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Ericsson expands Econet alliance in aggressive 5G push

By , Africa editor
Zimbabwe , 02 Mar 2023
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.

Econet Wireless has reinforced relationship with Swedish telecoms company Ericsson as it prepares for 5G rollout in Zimbabwe.

The two expanded their partnership at Mobile World Congress 2023, Barcelona, as they sealed a deal to modernise Econet’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and mobile Core network across Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare.

Ericsson and Econet’s alliance was first formed last year to launch 5G across Harare, and help Zimbabwe’s biggest telco accelerate its digital transformation journey.

Founded by telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, is a subsidiary of Econet Group, a telecoms and technology group with operations and investments in 29 countries in Africa and Europe

In a statement announcing the deepening of the relationship with Econet, the Swedish company says, the modernisation of Econet’s network infrastructure through Ericsson’s enhanced RAN portfolio and core portfolio will complement the digital infrastructure goals of the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 agenda and bring the telco closer to attaining 5G market leadership in the country.

“We have enjoyed a close and productive partnership with Econet for more than two decades, and we remain committed to supporting them in strengthening their network infrastructure as Zimbabwe lays out ambitious digital plans. Our solutions will provide Econet with incredible speeds and mobility and introduce next-generation connectivity services seamlessly.

“It will also accelerate the introduction of new 5G use cases that will support the nation’s digitalisation momentum and assert its position in the growing digital economy,” says Todd Ashton, vice president and head of Ericsson South and East Africa at Ericsson Middle East and Africa.

Ericsson is set to modernise the telco’s existing Evolved Packet Core network to cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core, as well as upgrade the Unified Data Management solution.

The scope of the agreement with Econet also includes Ericsson’s cloud infrastructure solutions, the Circuit Switch Core modernisation and the introduction of IP Multimedia System for Voice over LTE and Voice over WiFi.

Ericsson details the project: “Modernising Econet's network infrastructure will enable a wide range of services to subscribers, including high-definition VoLTE and applications that require low latency and improved responsiveness. High-speed internet will be enabled through 4G and 5G radio access networks, coupled to the modernized packet core network. Along with enhancing user experience, Econet will also benefit from increased network coverage and capacity.

“The network modernisation will include Econet’s existing 2G, 3G and LTE networks, with Ericsson’s latest 5G multi-band, multi-sector radios – such as Radio 4466 – which offers capacity expansion, energy efficiency and an average of 15 percent reduction in tower load. Through the partnership, Econet will realise greater LTE indoor penetration and continue its seamless deployment of 5G, Narrowband-Internet of Things and private networks.”

Commenting on the enhanced partnership, Roy Chimanikire, Econet deputy CEO, says: “Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is on a mission to realise an advanced 5G ecosystem in the country. Our latest partnership with Ericsson brings us closer to realising this ambition with 5G expansions in more locations.

“Powering several digital technologies, 5G will play a pivotal role in realising many of the goals outlined in the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 agenda, notably in smart industrialization. Working alongside Ericsson, we aspire to build a high-performing 5G network that will not only deliver high connectivity but also support industrial and societal advancements in Zimbabwe.”

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