The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) says new regulations covering infrastructure sharing among the country’s telecoms operators will be sent to the ICT Ministry by the end of this week. It has emerged, however, that Zimbabwe’s largest cellular operator, Econet Wireless, and its Liquid Telecom subsidiary have withdrawn from the consultation process and have not signed off on the final draft of the new policy. There has been some speculation that Econet could be preparing to challenge the legislation, which will force it to open up its networks on a wholesale basis.
Last year the government called on domestic operators to share their network infrastructure such as mobile phone towers in order to reduce rollout costs and allow them to cut charges for end users. Econet, which controls 80% of equipment already in place across the country, responded by saying the move would be a ‘disguised, unconstitutional form of compulsory acquisition’ of its infrastructure, since its closest rival – and the likely main beneficiary of mobile network sharing – is state-owned cellco NetOne.