Potraz mulls more telecoms providers

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Herbert Moyo
POTRAZ is considering changes to licensing regulations for postal and telecommunications providers which would see the entry of more players into mobile communications services.Currently three mobile cellular operators — Econet Wireless, Net-One and Telecel — are licenced to provided mobile cellular communications services.

There are concerns this situation has resulted in the providers short-changing customers through shoddy services and high call charges, among other things.

Responding to questions from the Zimbabwe Independent on the side-lines of his oral presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Media, Information and Communication Technology on Wednesday, Potraz Director General Charles Sibanda said issues like the entry of new players into mobile service provision could only be addressed under a new licencing arrangement.

He hinted at new players coming on board when he said a new licensing regime was in the offing which would bring “various changes” to the postal and telecommunications sector.

“Yes there are so many issues which need to be addressed and the new licensing regime which will take effect will address some of these challenges, which include the subject of shared infrastructure among operators,” Sibanda said.

He however refused to confirm more operators would be licensed saying that this would pre-empt the announcement which would be made by  relevant authorities in due course.

Sibanda told the parliamentary committee  Potraz was “not satisfied” with service provision from mobile operators for voice and internet services and said his organisation often penalises the service providers for poor services.

He said he was not at liberty to disclose the amount and nature of punishments before establishing whether he could do so without legal consequences.

Last week Econet chief executive, Douglas Mboweni, defended his company’s pricing system saying their tariffs compared favourably with regional countries especially South Africa and Swaziland where Vodacom reportedly charges 31 cents and 38 cents respectively, compared to Econet’s 20 cents.

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