Monday, September 28, 2009

Eight licensed for VoIP in Zimbabwe, including three newcomers

The Zimbabwe Chronicle reports that eight companies have been granted licences to operate international VoIP telephony services. Therefore Zimbabwe joins the small but growing number of African countries that are licensing VoIP service providers.

Gideon Magodo of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) told the newspaper that the regulator had received applications from eleven organisations seeking Internet Access Provider Class A licences (allowing data, internet and VoIP services), including six new applications and five wishing to upgrade from Class B (data and internet only) to Class A concessions.

Magodo said POTRAZ had granted new licences to Aquiva, Dandemutande and Taurai Zimbabwe while it had agreed to upgrade licences held by state-run incumbent telco TelOne (which owns ISP ComOne), data network operator Africom, ISP Ecoweb (owned by cellco Econet Wireless), Powertel, the telecoms wing of the state electricity utility, and ISP Telecontract.

Regulations dictate that licensees must be at least 51% Zimbabwean-owned. The watchdog announced earlier this week that it would now place a moratorium on issuing VoIP licences because the sector was ‘saturated.’

Until the recent licensing, companies were restricted to providing domestic IP-based services whilst international VoIP calls were not permitted, although it was previously reported that Africom was allowed to offer the service for corporate customers. Furthermore, it was reported that POTRAZ had approved an international calling card service from Econet which used an IP platform.

(Source: Telegeography via Balancing Act's News Update)