Govt gazettes infrastructure sharing law
THE Government has gazetted Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 137 of 2016 making it compulsory for telecommunications operators to share infrastructure.
Statutory instruments are a form of legislation that allow the provision of an act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new act.
The new regulation was gazetted on Friday November 4, 2016, in Harare after consultation with the telecoms regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
The objectives of the SI are: “To eliminate unnecessary duplication of telecommunication infrastructure and to maximise the use of existing and future telecommunication infrastructure.
“To minimise negative public health, safety and environmental impact caused by the proliferation of telecommunication infrastructure installations and to promote the orderly and effective town and country planning in the provision of telecommunication services.”
The new S.I. also seeks to ensure the provision of sufficient telecommunication infrastructure in the country.
Potraz will oversee all issues concerning infrastructure sharing, which include carrying out infrastructure audits and identifying infrastructure to be shared, as well as enforcing technical and commercial standards for infrastructure sharing.
The regulator will also exercise licensing and regulatory powers in respect of infrastructure sharing.
“All telecommunications licence holders shall submit existing infrastructure sharing arrangements for approval within three months from the effective date of these regulations,” the new SI provides.
Where a telecommunication licence holder contravenes sections of the SI, they are liable to face a penalty in accordance to Potraz’s SI 162 of 2008, which only has penalties of failing to share infrastructure under Internet Access Providers and Aeronautical licence holders.
The move is likely to cause friction among the country’s three telecoms operators Econet Wireless (privately owned), NetOne and Telecel (both Government-owned).
Econet is on record as saying infrastructure sharing would be unfair on it because it had spent more than $50 million on the mobile money distribution network.
The company says it has been facing heightened pressure across the board to share the infrastructure with several competitors who have entered the market.
Econet earlier this year insisted that it would not share its massive mobile money infrastructure with competitors until it generates a significant return on investments made in a period spanning about two decades.
The company said, “In our view, it is unfair to compel sharing of infrastructure where one party does not have the infrastructure that the other needs.”