Orange Botswana warned its competitors last week that the issuing of service neutral licences is coming at a time when it is working on a new strategy to give customers value for money.

The mobile phone company, which is currently neck-on-neck for a slice of the lucrative market with Mascom Botswana, recently became the second recipient of the service neutral licence or Public Telecommunications Operator (PTO) licence. It joins fixed line monopoly, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) that got its licence last month.

When receiving the licence, the youthful acting chief executive officer for Orange Botswana, Keabetswe Segole, said that it is an enabler of the company's initiative dubbed NExT - New Experience in Telecomms Strategy. Though he did not divulge more details about NExT Strategy, which is adopted by Orange worldwide, he said it will be a destination beyond mobile to broadband and fixed line. This is in line with the company’s strategy as it has developed in France.

"The award of PTO comes in perfect time for Orange. Our company is growing, the world around us is changing everyday and the expectations of our customers are at zenith," Segole said. Segole said the NExT strategy would help Orange's vision to transform into a leading integrated telecommunications operator offering not only mobile but other services. The company would not be restricted to mobile telephony alone.

PTO allows telecommunications providers (Orange, Mascom and BTC) to offer, among others, mobile telephony, fixed telephony and Internet services under one licence. Thari Pheko, the chief executive officer for the regulator, Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA), explained that the new licensing regime caters for New Generation Networks and the advent of broadband wireless access.

"We therefore expect new and innovative services to emerge beyond voice, bringing convenient and affordable services to emerge beyond voice and generating value for operators," he said. Pheko revealed that BTA would continue working towards achieving sustainable competition in communications to make the country competitive globally. It is not known whether Orange rival, Mascom, has applied for a unified licence although its representatives were at the Orange licensing handover.

Mmegi/The Reporter