MISA Zimbabwe statement on the sharing of ICT infrastructure
MISA Zimbabwe applauds pronouncements by the Minister of Information, Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira on 13 March 2015 on government plans to ensure sharing of infrastructure among telecommunications and data service providers as it seeks to improve the sector.
Speaking at a consultative workshop on finalisation of the Zimbabwe’s National ICT policy framework, Minister Mandiwanzira said there was need for a policy that would ensure that service providers focused on making the sector more efficient as opposed to investing in infrastructure. He said government through the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe would make direct efforts to ensure that service providers complied.
Currently, each internet or mobile service provider has to invest in its own transmission and signal boosting infrastructure which includes towers, cables, satellite and power back-up. Mobile phone service providers, Econet, Telecel and Netone would ordinarily set up three different towers in an area, while internet service providers, among them Tel One, Power Tel and Zimbabwe Online, have at different intervals laid cables for the provision of fibre.
While MISA Zimbabwe acknowledges the move as noble, it notes that the overall convergence of the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors would be the most ideal in enhancing efficiency in service delivery and regulation of the sector. MISA Zimbabwe’s Model ICT policy framework published in 2013 underlines the need for shared infrastructure through which multiple services are offered over the same infrastructure, translating to network efficiencies.
Converged networks allow operators to offer ‘triple play’ services, where subscribers can access telephony, the internet and television over a single broadband connection The current situation in Zimbabwe with the many services offered over wireless networks has resulted in spectrum congestion, hence the need for a single ICT policy and regulatory framework.
In South Africa for instance, SENTECH distributes electronic communications services and electronic communications network services for both the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors and reports to a single ministry, the Ministry of Communications. This is done under a converged legal framework.
It is MISA Zimbabwe’s considered view that convergence is the overall solution relating to the efficiencies of the sector overall. Convergence would not only bring broadcasting and telecommunications sectors under one regulatory roof but would also ensure effective operations. These include reducing barriers to entry for new operators and significantly cutting coverage costs and network operations.
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The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.