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Tuesday, Jan 23rd

Storm over Telecel Zim’s Bulawayo base stations

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Officials of Zimbabwe’s second largest city Bulawayo have accused telecommunications firm Telecel of having built base stations in the metropolitan area without following “due procedures”.

Telecel, which is the country’s second biggest mobile operator with 2 million subscribers, is planning to rapidly expand its network coverage in a bid to raise its user numbers to over 2.7 million.

However, the company’s ambitious plans have seen it clash with the Bulawayo City Council, according to minutes from a meeting last month. The city council has hit out at the firm’s construction of 14 base stations in the city.

“The illegally developed base stations were either on virgin council land, private properties or on council tower lights,” reads part of the report with minutes of the meeting.

In a statement, Telecel public relations executive, Francis Chimanda, said: “It is our understanding that the applications were tabled before a full council meeting in December 2012 and Telecel is currently waiting for the formal communication regarding those applications.”

He insisted that “Telecel had also followed all the other procedures including neighbour notifications and placing adverts in the Press”.

Chimanda further reiterated that “Telecel works closely” with the local authority which “always assisted …in network deployment efforts.”

However, it’s not the first time that Zimbabweans have clashed with the telcos over the setting up of mobile towers.

A group of residents in Harare last year accused Telecel and its rival operator, Econet, of allegedly illegally setting up base station towers in that city.

There has also been pressure on telcos in the country to share infrastructure, a development that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe is likely to enforce as a precondition to license renewals this year.

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