Cheaper internet in Zimbabwe needs more than just the ICT Ministry & POTRAZ

It’s not inconceivable to believe that some thought that a somewhat generational representation in Parliament in the position of Ministry of Information, Communications, Technology and Courier Services (or Ministry of ICT) with the appointment of Tatenda Mavetera would change things for the better. On the face of it, it was somewhat a step in the…

Ministry of ICT Zimbabwe, Internet Cost, Cheaper Internet Zimbabwe

It’s not inconceivable to believe that some thought that a somewhat generational representation in Parliament in the position of Ministry of Information, Communications, Technology and Courier Services (or Ministry of ICT) with the appointment of Tatenda Mavetera would change things for the better. On the face of it, it was somewhat a step in the right direction from an age demographics standpoint.

However, the expectation that one minister can tame the storm that is the telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe is seriously unfair… The reason why it is unjust is because the telecoms sector in Zimbabwe is suffering from one complex and at the same time a singular disease that has been ill-treated by a combination of ignoring the symptoms, the incorrect application and prescription of remedies, and the perpetuation of decades-old agendas…

When looking at it from the consumer’s perspective, it appears that there has been a systematic collapse of fundamental business principles from the operators. This observation, it should be said, is not invalid. It simply doesn’t peer deep enough into what the actual disease could be.

To get closer to the answer of what might be causing the astronomical increase in price from access to the wider internet (beyond bundles for WhatsApp and social media) is to look at our own experiences from an individual level in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans are grappling with exchange rate fluctuations that make it increasingly difficult to retain value in earnings. Additionally, the availability of a consistent electricity supply makes it difficult to live our daily lives and more so makes every Zimbabwean have to adjust their normal daily activities. After that, it’s managing the availability of other utilities (like water) as well as the exceedingly long commute times it takes for the millions without vehicles that have to rely on public transport which is mostly informal and subject to Police seizures.

All of these problems are not subject to a single Ministry to solve and even without naming any, it would be pretty clear which arms of the government or its agencies are best positioned to remedy these issues.

Now, if we look at those issues and scale them up considerably (probably x1000) you will have probably reached a realm of complexity that Telecommunications Companies, particularly mobile network operators, face daily.

What is an electricity supply issue for one household or individual, scales up to become a vast network of expensive infrastructure that is relied upon by millions of Zimbabweans. The issue of the exchange rate from a personal perspective expands up to be the ability to exchange internet services for money, and for those revenues to retain value to serve customers adequately as well as being able to pay thousands of specialized employees who themselves have a network of dependents to support.

The primary disease, in my opinion, that affects the cost of internet services in Zimbabwe is not that there are companies that are price gouging while delivering a poor product. No… It is simply, and at first, the Ease of Doing Business…

Collaboration Over Isolation, understanding the abdication of responsibility

What is truly unfortunate is that the Ministry of ICT has been isolated in any effort, on a policy front, to bring the cost of internet access down.

Ironically, telecommunications has brought people all over the world closer together, but the industry in Zimbabwe, and from a governance perspective, the technology has not seen enough collaboration that would see an increase in affordable access to the wider internet.

Much like the problems mentioned earlier telecommunications are subject to one or more Ministry and government agencies, directly or indirectly.

Primarily telecoms players are subject to the Ministry of ICT and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). These entities are the industry-specific public offices that manage the rules of engagement among operators as well as their conduct with their customers.

However, these Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Internet Access Providers (IAPs), and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are subject in one shape or form to the policies and performance of:

  • The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development
    • The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)
    • Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
  • The Ministry of Energy and Power Development
  • Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing

The list might be shorter than the complete catalog but all of these Ministries play the most critical roles in the creation of a conducive business environment for telecommunications enterprises. More importantly, the Ministries mentioned above will allow for the sustainable growth of telecoms in Zimbabwe across the industry’s value chain.

What is very concerning, if you look down the years, is that the players in the space have been stating pain points that could be addressed by these various ministries but the public has not been holding them to account and simply laying the brunt of the blame at the doorstep of the Ministry of ICT.

It should be said, however, that it might be a case of the lack of articulation of the problem in the parliamentary proceedings where jargon and complex legal terms are bandied about. Alternatively, it could be an abdication of responsibility from the various ministries from seeing the pivotal part that they play in the advancement of greater access to communication and internet services.

