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Network outage irks Econet subscribers

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 09 Jul 2020

Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile operator has restored data and voice services after a network outage left subscribers offline yesterday, although its mobile money service was functional.

The network outage resulted in no data and voice network service from approximately 5.30pm to 10:12pm yesterday, and left subscribers stranded and scrambling for connectivity on alternative networks such as rival NetOne and ISP providers such as ZOL, TelOne and others.

Econet said in an update to its subscribers around midnight that “the technical challenges that affected voice and data services on our network have been successfully resolved” with normal service restored.

Earlier on the company had blamed a technical glitch on its network switches for the network outage. “We are currently experiencing a technical challenge on our core network switch, which has affected voice and data service delivery across many parts of the country,” the company stated.

Zimbabweans also took to social media platforms to vent and some expressed concern over the timing of the outage, ahead of planned protests later this month.

According to the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), mobile connectivity accounts for more than half of Zimbabwe’s total internet accessibility. Cheap Wi-Fi bundles run by mobile firms have also boosted platforms access to internet platforms such as YouTube.

However, experts dispute the country’s mobile penetration rate of 93.1% and say this is distorted because of multiple SIM ownership.

In 2019 an outage on Econet’s mobile money service, EcoCash, also left Zimbabwean shoppers stranded as they were unable to complete transactions.

The company is operating against the backdrop of what it calls “sub-optimum tariffs” owing to the erosion of value of the local currency which has given rise to galloping inflation of about 780%.

It has also been in the firing line from the government which accuses its mobile money service EcoCash of fuelling street foreign currency dealings, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe imposing restrictions on the service, including suspension of agent lines.

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