Source: NetOne eyes profitability from network expansion | The Herald May 23, 2016
Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter
The restructuring and network expansion programmes currently ongoing at State owned mobile services provider, NetOne are expected to drive the company to profitability and enhance capacity to compete with its peers.
The network roll-out programme which has seen 2000 base stations constructed in the first phase will see a further 2 000 at about 600 sites next year.
“With that topology of network we believe that we will be reaching out to everybody giving them our products. We are also coming up with value products that are well priced in the areas of data.
“The type of technology that we are bringing, 4G and 4G LTE will enable faster speeds for those people that need data. This third phase will put us at par with our competitors,” acting chief executive Brian Mutandiro said on Friday.
Mr Mutandiro was addressing the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee members who were on tour of the network service provider.
LTE -Long-Term Evolution-, (commonly marketed as 4G LTE) is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.
“It is a requirement that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe wants to see us in the next five years covering 100 percent of the country.
And so one of the issues that we will look at is making sure that we rapidly deploy network 3G, 4G and LTE and then we will come behind with all the other value added products that we can put on that platform.”
Failure to follow up on infrastructure deployed around the country with value-added products in the past was one of the reasons why NetOne failed to make money and caused the parastatal to lag behind its leading competitors.
It is down to making business sense out of the infrastructure presence, according to Mr Mutandiro.
“NetOne was focusing on putting the base stations. Business focus was not on the distribution of airtime. For example, you can have a base station that is launched today but there is no airtime in the vicinity. So then you have a lopsided situation where you spend money on infrastructure but you are not providing airtime. So we are addressing all those gaps.
“For us these are opportunities, low hanging fruits that we can quickly convert to revenue. That is why I am confident that by the end of this year we will have a positive bottom and we will declare a dividend to Government,” said Mr Mutandiro.
Other projects expected to improve visibility include an aggressive strategy to position the network.
To this end, NetOne teams will be in the communities with various product demonstrations and operational marketing.
The changes implemented have already started paying dividends with the company now collecting more money per minute than in the past with collections surging to 8 cents per minute compared to 2,8 cents per minute realised at the beginning of this year.
But this will result in customers foregoing some benefits and promotions the company has been offering ahead of its competitors.
One major casualty is most likely the free calls promotion which has seen users enjoying free calls to other NetOne lines for a specific period after recharging for a dollar.
“Basically we were giving a lot of our airtime for free. On the one hand it is a good thing but on the other hand where you have invested money it means that you are not going to recover or you are not going to get money to repay all those loans.
“That can be very dangerous in that you actually go out of business. For us that will be sad because Government has invested in us and they have invested with one priority in mind that we make profit and contribute positively to the economy,” said Mr Mutandiro.