By Michael Malakata
Zambia’s Zamtel has completed its fiber-optic connection to two submarine cables, the West Africa Cable System (WACS) and Sat-3, through Telecom Namibia in order to boost the country’s broadband capacity.
Zamtel, the country’s only total telecom solution service provider, said it is now able to deliver 600Mbps of Internet capacity to the Zambian customers, making access to fast Internet broadband even more affordable for all.
The Zamtel fiber network runs from Solwezi, Ndola, Lusaka, Livingstone and Sesheke in Namibia and eventually to the Western seaboard international undersea cables. Zamtel’s capacity is being used by mobile operators MTN and Airtel, as well as corporate organizations.
The company said it was in discussion with other neighboring countries, including Tanzania, for additional connectivity in order to have multiple entry points.
Zamtel CEO Mupanga Mwanakatwe said the company also plans to replace the copper network by expanding its fiber metro network. He said this would provide cost-effective solutions such as branch interconnectivity to corporate clients. The company’s fiber metro network currently services corporate clients in Lusaka only.
“We are in discussion with other neighboring countries for additional connectivity so that we can have multiple entry points. We are also planning to introduce additional value-added services in the near future,” Mwanakatwe said last week.
Mwanakatwe said Zamtel is also planning to increase capacity on its Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) service to cater to users who have landlines at home, as a short- to medium-term solution.
Mwanakatwe said on the GSM side of business, the company has continued with its rollout of 3G and 2G network coverage, adding that the company plans to increase the number of 3G sites to 200 by September this year in order to expand the network to most parts of the country, especially rural areas.
Earlier this month, Zamtel announced it was embarking on a US$9 million expansion drive to construct 132 cell sites countrywide in order to increase its subscriber base. The project involves the construction of towers, control rooms, power supply units and switching units. It is the first major investment after the company was repossessed by the new Zambian government in January this year. The government took back control of the company from Lap Green Networks of Libya in the wake of allegations of fraud in the manner the company was sold.
Zamtel is Zambia’s third-largest mobile operator, with less than 2 million subscribers. India’s Airtel Zambia is the largest, with 4 million subscribers, followed by South Africa’s MTN subsidiary MTN Zambia, with 3 million customers.