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Reprieve for telecom operators

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Postal and telecommunication operators can now pay their licence fees in instalments after struggling to make once-off payments due to the harsh economic environment, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) has said.

BY BUSINESS REPORTER

The authority’s director-general, Gift Machengete told journalists in Kadoma last week that operators had cited the harsh economic environment for their failure to pay the fees.

He said legislation had been reviewed to allow operators to pay the fees in instalments, adding that the regulator did not want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

“We have a statutory instrument that allows us to negotiate with them, to look at their financials and see whether it’s true that they cannot pay upfront,” Machengete said.

“We then look at what they can pay and we negotiate, then they can pay in instalments.”

There has been concern that Potraz has not been firm enough to whip players to pay the stipulated licence fees.

A number of operators, mostly State-owned, have struggled to be up to date with licence fees.

Of the three mobile operators, only Econet Wireless has paid the full $37,5 million fee.

Machengete said the failure by operators to pay fees in full jolted the regulator to seek authority for the players to pay in instalments.

“Initially, we were not allowing them to pay in instalments, they would pay upfront,” he said.

The harsh economic environment has seen declining voice call revenue compounded by the prevalence of over-the-top services like WhatsApp.

Telecommunication operators have pinned their hopes on broadband to generate more revenue.

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