If the case is true for the latter, then it is safe to conclude that there is no deliberate inter-governmental strategy for digital services. In saying that, it must be stressed that the technology of connectivity ranks amongst the greatest drivers of economic growth in the modern age.

The impact of the internet, digital platforms, and their associated services is so undeniable that the term “Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)” was coined to refer to the widespread changes that the technology of connectivity has brought. That being said the issue of Ease of Doing Business naturally starts with the Ministry of Information Communications, Technology and Courier Services (or Ministry of ICT) and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) because they are by design and appointment the custodians of the industry.

Small Market BIG cost of entry

Imagine for a moment you are an investor and you are looking to expand operations in a neighboring country where there is potential for growth but there is going to be a high setup cost because your business model, at the point of entry, is resource intensive.

When you have planned your budgets and allocated resources to start initiating conversations with the local regulator you are told you are going to have to pay several times more than you are paying now for your local market. At the same time, the market you are entering is considerably smaller, as well as having you wade seismic economic changes and government price controls.

Does the potential you are seeing in the market, weighed against the cost of entry, still make sense to continue exploring that market? Only the brave or those whose board members can afford for that enterprise to be a loss leader will answer in the affirmative…

This is the issue that Zimbabwe’s Telecommunications licensing from POTRAZ for MNOs, ISPs and IAPs stands for.

The cost of competing in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications space, aside from the cost of penetrating the market, recruitment and many others, is far too high. It could explain why MTN, Rain, Vodacom, Orange and other operators prevalent on the continent have not moved into Zimbabwe even at the level of a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).

Application fee US$800410.8710,0001,000
Initial/Renewal fee US$137,000,000100,00010,000/13,500
Tenure (Years)201010
Annual fee US$6,850.0009,348.7610,0001,350
Licence fee structure for Mobile Network service providers

It may also explain how the only MVNO to publicly express interest in Zimbabwe, Dolphin Telecoms, last showed any sign of life right after being awarded an operator’s licence about a year ago. And if you rewind the clock to 2017, Zimpost also had interests in establishing an MVNO of their own but again, that’s the last we heard of that.

#Licence NameApplication Fee (USD)Initial/Renewal Fee (USD)USF + Annual Licence Fee (USD)Tenure (Years)
1.4.1Full Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)50.0050,000.003.5% of Gross turnover plus VAT20
1.4.2Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE)50.00500.003.5% of Gross turnover plus VAT20
1.4.3Light MVNO50.005,000.003.5% of Gross turnover plus VAT20
1.4.4Branded/Reseller MVNO50.00500.003.5% of Gross turnover plus VAT20
2.1Mobile Network Operator800.00137,000,000.003.5% of Gross turnover plus VAT20

These costs need to go down considerably to allow for the hypothetical telecoms businesses to pass the value on to customers. The term hypothetical is there because as much as the ambition is for an environment that is conducive for operators, it would be foolish to discount the profiteering nature of private enterprises. However, in saying that, it’s not a bad thing for businesses to want to make returns that are “generous” for their investors (while providing adequate and internationally competitive standards of service).

However, the financial obligation over time to meet the licencing requirements is needlessly littered with junk fees like application fees and a ridiculously high Annual Licence Fee structure that claims a portion of money from revenues generated.

If the regulators in the telecommunications space want to make something from entities they have to find more inventive ways that don’t place an undue financial responsibility that is coming for a country with 10 million mobile users…

To put the predicament for prospective and present players in the MNO space, the bill reads as follows:

  • Application fee of US$50.00
  • US$137 million spread over 20 years (US$6.8 million a year)
  • 3.5% of Gross Turnover plus Value Added Tax

Does that ordeal look like something they wade into or skirt completely? More so when you look at the tax obligations from the Revenue Authority.

The inordinate Tax Burden

If you think about it, a government is a crowdfunded initiative that needs all players (willing or otherwise) to contribute to the contract of “mutually beneficial” outcomes. Much like any investment-dependent enterprise, if the pool of funders shrinks, for one reason or another, the remaining sources of cash are squeezed for all they have.

