“ECONET’s Fibre to the Home (FTTH) has taken the market by storm.”
That is how Malefetsane Tlelima, General Manager Technical, describes what he says is the “phenomenal growth” of FTTH in the past two years.
The plan, Tlelima says, is that every home should be connected to the internet through fibre.
“So far there is full fibre coverage at Lesia, Thetsane East, Thetsane West, Masowe 1,2,3,4, Maseru East, Maseru West, Florida, Arrival Centre, White City, Ha-Hoohlo, Moshoeshoe II, Stadium area and Hillsview,” he says.
“We have plans to extend coverage to the rest of Maseru in next two financial years.”
We are trying to build the network in areas where all other municipal services have been established to avoid vandalism.”
As part of efforts to enhance the network Econet has been gradually replacing copper with fibre. This, as Tlelima explains, is because the copper has been pillaged by vandalism.
In some areas the copper network has been wiped completely out.
“Fibre is passive, reliable and less susceptible to damage,” Tlelima says.
On Mobile Data, Tlelima says customers should expect improved quality and speed because of the upgrades that have been done. Both the 3G and LTE networks have been improved.
New areas have also been covered as Econet strives to reach remote areas despite the geographical challenges.
“The LTE should be able to meet all the requirements of corporates. The speeds on our 3G network mean there is no buffering when you are streaming videos or audio,” he adds.
“So far all major towns have both LTE and 3G coverage. There is full LTE coverage in Maseru.”
“This year the focus has been on improving 3G coverage in the residential areas in town. This is necessary as a lot of people have opted to stay on the 3G network because their devices are not compatible with LTE.” “The improvements to the network have also meant that there are less dropped or failed calls.
Tlelima says in addition to the improved and increased network coverage Econet has also installed generators and batteries at most base stations. Base stations in some areas have a hybrid power system that includes solar, generator and battery. Some use the electricity grid but have a backup of solar, generator and battery.
“That means there will never be a time when there is no network coverage due to a power cut. We have learned from experience that we need as much cover and backup as possible.”
He says the power systems have been installed without increasing the company’s carbon footprint.
“We have remained environmentally conscious as a company. The need to have uninterrupted service should not be done at a cost to the environment.”
But despite the improvements Tlelima remains worried about the scourge of vandalism.
There has been a spike in the number of vandalism cases in areas like Leribe, Maputsoe, Hlotse, Semonkong and Teya-teyaneng.
“The stealing of manholes and cables for scrap continues to be a huge challenge for us.”
He says in recent cases generators and fuel has been targeted.
“In urban areas the common cases of vandalism are a result of construction and maintenance of roads.”
Econet continues to engage the public and law enforcement agencies to help in the fight against vandalism. “It is important for communities to play their part in efforts to curb vandalism. The network belongs to them because they are the ones using it,” Tlelima says.