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8 interesting things from the new Infrastructure Sharing Regulations

The adopted draft Infrastructure Sharing Regulations agreement by POTRAZ has been made available on their website. These will be made active through a statutory instrument as amendments to the Telecommunications Act. From the last stakeholders meeting and the general document, here are a few notable points that may shed light on some grey areas in the debate.

Infrastructure Sharing is compulsory – All license holders shall share infrastructure according to set procedures whether independently or on instruction from the authority, POTRAZ. So yes, Infrastructure Sharing is compulsory in the broader sense. One can only refuse to share if it is technically impossible to do so, it goes against national security or it is likely to cause damage of the infrastructure in question.

Infrastructure holders may reserve capacity – Operators shall be allowed to reserve capacity for future expansion but the reserve capacity shall not exceed 50% of the spare capacity and it shall be for a maximum five years at a time. Some stakeholders, especially from the consumer pressure groups were even advocating for shorter periods

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First mover advantage – Before an operator sets up new infrastructure, they have to justify why they cannot use the infrastructure that has already been installed. In essence, those that already have infrastructure have the advantage though they have an obligation to avail that capacity to others, for a price of course.

First come first serve – The process tries to be fair in that the seeker who goes to the holder first will be served first even if it means capacity will run out afterward. TelOne cannot favor NetOne by processing their request preferentially if Econet has already applied. Sharing shall be impartial and nondiscriminatory.

Sharing Procedure – the seeker shall approach the holder with a request to share and the holder shall be required to respond to the request within fourteen days, failure of which the matter then escalates to POTRAZ. The holder can also advertise for expression of interest in leasing out infrastructure. POTRAZ may itself also direct players to share infrastructure where it is in national interest.

Independent assessment – Wherever the need arises for technical assessment, for example where there are disputes about available capacity, an independent engineer will be tasked with giving their professional opinion. If the parties are not satisfied, a panel made up of engineers from all operators may make an assessment and present recommendations. In that respect, a holder is obligated to disclose an infrastructure audit and impact analysis.

Quality of Service – The holder is obligated to ensure that QoS does not deteriorate for the seeker in a sharing arrangement. Any sharing parties shall also ensure that there is no reduction in the QoS, just in case they collude to prove a point.

Costs of sharing – When parties have agreed to share infrastructure, the seeker shall bear the costs of installations, disruptions and any eventualities. Where an operator has been instructed to share its infrastructure by the authority, they levy the cost of such a move onto the authority. With the in duplum principle, the charge for infrastructure shall not exceed the cost of the infrastructure. Also, the charges by the holder may not be levied in order to compensate for loss of business.


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31 thoughts on “8 interesting things from the new Infrastructure Sharing Regulations

      1. ZvemuZimbabwe zvakatooma. Zvese ndezve force. We were all forced to fuel our cars with Rottenbach’s ethanol and they were hiding behind the mantra ” we will save a lot of foreign currency” and “it will be cheaper for the consumers” but I am yet to meet a single consumer who has benefited.

  1. I hope some government operators are not expecting to ride on private player’s infrastructure for free!! otherwise it could wind up being a great disservice to general consumers.

  2. Read the draft regulations before you accuse gvt operators. U find someone commenting from an uninformed point of view yet Techzim has provided a link to download the regulations

    1. its called ‘he internet’
      (1) You don’t need to be an authority to comment.
      (2) You also don’t have to respond to every comment.
      You wouldn’t survive 1hour on twitter dude. keep calm and move on

  3. If Telecel & Netone were battling to pay exonerated owed interconnect dues I wonder if they will be able to pay for infrastructure sharing.

    1. telecel pays interconnect fees. they do not owe anyone. wat they owe is the license fees which they are paying in terms.

  4. just by saying infrastructure sharing is compulsory i see liquid and econet being disadvantaged. Liquid has so many free fibre cores and econet has loads of tower spaces…..no wonder why they pulled out of the debate.
    Lets wait to hear from Beatrice and Nyambirai. Thats where we are headed.

    1. I would say that depends on what you define as disadvante. The way I see it, there are two considerations for an investor:
      1. Recoup your investment i.e. get back your capital invested in infrastructure. It seems from the proposal regulations those who access infrastructure will pay for it. Someone on this article also pointed out that Econet and Liquid are not utilising all the capacity on their infrastructure. Sharing then allows them to recoup their investment in a shorter period of time.
      2. Creating an unassailable monopoly position which would allow them to extort economic rents from their customers. Whilst this would maximise their return, the economy will suffer. Its better to have a more competitive playing field than a monopolised one. To forestall potential objections, having a competitive market does not deter innovation or entrepreneurship, it actually fosters it.

  5. their first legal point of argument will be that the 137million dollar license they hold does not mention infrastructure sharing as compulsory

    1. u r ryt, econet can still win this matter in courts. lets pray 4 them to settle down their differences. as some1 mentioned above liquid has many free fibre cores in idle state. and i believe tht this guys failed to agree for two possible reasons either econet & liquid r being greedy by asking a hefty sharing fee tht disadvantgz their competitors or potraz failed to create a solution for privious interconnection fees and to giv the provider some muscle powers to disconnect thoz who will fail to settle their infrasharing rentals in future

      1. Not really yedu chete. Remember the net neutrality rule? The technological landscape is changing so the changes in the laws can be justified

    2. I think it is important to keep issues separate. What you are raising is the issue of ‘fairness’. However the law only concerns itself with issues of ‘justice’. This will likely not consider Econet’s disappointed expectations. In addition, the issue of winning this courts depends on legislation, which can be changed. The recent issue of three months termination is a case in point.