The deterioration of Zimbabwe’s economy into a largely informal one is what brings us back to why the telecommunications services are so expensive and why service is poor in comparison to other countries in the region.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, which relays policy to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), needs to reassess the tax obligation that Mobile Network Operators are paying to the government.

On top of the licensing fees and their take on revenue from POTRAZ and the Ministry of ICTs, and continuing the example of mobile network operators, players in the space also have to pay a 5% Health Levy, Value Added tax (15%), the aforementioned Universal Service Fee, 10% Excise Duty on Airtime Products and the Intermediary Money Transfer Tax.

To caption the scope of the problem with taxation on telcos, in 2020 Econet Wireless Zimbabwe paid ZWL$12.2 Billion in taxes which made up a third of the company’s revenue. This was after Econet Group registered ZW$35 Billion in gross revenue and after the obligation the company made ZWL$836.5 million in the full year ending 28th of February 2021.

That is an astronomical fee to pay just to the tax man and shows an underlying problem with how taxes are structured for the few compliant businesses in the Zim market. What makes the situation even worse is that during that period Econet created 1,159 jobs and spent more on investing in infrastructure development (ZWL$1 billion) than the group made in profit.

On the other side of the aisle, TelOne stands as the only parastatal that regularly publishes its financial statement, and in their 2021 annual report, they cited having paid ZWL$2.2 Billion (18.8% of their total revenue) and a further US$795,000 in tax obligations.

It is exceedingly hard to ignore how onerous the burden of taxation is on operators like Econet. An example of how excessive the taxation is in Zimbabwe is MTN Group reported over the same period that it paid R51.5 billion in taxes over the same period as Econet in 2020 – 2021. This was after accruing total revenues of R207 Billion.

It might be comparing apples to oranges because MTN Group had, over the same period, 289 million subscribers and operates in vastly larger markets (not just South Africa). Although, it is for those very reasons, albeit scaled down for Econet, that the disproportionate tax commitment for Econet looks all the more egregious. And it also demonstrates the value that MTN can offer to its customers in lower costs for voice and data packages, and investment into new infrastructure as demonstrated by the company’s 88% broadband coverage with the goal of 95% by 2025. Equally as important as all those factors is the value in market-specific product offerings and value to shareholders the company gives in comparison to Econet Wireless.

The Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology, and Courier Services has to begin negotiations with The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to find a “happy medium” of how telcos are being taxed to ensure that they can dedicate more money to investing in infrastructure as well as research and development into more innovative and cutting edge, Zimbabwe specific connectivity solutions. There is an understanding of the importance of tax contributions to the development of the country as telecommunications seems to be the more stable of the industries in Zimbabwe.

However, work still needs to be done to ensure that the huge license bill and tax obligations that are bestowed upon the shoulders of telecommunications operators that are consequently pushed to the customer do not contribute to the digital divide and make connectivity a luxury that even Zimbabwe’s middle class struggles to afford. Capacity is being added to Africa which is primarily a result of the rapid demand for digital services on the continent with the fastest rate of urbanization. This added capacity is in turn promising a reduction in the cost of bandwidth which should, in Zimbabwe, lead to a fall in the prices of data. That does not seem to be the case.

New developments are lacking connectivity, especially on the part of fixed network operators and it is coming from a point of strained revenues that do not allow them to expand their networks at a rate that matches the rate of land development. An example is a new suburb in Mt Hampden, Haydon Park, where the only fixed network operator available is Telco and the main operators are yet to have a presence there (TelOne and Liquid Home). This suburb is less than 2km away from the New Parliament of Zimbabwe and about 1km away from the site where the Cyber City, Zimbabwe’s most technologically advanced residential area), is to be erected. It is going to be a near impossible feat for telcos to provide reliable services at affordable rates and expand their networks to meet demand when they are hemorrhaging in taxes and license fees the way they are right now on top of other Zimbabwe struggles like a lack of cheap utility power and access to forex for equipment upgrades and vendor license fees.

The cost of currency

One thing that you can be sure of in Zimbabwe is that everyone knows the various exchange rates as they exist “officially” and the ones on the parallel market for the different modes of payment (cash, mobile money, bank transfer etc).

