The Namibian cabinet has placed a local restriction on Telecom Namibia’s fixed wireless product, restricting it to a town or settlement area. Rather surprisingly the Namibian Cabinet seems to stand in for the Namibian regulator on issues of this kind. But perhaps that’s because it wishes to give the state-owned incumbent telco a “leg-up” commercially.

The decision reads, in part, that “The SWITCH product be limited geographically per town or settlement area, with no roaming or handing over of calls between towns until the information and communication bills are enacted”

Jose Ferreira, Managing Director of MTC, the company most affected by the decision, explains that ”the decision does not address the fundamental objection not to allow roaming or handover between cells even if it is in the same town.  Handing over between cells is the licensed domain of the two mobile operators in Namibia for which we have paid license fees.”

Secondly, the decision sends mixed messages to potential international investors in the Namibian telecommunications sector.  Allowing Telecom Namibia to infringe on the licensed rights of mobile operators means that there are now 3 operators in the market while it was clear that there would only be two when Portugal Telecom bought the 34% stake in MTC Namibia.  It jeopardizes MTC’s value and what Portugal Telecom paid for.  This is clearly a breach of trust and confidence in the local market.