Mobile Network Operators in Zimbabwe have reached an agreement on infrastructure sharing following years of intense negotiation.
According to BMA sources, Econet, NetOne, and Telecel are now sharing more than 260 transmission sites in compliance with the infrastructure sharing policy presented by the government in 2016.
Furthermore, Econet plans to use NetOne’s infrastructure to extend its reach in unexploited areas, while NetOne will leverage Econet Wireless’ footprint.
Gift Machengete, Director-General of Post and Telecommunication Regulation Authority in Zimbabwe, said, “I can confirm that all mobile operators are now sharing over 267 sites through commercial swap arrangements.”
The Director-General also mentioned that the three mobile operators are leasing tower space from TelOne.
According to Machengete, “the infrastructure sharing has gone beyond telecoms, as the operators are leasing towers from the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Transmedia, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and local authorities, including tower lights and high-rise buildings.”
Machengete stated that internet companies PowerTel and Liquid are using available infrastructure to expand their fibre networks, with PowerTel laying its national fibre backbone on existing electricity pylons.
Before sharing its infrastructure with NetOne, Econet Wireless had maintained that sharing infrastructure with the operator “would be fascinating and profitable for all”, but that would depend on the operator’s investment in infrastructure development in different regions.
According to Econet Wireless, this would avoid duplication in the extension of the network because the various operators could densify their respective coverage by pooling their different telecommunication infrastructures.
The idea of infrastructure sharing by mobile operators in Africa is still developing but has gained traction in Europe.