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Liquid group CEO, Rudnick, speaks on Infrastructure Sharing

Liquid Telecom Group CEO, Nic Rudnick, has made his views known on the current contentious issue of infrastructure sharing. The Zimbabwean entrepreneur and founder of Liquid Telecom spoke at a conference held in Rwanda this week where he said his company has seen “an effort to force compulsory sharing of infrastructure” in some countries and that they wonder why such policies are being implemented as it doesn’t make business sense.

A report by ITWeb Africa quoted Rudnick:

Our network has always been built as an open access network so it is available for anyone to use. It is our philosophy because we wanted to encourage the smaller ISPs to expand their business, use our infrastructure to service their customers in a way they wouldn’t be able to do on their own

We have seen in a small number of countries that there is an effort to force compulsory sharing of infrastructures.

Infrastructure sharing on a non-commercial basis like compulsory provision of components of the infrastructure and at lower prices than it cost to build it, one can only wonder why that kind of policy is being implemented.

I think that kind of sharing infrastructure is important because we don’t want to drive out the entrepreneurial and innovative companies that have been the foundation of the internet in Africa. I think if that is done with the right policies and on a commercial basis it’s workable

In Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless companies have generally viewed the infrastructure sharing initiative as a push by government to have state owned telecoms companies freeloading on the heavy infrastructure investment that the group has made over the years. In Zimbabwe, Liquid Telecom is majority owned by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe but the wider Liquid Telecom Group holds the management contract.

The Minister of ICT in Zimbabwe, Supa Mandiwanzira, has made it clear however that the government will move ahead with the initiative and that companies refusing to share will just be left out of the sharing arrangements moving forward. Sparring with the government ofcourse has its negative consequences especially in a sector as highly regulated as telecoms, and the Econet Wireless group is well aware of this.

The group is still reeling from the shock of sudden regulatory directives that effectively resulted in the mobile operation’s profits dropping 50% in the half year to August 2015. The company has also complained that the telecoms playing field has become uneven due to preferential treatment in licensing of competition by the government.

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24 thoughts on “Liquid group CEO, Rudnick, speaks on Infrastructure Sharing

  1. “….and that companies refusing to share will just be left out of the sharing arrangements moving forward…”

    Yeah right!! Our gvt have nothing to share besides debt and confusion.

    Mandiwanzira must pay all the call transfer fees his telcos owe then start talking. Otherwise he should go ahead and share infrastructure among his debt ridden telcos.

  2. Those guys always good at complaining and making press statements in the media. For all their hypocritical delusions they talk of forced sharing, who is forcing them? When they part of the negotiations and involved in input since 2014. Didnt they particicipate until the decond from last meeting after the draft was tabled? They always act like saints and as if the regulator is always after them. Since their input was captured they will be sucked into this infrastructure framework whether they like it or not and there is nothing they can do.

    1. They do complain a lot, and make a lot of progress which have made them one of the biggest telco in Zim.

      How many time have we have gvt owned companies cry loudest about sanctions. How much money was directors and CEOs of those companies were being paid.

      How many laws have our gvt forced through wether pple like or not with what results? We forced through a lot of laws(by the way land is non negotiable).
      We claim we have our all weather friends behind us. How many mega deals have we signed! How many are showing fruits!

      You know what, check how much our all weather friends have just signed with UK: £18billion to build 2 nuclear power stations.

      What a smack on the face when they claimed that they put their money where there is trust! Imagine if they can invest just a billion into our power things!!

      And you have a gvt which forces laws even if they are bad for business wether companies like it or not! And after that they go China to try and borrow money!

    2. And also check at the timeline of implementing the deals! They are starting building in 2wks time, now compare that to our deals we signed years ago, almost everything is yet to start.

  3. Agreed. But they should have made such noise and complaints on the negotiating table and make sure they make clear what they want. In business you negotiate from within and not run away and make press statements in foreign countries. This creates hostility in the process. I will believe Rudnick is serious when he pulls down his fibre from pylons and telone telephone lines. It goes to show he still needs cooperation from the state entities in laying fibre.

    1. What difference does it make when you hav a gvt that ignores its own laws, or only follow law when it suits them, when it doesnt, it changes it.

      I support his strategy! He is making the world aware of what happens in Zim, and if Zim needs world business investments, they do better respect rule of law.

      £30 billion is what China has signed now in UK starting immediately. That what happens when you respect your own laws. You create trust.

