TELECOMS

Zimbabwe: Regulator POTRAZ upgrades licences and will legalise VoIP for ISPs

Zimbabwe’s regulator POTRAZ is inviting operators to apply for upgrading of licences to offer new services. Potraz director general engineer Charles Sibanda told journalists that the new licences would enable operators to offer such services as voice over Internet protocol (Voip) and 3G. With Morgan Tsvangirai installed as Prime Minister, perhaps the Zimbabwean telecoms market will begin to take off again as the economy begins to receive some attention.

He said due to current regulations, Potraz could not accommodate new players in the mobile and fixed telecommunications sector. He said Potraz had cleared a number of frequencies in preparation for the launch of the new services.

"It is the authority's hope that once the operators roll out these new services, market penetration will increase, resulting in economies of scale which ultimately should result in a general reduction of tariffs," he said.

Sibanda said players could also apply for licences to offer Voip under the Internet access provider (AIP) licences. 3G service is a step up from second generation technology, currently being offered by mobile players in Zimbabwe.

It allows mobile phone users to have access to much more than just voice calls and messaging, giving them access to enhanced services, including video calls, broadband wireless data and high speed Internet access.

On tariffs, Sibanda said operators could adjust the charges downwards if the costs permitted. He said current tariffs approved by the authority were cost-based and had been compared with those in the region varying between US$0.15 and US$0.32.

"The cost of goods and services in Zimbabwe is considerably higher in hard currency than what is offered in the region," he said. "In spite of our unique service, the tariffs approved by the authority for each operator are very comparable to the region."

Subscribers to the country's three mobile telephone providers have, however, registered complaints over the tariffs averaging US$0.25, which they felt were highly exorbitant.

Concerns have also been registered on the shortage of low value recharge cards and short window periods. Sibanda said the authority had since asked the operators to review their window periods.

The Herald

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