Potraz worried about access cost to communication

By Staff reporter | 07 May 2019 at 21:12hrs
Dr Machengete
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Director General Dr Gift Machengete says the Regulator remains sensitive to the plight of customers at the same time maintaining operator viability, TechnoMag can reveal.

He echoed a statement yesterday while appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on ICTs, stating that while tariffs have gone up due to the USD alignment, he was concerned that salaries and wages were not in tandem, making access to information very difficult for most citizens.

Machengete, however, highlighted that the major outcry is not coming from tariff hikes but rather from termination of promotions, which technically is outside their jurisdiction, as operators only need to apply for introduction of promos.

Speaking over the weekend, during the commissioning of the Dendera shared base station in Midlands, Dr Machengete said the new tariffs are cost-based and the regulator will ensure operators do not profiteer from the already economically strained customers.

"In this regard, the Regulator is trying to maintain a balance between consumer affordability and operator viability, with the myriad of the ongoing economic challenges, the authority is very sensitive to the plight of consumers, Potraz will try to ensure that mobile data remains affordable. At the same time, operators must not profiteer from the consumers but still need to remain in business," he said

POTRAZ is doing this through a cost modelling exercise using the Long Run Incremental Costing (LRIC) model. After the inaugural LRIC exercise in 2014, tariffs for voice were reviewed from 23 to 16 cents per minute. Out of bundle data charges were left to market forces subject to regulatory approval.

In 2017, the LRIC models were further reviewed and the results were implemented in July 2018. This saw the out of bundle data tariffs being reduced from 15 cents per MB as has been determined by market forces to 6 cents per MB as determined by the LRIC models. The review was with effect from 1 July 2018.

This year tariffs were again reviewed. This followed developments emanating from the Monetary Policy pronouncements that saw the introduction of RTGS dollars as the main currency of trading against the US dollar.

Dr Machengete added that mobile operators came up with strategic business models that allowed them to salvage revenue from consumption of data by offering promotions termed bundled data services.

"Promotions saw data being offered at a very low cost for applications such as Whatsapp and Facebook, competition for subscribers among the networks kept costs for these bundles low," he said.

Due to increased financial pressure in the economy, operators have been forced to rationalize and review promotions.



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