The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has for the third time allowed the country's fourth mobile phone operator Uzi Zambia to postpone the launch of its network.
Uzi, whose major shareholder is Unitel International Holdings B.V registered in the Netherlands, secured a network licence in March 2018, valid for 15 years, to compete against MTN Zambia, Airtel Zambia and Zamtel.
The network was scheduled to launch in December 2018 but this was delayed because the company was reportedly unhappy with specific licence terms and conditions issued by ZICTA.
In January 2019 Uzi issued a statement confirming it would launch operations in February 2019 and said the delay was the result of making sure equipment was properly installed and thoroughly tested.
Dr Brian Mushimba, Minister of Communications and Transport confirmed the third postponement and said the launch would take place towards the end of the year.
"The project completion of the behind the scenes technical deployment is October or November, 2019," he said.
Mushimba added that he remained confident that Zambia shall have a new mobile phone operator before the year end, claiming the company has made progress in rolling out its network.
However, there is little detail available as to this progress.
According to ZICTA, Uzi Zambia intends to deploy LTE technology nationally as part of their network which supports 4G and 5G technologies. It also plans to establish 100 universal access sites across unserved and under-served areas.
The company's initial investment is US$350-million.
In the interim Zamtel has launched its 4G network in the capital Lusaka, a move that is expected to further heighten competition among operators.
Zamtel CEO Sydney Mupeta said, "A total of 256 sites are expected to be upgraded to (the) 4G network which will give Zamtel blanket coverage in Lusaka."