POTRAZ licenses Zimbabwe’s fourth mobile operator, TelOne

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The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has revealed through Zimbabwe’s state owned daily, the Herald, that it granted TelOne a GSM mobile phone license late last year.

TelOne is Zimbabwe’s only fixed line operator and is owned by the government. TelOne becomes the country’s fourth mobile operator. The other three are Econet, Telecel and the state owned mobile operator, NetOne.

So far, it is not clear what the government’s strategy is in owning a second mobile operator when the existing one (NetOne) is visibly struggling to play in a field dominated by mobile giant Econet. Econet accounts for more than 65% of the total mobile subscribers in the country and is facing growing competition from its closest competitor, Telecel, the second largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers.

It could be the government is looking to draw in more telecoms investment in the country by attracting foreign investors to buy a stake in TelOne. Just last week, NetOne Managing Director Mr. Reward Kangai confirmed at the Euromoney Zimbabwe Investment Conference that NetOne was close to signing a deal for a 49% stake acquisition by South Africa’s MTN.

POTRAZ deputy director-general Mr. Alfred Marisa admitted that POTRAZ is aware that TelOne is not ready to launch mobile network any time soon due to financial constraints. POTRAZ has apparently been deliberately lenient with TelOne by not giving it a fixed timeline to roll out services.

Meanwhile, several Internet Access Providers in Zimbabwe are preparing to launch voice services in the coming months using a different technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Two operators, ZELLCO and Telco, have launched in the last few months and are reportedly working on interconnection deals with incumbent voice operators. Spiritage owned telecoms subsidiary, Valley Technologies is also preparing to launch its VoIP services soon. Other operators working on VoIP offerings include Africom and new entrant, Aquiva Wireless.



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20 Comments

  1. Cde. Valentine Nhunzvi

    So how does this benefit us? If they cannot even maintain their landlines, what makes anybody think they can run a cellphone network any better?

    Telone please sort out your basic telecom backbones and throughput first before wasting valuable tax $$$ on another venture. Inini i am tired of ma 33.6kbps lines when my brothers are hooking up ma10mbps with the Imperialists.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Ya, but the SA government didn’t own a mobile network already when Telkom launched 8ta. What’s the sense in owning 2 mobile networks?

      Reply
      1. ic0n1c

        World trends indicate a general shift to mobile communications. There is no point in concentrating on fixed when they can diversify and increase revenue base. The government is right, at least this will also increase competition and will most likely be the “hit” to lure investors into the ailing parastatal…

        Reply
        1. Tafmak is just saying

          If the government can’t operate one mobile operator what makes you so sure they can operate two. Competition is healthy market flooding is not! Because the telecom industry in Zim is young(relatively) and still capital intensive, the market must be split into larger chunks so that each market share can produce enough revenue for its operator to develop and maintain their network. If the market is too flooded and the market share insignificant no major investment will happen because the individual companies wont be able raise the required revenue from their tiny share of the market. Look at the Zim clothing sector, its so flooded no one can start their own local clothing brand and get a market share large enough to make their investment financially worthwhile and a force to be reckoned with.

          Reply
  2. Prince Shumba

    They destroyed maybe half of their market, by billing ridiculous ‘backdated’ amounts, can’t upgrade the existing fixed line network or compete with the cell. operators despite being much cheaper, why on earth do they want to create a mobile network (read – more complex decisions to be made)

    Reply
    1. onit

      they’ve also monopolised ADSL, having stopped all new applications processed through third parties. with their level of bureaucracy and service, i doubt they wld be able to implement reliable solutions.

      problem with some of these parastatals is the people they choose to head them. they have absolutely no strategy and their reasoning is not perceptive. they killed the goose just like zesa and many local councils. instead of counting on the volumes of fixed-line subscribers and bending backwards by coming to reasonable payment plans, they thought they could charge thousands and make a killing. instead, people just opted to have their landlines cut and will have nothing to do with TelOne once bills are settled. they are soooo stupid! with all that monopoly and infrastructure, they have failed to capitalise.

      Reply
    2. ic0n1c

      Not really Mr Shumba, the move is mainly targeted at attracting investors. As u are aware TelOne has for the past few years bn engaging various investors and consensus is that the fixed telecoms sector does require large investment and hence has a longer payback. however, mobile communications seem to be preferred as payback is shorter and infrastructural income required is low compared to fixed.

