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Sunday, Feb 23rd

Botswana: govt allays fears of VoIP ban

Botswana: govt allays fears of VoIP ban.

Botswana's government says it will not ban internet calling services after speculation arose that authorities may do so to protect and sustain Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL).

In April this year BTCL listed on the local bourse, the Botswana Stock Exchange, and has since experienced volatile trading, which has cast doubt over its sustainability.

This has fuelled concern that the government could ban VoIP to protect the traditional voice-technology based business.

Ephraim Balebetse, the Deputy Permanent Secretary (ICT) in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said that while this is a common trend in some countries in Africa, he dispelled plans to do so in Botswana. "Any attempts to protect traditional voice-calling technology would be counterproductive as it would be going against market demands. As a free market economy, Botswana believes that the best approach is to allow market forces to influence the type of services it requires," he said.

Balebetse said the country subscribes to technology neutrality as part of its approach to regulate the communications sector.

"Therefore, the introduction of VoIP was a deliberate government policy decision that is in sync with international communications technology development trends," he added.

Balebetse also dismissed the notion that VoIP is a cost-free communication service citing that internet, whether accessed through a mobile phone, computer or any other Internet compatible device, comes at a cost. "Therefore, VoIP is not a free service per se as it is Internet protocol-based services that can only be enjoyed once one has paid for Internet access."

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