Three days ago, the Zimbabwe Mail, a local news website ran a story titled “TelOne on the brink of collapse”. The story accused the TelOne management of running down the fixed line telecoms operator due to “gross-mismanagement in the face of stiff competition from mobile phone operators”.
Here’s a summary of the issues pointed out in the article:
- TelOne is failing to service high priority infrastructure like that used by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) aerodromes in Mutorashanga and Rusape.
- Management is reluctant to restore fixed lines to full capacity in areas like Chitungwiza where only 3,000 of the 7000 lines are active.
- There has been poor human resources management at TelOne, which has resulted in a bloated unskilled workforce (a lot of clerks) and loss of skilled manpower to competition.
Today, TelOne issued a response to the allegations through the press. TelOne basically refutes some of the issues raised. It also admits that there are some infrastructure problems with high priority business customers like the CAAZ but that all parties are fully aware that the problems are being worked on.
The press statement, titled “Update on operational activities”, also references projects that have been carried out successfully in recent months in a bid to show just how much progress the Runhare House executives have registered to date.
Here’s the full text of the TelOne press statement:
TelOne like most utilities has not been spared the scourge of copper thefts and infrastructure vandalism which resulted in most areas losing telecommunication services. Load shedding has also affected the performance of our telecommunication plant.
Lately, TelOne has embarked on a number of projects o upgrade the network as well as introduce new services to the market. Some of the recently commissioned projects are:
- The optical fibre cable between Harare and Mutare creating super highway to the rest of the world through the EASSy undersea cable. This project has ushered in affordable internet broadband to the nation.
- To compliment the above project TelOne has also rolled out (an) IP Metro network in Harare and Bulawayo to provide ADSL and high speed data communication.
- TelOne also invested in a wireless solution (CDMA) to mitigate the problem of cable thefts and vandalism.
- To address remote inaccessible areas, TelOne commissioned the latest state of the art VSAT system.
- In addition to the above, TelOne has entered into an agreement with the one of the major Telecommunication equipment suppliers to renew all the exchanges and transmission equipment countrywide thereby introduction more services.
TelOne and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) have a cordial working relationship and hold meetings from time to time to update each other on matters of common interest. The problems of Mutorashanga and Rusape have been flagged in these meetings and both parties are actively working on remedial solutions. TelOne is working on a network mordenisation programme that involves the replacement of antiquated equipment to address not only CAAZ issues but customers countrywide.
In Chitungwiza the exchange is equipped to carry up to 7,200 lines of which 7,038 have been subscribed/sold to customers. Of these, 2,162have been temporarily suspended as a inducement for the customers to settle their accounts, most of which have been outstanding for over two years. Just over 1,000 lines are not working because of infrastructure vandalism. TelOne is actively working to restore the vandalised lines despite repeated and continued theft of cables in this area.
There was service disruption on 16 August, 2011 and Karoi, Mhangura and Makuti which resulted in loss of traffic to and from these areas. Telephony services have since been restored as of 25 August, 2011.
TelOne, like any organisation in Zimbabwe, has had its own fair share of losing some skilled personnel. Telecommunication technician and engineer training in Zimbabwe is solely provided by TelOne. Therefore, the telecommunication industry in Zimbabwe depends on TelOne for their technical skill requirement.