      Reply
      1. Tafmak3000

        Without delving into politics. Zimbabwe can forget about investors if we don’t know wether we want them or not. As far as investors are concerned our message is cryptic. We want to sell the cake and keep it!

        Reply
  3. Hakmula

    What everyone is saying is correct. Telone should have just cancelled everyone’s bills after the changeover from Zim dollars. Now, i cant count the number of people who are ignoring the thing. And those who are settling their bills are only doing so in order to get rid of telone. Go to their website and look at the frequently asked questions. Some of the answers over there are positively menacing. They just want their money, regardless of the fact that they are losing customers. And will they come after your property? Oh yes, but “as a last resort.” I advise people to pay up their bill. WHat they do with the service afterwards is up to them.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I’d differ a bit there. TelOne remains the network with the lowest call rates. Whether you’re calling to another landline or a cellphone. TelOne to TelOne calls are US $0.15 per minute. about 35% cheaper than the mobile networks.

      Actually, if anything, we need more people with landlines. Consider that if you’re an Econet (or NetOne or Telecel) subscriber, calling another Econet number is US$ 0.23 per minute, but calling a Landline is US$ 0.21 per minute.
      See: Short guide to Zimbabwe’s mobile and Internet connectivity

      Reply
      1. ic0n1c

        @Kabweza its actually $0.15 per unit for TelOne to TelOne and one unit is equal to three minutes. And I absolutely support your sentiments, having more people on landline could actually benefit us more as it will be cheaper for us to call.

        Reply
        1. Tafmak3000

          The fact that Telone wants THEIR money is not the issue! Don’t you want your money too? Maybe Telone should re institute the prepaid system for people who use more than they can pay for. The other problem is that Telone has stopped to market their service almost completely. Everyone I know of who doesn’t have a land line wants one if they could get it. The thing is all these have no idea how to get one or wether you can still get one. Some places have been disconnected for years due to cable theft and these people want to be re-connected. Telone should simplify the land line acquisition process, market it well and have multiple payment systems for different users. Part of that burden falls on third party middle men/persons who should come in and connect the consumer to Telone at Telone’s cost. Imagine a Dial a Landline service where you literally call or text a middle men/person to find out if you qualify for a landline and how much it will cost you depending on where you are and the type of connection you need, you then get the e-mail address where you send the proof of payment and the date and time you’ll be available at your place.On the day along comes the Telone Mazda BT50 with a technician ready to install the landline for you! I love this idea so much i’ll post it again!!!

          Reply
  4. justsaying

    I think this is another sad case of a Zimbabwean company taking the page right out of a foreign company’s book out of context and without much thought. I doubt much research was put into this. Telkom SA recently launched a mobile network after YEARS of research, planning, development and fund raising suddenly Telone seems to think they can pull a mobile network out of their ass. Considering that Net One is currently in the doldrums right now I think the Government should be cautious about starting another mobile network. Wasn’t the whole idea behind NETONE and TELONE an attempt to create a government controlled fixed and mobile telephone network in the first place? why re-invent the wheel? If anything so far parastatals have shown they are not capable, ready, in the mood or able to operate sustainably let alone competently. Lets get water running from every tap and the 7 o’clock Air Zim flight living on time before we start new mobile networks. Too much expectations little capability!!!

    Reply
  5. Tafmak3000

    Telone should simplify the land line acquisition process, market it well and have multiple payment systems for different users. Part of that burden falls on third party middle men/persons who should come in and connect the consumer to Telone at Telone’s cost. Imagine a Dial a Landline service where you literally call or text a middle men/person to find out if you qualify for a landline and how much it will cost you depending on where you are and the type of connection you need, you then get the e-mail address where you send the proof of payment and the date and time you’ll be available at your place.On the day along comes the Telone Mazda BT50 with a technician ready to install the landline for you! I love this idea so much i’ll post it again!!!

    Reply
  6. Receive

    This is kind of firefighting is really unacceptable, disgusting and should be condoned. If they can dismally fail to run fixed lines as a monopoly, what makes them think that they can make it in the big league.

    Reply

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