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Minister Of ICT Urges Mobile Network Operators To Increase Free WiFi Zones

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Newly appointed ICT and Cyber Security Minister, Kazembe Kazembe is setting his sights on seeing urban areas well-mapped out with free Wi-Fi zones. With many Zimbabweans owning gadgets, constant connectivity is fast becoming a necessity.

Minister Kazembe Kazembe seem to understand this no wonder he is urging Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to increase free Wi-Fi zones. Speaking about the need to increase to increase broadband access countrywide, the Minister said;

Through the Universal Service Fund, we hope for the expansion of broadband access to underserved areas of the country.  Moreover, to build on the penetration of mobile broadband, the Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services is urging Network Operators to increase roll-out of 4G mobile broadband.  We also urge the same network operators to consider expanding setting up of Free WiFi Zones in public spaces in urban areas

Free public Wi-Fi zones are needed in Zim

Free Wi-Fi access zones are laudable initiative since it will most probably lessen the digital divide Zimbabwe. A digital divide is when some members of their communities are being left behind because they don’t have access to the internet or computers. Yes, laptops and smartphones many people have those now but connecting those devices to the internet is more of a hurdle in Zimbabwe. Forget about inadequate network coverage in some places in Zimbabwe, the price of data (internet) is limiting the number of people who can fully access the internet. Data is pricey in Zimbabwe, we have the second most expensive data in Africa as I write now. Consequently, this makes it needful to introduce more Free wi-fi zones.

MNO’s may not be willing

With the continued decline of voice call revenues and the increased reliance on data revenues by MNO’s, I can hardly contemplate MNO’s wanting to enter this space of offering free Wi-Fi when they want people to buy data. In fact, in the near future, data will be the lynchpin of MNO’s revenues as the world witnesses increased digitization. So, it doesn’t make sense for them to subsidize or offer for free what will be integral to their revenue and bottom line in the near future.

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One thought on “Minister Of ICT Urges Mobile Network Operators To Increase Free WiFi Zones

  1. Very positively laudable proposition. To make it practical for the MNO’s it may be recommended that part of The USF contribution by MNOs be allocated to the bandwidth for the “Free Wi-Fi hots spots. The utilisation of USF should not and has never been defined as being strictly for infrastructure procurement. The Fund could well be used to facilitate bandwidth access for the poor who have put so much effort to acquire the required gadgets as well. The current Infrastructure focus on utilisation of the fund will only make signal available in a wider geographic area, but end game is to have the PEOPLE have access to the signal that has so far been made available, without necessarily compromising the MNO’s that much. Of course, “special rates for such applications will need to be negotiated between Potrz and the MONO’s

    An even more innovative proposition would be help City Authorities to attract vendors and their customers to The Designated Vending areas by making Free WiFi available in those vending areas. Vendors are a disadvantaged population just like the rural folk. So, the application of the free wifi facility by USF in these areas will solve two problems :
    1. Help reduce resistance by both vendors and their customers from moving out of the CBD to designated areas
    2. Providing increased access to bandwidth for the lower end of the population.

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