Harare (New Ziana) –MOBILE Network Operators (MNOs) in Zimbabwe are now sharing over 250 transmission sites in line with the infrastructure sharing policy introduced by the Government in 2016, an official has said.
Initial resistance to the policy, introduced through Statutory Instrument 137 of 2016, had stalled progress, but the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe on Tuesday confirmed that the country’s three MNOs were all now participating in infrastructure sharing.
“Telecel, NetOne and Econet are sharing towers at over 267 sites through commercial swap arrangements,” Potraz director general Dr Gift Machengete told a stakeholders’ workshop.
“All the mobile operators are (also) leasing tower space from TelOne. Infrastructure sharing has also gone beyond the sector as the mobile operators are leasing towers from the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Transmedia, ZIMRA and local authorities (tower lights, and high rise buildings).”
Infrastructure sharing, according to SI 137 of 2016, is meant to eliminate “unnecessary duplication of telecommunication infrastructure” by maximising the use of existing and future telecommunications infrastructure.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) also argued that infrastructure sharing would cut the sectors’ capital expenditure and in turn make services affordable.
Machengete said internet companies including Powertel and Liquid were also utilising existing infrastructure to expand their fibre cable networks.
“Powertel is laying its national fibre backbone over existing electricity pylons. Liquid is also laying its fibre optic cables over electricity pylons, in some residential areas through a commercial arrangement with Zesa.”
He said more transmission sites were being constructed utilising the Universal Services Fund, a pool of resources managed by POTRAZ to improve network coverage across the country.
Machengete said 20 base stations in underserved areas had been completed, while three are work in progress.