Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) fined NetOne last month for inflating its subscribers figures, TechnoMag has learnt.
The authority has vowed that there are no sacred cows when it comes to the enforcement of telecommunication compliance, legislators have heard.
Addressing legislators and stakeholders at an ICT Familiarization Tour in Kadoma Potraz Director General Dr Gift Machengete said that NetOne has not received special treatment rather they have met the repercussions of their actions.
“We have not treated NetOne with kid gloves as widely perceived. In fact, only last month (November) we found NetOne guilty of misrepresenting subscriber information and levied a penalty of 5 percent of their gross revenue for August 2018,” said Dr Machengete.
The scandal was a result of inflated figures which turned to misrepresent a surge in subscriber growth, which in turn was downplayed as a technical glitch or miscalculation of actual active subscribers running on one fusion.
However the truth came out recently that the matter was not the technicality of active subscribers or number of lines sold and activated for one fusion then dumped, rather the real bone of contention was on the whole subscriber base inflation, which was then forced downwards.
“NetOne together with Econet and Telecel have received similar penalties in the past over quality of service breaches.”
NetOne has been taken to task despite being a parastatal.
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Information Communications and Technology chaired by Kuwadzana East MP Mr Charlton Hwende held an interactive colloquium aimed at making legislators appreciate Potraz’s work and discuss outstanding telecommunication related Bills.
Dr Machengete did not, however, disclose how much the fine was. He said the directive to have mobile operators share infrastructure was not in any way meant to undermine one of the operators in which it had invested heavily.
“Looked at objectively, that is not the case. The fact of the matter is that infrastructure will not be shared for free. Operators who put up their active equipment on towers belonging to another operator would have to pay rentals at market rates,” said Dr Machengete.
He said there was need to expeditiously gazette cyber related legal instrument to curb the vice.
“The 2017 International Telecommunication Union cyber security assessment report ranked Zimbabwe 113 out of 176 countries on the Global Cybersecurity Index, which means we are really not safe. We therefore need to accelerate the gazetting of the National Cyber crime and Cybersecurity Bill to mitigate security risks and cyber crime related threats,” said Dr Machengete.
Mr Hwende said ICT was the one of the panacea of the success of Government’s economic blueprint Zim-Asset.
In his keynote address, ICT Postal and Courier services Minister Kazembe Kazembe said ICT was integral in reviving the economy as well as the attainment of Vision 2030.
“The role of POTRAZ cannot be underestimated in this day and age where ICT is playing a great role in reviving the economy. President Mnangagwa’s ‘Vision 2030’ is possible because it is driven by ICT,” said Minister Kazembe.