Econet disconnects Telecel

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HARARE – Zimbabwe's largest mobile phone operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) has barred Telecel Zimbabwe (Telecel) from its network because the latter is yet to renew its operating licence.

This means that Telecel subscribers may not make voice calls to Econet users, even though the latter may make calls on the Telecel platform.

“Econet Wireless does not have any legal or moral obligation to interconnect with an unlicensed operator,” Econet said in a statement.

“In fact, we have a duty to disconnect such an operator.  Econet Wireless has fully met the terms of its new licence, which terms include hugely burdensome financial obligations.”

Econet was in May awarded a renewed 20-year licence following the expiry of the 15-year licence issued in 1998 after paying $85 million as part of the $137,5 million new licencing fees set by the ministry of Communications.

Econet, the biggest mobile phone operator by subscriber numbers and market capitalisation said that in contrast, Telecel has not been subjected to any such financial obligations.

Telecel is yet to obtain licensing because it is yet to comply with indigenisation laws which compels the firm to cede 51 percent shareholding to locals. Currently, Telecel is 60 percent owned by the Egytian unit of Orascom.

This development comes after Telecel had lodged a complaint on Tuesday to Post and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) that Econet was hindering connectivity between the two operators.

“With no such burden upon it, Telecel has been free to deliberately engage in trading practices that have distorted the playing field,” the Econet statement said.

The ZSE-listed telecommunications company said: “Clause 5.2.2 of our licence requires us to interconnect only with licensed operators. 

“This paragraph derives from Section 61 of the Act, which allows a licensed operator to interconnect with another licensed operator.  Section 2 of the Act defines a licensee as a holder of a valid licence issued in terms of section 37 of the Act.”

Econet said there was no obligation to interconnect with a provider of telecommunications services that was not validly licensed in terms of Section 37 of the Act.

Econet pointed out that in the circumstances, it regrets to advise that they are obliged to disconnect Telecel from its network.

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