  4. Liquid actually shares to an extent its econet that the gvt is after. Isps whether they like it or nor were forced from the befinning to share that is ducts from telone pylons from zesa. Switching stations from powertel wimax from any iap.
    But as i say the gt should just force the debate but leave the actual signing and taruff negotiation to the 3 mobile networks.

    1. If its a business to business agreement no problem, let them agree and use each other infrastructure!

      Why cannt the gvt make law which force each telco to pay up call transfer fees! They cannt because it doesnt suit them, and by doing that you create mistrust in bizness.

  5. The call transfer fees were supposed to go down to 2 cents and later were going to be scrapped as per the long run incremental model that was agreed by operators. There is a regulation regarding call transfer but the negotiation and implementation is left to operators themselved hence the regulation is weak in that aspect. Potraz duty was to endorse what had been bargained by the operators themselves only.

    1. Im do not know what exactly was agreed. Did they agree to clear outstanding fees first then reduce prices to 2c then totally phase them out?

  6. Sharing is good if all the parties are bringing something on the table for the benefit of all,

    eg, someone brings bread, another one brings coffee, another one milk, another one eggs, another one margarine, another one sugar. Its evident all these guys are contributing towards their breakfast.

    Not a situation where someone brings a cup and his stomach, NO!, NO!, NO!, NO!

  7. Suprisingly with all the infrastructure that Econet has i dont see improved data speeds comparing and testing all service providers. I beg to differ that government owned Telcos are bringing an empty stomach. Telone has extensive fibre partucularly around Harare, which operators can utilise to connect their base stations. Netone has Stm64 capacity or put simply 1Gig capacity on fibre at these areas Nat stadium, chitungwiza, Pockets hill, Kuwadzana, Borrowdale, Entumbane, Ascot, Kopje , Msasa and 17 new areas currently under construction by Huawei. 728 Hops or sites of 200 megabytes per second access microwave and 60hops of 400 megabytes per second backbone microwave for transmission nearing completion by Huawei. 38 Add drop multiplexers under construction. Maybe the big hungry stomach will be Telecel and other players like Dandemutande.

    1. lf you look at the growth figures Kangai mentioned of bandwidth consumption, can you seriously go on the negotiating table and claim you have 1gig capacity to share around Harare and expect to come out with a good deal?

    2. With that kind of infrastructure I don’t see why they are”crying” to help Econet. Let them team up and give it a run for its money then.

  8. I bet Kangai is not worried about capacity to connect base station because on the current project about $40 million went towards transmission and he can simply ask sister Telone for back up fiber in case of emergency. What i think he may needs is towers, towers and towers to extend network to some areas and i think he might have had a way to reduce costs by rolling out Monopole base station as he is doing now. I saw one at Maranatha near Ashdown Park and i bet more are in the pipeline.

    1. why continue building more towers when the gvt is going to force through infrastructure sharing. Maybe Kangai knows better that it will never see the light of the day!!

  9. Firstly its not yet law and there were rollout plans already in place. Secondly u will remember that from the beginning Netone was not cooperating in sharing. It even dismounted Telecel’s equipment on its towers a couple of years back. Only Econet had the largest number of shared towers about 240 sites last year. Kangai was always claiming that different designs on towers and the fact that they were designed without the ability for sharing made it impossible. As such Potraz then advised that it will create a database of all towers in Zimbabwe and determine those that are fit for sharing. With regard for new towers to be built after the new law, they would have to stand on 4 legs and minimum height would be such that they can accomodate 4 operators and their different technologies 2G/3G/4G LTE. In such a scenario he cannot wait for infrastructure sharing when he is in the middle of a network rollout, hence the use of cheaper Monopole base stations. But these base station aredifficult to share with other operators.

  10. Richard, I think macd has a point. we are banished from doing business with the West but the Easterners are rushing to the West! Liquid (Econet) negotiated their deal with Zesa in good faith after the same government refused them to trench to Mutare. Zesa benefited in the form of cars and trucks to attend to faults in time. If you visit Liquid Telcom warehouse at High Glen you will see almost half the trucks there have Zesa logos. They were bought on that deal from South Africa.
    Zesa has not complained because they negotiated in good faith. While they were negotiating and rolling fibre network, NetOne was busy dishing out free contract simcards to party cadres.
    Even in Belvedere, Zol fibre is on the domestic powerlines. This is willing sharing not forced sharing.
    NetOne knows only flighting huge press adverts on party functions and galas.

  11. A case of sour grapes…that feeling when the teacher suddenly decides to change that hard test paper into an assignment.

    The studious student feels disadvantaged because he/she was well prepared for the exam.

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