Zim telcos receive additional spectrum at no charge
Telecommunications operators in Zimbabwe have received additional frequency spectra from the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for emergency use at no additional cost.
The spectra is only available until the end of 2020.
According to the regulator, each of the country’s three mobile network operators, Econet, NetOne and Telecel, have been allocated free wireless spectrum so that they can cope with increased demand for bandwidth brought by the global COVID-19 pandemic..
The Zimbabwe Research and Education Network (an association of tertiary institutions) was also awarded a free license to lower internet costs.
With measures to prevent the spread of the virus in place in the country, the regulator noted that there has been need to expand the capacity of the telecoms networks to cope with the surge in demand.
Gift Machengete, Managing Director of Potraz, said the regulator granted telecoms companies these new spectra so that they can increase their data capacities.
Subscribers in Zimbabwe had complained about the quality of local telecommunications services and the high cost of data services. While the regulator was making efforts to address these issues during the lockdown, operators announced price hikes in their service and resulted in a backlash from the public.
Local media reported that Econet raised its data price by 225%.
However, Machengete said Econet has not exceeded the cost limit of US$0.30 per MB that was set by the regulator and the company had been charging discounted bundles, and the regulator would therefore not direct the operator to lower or amend its data price.
According to the WHO COVID-19 Dashboard, as of 15 May 2020 there have been 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 4 deaths in Zimbabwe.
In early May 2020, Minister July Moyo, responsible for mobilising resources to fight COVID-19, revealed the country was seeking debt reliefs after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) refused to commit funds.