Zimbabwe: Econet Most Popular Mobile Network - Poll

ECONET is the most popular mobile network in the country, a recent social network poll has shown.

But it is facing stiff competition from its competitors, who are coming up with innovative ideas to catch up with the largest network.

Most of the 290 respondents to the Standardbusiness Facebook poll, last week said they preferred Econet to NetOne and Telecel, as it had the widest coverage in the country.

The country's three mobile service providers share an estimated 10 million subscribers, with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) leading with 6,4 million subscribers, followed by Telecel with 2,3 million and NetOne with 2 million.

With the country's mobile telephony sector almost reaching saturation point, the battle has moved to the provision of value-added services, like data, money transfer and free calls.

"NetOne is good, real 3G. I used to use Econet, where downloading a MB (megabyte) took the whole day. NetOne has got it correct this time around. Those who still cling onto Econet are being brand loyal for nothing," Malvin Mwendera said.

"NetOne is the best, we are calling for free the whole day for NetOne to NetOne calls, plus free bundles for internet (access)," said Pims Masvingise.

NetOne recently launched a promotional campaign aimed at increasing its subscriber base by offering free intra-network voice calls.

The state-owned company has also deployed infrastructure in remote parts of the country, thereby catering for the rural populace's voice and social media communication needs.

Pianos Marega said he would go for Econet because of its extensive network coverage, a sentiment which was echoed by a substantial number of people throughout the survey.

"It's a matter of choosing a better devil, all the three networks will wake from their slumber if a giant like Vodacom was allowed to be a player (in the telecommunications sector). In the end, because of wide coverage, I will go for Econet," Albert Berto Mapunga said.

Witness Mafongoya said he opted for Econet, which he felt was reliable due to network coverage and good broadband service in comparison to the other two service providers.

Research carried out by telecommunications firm, BuddeComm says Zimbabwe's broadband market and internet usage is expected to grow on the back of new fibre infrastructure despite the limited fixed-line infrastructure.

The firm estimates that mobile market penetration rates would reach 85% by year end, while internet and fixed market penetration rates would reach 12% and 3% respectively.

However, prices for broadband services continue to be high.

"The average minutes of use on Zimbabwe's mobile networks were ironically among the highest in the world, and the networks were congested. Prices are now more in line with other African markets again," the firm noted.

Oswell Smart Sifa said Econet was good on voice calls and text messages, but relatively expensive, while internet service occasionally jammed.

"Telecel is user-friendly. it is cheaper, has quick internet and offers endless promotions. When it comes to voice calls, it is not user-friendly. The good side of NetOne is at least, it is now improving its service, offering promotion, wide coverage of network. So one must have all the three lines of network if he or she wants to communicate effectively," said Sifa.

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