HomeBusiness DigestGovt drags feet on fixed phones

Govt drags feet on fixed phones

Roadwin Chirara

GOVERNMENT is drag-ging its heels on applications for fixed telephone networks despite overwhelming demand for the service.

s-serif”>This is seen as a deliberate move to maintain Tel*One’s monopoly after TeleAccess failed to break into the sector. The shortage of fixed telephone lines has seen a sharp rise in the number of people using mobile phones as an alternative form of communication. One of the companies that have applied for the service, Afritell, confirmed that the country’s regulatory authority, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) was still to respond to the company’s application.

“Afritell stands ready to convert its existing infrastructure to voice telephony. As a result of the existing transmission network, Afritell will be able to deliver services in a matter of months once the licence is awarded,” said Afritell corporate communications officer, Nobesuthu Nduku.

Afritell is a consortium made up of data network provider Africom, Transmedia (owned by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings) and state-owned data network provider, Powertel.

Afritell said it had already invested in the telecoms sector to the tune of US$117 million.

“Afritell has invested in ground infrastructure to the tune of US$117 million. This infrastructure, which is currently offering data and broadcasting services, is working at below 10% of its capacity,” Nduku said.

She said the company wanted to take advantage of that capacity to meet the current demand for fixed telephones.

“It is this idle capacity that Afritell wishes to convert to value for the ordinary Zimbabwean by offering voice telephony services over the same infrastructure,” said Nduku.

Afritell, Nduku said, was also ready to invest a further US$500 million in the project. TeleAccess, owned by Daniel Shumba, was awarded a licence last year but has failed to provide the service despite the huge demand.

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