NetOne is not taking the blow they suffered from Econet yesterday lightly. In a press notice released today, the state owned mobile operator has threatened to have Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s board and management arrested over the termination of interconnection services between the two mobile operators that Econet carried out yesterday.
After the termination, NetOne made an application to the Zimbabwe High Court to compel Econet to restore the interconnection services. The services have been restored. NetOne says however that it “believes that Econet and its management have committed a criminal offence by unlawfully and willfully impending the transmission of communication services between customers of both networks,” an offence that the state owned operator says it will be reporting to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
NetOne also says in the notice that Econet’s termination of Interconnection services yesterday was a threat to national security.
As for the reasons NetOne won’t pay the debt that Econet says it owes, the notice explains that an appeal it made to the Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development has to have its issues determined first. NetOne says it appealed against the current interconnection regime as it favours what is referred to as Sender Keeps All (SKA), an arrangement that doesn’t require operators to pay each other for telecommunications traffic exchanged between their networks. This, NetOne argues, will allow the price of telecommunications to drop for subscribers as the savings on the fees will be passed on to them making calls at least as low as 16 cents per minute.
NetOne also says in the notice that the appeal they made (them and state owned fixed line operator, TelOne) resulted in POTRAZ suspending all interconnection negotiations pending the determination of the issues. The company says therefore that since the last interconnection agreement between them and Econet had expired back in 2006 (or 2007, it’s not clear), they technically do not have an agreement to pay each other interconnection fees.
As things stand, the parties are supposed to remain technically interconnected pending the determination of the appeals currently before the Minister and the approval of the new agreements by POTRAZ in accordance with the provisions of Section 61 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act.
NetOne also used the opportunity to call out Econet for what it says is denying users of telecommunication services in Zimbabwe the same services that Econet claimed to fight for when they established the company:
Ironically, Econet were in the forefront of fighting for liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in Zimbabwe on the pretext of offering the people of Zimbabwe a choice on the means of communications and yet they are now denying the same members of the public an opportunity to call whatever network they wish. Their unilateral and unlawful action is tantamount to denying the same members of the public that same choice that they claim to have been fighting for
We will be posting the full text of the NetOne notice shortly.
update: Here’s the full text of the NetOne public notice.