One of the “innovations” that was brought about to combat the issue of individuals and companies acquiring forex at a regularized rate, was the Foreign Exchange Auction that was instituted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2020.

This system saw a bidding system in place for the sale of an available pool of United States Dollars, which is almost the de facto currency in Zimbabwe. Added to its function of the formal and controlled trade of USD, it also became a means of establishing an official exchange rate to try and wrangle the runaway rate on the parallel market.

Whether this system worked or not is not the matter for debate here… What is under question is the amounts that were available to telecommunications operators. At the end of March 2021, the following were the figures for all telecommunications operators that were able to purchase the US$639,502,707 that was sold at auction:

  • NetOne Zimbabwe – US$1,885,339 (0.295%)
  • Econet Wireless Zimbabwe – US$429,971 (0.067%)
  • Liquid Intelligent technologies – US$308,945 (0.048%)
  • TelOne – US$3,565,905 (0.558%)

From those operators that showed up on the RBZ figures for 2021, there is a greater proportion of disbursement to state-owned operators than to private players. There are several ways to speculate the reasons behind that, maybe it was favoritism or maybe there was a gingerly approach from the private players to participate, but that’s not something that’s up for debate right now because we don’t have a concrete answer.

The only shred of data to reflect the exchange rate issue is how Econet Zimbabwe has consistently been reporting the state of foreign exchange losses over the last four years and some change. An example is the first half-year report for 2022 when the MNO said that it had exchange rate losses of ZWL$43.7 billion which represented 39% of its profits. The true tragedy of this assessment is that Telecel and NetOne’s Financial Statements are not publicly available to make their case to either juxtapose or reinforce the point being made here.

These unsustainable levels of loss are extremely difficult to mitigate if the Ministry of ICTs in Zimbabwe is not in direct and consistent conversation with the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to ask the simple question “How are your plans going to affect telecommunications?”

The Power to power the technology

The depressed state of energy generation in Zimbabwe is almost two decades old. And as far as anyone can remember, demand has always outstripped supply. Currently, Zimbabwe’s Power generation capacity is at 2,300MW, however, supply peaks at 1,400MW while the demand stands at around 1,700MW.

That deficit means that telecom operators have had to improvise in order to keep services available to their customers.

The recurring example is that we will continue to use Econet Wireless because they are in a position to publicly disclose their stance and expense on this matter. At the height of the power crisis back in 2008 the company had to acquire 98 diesel generators to power its base stations. At the time this brought its total complement of generators to 210 that were on backup power of the total 320 the mobile network operator had country-wide.

Econet, much like the other state-owned mobile network operators, had to be proactive in keeping services up for customers. The revenue they lose during

  • Downtime is revenue lost
  • Security – Electricity powers CCTV, IoT and electric fences that protect infrastructure from theft
  • Revenue loss leading to an increase in tariffs
  • Reduction of network service from LTE to 3G because of the different power consumption of higher transmission technologies.

Times changed and infrastructure expanded and Econet had to invest in renewable energy in order to offset the cost of acquiring, transporting, and dispensing diesel as well as the human resource and security costs required to service and protect the generators.

In 2011, Econet Wireless launched Econet Energy which was a division that was meant to try and find a cost-effective means of managing the power situation at its base stations. At what point Econet Energy became Distributed Power Africa (DPA) it was a separate offshoot is unclear in the research we undertook. Nevertheless, DPA then began moving to supply its sister company with solar technology and the much-hyped Tesla batteries that made the news when the mobile network operator announced them in the late 2010s.

Initiatives like this coming from the private sector mean that they ultimately have less to spend on increasing network capacity and the quality of service. Moreover, they have to make up some money from the price-controlled nature of the telecommunications space in Zimbabwe which sometimes leads to more expensive packages for less data and other communication capabilities.

