Zimbabwean regulator Potraz is threatening to withdraw TeleAccess' licence to operate a fixed telephone network. TeleAccess was awarded the licence in January 2003, becoming the country's second fixed network provider but up to now it has not connected a single fixed telephone line. Telecoms regulations stipulate that the company should have rolled out its network within six months of getting the licence.

Cuthbert Chidoori, director-general of Potraz, said the authority was running out of patience despite attempts by TeleAccess to explain the delay.

He said TeleAccess has asked the regulator "to appreciate what they have done and what they are going through".

"Our patience has already run out and we are folding up our sleeves and showing our teeth," Chidoori said during a question and answer session at the Zimtel 2005 conference on Wednesday. "We are going to put the record straight. "We are in discussions with both the government and TeleAccess and we are making sure that we are clearly understood," he said.

When asked if TeleAccess' licence had an expiry date, Chidoori said according to the law, Potraz as the regulator can go on to terminate or suspend a licence prematurely if the licence holder fails to perform. "Section 43 allows Potraz to cancel or suspend a licence and do other punitive things if there is material breach or if the licence holder fails to perform," he said.

TeleAccess undertook to connect 60 000 lines in its first year of operation. Initially TeleAccess blamed Potraz's procrastination in allocating them frequencies and a numbering plan to distinguish between operators for the delay.

Zimbabwe Independent