Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Econet Begins Burundi Operations

Mobile operator Econet Wireless has launched its operations in Burundi. The company has for the past year been setting up office, recruiting workers, installing masts and doing preliminary testing. Econet Wireless is now connecting clients for a one-month network testing.

According to East African Business Week, the public has received the new operator with enthusiasm. For quite a while, potential clients were bombarding Econet offices with requests as a result of the sometimes erratic connectivity of the existing service providers. Econet Burundi MD Darlington Mandivenga said during the first 30 days, customers will be connected to test the voice quality and coverage of the network as the technical team fine tunes everything. He said the Econet has "hundreds of thousands" of customers on it waiting list.

Currently, Telecel is the biggest player in the market using the trade name Ucom, with about 295,000 subscribers. The second largest is the state-run Onamob, which has 79,000 subscribers. It is followed by Africell, which recently rebranded to the name Tempo, with 23,000 subscribers.

Yanick Mugisha, the brand manager at Econet told East African Business Week the plan was to have over 100,000 subscribers in the first month. The clincher for Econet may be the SMS interconnection agreement it has signed with the other operators, as to date, mobile users could not send SMS from one mobile operator to the other.

The network testing will cover about 16 provinces where Econet has installed base stations. Econet hopes to cover 94 percent of the country by the time it launches its network in a month's time.

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