Damage that power cuts do to telecom infrastructure

More than the cost of operating such complex enterprises outside of telecommunications which means that the company is stepping into a different discipline and has to gain new competencies, the damage that inconsistent electricity supply does to telecoms base stations and quality of service is pretty considerable:

  • Cascading Failures: Power outages can trigger a series of cascading failures in telecom networks, affecting both primary and backup systems. Inadequate backup power supply or incorrect redundancy configurations can expose vulnerabilities and lead to widespread connectivity issues.
  • Increased Load on Backup Systems During power outages, backup power systems, such as generators and batteries, are relied upon to sustain operations. However, prolonged outages can strain these systems, diminishing their effectiveness and potentially leading to complete network failures.
  • Impact on Critical Infrastructure: Telecom networks are critical for various infrastructure sectors, including transportation, water supply, and healthcare. Power outages can impact these sectors, indirectly affecting telecom networks and reducing redundancy capabilities.
  • Increased Risk of Data Loss: Power outages can interrupt data communications and lead to data loss, especially if backup systems fail to function correctly. This can have severe implications for businesses, compromising customer trust, and resulting in potential financial losses. (Source: Utilities One)

There are also a set of unseen consequences effects of electricity outages on base station infrastructure:

1. Impact on Public Safety: Power outages severely affect public safety, as communication plays a vital role in emergencies. Emergency services rely on telecom networks to respond effectively, and any disruption can hinder their operations.

2. Economic Impact: The economic impact of power outages on telecom networks is substantial. According to research, power disturbances can cost up to $150 billion annually in the United States alone. This includes financial losses incurred by businesses, productivity reduction, and repair expenses.

3. Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: Power outages create an opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in telecom networks. These disruptions can be utilized to launch cyber attacks, potentially compromising sensitive data and causing significant damage to individuals and organizations.

4. Infrastructure Damage: Power outages can result in infrastructure damage to telecom networks. Equipment such as routers, switches, and servers can be impacted during sudden power surges or when power is restored. This can lead to increased maintenance costs and longer downtime periods. (Source: Utilities One)

If Zimbabwe’s new Minister of ICTs truly wants to aid in reducing the burden of overheads and operating expenses that diminish the quality of services while prices increase. The call for a deliberate and comprehensive policy on energy for the telecoms sector needs to be explored with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.

These conversations should occur even though one operator now has a fully-fledged renewable energy division and should involve the entity in an equitable transference of skills and knowledge for the other players not just in the mobile network operator space but in the ISP and IAP segments of the sector as well…

The outcome of this dialogue should be crafting a way in which service can be delivered to all and a sharing of knowledge and resources by the respective ministries should garner solutions that are bespoke for Zimbabwe’s operating environment.

If this means that Distributed Power Africa will take under its wing a segment of Independent Power Producers that are sector-specific to telecoms then so be it. As long as it garners a result that sees fewer social media messages from operators notifying customers who are in the dark and can’t access the internet that services are down because of a power outage.

Location, location, location…

If you know Zimbabwe, then you are keenly aware of the property development initiatives that are taking place around the country for both private and those being done directly under or in association with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing.

The appetite for building houses and commercial property is so pronounced that US$200 million has been invested in the real estate for just Northern Harere. This is to say nothing of all the individual building projects that thousands of Zimbabweans are undertaking as we speak.

The one thing that we have not been able to find any reference to, at least publicly is property developers and telecommunications companies working together to plan out channels for telecoms infrastructure to be built into the planning phases of housing developments. Anecdotally, and speaking from a fixed internet perspective, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have to dig new trenches within complexes and neighborhoods to get connectivity into the homes of their new customers.

In the starkest sense of this phenomenon, some telcos have to take underground fiber and extend it onto poles in order to connect their customers. What this does, particularly as many of these measures are makeshift, is create unnecessary points of failure for the ISP and their customer, for example, if there is a vehicle that needs to pass that is taller than the extended fiber damages the exposed cable. More worryingly, is the case of vandals coming disconnecting customers and putting the burden of repair on the telco or the customer…

One of the reasons why this happens is that there is no dialogue between property developers and the telcos, but more importantly, there is no uniform strategy from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing to ensure that digitally enabled communities are created at the point of inception of infrastructure projects.