  6. We might as well start welcoming single mast base stations courtesy of Netone. No on to USF, wat next? Since we now share base stations.

  7. There are 3 Towns: A, B & C. The Bus routes are: A-B, B-C & C-A.

    There are 2 bus companies: X & Y. (There is no shortage of passengers)

    Company X has 15 buses, and places 5 on each route.

    Company Y has 4 buses, and places 2 on A-B, and 2 on B-C, but can’t afford to buy 2 more buses to service route C-A.

    Can someone please explain to me WHY Company X should be FORCED to carry passengers who have bought a ticket from Company Y?

    (I understand that Y will pay X for the passengers that are carried. Also Y can choose to accept this arrangement if it can see the benefits.)

    1. One of your axioms is false: There is no shortage of passengers. And also think of these companies as owning roads and not buses. Why should all the companies build a road C-A when one road is enough. Company X has already built a road C-A it would be in the interest of saving resources to share that road.

      The ideals of infrastructure sharing like those of land reform are sound my friend. What is going to be bungled is the implementation which in no doubt is going to be partisan and no doubt lead to disaster.

      1. Garikayi, thanks for the answer.

        However, if you put it in terms of roads, then while you are right that it would be wasteful to have multiple roads following the same route, you are not really answering the question asked.

        I only mentioned noted that there was no shortage of passengers, for this hypothetical scenario, to limit the scope of the answer.

        Admittedly, my example was not the best, but should be enough to see what I mean. I understand that Infrastructure sharing is a generally a good thing, that has benefits for all parties, I just don’t agree with forced sharing. If a network doesn’t want to share, surely they will soon realise that they are missing out on the benefits, and either change their mind or go bust.

        Shouldn’t we let the market decide?

        1. The ‘ideal’ of letting a market decide only works when there is ‘perfect competition’, which means a specific player (supplier or customer) cannot dictate price. This is not the case in this scenario.

  8. Econet won’t win.this in court coz the telecommunications act already provided for infrastructure sharing and now if the regulations are passed they won’t have an argument since they took part and had their input in creating these regulations only to chicken out at the last minute. All these factors weigh heavily against them. Infrastructure sharing will happen whether they like it or not and I see the other two operators capitalising coz Econet built angle iron towers whilst Netone built pole towers and some which are not feasible for sharing.

      1. I am inclined to agree. I am no expert legally but there could be merit in Econet saying I had legitimate expectation from the 137 million for A,B and C and I had made 10-year plans in tandem with the licence. This new requirement has a huge impact on those plans. As such operators including Econet should get some form of licence review compensation.

  9. It’s sad that the move to share infrastructure had to come from Potraz rather than voluntarily from the operators themselves. The benefits to end users of voice, data & telemetry services are numerous. In simple terms, if Operator A has 55% national coverage, B has 30% and C has 15%, ALL users will have 100% coverage service-wise. Operator A will have to ensure they get a good ROI on their shared infrastructure, that’s all. B & C will have to pay to ensure service to users on their grid get good QoS. The Zimswitch Bank payments/settlement model works in a similar way with a good, effective SLA in place.
    The mobile arena seems to be working and profitable for all players, my worry is the incessant power failures – these can undo all the mobile progress achieved so far, and there does not seem to be a long term plan to avert disaster.

    1. You might be wrong. From your coverage example, it’s is possible to still have 55% coverage after sharing. This is simply because the 30% and the 15% are within the 55% of the bigger guy’s coverage. What this means is that the 15% guy now has 55% coverage thanks to sharing.

      Just my thinking, might be wrong.

  10. Econet wont win if they challenge the constitutionality of this coz the constitution allows for universal access to cheap telecommunication services and the current regulations aim to promote nationwide coverage as well as cheap access to telecommunications through infrastructure sharing. Moreover their biggest undoing is that they participated in the process and contributed their input towards the draft which they later debated , only to chicken out at the last minute. they should not have participated if they wanted to moot a legal challenge. Potraz was clever in that it engaged all operators as well as the public and gvt in crafting this legislation. In essence it was was an all encompassing process.

  11. NetOne, Telecel and TelOne all three are technically insolvent have inadequate infrastructure for sharing plus the GVt being too broke to fund infrastructure for sharing, why forcing private property for sharing when ongoing infrastucture loans are de when all others are failing to payup interconnection fees plus full licences. The law will never see the light of day as those wishing to salivate on private property want free rides at the back of others the 51/49 dubius law and how many investors have brought their millions for us to loot to date, kujaira kudya zvearema mumabawa for masese iwe usina kana kobo, kubva kumba usina mari asi wotodhakwa kudarika vabva kumba kwavo zvikwama zvaka futa. manyangira dzaona muchadyaizvozvo. Others put their funds and others want sharing because they are too broke and can’t afford fresh capital anamai vamai venyu Potraz/Supa neZanu PF.

    1. Lets not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      1. Infrastructure sharing is good.
      2. Looting is bad.

      These are separate issues.

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