GOVERNMENT has raised operating licence fees for fixed and mobile phone operators from US$100 million to US$180 million, to be issued under the converged licensing framework to allow providers to diversify their services.
Under the current framework, operators are only allowed to work within the stipulations of their licences but the new licence would allow operators to make use of products and services not covered in their current licences.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Monday the new licensing framework would also allow entry of new investors into the telecommunications industry.
The operating licences are issued after 15 years.
“The 15-year licences for global system for mobile and fixed telecommunications cost US$100 million each, while that for data services is US$4 million for a 10-year period,” Minister Biti told journalists.
“The Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure will, from 30 June 2013, issue new 15-year licences under the Converged Licensing Framework at a fee of US$180 million.”
According to Potraz, the telecoms regulator, Econet Wireless and Telecel Zimbabwe’s licences are due to expire in June this year while NetOne’s licence would be due for renewal the same time next year.
The new framework will also compel telecommunications operators to share infrastructure to help cut costs for both the consumer and the service providers.
Presently the service providers are not sharing their infrastructure, reportedly due to disagreements and mistrust.This has resulted in operators erecting identical infrastructure such as base stations on the same site.
Minister Biti said the licensing revenue would be leveraged in support of some of the financial requirements of both referendum and elections programmes.Zimbabwe is expected to hold a referendum this Saturday while general elections are set for July.The country has been under a coalition Government for the past four years, formed by the main political parties in 2009.