Posted on Monday, 03 September 2012 11:33

Mobile phone war in Zimbabwe cripples subscribers

By Janet Shoko

Econet initially cut interconnection with NetOne citing non-payment /Photo©ReutersZimbabwe's two leading mobile phone operators Econet Wireless and NetOne are embroiled in a bitter wrangle over $20 million debt for interconnection fees.

Econet, a privately owned and biggest mobile operator with 6, 4 million subscribers last week temporarily disconnected the state owned NetOne, which is disputing the quantum of the outstanding fees.

The dispute has spilled to the courts with NetOne threatening to have Econet executives arrested for sabotage.

 Econet says after Zimbabwe dumped its inflation ravaged currency in 2009 to use multiple currencies, NetOne had not paid the monthly fees.

"The amount due owing to Econet as at July 31, 2012 is $20 412 109 excluding interest," the company said.

Econet has been roundly criticised for cutting off connectivity between its subscribers and those on NetOne's network.

High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo queried the motive behind the disconnection.

"Simply disconnecting members of the public without warning is irresponsible. Members of the public are busy going about their business and then they are suddenly disconnected," he said.

After the court appearance, the parties agreed a temporary ceasefire until the matter was decided by the High Court.

Econet initially cut interconnection with NetOne last Thursday citing non-payment of the outstanding fees.

It is normal practice in other countries for telecommunications companies to interconnect to one another.

It is usually done under an agreement that sets out a mutually agreed cost for the termination of calls between the operators.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) reacted angrily to the termination of services between Econet and NetOne and urged the operators to immediately resolve their differences.

CCZ also implored government to urgently intervene in the wrangle and restore normalcy in the telecommunications sector.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 September 2012 12:28

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