POTRAZ wants sharing mandatory

By Alfonce Mbizwo, Harare, Zimbabwe

The Posts and Telecommunication Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) wants legislation that compels local mobile service providers to share infrastructure before they are issued with new operational licences.

Potraz director general Charles Sibanda told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology said service providers were only agreeing to share base stations when there was a commercial benefits.

"We will be addressing these issues in the coming licensing regime. Their licenses are now coming to an end,” he said.

“The current license regime for mobile operators allows them to build infrastructure and services, they are offering both infrastructure and services and we will be looking into that so that they share infrastructure and only compete on services.”

Sibanda said Potraz had raised more than USD44 million in Universal Services Fund in the past three years, with telephony services providing the bulk of the money, USD41,3 million while internet access providers contributed USD2million.

Potraz used the money to construct base stations in a number of under developed areas that were due for commissioning while other projects were still at tender stage.

Sibanda said Potraz had penalized some service providers for poor service.

“We have penalised them but we do not go to the press to announce that we have penalised this operator,” Sibanda said.

However last week, Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni told the same committee that his company was sharing 300 base stations with Telecel, Telone, NRZ and local authorities. Only NetOne did not want to share. He noted that before the expansion, Econet had approached NetOne for infrastructure sharing but they had refused.

“And now because Econet has grown big after the expansion, the same network is crying foul that we do not want to share,” he said.

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