Zimbabwean telecoms regulator, POTRAZ, has reduced the cost of Virtual Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) annual landing rights fees from $1,500 to $30 for C and Ku Band and $20 for Ka Band respectively. This was published in the latest Government Gazette SI Instrument 87 of 2015.
In addition, the annual cost of fees for portable satellite phones has been pegged at $200 for both MSS and BGAN Terminals.
Earlier, in 2014 POTRAZ had again reduced the fees from a ridiculous $36,000 to the current $1,500 before this new interjection. POTRAZ had showed in spirit that it was agreeable to further lowering the costs and considering review after they relaxed policing of the fees payments.
The main reason behind this reduction could have a lot to do with minimising the cost of internet to the end user in provision of internet to remote areas by ISPs and in respect of the government’s own projects to bring connectivity to the rural communities.
The government’s Community Information Centres are a beneficiary of such initiatives where the most sensible and justifiable connectivity options are VSAT. In fact as part of its USF initiatives, POTRAZ has recently called for tenders for VSAT installation in 60 rural schools. Rural schools, growth points, tourism areas, mining areas, farms and hospitals are the second beneficiaries.
So why is POTRAZ doing this now? In addition to the long existing need for connectivity to spread beyond the urban areas, there has been a serious distrust of how POTRAZ was using the USF. This is actually a quick win for it and probably a way to try and activate the computerisation and connectivity campaign in tandem with the ICT Minister’s energetic approach.
This could also be a genuine coincidence of regulations that were long in the making coming to a conclusion in order to accommodate new and old players.Whatever the case, this is a welcome initiative and can go a lot to improve internet connectivity in rural areas.