Viva Mobile, a Zimbabwean telecoms service that has been planning to launch as the country’s first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) has finally been given the go ahead by the industry regulator to start operating and will be going live in August this year.
According to Viva Mobile founder and CEO Dzidzai Chidumba, though they had anticipated a March 2016 market entry, they had to wait for final approval from POTRAZ, the local telecoms regulator.
In the meantime they had been operating Uhuru TV, a VOD service which will also be provided as a value added service for Viva Mobile.
Zimbabwe does not have any MVNOs and the regulatory framework that had been used for licensing new operators did not specifically accomodate such services.
POTRAZ has however worked on a converged licensing framework that will give room to operators that have specific services like infrastructure management as well as applications and content deployment via shared infrastructure arrangements.
As an MVNO Viva Mobile will be riding on existing telecoms infrastructure set up by another operator. Chidumba has confirmed that they are entering into this arrangement with Africom, something that they couldn’t reveal months ago even after some smart speculation from several observers.
This relationship does reveal quite a bit about Viva Mobile’s service in terms of coverage and network capabilities.
Africom, which operates on a CDMA network doesn’t have a footprint as extensive as competing broadband service providers, even in the city of Harare where all service providers generally focus more of their attention because of dynamics like market size.
This might create challenges for growth and competitiveness which would also affect options for service development, unless Viva Mobile enters into another infrastructure leasing arrangement with another provider.
POTRAZ has confirmed that there has been a growing interest from investors who are keen on exploring telecoms opportunities in Zimbabwe through MVNO licensing.
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