fair. One of the base stations is at the ZITF grounds, just next to the Pig Industry Board stand, behind which the Arena was officially opened by ZITF chief executive officer Dr Nicholas Ndebele.
Econet Wireless’ high-speed Fifth Generation (5G) mobile broadband technology is a partnership with global technology infrastructure suppliers Ericsson and ZTE.
Econet, which has invested over US$3 billion in infrastructure development since its inception, plans to roll out 5G to the rest of the country during the course of the year, after it was allocated test spectrum in multiple bands by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for 5G technology services.
Zimbabwe is among the first few African countries to launch the 5G mobile phone technology alongside the likes of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana.
The 5G network has potential to support millions of devices at ultrafast speeds and potential to transform global economies by improving accessibility, extending reach of mobile broadband, while supporting critical sectors such as health, financial, education services sectors as well as manufacturing.
During the launch, guests were shown how fast the download speeds are, as a 2GB movie was downloaded in just 25 seconds.
Econet Chief Technology Officer Mr Edwin Banda said they were excited that Bulawayo now has 5G.
“In Bulawayo we have put up five base stations that have 5G and they are concentrated in the city centre. Those who have 5G capable devices should be able to use them fully. At the same time, we are understanding the technology, how it works, in our environment. So that when we do the launch, we know exactly where to put the base stations.
“If we put it in Nkulumane for instance, maybe customers do not have the 5G capable devices. So, when they come to the city centre, how many people have these devices and how many are using them so that when we are doing a full roll out, we know how to do it,” said Mr Banda.
“We are continuing with 4G, it’s a new technology and it’s very usable for most people. But 5G is for the advanced kind of user.”
Mr Banda said there are two more base stations that will be established in Victoria Falls.
Mr Eric Huang the CEO of ZTE said they had been working with Econet since 2007 to develop networks around Zimbabwe looking into the future.
“The creation of a sustainable future is very important for us. ZTE promised to create many good opportunities within the frameworks of Econet strategies. To accomplish this, we always propose good solutions such as today when we are launching the 5G technology and with its super speed I’m very excited,” said Mr Huan.
Dr Ndebele said Econet’s innovation was in line with this year’s theme Rethink, Reimagine, Re-invent Value Chains for Economic Development.
“We believe that change is the only constant; the only sustainable constant, which is why we came up with the theme, Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent.
“We believe that whether in life or in business, embracing change; initiating change, you’ll survive if you adjust to the need for change. If you resist change history is replete with examples of entities in business, in society that fell by the wayside because they ignored, resisted or didn’t see the change coming,” he said.
“As ZITF we want to appreciate Econet for the support that they have given this platform, for coming up with innovative initiatives such as the 5G that has been launched today.”