‘Infrastructure sharing way to go’
THE parliamentary portfolio committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT) says the government must ensure mobile operators accept infrastructure sharing concept for the country’s telecommunications industry to develop.
Speaking after touring the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (potraz) base station in Maitengwe on Tuesday, the chairperson of the ICT committee Chalton Hwende, pictured, said the project was a good example of infrastructure sharing.
“We are encouraging the government to make sure all mobile operators are doing infrastructure sharing. This is the only way to go because it reduces costs and as a result all corners of the country will be connected. This is one of the good examples of infrastructure sharing, it is helping the community here,” Hwende said.
MDC Glen View North MP Kennedy Dinar, who is member of the committee, said there were more benefits in infrastructure sharing.
“Infrastructure sharing was a very noble and cost saving initiative in the telecomunications industry. It is the way to go and our encouragement is that the load be distributed to all network companies and those with network muscle erect more to share with the others,” Dinar said.
The Maitengwa base station was constructed through the Universal Service Fund (USF)
According to Potraz, they pumped out
US$750 000 to construct the Maitengwe base station, which is solar-powered.
Speaking on behalf of Potraz director-general Gift Machengete, the regulator’s head of consumer affairs and publicity George Manyaya said they were contributing positively to the economic turnaround of the country through passive infrastructure connectivity projects in the under serviced and marginalised areas.
“The projects were funded through the USF which is aimed at promoting universal access and improving standards of life. Accordingly, we are working towards bridging the digital divide as testified by the increase in the country’s mobile and Internet penetration rates. This also enables infrastructure sharing by operators as we provide the infrastructure and operators share the facilities. To date, we have 20 sites across the country and it is our desire to connect the unconnected citizens.”
The committee is touring all base stations which were constructed by Potraz throughout the country.
The project involved the construction of 20 telecommunications base stations in all the eight rural provinces of Zimbabwe where telecomunications service providers see no business sense to provide network coverage.
After completion of the project, the infrastructure is assigned to an individual licensed telecommunications network operator for operations and maintenance purposes. However, all operators are obliged to share the infrastructure facilities.
The scope included the erection of telecommunications towers, palisade fence on the sites, provision of solar power plant, diesel engine generators, batteries, equipment shelters and access roads to the sites.
A microwave backhaul transmission system was also provided for each site for connection to the core networks of the licensed operators. Last year, Potraz committed to uphold transparency and publicly show stakeholders how the USF has been utilised.
The USF was established with the intention of providing funding for extending communication networks beyond the borders of economic viability to reach marginalised communities in rural areas throughout Zimbabwe.