The Director General of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Dr Gift Machengete has today promised that mobile tariffs will be going down as result of the new infrastructure sharing model currently being implemented by government through the Universal Services Fund.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Muswewenhede Base Station in Mazowe North Constituency in Mashonaland Central, Dr Machengete said Mobile Operators have shown interest in embracing infrastructure sharing which is set to significantly lower their operational costs and also lead to downward changes in the current mobile tariff regime.
“It is our fervent belief that through the various Infrastructure Sharing Model that we are implementing, network roll-out towards 100% population coverage shall be achieved faster, sooner and more efficiently. With efficiency comes lower CAPEX and operational costs and therefore affordability,” said Dr Machengete.
Addressing the same gathering at the inaugural Muswewenhede Multi Operator Radio Access Network (MORAN) site the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security, Engineer Samuel Kundishora explained numerous benefits of the infrastructure sharing model arguing that this move by government will lead to wider consumer choice and enhanced competition which is healthy because it also leads to cost reduction and wider network coverage.
The ICT Permanent Secretary took a swipe at the mobile Operators that have over the years maintained a relatively high mobile tariff regime allowing massive profiteering at the expense of customers.
That is an untenable situation especially considering that most of the base station equipment require foreign currency to procure as they are not locally manufactured,” he said.
Government is in the process of finalising infrastructure sharing regulations which will be promulgated into law by the next parliament after the July 30 harmonised elections.
Allaying fears from some mobile operators that had been previously reluctant to embrace this initiative, Engineer Kundishora said this project will be fair for all the stakeholders.
“Contrary to public perception operators will not deploy their equipment on another operator’s tower free of charge. They will pay rentals which rentals will be offset if operators also deploy on their towers, ” said Engineer Kundishora,
He also further explained saying, “what this means is that those operators who have invested more in towers will receive a positive balance from the offset arrangements and thus, can make a profit from renting out their towers. There is therefore, no prejudice on operators who invested heavily on infrastructure as they will recoup their investment over time.”
The government is on a fast tract implementation of the shared towers being rolled out through POTRAZ’s Universal Service Fund.