Potraz pushes for new ICT licensing regime

ZIMBABWE’S telecoms regulator has proposed a new converged licensing regime for the information communication technology sector as government seeks to break entry barriers for new players.

The Post and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe on Monday released a consultative paper, which among other issues, seeks to ensure flexibility and efficient utilisation of spectrum and numbering resources taking into account technological developments in the sector and the need to maintain a level playing field.

The new measures, which will come into law once approved by interested parties, also encourages the free growth of new applications and services leveraging on the technological developments in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) area.

It also seeks to simplify licensing and enforcement procedures in the telecommunications sector.

“In view of these unfolding developments, it has become pertinent for Zimbabwe to review the current licensing regime in order to adapt to the changing technological environment, allow operators and consumers to leverage on global economies of scale and promote convergent technologies,” reads the paper in part .

“The new licensing framework shall also provide for a Unified Licence which combines the Network Facilities Licence, the Network Services Licence and the Application Services into one. This means that licensees under this category are allowed to construct, install, own and maintain network facilities and also provide network and application services under the same licence. Unified Licences will be valid for 20 years.”

Experts say Zimbabwe has taken great strides towards a knowledge-based information society. The liberalisation of the telecommunications industry, ushered in by the promulgation of the Postal and Telecommunications Act in 2000, helped the country speed up development in the telecommunication sector.

It has also assist to increase meaningful accessibility of telecommunication services throughout the country.

“An extensive international bench-marking exercise done by POTRAZ identified that the existing licensing regime falls short on flexibility; stifles innovation and is also not in line with current international practice. Furthermore, the existing framework which is service specific is restrictive in nature as it does not allow operators to take full advantage of the possible economies of scope that are exploitable under a Converged Licensing 2 Framework (CLF),” the paper further reads.-Staff Writer