The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) is in the process of reviewing the Postal and Telecommunications Act to facilitate the introduction of Virtual Network Operator licensing meant to open the market to more service-based competition partnerships and new business models beyond the limits of physical resources such as radio frequency spectrum.
This stakeholder consultation process which began on April 5 will end on April 30.
The proposed review of the telecommunication licensing structure entails the amendment of the Postal and Telecommunications (Licence Registration and Certification) Regulations, 2001 which provides for telecommunication licensing to include a new VNO license category.
“The regulations will be amended by deleting Part XI and substituting it wholly with provisions on VNO licensing. Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Principal Regulations will also be amended to provide for VNO licence fees and contribution to the Universal Services Fund,” said Potraz.
A VNO can be a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) or a Fixed Virtual Network Operator (FVNO), including Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This definition also includes Satellite Network Virtual Network Operators, who lease network facilities from local or International Providers of Satellite ground and/or space segment services.
“The current licensing framework is service specific in structure as it is based on the services offered. Section 37 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act [CAP 12:05] provides for licensing of cellular telecommunication services or telecommunication services or both and licensing of the operation of a cellular telecommunication system or telecommunication system or both,” said Potraz.
The VNO will increase competition in the telecommunications sector.
“It is envisaged that the entry of VNOs in the telecommunications market will potentially raise the level of competition by providing consumers with a wider choice of service providers, a wider range of innovative value added services and more competitive pricing plans,” said the regulator.