“What we put in these buildings, real estate developments, including residential areas and subdivisions are permanent. If you don’t do it right the first time, the retrofit is actually more expensive. In condominium complexes that have only copper wires, we have to tear up ceilings to re-pipe, rewire, and re-cable with fiber optics.  In subdivisions, if there are no poles, we have to trench along the roads,”

Ernest Cu – Globe President and CEO (Speaking at Globe Business’ Regional Insights and Strategies for Enterprises 2021)

A lack of coordination between telcos and land developers often results in communication networks that are poorly optimized and expensive to implement. If telcos are to be engaged in the planning stages, they can better route their infrastructure economically and effectively within the development. The prevalence of faults is vastly reduced as the network will be planned around utilities minimizing disturbances associated with other construction activities in the area. One such success story is the Sibiti Private Estate, a complex situated in Greencroft in Harare where networking infrastructure was catered for within the planning phase of the project such that ISPs do not need to modify the integrity and aesthetic of the property when installing their networks.

Cebu Landmasters, a land developer based in the Philippines, emphasized the importance of including connectivity in the planning stage of projects. It is now a reality that every single household cannot do without some form of connectivity, be it cable TV (DStv in these parts) or internet. Having a telecom operator as a partner means they can offer advice on how to best lay out the networking for the best performance in terms of signal coverage. And for large complexes, network termination points can have dedicated sections set up for maintenance which is much more convenient for tracing faults.

Before constructing our building, we already had a pipeline with Globe in the master planning, identifying the sizes of the telco areas, and the cabling systems needed from our side and their side.  We’re even taking that step further.  We’re planning way ahead of time, more than 30-40 projects, but now we know how to enhance it

Franco Soberano, EVP and COO of Cebu Landmasters, Inc.

Rural populations are often marginalized when it comes to connectivity. In Africa, 18% of the rural population does not have access to any form of mobile connectivity with a further 11% only having access to 2G. For a lot of operators, rural populations are just not economical to set up networks for. The average revenue per user they get falls below the cost of providing service to the subscriber. As such, the expansion of networks in these areas is taking longer than desired.

There have been programs put in place to try and increase the pace of development in this area. In Zimbabwe, the Universal Services Fund (USF) was set up by the national regulator PORAZ. The fund aims to power some government ICT projects and one of these projects was the setting up of Community Information Centres (CICs) in urban and rural centers across the country. Essentially these are internet cafes for the public where anyone can come in, log onto a public computer, and connect to the internet.

In as much as these projects improve internet access in the rural parts of the country, they do not address coverage of connectivity. This same fund went on to erect base stations in some of the more remote parts of the country. 8 sites were identified and they have all been completed however only 5 of them are operational.

ProvinceSite NameRepeaterStatus
MasvingoMalipatiPahlelaSites completed and on air
ManicalandChiloMakhosaSites completed and on air
Matabeleland NorthDhlaminiZibungululuSites completed and on air
MidlandsChiodzaNoneSite completed and on air
Mashonaland WestNeusoNoneSite completed and on air
Mashonaland EastPfungweNoneSite completed
Mashonaland CentralChidodoNoneSite Completed
Matabeleland SouthManamaTo be identifiedSite completed
Awaits microwave backhaul transmission
Source: POTRAZ

Outside of Zimbabwe, AMN is another UK-based telecommunications company in the business of setting up base stations in underserved parts of Africa. Thus far they have set up 3000 base stations across 14 African countries. These are private players coming into the space looking at the need that exists in the rural parts of the continent.

When it comes to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), new developments are usually fed to the next closest base station which could be some distance away from the optimal range for passable service. When new developments are being cited, it should be a collaborative effort between the planners and the ISPs such that as the ISPs plan their network and the associated optimizations, they do so with population clusters in mind.

Whenever a new development takes place, certain utilities will get land allocated to them. Sites for a substation feeding power to the new development, sewer processing plants, and sites for water towers feeding council water to the development all have land assigned to them strategically during the planning phase. The same needs to be done for communications infrastructure in the form of base station sites and standard ducts for fixed operator networks.

Ducting is open to all operators and is included in the development cost and phase of the development as per the POTRAZ telecommunications act on the standards for underground communications duct dimensions, trench depth, and best practices when passing other underground utilities like power and water. Such a setup will get them to maximize the capacity of the base stations or fiber networks in the area. It will also make it a lot cheaper for telcos to service an area since the costs of trenching are vastly reduced. It will also reduce the barrier of entry normally associated with the high cost to the customer in setup fees.

Cover Image Credit: Troy Squillaci via Pexels