Telecom industry market leader Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which calls itself ‘The Smart Data Network’, has opened a huge lead in data infrastructure investment, according to the latest industry report.
The first quarter report by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows that as at the end of the March this year (2017), Econet Wireless had rolled out the widest LTE coverage, having deployed 499 LTE base stations (63.7%), ahead of their nearest rival NetOne, with 284 LTE base stations (36.3).
LTE, which stands for ‘Long Term Evolution’ is a Forth Generation (4G) data network, with Internet download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than that of 3G mobile broadband data networks.
Telecel, the third mobile network operator (MNO), is yet to invest in LTE data technology.
POTRAZ reported that at the end of the first quarter of this year, Econet had a commanding lead of 99.2% of the LTE customer market share, with 269,087 LTE customers, while NetOne had only managed 0.8%, sitting on 2,165 LTE customers as at the end of March 2017. The report reveals that Econet had 266,922 more LTE customers than NetOne.
The return of 99.2% customer market share, from 63.7% share of infrastructure, points to a much higher efficiency ratio for Econet over NetOne, which added 23 more LTE base stations, to Econet’s two additional base stations in the first quarter of the year, but only added 855 LTE customers, compared to Econet, which added 58,831 LTE customers from an additional two (2) LTE base stations in the same quarter.
Some of Zimbabwe’s major telecom players announced their results in the past month of June, with both Econet and NetOne among those that announced their results.
Econet reported revenues of $621.7 million (a slight 3% drop from prior year) and a profit after tax of $36.2 million.
NetOne, which commenced operations two years before Econet, reported revenues of $115 million, up from $114 million in the prior year. But despite the slight bump in revenue, the mobile operator posted a loss of $2,7 million at the end of December 2016, raising concerns in some media reports about the company’s ability to manage its operational costs and begin to make profits.