Two weeks ago we posted that Ecoweb was going to start offering VSAT services. Ecoweb has since made it public that they will be launching their VSAT operations soon.
This is welcome news to many organizations such as mining companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and tourism companies with operations in Zimbabwe’s most remote areas where fixed telecoms infrastructure is either rundown or just not there. Currently, to operate a VSAT system the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ, website currently down) requires such entities to apply for a Private Data Network license whose operational fees are a staggering US $42,000 per annum. Needless to say, many organizations cannot afford this and have had to stay the project or resort to illegal cheap VSAT installations.
With an uplink capacity of 1.15 Mbps and downloads of up to 60 Mbps Ecoweb claims its VSAT will be the “highest performance, star based VSAT system for service providers, ISPs, and corporate network managers who are seeking a system based on DVB-S2 standards”. It remains unclear how the VSAT links will be priced but judging by their current broadband charges, I wouldn’t hold my breath for this if not financially well endowed. Still, one hopes the total cost is lower than the prohibitive VSAT + PDN license fees POTRAZ is demanding.
Along with a few other operators, Ecoweb has an Internet Access Provider (IAP) license which allows them to resell International bandwidth to ISPs and consumers. POTRAZ has since indefinitely suspended issuing any more such licenses. Currently class A licenses (A type of license that allows an Internet Access Provider to sell international bandwidth and provide other services like VoIP and Video) have been issued to Africom, Data Control and Systems (this here is Ecoweb), Powertel and Telecontract. Little known Com IT and Valley Technologies have class B licenses which according to POTRAZ are basic internet access provision.