Zimbabwe’s Mobile Network Operators are reportedly contemplating to introduce downtime for their base stations for atleast 8 hrs per day, as operating them without power and support costs have drained the business, a technology news magazine, TechnoMag has reported.
Zimbabwe had a total of 8,796 active base stations as at 31 December 2018, As of March this year, the total number of base stations in the country rose to 8,884.
Of these base stations Econet holds 52.7% 2G base stations, 56.6% of 3G and 69.9% LTE coverage, NetOne owns 34.0% of 2G base stations, 28.5% for both 3G and LTE infrastructure. Lastly, Telecel has 13.3% of 2G, 14.9% of 3G and 1.6% of LTE coverage.
More could have been added by today, but operating just these base stations has certain daily costs which are inevitable.
The national telecommunications regulator has 90%+ uptime requirement, meaning that the base stations must always be available to the users and yes, there is Quality Of Service benchmarks which even penalizes them should they operate below standards.
Last year Potraz penalized all mobile networks of millions when then failed the quality of service test with dropping calls, cross-linking of voices and poor connectivity.
This basically means without ZESA for more than 16 hours daily, mobile networks are still, by law supposed to be providing such services at world class standard, even though the environment is not so.
Maintaining 8 800 base stations for 16 hours on diesel alone at an average of 20 litres per day means the telecommunications sector is spending a minimum of ZWL$100 533 per day over a month the bill balloons to ZWL$3 015 936.00.
If $3 million per month is going to diesel, what about the cost of maintaining the base stations, technical maintenance, capita investment spent in installing them, which all operators are still paying loans they borrowed in USD value, interconnection fees, and the monthly salaries and wages bills.
Every base station in Zimbabwe has some form of a security guard, Security walling and those with solar and diesel generators demand physical human presence to guard against theft, and this comes at a cost as well.
The total bill is outrageous.
Many people think that when we have 12 million subscribers the sector is getting an average of dollar per every caller daily, hence the sector is generating atmost $12 million
The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for December 2018 was $5.58 from $5.92 recorded in the third Quarter of 2018. This figure comes from total number of subscribers using mobile network services at once in 6 months.
This simply means we have many more people who have bought lines but rarely use them, of these people who have them only very few are religiously topping up and using the network service which amounts top the actual ARP per every network.