(Last Updated on August 22, 2013 by Editor)
HARARE — Delegates to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly — to be jointly hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia starting this weekend — will have fast internet access through 4G, or long-term evolution (LTE), connectivity newly launched by Econet Wireless.
LTE enables ultra-high-speed internet access with connection speeds many times higher than 3G, translating into faster downloads and stutter-free video.
The Zimbabwean telecommunications group said on Wednesday that LTE internet would be available at all of Zimbabwe’s airports, in the central business districts of Harare and Bulawayo, and in the resort town of Victoria Falls.
However, the service would be accessible only through modems. Econet chief commercial and customer relations officer Stan Henning said at a media briefing in Harare that work was continuing to roll out LTE connectivity via mobile phones.
“We are officially launching LTE today through dongles or modems,” he said. “We are making it our business to move to 4G mobile phones.”
The company said in an earlier statement that it was launching “one of Africa’s first LTE networks” in Victoria Falls, where the tourism indaba will be held between August 24 and 29.
Econet Wireless CEO Douglas Mboweni said the hosting of the tourism event was an opportunity to show the world that Zimbabwe was keeping “pace with developments in the world”.
“The business community in Zimbabwe uses our network almost exclusively, and we have a duty to ensure that they have the most advanced services available,” he said.
Zimbabwean mobile operators are locked in a bitter dispute over mobile prices, with Econet now barring users of its mobile money transfer service, EcoCash, from sending money to recipients outside its network.
The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe in August renewed the operating licence of Telecel Zimbabwe.
Econet had cut interconnection with Telecel, citing its failure to meet licence obligations.
The telecoms regulator this week ordered Econet — founded by businessman Strive Masiyiwa — to back down on its recent 60% tariff reduction and reinstate a charge of 25c a minute.