Econet launches 3G mobile Wi-Fi device, competes with fixed broadband providers

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar
Mbile Wi-Fi device, Econet

Mbile Wi-Fi device, EconetLast week, Econet introduced a mobile Wi-Fi (MiFi if you want) device aimed directly at “small group” broadband users. That will be your home and small business users. In many ways therefore this product competes directly with the fixed broadband providers, especially as this comes after a broadband tariff slash 3 weeks ago by the operator. Well, competes except this is also a portable dongle of sorts.

It’s a device by the Chinese telecoms infrastructure and devices giant Huawei; a model called E5332. Some of you probably saw the first adverts in the weekly papers yesterday by Econet.

3G routers themselves are not a new phenomenon of-course but this is a big deal in terms of scale, availability and price. At US $90, the mobile Wi-Fi device is as competitive as they come and may right now be one of the lowest priced Wi-Fi routing devices locally. And it being available directly from the operator means potential customers don’t have to do their own painful product search which in turn means there’s high chance for massive adoption.

Econet ofcourse has always been in this home and small business (and enterprise) market via it’s and ZOL and Liquid Telecom operations. ZOL has WiMax home broadband products in that space. But again not at the scale Econet can do this and definitely not with the superior technology (in terms of stability and signal strength).

In terms of features you get high speed internet with on-the-paper HSPA+ 21Mbps download and 5.7Mbps upload. We’re told that effectively you get something around 13Mbps, but that’s just “told” for now. We’ll be taking it through the paces late this week so we can either confirm that, or just tell you our experiences. You also get EDGE or GPRS when in areas without 3G.

The device also has an antenna port to boost the signal when 3G drops or in poor network areas. Check back for a review in the coming days.



  1. MhukaHuru

    Econet only comepetes because they have a wider network, but their charges are ALWAYS too high!

    1. Ali

      kkkkkk. Thats their competitive advantage!

    2. ic0n1c

      And we keep on using their services…

  2. Gregory

    TelOne ADSL is the best broadband i have ever experienced in Zimbabwe its FAST, AFFORDABLE and RELIABLE. imagine 10 Gig for as little as $31. TelOne is the best.

    1. macdchip

      Very slow on my part bt very reliable. I like it

      1. usatsuki

        You get exactly what you pay for with Telone. I don’t know anyone who’s not reaching the speeds advertised.
        If you meant econet I’ve found that quite fast but not so reliable and a bit on the expensive side (since I don’t really use or need their bigger bundles)

        1. Keith Rose

          ADSL is a shared platform, and they don’t freely advertise the contention ratios. Add to that, they have almost no redundancy to international.

    2. Dave

      i totally agree with u, most econet products are nothin but rip offs!!!

    3. Anonymous

      wrooooooong…therz ZOL

  3. Future

    Those Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE pose security threat “Cyber Espionage”….The Regulator POTRAZ should look into it

    1. Three Men On A Boat

      how are they so?

      1. usatsuki

        There was a big story last year about how some US department of something or ISPs or some such had discovered that these Chinese devices had been discovered to be background-sending massive data packets to China. (Sorry I don’t have a link or site to offer and who knows about the veracity of the article anyway.)

        1. tinm@n

          That story as you correctly said. It was even heavily debated within the American media(the source of the story) that it was done to soil Huawei’s image given its reach and demand within the telecoms sector. A kind of underhand act to halt its economic reach. For your info, Huwaei technology used in almost all broadband devices for major carriers and device sellers. And the small devices are nothing compared to the actual infrastructure Huawei sells to telcom companies. The story came out in the wake of a report on Huawei’s inroads and a major supply contract that they were being considered for a big USA carrier.

    2. macdchip

      Considering everyone from first world to last word is using them, there is nothing much you can do besides encryption.

      Bt on the other hand how are they different from samsung, siemens, sony, cisco etc?

    3. JamesM

      And does POTRAZ know where to look? Give me ZTE and Huawei anytime anyday than the retarded POTRAZ.

  4. Raymond Swart

    Nice image… Looks very professional!

    1. L.S.M. Kabweza


  5. Nikki Kershaw

    Thanks, I look forward to your review.

    1. Sir Nigel

      Good question there Nikki

    2. Leon de Fleuriot

      Ussd interface is built in. You can access this through your browser.

      1. Nikki Kershaw

        Thanks Leon.

  6. ic0n1c

    Did the free trials on this one, its a superb product… But I wonder how the pricing will be like. If they are gonna go with the Econet Broadband charges it will be a bit tricky, but in terms of quality, speed and reliability (95%) it will probably be the best in the market.

  7. Zimbo

    Econet always comes with great products including this one but sadly they always price themselves out of the market. In the long-run that and bad customer servive is going to be their demise

    1. JamesM

      There’s nothing great about a portable 3G router. I have one exactly like it which I bought in SA without the ‘Econet’ emblem. 3G routers are aplenty, from large ones to portable ones.

  8. Dogstar

    How much? This is Econet…:P

    1. L.S.M. Kabweza
      1. Dogstar

        Thank you 🙂

  9. macdchip

    I have been using one of these, bt the unbranded one from huawei for the last 4 or so years, they deliver on speed and reliability.

    On quick notice is the battery, they die quickly which means the mobility party of depends on the durability of the battery or if you willing to carry extra batteries around.

