New broadband firm starts operations in Zimbabwe for rural and tourism infrustructure

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A new broadband services provider, Fibre Connections, entered Zimbabwe’s telecoms sector last week after commissioning its operations in Victoria Falls.

Fibre Connections is a wholesale carrier providing fibre connectivity solutions. The company has the immediate target to lay circa 2 000 kilometres of fibre connectivity along the country’s rail network.

The company, which is part of Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS) Group domiciled in Kenya, was licensed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) in January this year.

Potraz says the licensing of additional service providers increases the availability of broadband services and enables the country to extend the national optic fibre backbone footprint.

The telecoms regulator has since directed Fibre Connections to prioritise the provision of network facilities to rural and under-served or marginalised communities of Zimbabwe.

Fibre optic connectivity is one of the key economic and developmental initiatives prioritise by the Second Republic to promote and enhance the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.

Some of the routes that Fibre Connections will develop under its bandwidth infrastructure rollout include Guruve-Mushumbi-Kanyemba, Harare – Murewa–Mutoko–Nyamapanda, and Sanyati–Nembudziya–Gokwe–Siabuwa–Binga.

A network stretching for 1 180 kilometres from Beitbridge to Somabula to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls was inaugurated on Wednesday and will be extended to Gweru, Harare, Mutare, and Plum tree (an additional 800 km) by the first half of next year.

Dandemutande, Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), Telone, and MTN are some of the company’s anchor customers that will ride on the new connectivity infrastructure.

“The project we are commissioning today is testimony to the Government’s commitment to ensuring the provision of robust and reliable communications infrastructure across the country.

“The investment in this network not only brings foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe’s economy but brings along with it high-speed data connectivity which allows communities along the railway line the opportunity to partake of the opportunities that the internet brings to communities,” said Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere at the company’s launch event.

Potraz director General Gift Machengete said apart from improving broadband connectivity within the country, the new network will also improve Zimbabwe’s international internet connectivity as well as improve the redundancy of telecommunication networks.

“Zimbabwe has always had three mobile network operators (MNOs). Despite increasing demand for telecommunication services, the Authority could not license additional operators due to the limited spectrum resources.

“However, in order to create space for new players in the sector, the Authority in 2021, introduced the Converged Licensing Framework, which saw the introduction of special license categories,” said Dr Machengete.

Fibre Connections managing director, Yonas Maru, said Africa’s long-term growth relies on the proliferation of enhanced telecommunications platforms on which affordable, accessible digital services are built.

“Fibre Connections shall ensure that at least 30 percent of facilities infrastructure roll-out shall be in under-served suburbs, rural or peri-urban areas.

“A large focus of this funding is to lay fiber along the railways in Zimbabwe (2 000 km), Angola (1 400kms), and DRC (2 600 km).

“Our vision is to make Zimbabwe the Internet traffic hub of Southern Africa. As the Zimbabwe rail network is the hub of the rail network in Southern Africa, the ongoing fiber deployment along the rail tracks will significantly reduce Internet access costs, increase reliability and bring high-speed Internet access to the rural areas of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Maru.”

BCS was founded in 2010, with telecom licenses and operations in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DRC, Zambia, Angola and now Zimbabwe. – Herald