We are reliably informed that Econet, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator, is set to launch a 5G fixed wireless to the home platform. The platform will have a 4G fallback and is expected to deliver speeds around the 300 Mbps mark. The company is targeting businesses including MSMEs, hospitals, NGOs, PVOs, and educational institutions, with a value proposition centred on the provision of reliable and unlimited connectivity, shorter time to repair, shorter time to market, more ubiquitous coverage, and empowering digital transformation through the provision of digital solutions.

However, the proposed packages are perplexing, given Econet’s claims of offering unlimited volumes. According to anonymous inside sources, the following packages have been proposed:

PackageZWL PriceUSD Price (Official Rate)USD Price (Black Market Rate)
60GB (30 days)$88 459.66109.8268.13
75GB (30 days)$91 998.04114.1972.31
100GB (30 days)$96 597.94120.2977.05
200GB (30 days)$181011.00225.13150.07
300GB (30 days)$271 516.51338.67226.12
500GB (30 days)$452 527.51564.48377.69
1TB (30 days)$926 776.341155.87760.89

These packages, when compared to what operators in South Africa are offering, are considered woefully underwhelming. For instance, MTN and Rain offer very attractive packages for far less than what Econet is proposing. The Econet 5G router is selling for about $500 000 ZWL.

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Despite being limited in coverage, Econet 5G will be competing against Liquid Home and Utande, who offer fixed wireless services albeit still based on 4G. This has led to concerns regarding the rushed and early market deployment of 5G, which may lead to another launch of underwhelming packages at sky-high prices. Instead of rushing into 5G, it is argued that operators should stick with 4G and perfect it.

The proposed packages and pricing by Econet for its 5G fixed wireless to the home platform leave much to be desired, especially when compared to what operators in other countries are offering. The limited coverage and sky-high prices may hinder its adoption, particularly among businesses that require reliable and affordable connectivity.