TELECOMMUNICATIONS giant Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is owed $26,3 million in interconnect fees by government owned network providers, Tel One and NetOne.
According to the company’s audited abridged financial results for the year end 28 February 2015, Tel One and Net One have been failing to settle their debt which saw the government intervening by stopping Econet from disconnecting Netone from their net-work in 2012.
“Telecoms operators throughout the world pay each other interconnect fees for traffic terminating on each other’s networks. This is governed by agreements entered into between the operators. Econet has Interconnect agreements with Tel One, Net One, Telecel and other interconnection partners,” Dr James Myers who is also the board chair said.
“A disturbing trend has emerged over the last five years in which Net One and Tel One have been increasingly unable or unwilling to settle their debts. During the period under the review, the two operators accumulated new debts amounting to about $26.3 million.
“With assistance from Government of Zimbabwe and the reserve bank of Zimbabwe, we have had to come up with innovative solutions to address this worsening problem and prevent the disconnection of the defaulting networks from our network. If unchecked, the rate at which Net One and Tel One have continued to default on their contractual obligations will threaten the viability of their entire telecommunications sector.”
In August 2012, the leading telecommunication company, Econet, disconnected NetOne for the debt. After failed attempts by Econet to reach an agreement through the Zimbabwean telecoms regulator POTRAZ, Econet said that it is “obvious that NetOne was not prepared to honour its obligations”, and promptly cut off all interconnection services.
Econet said it had to take a unilateral decision to reconnect NetOne considering both “the negative impact on the subscribers and the unreasonable stance that NetOne took of disregarding the impact of the disconnection.”