Exclusive: Zimpost to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

Zimpost, Zimbabwe’s government owned postal and courier company, will be launching a mobile virtual network soon. Techzim is reliably informed that the company is in the advanced stages of implementing the project and is awaiting only for the license from POTRAZ.

If implementation and licensing goes according to plan, Zimpost will effectively become Zimbabwe’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and compete against Telecel, NetOne, Econet and TelOne

A mobile virtual network operator is a mobile telecoms company that uses the hard infrastructure of existing companies to provide mobile phone network services to customers.

Telecoms regulations in Zimbabwe don’t allow yet for the existences of MVNOs but the regulator has said in recent weeks that it is finalising the regulation framework and will soon have a license class for such a business.

According to Techzim sources, Zimpost will use NetOne as its host operator, meaning that it will use NetOne network infrastructure.

Earlier in the year POTRAZ said that it was considering licensing 4 types of MVNOs:

  • Full MVNOs that own core network but needs regular mobile network operators for other network segments
  • Light-MVNOs  that have no core network, just has billing systems etc…
  • Branded Resellers that really just have branding and distribution channels, like the old Firstel
  • Mobile Virtual Network Enablers which will host a number of MVNOs but cannot itself provide services directly to consumers

It is not clear which type of MVNO Zimpost will launch. Techzim contacted Zimpost to confirm these developments and get more details but the company said it preferred not to comment.

Even though we refer to Zimpost as a postal & courier company, the truth is its postal business is no longer the only business it relies on. Zimpost diversified into other business, notably properties, thanks to owning lots of post office branches from its traditional business as well as properties once owned by the Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC). In total the company has 600 properties.

Zimpost is also in the local and cross border remittances,

Last year, Minister of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira, said that Zimpost needed to move away from relying on rental income  by being innovative.

If Zimpost succeeds introducing an MVNO, government will now own or have a stake in at least 6 licensed telecoms companies in the market:

  • NetOne – Mobile Network Operator – 100% ownership by gov
  • Telecel –  Mobile Network Operator – 60% ownership by gov with plans to make it 100%
  • TelOne Fixed telecoms operator and Internet Access Provider. Also has MNO license. 100% ownership by gov
  • Powertel – Internet Access Provider – 100% ownership by gov
  • Africom Internet Access Provider  – size of government stake unknown

One response

  1. methinking

    The Post Office might leverage its customers base to entice them to join the network, but the problem is that the post office is mainly used by people with little income and hence it can turn out to be a network of low income people which is what with this MVNO licence would not really make economic sense. However organisations or people that are guaranteed to be succesful in launching a MVNO will undoubtbly include Prophet Makandiwa UFIC or Prophet Magaya, If Magaya launches an MVNO network “miracle network” I see him selling close to a 100 000 thousand on one single day. in south africa we have prophet bushiri running a MVNO network which is popular amongst his followers. One thing that suprised me is that inorder to recharge airtime on the Prophet Bushiri network one simply recharge using CELL C voucher cards, I found that interesting and hope to see how Zim MVNO will fare

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