    Also, if you connect it to laptop or pc and you are on limited data bundle, you will shouting unspeakable words to the gods of internet as it seems data flies out quickly
    Now with the way econet charges, l wouldnt want to be a neighbour of anyone with it!!

  10. Munya Bloggo

    Ok….interesting is it $90/month or for the unit costs $90 please explain?? Econet is tight with products but customer service is pathetic. Ma products awanda anongo potserwa without being thought through….they would have no competition if they just focused on this one thing.

    1. L.S.M. Kabweza
  11. ngth

    I bought a $50 Huwai wireless router and adsl from YoAfrica in November last year, sure this has 3g not adsl but there are other cheap wifi options out there. Unfortunately dont think YoAfrica takes new ADSL connections as telone wont connect any more to them, luckily I had it from before.

  12. Time

    I’d buy this in a heartbeat…but wait..I actually like using the internet. As in enjoying youtube, skype facebook etc and uh oh Econet, with your pricing thats clearly an impossibility.

    So I don’t see this thing gettting widely adopted and to the few that buy it , there will be bickering aplenty in their households as all it’ll take is for one person to connect their laptop and those pesky windows/eset/firefox updates to promptly drain the expensive megabytes. And no not everyone is going to turn off all those automatic updates as unfortunately, econet, we all can’t be data saving geeks. Maybe these device should come with fixed/semi fixed (eg zol wimax) tarriffs? I dont care if my connection can reach 21mbs. All I want is 1mbps affordable connection that allows me to use the internet without the thought of how many megabytes I’ve used.

    So for the meantime I think people will still be happy with Africom or Powertel (both seemingly dependant on location for good speeds) and the lucky few will keep their yo-africa packages which actually offer 2mb/s off peak as long as you behave during on peak hours and stay within your monthly gig.

    1. usatsuki

      Amen! There is not much attractive about super speeds when all that does is clock your limited and expensive megabyte count faster. I’d rather pay more for UNCAPPED DATA at 512kbps than 5-10GB that can be used up in one week.

      1. Keith Rose

        Only way you can get cheap uncapped, is by increasing the contention drastically.

    2. tim sameke

      Here is some sound advice to all interested wireless tech bloggers and my dear friends at Tech Zim on the 21Mbps stated by Huawei. This number is simply the maximum speed the Huawei 5332 3G router device is capable of doing when only 1 person is connected to a 3G HSPA+ CAT 14 Node B (Base Station) in perfect RF conditions i.e -60dBm, no AGWN, stationary speed and line of sight RF propagation. In addition 3G HSPA+ technology on the downlink (HSDPA) is a shared channel hence throughput speed will decrease as more users connect to the same Node B. In other words my dear friends at Tech Zim, you will never achieve speeds anywhere near 21Mbps. If you check the specs of your iPhone 5, Samsung S3 or any of the latest smart phones and tablets you’ll find out that they too are capable of CAT14 speeds and above but have you ever got 21Mbps download speeds from any of the three cellular operators… Finally I can save you the hassle and tell you with great certainty that none of the operators in Zim have Release 7 3G HSPA+ CAT 14 Node B network elements. Good Day!

      1. tim sameke

        Expected throughput speeds with the Huawei 5332 3G router or any other 3G device is < 100Kbps (if you're lucky…)

      2. L.S.M. Kabweza

        I’d read the article again.

  13. dexter

    Econet always think they have so much of first mover advantage and they always overprice their product far beyond the ordinary prices of innovation!!!

    1. JamesM

      Econet and innovation are not synonymous my friend. Extortion? Probably!

  14. Tumi

    Telkom just released an almost identical product offering…except that their pricing is maybe something Econet should seriously look at for these devices. They are contract offerings but for about $25 a month you get 3gig anytime data and 3gig night surfer data.

    I know Id be happy paying for the R398 rand option which will give 20gigs per month!! (10+10)…but alas we’re in Econet territory where over pricing is just part of the game.

  15. Chris Muyaruka

    Did I read correctly $90 for the router????


    Honestly, “Econet Launches 3G Mobile Wifi Device”, is that really news? These devices have been on the market for the last 2 to 3 years, selling for anything between $60 and $80 each from many “Indian” and “Chinese” type electronic/IT shops in downtown Harare under the generic tag “3g portable router”. That’s like posting an article “Econet Launches 3G Mobile Phone Nokia Asha 311” – the average customer will NOT buy it from Econet for $90, and will NOT put an Econet sim-card in it, given the recent growing churn of clients to Telecel sim-cards

    1. L.S.M. Kabweza

      you read para 3?

      1. Loftus Digital Group

        But Econet launched it now, so that makes sense! Econet is not operated from downtown Harare!


    And what I’d really like to know is, if Econet supposedly dropped their broadband tariffs 3 weeks ago as reported by Eco-agent Techzim, why can’t they be inspired to change their website tariffs to what Eco-Agent Techzim reported, not what they still have now

    1. Daniel

      Tech-Zim Eco-Agent? Really?

      1. Loftus Digital Group

        Ha ha ha ha

  18. EconetBlaster

    How can I setup file sharing with Econet 3G. Remote file sharing? Is it possible? How about gaming with friends?

  19. Effy Setumeni

    has anyone been bale to actually test this device using ?

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