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Full Text of ZOL Press Statement on “Potraz accused of inaction”

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Below is the full text of ZOL’s press statement we got hold of earlier today. The statement is in response to the article published in the Sunday Mail of 10 October 2010, titled “POTRAZ Accused of inaction” The statement will likely be in the press tomorrow or Friday. We posted an article about this issue early today.

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ZOL Attacked

  • Once again ZOL has been attacked in the press, on this occasion in the Sunday Mail.
  • The Sunday Mail reporter did not contact ZOL prior to publication, despite mentioning ZOL 6 times, and therefore we were unable to defend ourselves and put the facts straight. Obviously their article was not sufficiently verified by the reporter concerned, and as a result contains a lot of false information.
  • The article names ZOL as one of the “unscrupulous players” in a letter attributed to Shadreck Nkala, said to be the Chairman of ZIAPA (Zimbabwe Internet-Data Access Providers Association).
  • ZOL denies all the allegations and will take this opportunity to set the record straight and explain who we are and how we operate.
  • Shadreck Nkala is not the Chairperson of ZIAPA – a major point missed by the Sunday Mail reporter. We have spoken to several members of ZIAPA and they say they have no knowledge of this letter and did not authorise Shadreck Nkala to write such a letter making these allegations against ZOL.
  • Shadreck Nkala is the Chief Executive of Telecontract, a company that has a long-standing vendetta against ZOL, and he and his team have personally spent the last 7 months maligning ZOL wherever possible.
  • Telco kicked ZOL off their network in March 2010, after ZOL refused to pay charges which were exorbitant and unapproved by POTRAZ.
  • In March 2010, Telco wrote to POTRAZ alleging various illegal activities by ZOL, and POTRAZ investigated this. We answered all questions put to us by POTRAZ satisfactorily and that was the end of the matter. POTRAZ did not bring any charges against ZOL. The fact that POTRAZ responded to the Telco complaints very clearly shows that POTRAZ does indeed take action. The fact is Telco was not happy that we were found to be in compliance.
  • Not satisfied with this, two months ago the Telco Legal Officer, Mr Blessmore Maenzanise, made a frivolous report about ZOL to the ZRP Licence Inspectorate – again peddling the same allegations including those alleged in the Sunday Mail letter. A ZRP officer visited ZOL and asked a number of questions which we answered fully. The matter ended there and no charges have been brought against ZOL.
  • ZOL uses POTRAZ Type Approved Wireless Access Points (APs) to broadcast wireless signals in cafes, hotels, office parks, and shopping centres to connect people to the Internet using the wireless built-in to every modern laptop and cell phone. There is nothing illegal about this service.
  • ZOL resells the VSAT services of a licenced Internet Access Provider (IAP). Our services are legal and comply with all necessary legislation.
  • ZOL is fully committed to operating within the bounds of the law and complying with all legislation. We submit ourselves to the relevant authorities to verify this compliance.
  • It is a great pity that Shadreck Nkala and his team at Telecontract persist in making these false allegations as a result of their vendetta and we must caution the press in accepting Telecontract’s allegations at face value without taking reasonable steps to verify the truth of their allegations.

About ZOL

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  • ZOL is an Internet Service Provider (ISP). We are not an Internet Access Provider (IAP).
  • ZOL is one of the largest ISPs in Zimbabwe and have been operating for over 15 years. We are proudly 100% Zimbabwean owned and operated.
  • As an ISP (rather than an IAP), ZOL cannot own or operate its own International links and last mile links. We can only sell Internet Services, not Internet Access.
  • Like every ISP in Zimbabwe, we buy our access services from IAPs licenced by POTRAZ.
  • The advantage is we are not aligned to a single IAP, and we can negotiate and choose the best possible options, which we can then mix and match from IAPs to give our customers the best possible price and service.
  • The disadvantage is we do not control the link to your house or office back to ZOL. When your Internet is slow or down, 95% of the time it is due to the Access provider and we have no control over that.
  • ZOL sells nearly 700 mbps of Internet bandwidth a month, hosts over 3,000 domain names, runs 55 servers in 3 continents, employs 82 staff in 4 offices nationwide and our Network Operations Centre (NOC) and support desk is open 24/7/365 – well 366 days in a leap year!

