Zimbabwe: Telecel Builds More Base Stations

MOBILE telecommunications firm, Telecel, plans to roll out an additional 120 base stations by July this year in a bid to increase population coverage and cater for demand, a senior company executive has said.

The company has already set up a total of 437 base stations countrywide.

Telecel Communications and Branding director Obert Mandimika said the mobile operator was presently assessing suppliers' bids for base station construction from three companies, Chinese telecoms giants Huawei, ZTE and Finland-based Nokia Siemens.

"After that we will be looking more at capacitation, in terms of identifying gaps using a targeted approach, on areas along the highway for instance," he said.

Cut-throat competition for subscribers and network usage within the telecommunications industry has forced the dominant players, namely Telecel, Econet and NetOne to adopt vigorous promotional campaigns, ever since dollarisation in 2009.

Mandimika said the market was reaching maturity in terms of the number of subscribers that were holding mobile phones.

"So when we get to a stage where everyone is holding a mobile phone, the growth now comes from diversifying revenue streams. One of those is data and also offering special promotions and deals to make people talk more on the network," he said.

Telecel has in the past been criticised for lags in areas that only have EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment) for internet connectivity, loss of voice connectivity during peak hours and limited coverage in many parts of the country as compared to other networks.

EDGE is designed to distribute data at rates of up to 384 Kilobytes per second, enabling delivery of multimedia as well as other broadband applications to mobile phone and computer users.

A 3G network however, allows high-speed data access and advanced network capacity.

Mandimika, however, said the company was focused on trying to put as many base stations as possible on 3G network.

He said if there were many people using a particular base station, there would be a slight lag as the base station can only carry so much traffic at a given time.

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