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Powertel aims for converged licences

BROADBAND provider Powertel is in negotiations with the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) as the regulator intends to begin issuing converged licences for service providers.


A converged licence seeks to amalgamate all forms of communications connectivity including voice and data, which are presently split into different licensing regimes.

Potraz is mandated with exercising licensing and regulatory functions in respect of postal and telecommunication systems and services in Zimbabwe.

Powertel board chairman, Francis Chirumuuta said the company’s A class licence expires in 2014 and discussions were ongoing with the authority to renew it.

“Potraz has announced an intention to issue a converged licence but we have been in discussions and communication with them to understand the direction that they are taking. They are in the process of defining the full context of the licence,” said Chirumuuta.

He added: “The licence [that] we have allows us to provide converged services. We are anticipating a regulatory regime with [various categories] of licences but our licence will allow us to continue providing converged services as compared to other service providers on the market.”

Under a class A licence, which costs US$4 million, a licensee is allowed to carry voice as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and may provide internet service provider (ISP) services.

Chirumuuta said the company was positioning itself to make strides in the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) space in order to support the quadruple play revolution, namely fixed voice, video, data and cellular.

Under CDMA technology, data and voice packets are separated using codes and then transmitted using a wide frequency range.

Powertel, which recorded a phenomenal 700% increase in profits before tax, relies on self-financing schemes and strategic alliances to grow network and innovation, resulting in more than 5 000 km of fibre rolled out in the country.

Through this fibre, the company already links Zimbabwe through Botswana and Mozambique gateways to sea cables while providing internet back-up system for its customers.

Chirumuuta said Powertel invested US$8 million in the business during the period ended 2011 and plans to invest US$30 million this year.

Areas to be covered for connection onto the network this year include Kariba, Karoi, Chegutu, Banket, Nyanga, Triangle and Chiredzi.

Existing brands under the company include Virtual Private Network (VPN), multi-link, carrier of carriers offering mega link, Powerconnect which is a mobile internet 3G service and Powerphon, which is the new 08611 voice service, among others.

Powertel strategy advisor, Dennis Magaya said the company was not in the business of chasing subscriber numbers like other mobile network service providers are doing, but that of chasing after revenue.

“We are creating value propositions that are unique. The strategy is to complement existing players on the market by creating specific products for the corporates, focused on providing broadband,” he said.

He said the company provides about 40% of upstream bandwidth internet in the country with voice being a supplementary service.

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