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Mobile number portability shelved in Botswana

Mobile operator network readiness assessment study recently done in Botswana has established that it’s not feasible to implement mobile number portability (MNP) in the country.

Transport and Communications Minister Thulagano Segokgo said the government has discarded plans to implement mobile number portability in the financial year 2020/2021.

“Operators have been encouraged to investigate other alternatives to MNP which include the promotion of over-the-top services and other disruptive technologies,” said Segokgo.

The development comes nine years after Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) mooted plans to introduce MNP.

At the time BOCRA said enabling mobile telephone users to retain mobile telephone numbers on switching from one mobile network operator to another will enhance competitiveness in the market.

National broadband

Segokgo added that implementation of the national broadband strategy is continuing, albeit with a limited focus on infrastructure development due to budgetary constraints.

He said the deployment of Tlokweng-Pretoria backhaul link is riddled with challenges.“My ministry is engaging with all relevant stakeholders to find a lasting solution to these challenges. Once the link becomes operational, we expect a reduction in transit cost for internet traffic going and coming into Botswana.”

He said the current transit costs are exorbitant and consequently prohibitiv0, for the government to provide Batswana with universal affordable services.

To date, the total number of villages connected to broadband network has increased to 185 localities after the completion of the three links, namely Kang- Hukuntsi, Letlhakeng- Kaudwane and Hukuntsi- Charleshill.

Segokgo said provision of broadband connectivity will be extended to new villages through the Lobatse- Kanye, Metlojane- Jwaneng and Sherwood-Point Drift- Sefophe projects, though the government has warned of delays as a result of workflow disruption due to COVID-19.

Segokgo said reticulation broadband connectivity in the form of fibre optic and wireless radio microwave has been rolled out to over 70 localities.

“This has allowed for broadband connectivity to be rolled out to nearly 4, 000 government offices and commercial areas. The deployment of optic fibre in the last mile in Gaborone has been completed as planned. The project has extended broadband connectivity to 1500 offices and commercial areas,” he said.

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