The Sunday Mail
Government will soon announce new tariffs for the mobile telecommunications sector, and plans are underway to begin imposing hefty fines on industry players that offer substandard services such as dropped calls and questionable billing, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Information Communications Technology (ICT) and Cyber Security Minister Mr Supa Mandiwanzira told The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of the Potraz Consumer Awareness road show yesterday that the pricing regime was borne out of consultations with operators.
“There are consistent meetings between the regulator and the operators in terms of cost structures and I will be announcing together with Potraz some major movements in terms of the price (data and telephony); I will not tell you whether we are going up or down,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
Potraz, he added, is also importing hi-tech equipment to monitor the quality of service provision by telecommunication companies.
The industry regulator is also drawing up industry standards expected of local telecoms companies.
Service providers that fail to meet the set standards will face huge penalties.
“A couple of months ago, a lot of people complained about NetOne, especially their product called One Fusion, saying that they had lost a lot of money.
“What they had been promised by NetOne did not happen and they were reported to Potraz, and Potraz took action and all those people were refunded.
“I do not know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars that was, but the reality is that the consumer ended up getting the benefit for the loses they had incurred,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
“In terms of quality of service, there has to be an agreed standard of quality of service that is offered by network operators and Potraz has just been investing in new equipment and if that threshold set by Potraz is not met, there are huge fines that will be paid by the operators,” he said.
According to Minister Mandiwanzira, there was need to educate Zimbabweans on the benefits and dangers of using new technologies.
“The amount of people who are using telecommunications is increasing.
“Starting with just mobile telecommunications, the penetration has increased significantly.
‘‘We are sitting at 95 percent active penetration and we are more than 105 percent mobile phone activity.
“But the truth of the matter is that the people who are using these services do not understand their rights and the operators have not taken enough time to tell the people what their rights are in terms of the subscriber contracts they sign.
“It is the responsibility of Potraz to educate Zimbabweans on their rights in terms of the use of telecommunication services,” he said.
New players, he also added, were welcome in the sector.
“If you consider our situation, that we have three mobile networks, the chances of an investor coming in to set up a fourth network is limited, but if we have an investor who is serious and who is committed to investing and creating jobs, we will certainly consider.
“We are open for business and we will not say no to anyone who wants to invest, as long as it makes commercial sense, and as long as it allows commercial viability within the market.
“We also do not want to allow situations where there is a flood which makes everybody in the business unprofitable,” he said.
Minister Mandiwanzira also donated 10 computers to Nyamhuka Primary School.