Telecom Namibia campaigns for unified licence

Telecoms

Telecom Namibia wants an all-inclusive licence across the whole spectrum of telecommunications and information technology, which should be included in the new draft legislation, its Managing Director Frans Ndoroma said on Monday. It is clearly gunning for its own mobile operator’s licence.

"We should be granted a licence that unlocks the provisioning of services over the whole ICT chain. We should not be curtailed to being a fixed-line operator, as proposed in the new telecommunications bill," Ndoroma said at a press briefing to mark the 16th anniversary of the State-owned enterprise.

Telecom, the only fixed-line operator, quietly introduced its own mobile service called 'Switch' almost two years ago. The two mobile licence holders cried foul and Cabinet decided that the Switch service may only operate within the radius of towns for the time being (while a review of the position is conducted), but not across the whole country.

The services-neutral licence Telecom desires would mean that national public telecommunications services can be provided over fixed or mobile, wire line or wireless, network links, using available technology and to provide international telecommunications including the operation of international gateways.

"This philosophy is supported and in line with our Vision 2010 blueprint," Ndoroma said.

"We are entering an era of inevitable change of the legal and regulatory framework that governs our business operations and the whole of the information communication technology sector," Ndoroma added. "The telecommunications regulatory framework in Namibia is an open-ended one, placing the sector and Telecom Namibia's business in an indeterminate state."

In Ndoroma's view, the overall intention of the proposed Communications Bill does not seem to encompass the reality of converged technologies and services. Policy considerations should aim to promote and regulate convergence, technology and service-neutral licensing, as has been the trend in the southern African region.

He said the industry had evolved to such an extent that it established de facto segments, like Internet, fixed voice, mobile voice, data and network services, which segments call for recognition and should be addressed accordingly.

"Prior to determining dominance, and labelling an operator as such, the regulatory authority should establish clear criteria for deciding how a dominant player is identified and in what market segment such player is dominant. This would go a long way in creating an effectively competitive landscape and create fairness with regard to the obligation to interconnect networks, sharing infrastructure and unbundling networks."

In converting licences or issuing new licences that comply with the Bill, such licences should not be issued and granted on less favourable terms than those that currently existed, the Telecom boss demanded.

The Namibian