TelOne, NetOne to converge
Government plans to converge operations of its two telecoms entities, TelOne and NetOne, in line with infrastructure sharing thrust, ICT, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira has said.
Network convergence is the efficient coexistence of telephone, video and data communication within a single network. The use of multiple communication modes in a single network offers convenience and flexibility not possible with separate infrastructures.
Speaking at the ministry’s high level consultative seminar for State-owned enterprises on infrastructure sharing, Mandiwanzira said the convergence of TelOne and NetOne was unavoidable as technology continues to evolve.
“TelOne and NetOne, we are going towards convergence, it does not need rocket science, but in the near future, because of technology issues TelOne and NetOne will be under one roof, to offer triple play, voice data and mobile because we know it’s coming and we can’t allow TelOne to build the same infrastructure like NetOne or NetOne to build the same infrastructure like TelOne, it doesn’t make sense,” Mandiwanzira said.
He said sharing of infrastructure reduced costs in marketing and maintenance and by so doing, companies would be profitable.
Mandiwanzira said it was important that State enterprises engaged in infrastructure sharing as there were more benefits to be derived.
“We must lead by example as State-owned enterprises under our ministry and lead by example on infrastructure sharing. In a TelOne shop there is no product of NetOne and Zimpost, yet we are under one roof. There hasn’t been this culture of working together and now we must begin creating that culture. It is important that we come together so that you can dominate the market and that there is capacity in merging the numbers,” he said.
He said the mobile communications sector in Zimbabwe has been lagging behind in terms of infrastructure sharing and there has been a “culture of selfishness largely driven by small minds”.
Mandiwanzira said Zimbabweans were being overcharged for telecommunication.
“We have seen deployment of network fibre cables which can be shared and passing the cost to the consumer and we think this should be addressed,” he said.
Mandiwanzira said there has been infrastructure sharing without any formal arrangements with both the private and public players in the sector.
“TelOne has a lot of infrastructure around the country which is being used by Telecel, NetOne and Econet and that’s infrastructure sharing.
“Zesa infrastructure is being used by Liquid Telecoms to deploy its fibre cables, there is no mobile company in the country which is not sharing government infrastructure. The biggest users of Zimpost infrastructure are Econet, Telecel and NetOne.
“There is a talk that we want to grab infrastructure from the companies, but clearly that company is using Zimpost and TelOne infrastructure and if we are to disconnect, it will have big implications on their business,” he said.
Last year, Mandiwanzira issued a week’s ultimatum to Econet Wireless to remove its telecoms equipment from State infrastructure after the country’s largest mobile operator had described government’s directive compelling players in the industry to share infrastructure as tantamount to compulsory acquisition of its infrastructure.
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