Zim Internet connectivity soars

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ZIMBABWE’S Internet connectivity continues to soar with latest statistics from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) indicating a significant increase in the months ending December 31 2013.

Njabulo Ncube
Deputy Editor

The latest telecommunications statistics perused by Southern Eye Business released last week showed that the country’s total broadband subscriptions climbed 6,45 percentage points in 2013, going up from 33,4% in December 2012 to an estimated 39,8%.

Within 12 months, the number of Internet subscriptions rose from an estimated 4,4 million to 5,2 million by end of December 2013. The latest statistics show that the bulk of the subscriptions, 5,16 million, are mobile Internet connections using 2G, 2,5G and 3G connections.

These are primary provided by four companies: Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe, NetOne, Africom and PowertTel. However, the Potraz statistics do not show how many subscribers each service provider accounts for.

The Potraz reports further revealed that even though accounting for a small portion of the total Internet connections, the fixed broadband connections increased reasonably in the year.

“The reason for the continued Internet penetration increase is very clear; reduced mobile broadband tariffs and increased access to Internet capable mobile phones — both feature phones and smartphones, but especially the former,” Limbikani Makani, a telecommunications analyst with Technology Zimbabwe, said.

“Feature phones able to access the Internet have dropped significantly in price. They are now available at prices below $40. Smartphones (Android powered ones from Asia especially) have reduced in price to as low as $70.

“The availability of social platforms where people can interact with family and friends (and therefore create and consume relevant social content) has also contributed to the rise in mobile Internet usage.

“Such platforms include Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. When the Internet is more relevant it attracts higher usage. In the case of WhatsApp, it’s been more than just social content attraction, but more the Internet providing a lower cost communication alternative to the traditional sms service,” he added.

The total broadband subscriptions is estimated at 5,2 million in a country whose total population is estimated at 13,6 million.
Below is the breakdown of connectivity:

Technology and number of subscribers:
Leased lines                                                 1,359
Dial Up                                                          8,902
XDSL                                                          20,236
Wimax, WiFi9,                                                632
CDMA                                                         78,091
GPRS/EDGE/2G/3G/HSDP                 5,083,138
VSAT                                                              334
Fibre1,                                                            301
Total broadband subscriptions            5,202,993

Source: Tech Zim