Zimbabwe’s telcos agree to share and share alike
MNOs in Zimbabwe have reached consensus on infrastructure sharing following years of intense negotiation.
According to official sources, Econet, NetOne, and Telecel are now sharing over 260 transmission sites in compliance with the infrastructure sharing policy introduced by the Zimbabwe government in 2016.
NetOne plans to leverage Econet Wireless’ footprint, while Econet will utilise Netone’s infrastructure to extend its reach in untapped areas.
Post and Telecommunication Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) Director-General, Gift Machengete said this week: “I can tell you [that] all the mobile companies are now sharing over 267 sites through commercial swap arrangements”.
He added: “The three mobile operators are leasing tower space from TelOne. The infrastructure sharing has also gone beyond telecoms, as the companies are leasing towers from the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Transmedia, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and local authorities - tower lights and high-rise buildings.”
According to Machengete internet firms PowerTel and Liquid are also using available infrastructure to expand their fibre networks, with PowerTel laying its national fibre backbone on existing electricity pylons.
Prior to its decision to share its infrastructure with NetOne, Econet Wireless has maintained that sharing infrastructure “would be interesting and profitable for all”, but dependent on operators first investing in infrastructure in different regions.
“This would avoid duplication in the extension of the network because the various operators could densify their respective coverage by pooling their different telecommunication infrastructures,” the operator said.
The concept of infrastructure sharing by mobile companies is still developing in Africa, but has gained traction in Europe.
According to ICT expert Brighton Musonza, Orange and Vodafone share infrastructure in the United Kingdom and in Spain.“The sharing of the infrastructure by Orange and Vodafone was meant to reduce capital and operating costs by 30%.”