About ZOL VSAT

  • ZOL is proud of the VSAT service we sell. We have over 100 connected clients on our VSAT service and they enjoy a fast and reliable Internet connection.
  • We have sold VSATs to many businesses, home users, senior Government officials, Government Ministries, United Nations, rural schools, mines, NGOs and remote hospitals.
  • The VSAT service we sell is operated by a POTRAZ licenced Internet Access Provider in which we have great faith.
  • Our VSAT service through this IAP is in full compliance with applicable laws – and that includes the Telecommunications Act (Chapter 12:05) and the Interception of Communications Act (Chapter 11:20).
  • In April 2010, POTRAZ requested ZOL to stop installing VSAT ourselves, as we do not have a VSAT Installers licence. So now ZOL subcontracts VSAT installations to experienced licenced installers.
  • ZOL does not operate or own any VSAT system itself.
  • A satellite service communicates with a satellite in the sky and by definition bypasses land-based infrastructure. This means they are not susceptible to local power cuts, local network outages, or local congestion. Our previous comments in this regard have been misconstrued to spread alarm about security risks and possible contraventions of the Interception of Communications Act.
  • The VSATs that ZOL sells do not endanger State Security, and do not bypass the Interception of Communications Act and do comply with all other legislation.

About ZOLspots

  • ZOLspot is our own brand of Wi-Fi hotspots run by ZOL.
  • Wi-Fi operates in more than 220,000 public hotspots and in tens of millions of homes and corporate and university campuses worldwide.
  • Wi-Fi networks have limited range – a typical wireless access point has a range of about 30 meters indoors and 100 meters outdoors. Wi-Fi essentially replaces physical cables in a local area network.
  • ZOL has over 100 ZOLspots that are enjoyed by approximately 15,000 individual users every month. For many of them it is their sole means of Internet access.
  • ZOL uses 2.4 GHz Access Points (not base stations as alleged in the article) to connect Wi-Fi users. An Access Point simply enables a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) which replaces Ethernet cables.
  • The equipment we use has been Type Approved by POTRAZ for operation in Zimbabwe and POTRAZ are aware of how these hotspots are working and they are not illegal as alleged.
  • As part of our commitment to national development and empowerment we provide Internet access for all, regardless of means, by giving every user 15 minutes of free high-speed Broadband per day. You only have to visit a ZOLspot with a Wi-Fi enabled device (laptop, cell phone) to enjoy this service. We also offer a 50% discount on usage outside of business hours.
  • Many of our busiest ZOLspots are connected via fiber which is owned by the IAP. Individual users can often reach speeds of 5 mbps – that is nearly 100 times faster than dialup and faster than an average home broadband link in the USA!
  • In total our ZOLspots deliver approximately 10 mbps of bandwidth at peak – that’s more than the total bandwidth some ISPs even buy!


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One thought on “Full Text of ZOL Press Statement on “Potraz accused of inaction”

  1. I am alarmed at the country’s laws regarding the ISM band and would welcome comments from the industry.
    Firstly, I just do not see the rationale of making ISM band solely available (technically so) to IAP’s when this last mile connectivity does not demand heavy investment in infrastructure and human capital. For regulatory purposes, yes, I agree the providers of WiFi should be licensed and an industry self-regulatory body like WAPA in South Africa should be formed in ZImbabwe to help enforce behaviour and adherence to the country’s laws. But to outlaw the ISM band – essentially the current laws do not provide for outdoor wireless connectivity for more than a few metres – is hardly logical reason to assist IAPs meet their bottom line after doling out millions in IAP license fees. The obvious downside to this statute is to deny Zimbabweans choice in a technology that is widely used globally. RF pollution in the 2.4 GHz range has been successfully managed elsewhere by hybrid or dual band solutions using the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The country stands to benefit from a 2-tier system where IAPs are the wholesale bandwidth providers to (W)ISPs who retail the bandwidth to the public where they they can use WiFi last mile connectivity. Besides, WiFi connectivity is not all about Internet, but is a rapid and cheap deployment local or wide area networking architecture in places like farms, factories, mines etc.

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