NetOne applies for datacasting licence

HARARE - Mobile  telecommunications firm NetOne Cellular Limited (NetOne) has applied for a datacasting licence.

This comes as the State-owned mobile telecommunications service provider recently secured a $290 million loan from China to be invested in expanding the mobile company’s network coverage.

According to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz), NetOne has applied for one of 10 datacasting licences offered by the regulator.

“Take notice that the applicant (NetOne) has applied for a datacasting licence in terms of section 10 of the broadcasting Services Act (chapter 12:06),” Baz said in a statement yesterday.

Datacasting, or the broadcast of data, is a service that delivers information through  radio waves in varied forms which include text, data, speeches and images to any receiver or equipment that can accept or process the information.

The broadcast authority said anyone who wished to comment on the application may do so within a fortnight.

Although NetOne managing director Reward Kangai could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday as he was said to be locked in meetings, the Daily News is reliably informed that the company is dreaming big, despite its operations being choked by a $16m debt.

In June this year, Kangai told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Information Communication Technology that the company required at least $500m to revamp its operations.

NetOne aims to increase its subscriber base to three million by December but it requires a strategic investor to inject $570m to expand its network, which if implemented will change the telecommunications landscape in Zimbabwe.

Despite being the country’s oldest mobile phone operator, NetOne has fallen behind the other two networks — Econet and Telecel — in terms of subscriber numbers.

NetOne was the first cellular network operator in Zimbabwe based on the Global System for Mobile Communications.

The company was originally launched during the World Solar Summit in September 1996 in the capital, Harare with 2 000 lines.

The parastatal currently has between 2,7 and 2,8 million subscribers — representing 18 percent of the market share.

NetOne needs $570m to put up 3 000 base stations, up from the current figure of 700 base stations, at an average cost of $250 000 per rural base station. Anticipating an increase in clients, NetOne has already ordered an additional one million Sim cards to prevent shortages.

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