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Zimfon’s VoIP service does not comply with regulatory requirements, says POTRAZ

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Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Deputy Director General, Alfred Marisa
Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Deputy Director General, Alfred Marisa

Following the announcement of the new Zimfon VoIP service, there’s been a lot of discussion both online and off about the legality of the service against Zimbabwe’s telecoms regulations. So we contacted POTRAZ to get their view on it and that view is that Zimfon is not in compliance.

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The service, according to POTRAZ deputy director Alfred Marisa, is currently under investigation as they don’t feel it complies with the telecoms regulations. “All we can say for now is that, regrettably the Zimfon service does not comply with a number of our requirements,” said Marisa, “We were already investigating this service and so far we have too many unanswered questions.”

Marisa also said expressed concern with the Guroo service and basically said they are investigating it too. Zimfon provides the VoIP service in partnership with Africom, who have their own VoIP service called Guroo. Guroo in many ways is similarly structured. “We have also been engaging Africom over their Guro-o product to satisfy ourselves that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure that the service is not used as a conduit for refilling international traffic, among other things” Marisa said.

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Contacted for comment, a Zimfon representative said they need to go over this development as a company first before responding. An Africom Senior Executive however gave us some general comments about their Guro-o VoIP service and partnerships they have with companies like Zimfon:

Guroo is a cross platform voice service that allows anyone to call any number at very low cost.

Guroo is founded under the premise of contributing to the growth of our economy. You will realize that every call is a local and there is an element of taxpaying to local country( Zimbabwe) despite where you are using it from.

With the growth and penetration of application based smart devices, there is no way where voice applications could be ignored and we are excited that we have our own from Africa.

The model for guroo allows for resellers from local and international under an arrangement that can be worked on and any company is free to approach. The reseller arrangement is not far from what exists even with Africom products and any other telecoms products where there is a commission model.

In short, they don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they are doing. Which is quite expected. The issue of routing international calls via a local VoIP operator and then channeling them to other local operators as local calls has come to the fore a few times these past few years. There have been cases where operators have fought off (through POTRAZ and the courts) startups attempting to or caught doing this. Some have even been arrested for it in cases mostly instigated by the largest mobile telecoms company in the country, Econet. We’re guessing they’d feel they lose the most revenue in the country to the traffic refiling and would keep alert to suspiciously excessive traffic coming through to their network from some sources.


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23 thoughts on “Zimfon’s VoIP service does not comply with regulatory requirements, says POTRAZ

  1. Hello World !
    This was opening a can of worms . Stolen projects dont usually take off well.

  2. This Potraz is anti-people. They are happy for us to pay $0.25C a minute minimum to call zimbabwe mobile.

    There is nothing wrong with Guroo.

    Now they require your ID number to open a new account, closing the porous gap in the system

    1. Portraz is lead by progressives from what i know. People who all use and see the skypes, bbm, whatsapp technologies. They all use them and like those technologies. knowing most of the guys personally (very good friends of mine) smart pro progress guys so im sure they will embrace their own Zimbabwean innovations that are brought forward. Why wouldn’t they wouldn’t make sense. We cant always be behind the MPESAs of the world

    2. As far as I can tell, Zimfon is operating outside of Zim’s borders. Their partner (Africom) is duly licensed. Perhaps Mr. Marisa would like to comment on who well Skype, WhatsApp and Viber “comply with the regulations”.

      1. Actually even Africom is not allowed to carry international traffic according to their 2Million dollar license. Its clear in their license! Get a new license

        1. I do not know which licence you had but the one I read from POTRAZ says a VoIP operator in Zimbabwe is licenced under the same conditions as conventional telephony operators [Statutory
          Instrument 262 of 2001 of the Postal and Telecommunications (Internet
          Services) Regulations of 2001 section 12 (1)].If Telone can carry an international call, then Africom should be able to.

  3. You know your beloved country is in the wrong hands when the guy who’s supposed to provide the answers says:

    “… so far we have too many unanswered questions.”

    1. Wow… Im 100% certain VOIP is not illegal in Zim. Its actually licensed and within regulatory framework. This is quite baffling from a governing body…

      1. I think the challenge facing POTRAZ is becoming technically knowledgeable in these matters. No use saying that we have unanswered questions on matters you have no idea what they are all about. Some issues like this can become very technical and needs people of know how to interpret what exactly is going on here.

        Another huge problem is that the laws are so old, they have not been amended to include such new technology. The IT and telcom laws need to be reviewed on a regular basis to control/manage such new services and goods coming out left right and center. Skype is allowed but I am sure they have agreements with the local telecom providers of each country to route their calls to landlines/cell phones.

        1. u r missing the point, every technology is catered for in the licensing structure, there r various telecoms license classes, to be able to carry international traffic Africom needs a diff license. Ive dealt with Potraz before, it is full of engineers from Africom, Liquid, Econet etc and u think they dont even know the technicalities of VoIP. The regulator does not just jump to penalise, they act like the judge, they give time for submissions from the operators involved, these r the unanswered questions being toked abt

  4. Technology is supposed to make life easier for people. Its unbelievable how much we have to pay for calls both within Zim and from abroad. We should embrace technology to the maximum and we shouldnt worry about wether Econet is going to loose business as a result. In this technological age they should also innovate to survive and I am sure they know that. POTRAZ should be putting in place measures to protect consumers not necessarily the established companies. The future is traditional will be no more and they will be replaced by much cheaper VOIP and POTRAZ should encourage it more. My only worry is how much we can trust Zimfon. What guarantees do we have our credit cards wont be abused intentionally or otherwise, what kind of recourse will the consumers have. Are they properly registered in Zimbabwe as a company and ISP?

  5. They should have marketed in America and GB and ensure it doesnt get publicity this side, because only Zimbos in those countries were going to benefit. You know our protective laws. They are very sceptical about all this. Some have been running under ground with great success. Lets pray Potraz will show them how to do it without crossing its path

  6. Off course these little boys have messed up, but I think POTRAZ as well should revise its ways of operating. TOO MUCH oppression. Voip utilization in other countries is very flexible. With Skype, you can buy a South African number instantly, but you cant buy a Zimbabwean number the same way. Potraz, from the monies it collects, should also invest into a platform that allows people to have freedom in their communications. Anything that benefits the majority is wrong in the eyes of POTRAZ.

    1. The reason why you cannot buy a Zimbabwe number with Skype is because Skype isn’t interested – its existing choice of phone numbers is limited compared to other VoIP providers. I got an 086 VoIP number from Guro-o, which is cheaper to call from outside Zimbabwe than a mobile, but the line quality was terrible – people living abroad would rather pay 55 cents a minute for a quality line.

      The Guro-o website is a mess – the email address contactcenter@guro-o.com doesn’t work.

      Of course it would be better if VoIP services in Zimbabwe could use geographic numbering as is the case in most other places, especially as it’s far less used than mobile numbering – even landline numbers in Harare are still only six digits long.

  7. Mr Marisa states that there is lack of compliance but does not state how. I think POTRAZ is clueless.As usual

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