In exercise of the mandate conferred by the Postal and Telecommunications Act [Chap 12:05], the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) (hereinafter referred to as the “Authority”) issues these guidelines for granting converged electronic communication Licences in Zimbabwe.
The level of technological development in the fields of information communications technology has created a telecommunications industry that beckons for a new regulatory approach on facilities, transmission, switching and access communications networks. Demand for high quality communication services has risen to levels where incumbent operators cannot adequately satisfy it. The import of the new regulatory approach is to open up the telecommunications sector to more players, thereby increasing competition and resultantly the quality of services delivered. Licensed operators can leverage on technology to bring down the cost of services without compromising on quality of services provided to end-users.
It is in this regard that these guidelines have been prepared to address the converged licensing framework to facilitate smooth entry into the sector.
2. Licence Categories
The electronic converged licensing framework referred to as the Unified Telecommunications Licence, consolidates the following four broad licence categories: –
2.1. Unified Telecommunication Services Licence
2.1.1. Network Facility Services (NFS) licence
The telecommunication licence for Network Facility Services licence authorises a licensee to build, own and manage passive infrastructure that facilitates provision of electronic communications through lease or resell to other telecommunication operators, but specifically prohibits the licensee from providing services directly to end-users. The passive telecommunications infrastructure that fall within the scope of this licence includes but not limited to the following:
a) dark fibre optical cables
b) copper cables
c) towers and associated site equipment
d) ducts and associated civil work structures used in conjunction with other network facilities.
2.1.2. Network Service (NS) Licence
The telecommunication licence for Network Services shall authorise the licensee to operate and maintain active electronic communication equipment to offer wholesale services to other licensees through network facilities offered by a Network Facilities Service provider. The active electronic communication equipment that falls within the scope of this licence include but not limited to the following electronic infrastructure of the network:
a) Radio Access Network – RAN that include antennas/transceivers, base stations, radio controllers, backhaul network elements.
b) Multi-Operator Core Network – MOCN that include servers and core network functionalities.
The thrust of the Network Service licence is to reduce operational costs, expand network coverage, increases competition, and provide additional network capacity. It intends to maximize the capacity and capability of existing network facilities by leasing various active elements of the network including the radio frequency spectrum allocated to individual telecommunication service providers.
18.104.22.168. Rural Broadband Fixed Wireless Access (BFWA) Licence
The telecommunication licence for the Rural BFWA network authorizes the licensee to install and operate a broadband fixed wireless access network in rural or farming areas of the country. The network will operate in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) unregulated radio frequency spectrum bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Services that fall within this BFWA Service provider licence include but not limited to voice, video, data, messaging services, mobile money services among other customer facing services. Licensees shall abide by the conditions applicable to use of rural fixed broadband wireless access systems as stipulated in the Fifth Schedule of the Statutory Instrument 12 of 2021.
2.1.3. Application Service (AS) licence
The telecommunication licence for Application Services shall authorise the licensee to provide end-user electronic communication services. The salient feature of this licence is that the licensee does not own network infrastructure nor operate a network. The scope of the telecommunication licence for Application Services may be specific to one or more services or applications. Services that fall within this Application Service Provider licence include but not limited to voice, video, data, messaging services, mobile money services among other customer facing services.
This Application Service licence consolidates the following two broad licence sub-categories:
22.214.171.124. Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licence
A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers. An MVNO licence authorises the licensee to negotiate with and enter into a business agreement with a mobile network operator (MNO) licensee to obtain bulk access to network services and radio frequency spectrum at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently. The MVNO licence allows the prospective licensee to negotiate for concession at any point in the MNO value chain, hence an MVNO may decide to use own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE). This will result in the following variants of the MVNO licence available issuance:
a) Full MVNO
Full MVNOs licence authorizes the licensee to negotiate with an MNO for usage of the radio access network (RAN). The licensee should have access to the rest of the MNO value chain independent of the host MNO.
b) Light MVNO
A Light MVNO licence authorises a licensee to negotiate with a host MNO for the network’s operational management whilst they put more emphasis on investing more resources on customer relations, sales, branding, marketing and customer service.
c) Branded Reseller MVNO
This licence authorises the Reseller MVNO to take advantage of working under its own brand (or in conjunction with MNO) to be responsible for branding, sales and distribution costs and shares the revenue with the host MNO. However, the licensee does not receive ownership of subscribers, infrastructure, or SIM cards.
d) Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE)
An MVNE is a company licensed to provide network infrastructure and related services such as administration, business and operations support systems on behalf of an MVNO to enable the MVNO to focus on offering services to their own customers under their own brand.
2.1.4. Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence authorises a licensee to provide access to the worldwide web usually through fixed, mobile or satellite broadband connection at home, office or on the go. The licence allows the licensee to offer other services such as web hosting, electronic mail hosting, digital storage, and access to software among others. The sub-licences on offer are at national, provincial, metropolitan, district or at community level.
2.2. International Gateway Services (IGS) licence
The telecommunications licence for International Gateway Services shall authorise the licensee to operate and maintain telecommunication facilities that allow interchange of electronic communication traffic between Zimbabwe and other countries. The international traffic so received must terminate on the licensee’s network in compliance with Statutory Instrument 163 of 2008.
NB. Each licence category issued authorises the licensee to offer services provided for under its subsequent sub-licence categories at no additional licence fee
License Fee Categories (PDF)
Public Notice – Moratorium on licensing of certain Radio frequency spectrum dependent Telecommunication Licenses (PDF)