ZIMBABWE’S long wait to enter the age of mobile Internet access is finally over with the launch of General Packet Radio System (GPRS) on Thursday by Econet Wireless, the country’s largest mobile company.
The services will provide easy access to the Internet, using one of the most advanced technologies in the world.
Econet subscribers will now have access to the internet on their mobile phones on GPRS, one of the wide range of services under 3G technology. GPRS will enable customers with compatible handsets to send and receive emails on the move.
“GPRS can also be used by banks and shops to support payment devices for credit cards. While the roll-out of GPRS is itself very exciting, the real excitement will be on the launch of a range of new generation services under 3G. The excitement is not in the technology itself, but in what it offers,” said Econet Wireless Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Mboweni.
“This is probably the most advanced cellular technology in the world. Even in the most developed countries, 3G has still not been fully deployed around the world and Zimbabwe joins one of only five countries that have a fully operational system. The capability of 3G is truly spectacular, and it will completely alter the way people use their phones. A 3G smart phone can make voice calls and high quality video transmissions,” Mboweni said.
The excitement amongst computer users has been phenomenal, and some ISPs have even been trying to hook their customers on to the service ahead of the launch. Econet expects 90 percent of Internet users to migrate to 3G data cards within a few months.
The are three mobile operators in the Zimbabwean market namely Econet, NetOne and Telecel.
In July, Econet signed a deal with Sweden’s Ericsson to expand its network in Zimbabwe.
In a joint statement, Ericsson and Econet said that the new three-year upgrade and expansion agreement would increase capacity for voice and data traffic in Zimbabwe.
Like most Zimbabwean businesses, telecommunications firms suffered under years of hyperinflation, a skewed exchange rate and economic collapse, which stunted growth of the sector.
However, renewed optimism brought by a unity government formed by rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, coupled with some economic reforms, has brought some signs of recovery.