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ITWeb Africa

Saturday, Dec 15th

Zim pushes shared infrastructure agenda

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Mobile network operators in Zimbabwe are understood to be investing more readily in shared infrastructure, specifically within under-serviced/ remote regions.

This week, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) unveiled a US$400 000 shared base station in Matebeleland South Province, established through the Universal Services Fund (USF).

ITWeb Africa has previously reported that Zimbabwean citizens in Vumba were utilising a network in neighbouring Mozambique to connect.

Abedinigo Ncube, provincial minister for Zimbabwe's Matebeleland South Province near Botswana said: "We are very happy that the government has decided to connect the marginalised Maitengwe area. The people were using a Botswana operator and I'm happy and thankful (for this development)."

The shared tower at Maitengwe near Plumtree borders with Botswana and carries passive network infrastructure that enables NetOne, Telecel and Econet to offer mobile network and mobile money services. It also has capacity for data connectivity.

Baxter Sirewu, a senior Potraz official, said, "Shared infrastructure means that there is one tower so there is a lot of saving for the operators in terms of capital investment. This station also (provides) shared energy ... instead of three operators having three separate stations that would have seen extra costs."

The issue of infrastructure sharing has prickled local telcos and resulted in disagreement with government.

The dispute between officials and Econet over an acceptable model has been well documented.

Company executives have argued that infrastructure sharing should be on a 'one-to-one basis' which would benefit all operators.

Addressing connectivity requirements in poorly serviced areas using the USF seems to be the accepted model for now.

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