By Kudzai Chawafambira
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s sole fixed telecommunications company, TelOne, is planning to partner mobile network operator, NetOne, as part of efforts to offer mobile platform services.
TelOne, which has been unable to utilise its mobile telecommunications licence granted in 2011 due to financial constraints, hopes to ride on the back of the country’s second largest mobile network operator with a subscriber base of 3,3 million.
Chipo Mtasa, TelOne’s managing director, on Thursday told businessdaily on the sidelines of the company’s organised infrastructure sharing symposium that their current focus was to ensure that they are open to partnerships with all mobile network operators were opportunities are available.
“We want to see how we can collaborate a bit more with our mobile sister company NetOne. Even if we wanted to activate it (mobile phone licence) it might require some significant investment. At the moment what we are looking at is optimising current investments and also raise further funding in areas where they are opportunities,” she said.
Mtasa noted that TelOne was currently doing a lot of fibre network projects and establishing WiFi hotspots which are now almost 100 across the country.
“We are also looking at bringing the fibre to the home (FTTH) in various households. We have deployed fibre in various residential areas in Harare, Zvishavane and Ngezi among others. We want to explore this fibre to the home project countrywide,” Mtasa said.
This comes as government last week gave telecommunications companies a 90-day ultimatum to conclude and launch an infrastructure sharing framework, a top government official has said.
Supa Mandiwanzira, Information and Communication Technology minister on Thursday said the telecommunications sector players must come up with a framework on infrastructure sharing before government can adopt it as a policy.
“We cannot continue consulting, consulting and consulting. We are not reinventing the wheel. This is a concept that has been tried and tested elsewhere including developed markets and it is working,” he said.
“So we don’t have to scratch our heads too much about a concept that the entire global industry has adopted and is already working,” Mandiwanzira told a TelOne-organised infrastructure sharing workshop.
Research has shown that companies can save up to more than 30 percent of capital costs if they adopt infrastructure sharing.
“It’s a no brainer. You don’t have to spend too much money studying, talking to each other, seminars and conferences about a subject that is so clear. We would like you to conclude as quickly as possible, in the next 90 days I would like to be invited as the ICT minister to launch the signing ceremony on infrastructure sharing among the players in the industry,” he said.
Mandiwanzira noted that if industry players were not ready, government — as the biggest player — would organise its companies to start implementing the measure.
“Unfortunately we have not been well organised but we have some ideas to organise ourselves. We own NetOne, we own TelOne, we own PowerTel and we own quiet a significant fraction of Africomm. We believe we can only get our own companies, and that is a single directive by the way, we will create havoc to those who say infrastructure sharing is not necessary,” he said.
Currently Zimbabwe’s telecommunications operators individually invest and own infrastructure, giving established ones a competitive advantage.
The country has no standing regulation that promotes infrastructure sharing among telecommunications industry players. Daily News