It seems that playground dynamics are also relevant in the world business. If you force any group of people to share, whoever makes the biggest contribution is bound to complain. So yes, we expected this to happen eventually. Yesterday, Econet Wireless issued a statement that took shots at the proposed infrastructure sharing arrangement that the Government has, of late, been aggressively pushing as the main agenda in IT.
Econet spoke out against a compulsory utilisation of its infrastructure by other service providers that haven’t made efforts to invest in their own networks in a way that Econet will be able to benefit. Part of the statement reads;
In our view, it is unfair to compel sharing of infrastructure where one party does not have the infrastructure that the other needs. That is tantamount to compulsory acquisition of infrastructure from one operator who has chosen to invest in infrastructure, for the benefit of another that chose to invest in other assets that are either not available for sharing, or that we do not need.
In Econet’s opinion, this isn’t fair and since Econet has made the most extensive investment in network infrastructure, this will translate to unbalanced benefits for other operators that have decided to use their capital for other things.
In a response to Econet’s statement, the Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira, has accused Econet of pretending to oppose infrastructure sharing when it actually benefits from resources it shares with operators like TelOne and ZETDC.
in an article in The Newsday, Supa Mandiwanzira is quoted as having challenged Econet to remove its installations on TelOne infrastructure. Similarly, Liquid, Econet’s sister company, has been challenged to remove its fibre optic cable on ZETDC pylons by Friday this week.
According to Mandiwanzira, If Econet complies within this time frame, the Government will take Econet’s position to reject infrastructure-sharing seriously. While sharing his concerns about overpriced telecoms services, the Minister also accused Econet of extorting consumers.
As a ministry, we are very concerned that data charges being levied on Zimbabwean subscribers, by most networks, especially Econet, are unjustifiable except when you are resisting infrastructure-sharing.
No mobile network, no matter how big or arrogant, should be allowed to grandstand in the media by pretending to be the protector of consumers when it is in fact extorting the consumers by its totally overpriced products.
This “sharing is caring” approach is hardly new. It’s what has been adopted globally in several markets. Locally the sharing discussion has been at the centre of talks on lower voice and data tariffs. POTRAZ has been handling dialogue between the operators and the State over this matter for years now.
The issue, however, took a more progressive turn last year when a new pricing model was proposed, together with lowered tariffs for voice communication that were put into effect at the begin of this year.
While we wait to see how Econet responds to this “dare”, what are your thought on this issue and government’s position? Is Econet justified to complain about this forced sharing arrangement? Should the Government adjust the proposal to accommodate Econet’s concerns?