POTRAZ proposes $50k licence fee for MVNOs

HARARE – The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has proposed a full Mobile Virtual Network Operator licence fee of $50 000.

This comes as the telecoms sector regulator is agitating for 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.

Currently, the country utilises a technology specific licensing framework, for which operators pay $137, 5 million to get a licence that covers the full range of services that they are able to provide.

There are currently three mobile telecommunications operators in Zimbabwe, namely Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe.

Amendment to the current regulations will result in opportunities to offer licences to operators keen on exploring specific service lines like infrastructure management and applications and content deployment.

These types of licences will accommodate changes in telecoms and technology, especially the introduction of Mobile Virtual Network Operators.

In this respect, POTRAZ has proposed a schedule of licence fees for such operators, including $50 000 for a full Mobile Virtual Network Operator’s Licence; $30 000 for a Mobile Virtual Network Enablers Licence; $30 000 for a Light Mobile Virtual Network Operator Licence, and $1 000 for a branded Reseller Mobile Virtual Network Operators Licence.

Observers say these fees could help open up the sector – which has for decades been dominated by the three big mobile telecoms service providers – to smaller players.

The proposals are contained in a POTRAZ document, which is set to undergo stakeholder consultation during the course of this month.

POTRAZ is arguing that the sector’s “regulatory framework in the country should not preclude the introduction of any new service, applications or partnerships.”

The current regulatory framework was last reviewed in 2009 when mobile Internet (3G) and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) were introduced in the country.

It added that the introduction of MVNOs will be at the expense of the current operators, but instead will supplement their efforts.

“The introduction of MVNOs should not result in any reduction of revenue that would accrue to the Operators and Government when compared to a situation without MVNOs.

“MVNOs have the potential to go closer to the consumers than the MNOs because of their advantage arising out of the size and their focus at the retail end.

“The introduction of MVNOs should therefore benefit both the consumers and the Network Operators,” said POTRAZ.

Meanwhile, in recent times Viva Mobile, a local telecoms service, has expressed intent to become Zimbabwe’s first MVNO.

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