Leading mobile network operator, Econet, announced to its users it won’t be business as usual going forth as power cuts, increased fuel prices and high inflation rates continue to affect its operations.
Econet released a statement on Sunday pleading with its customers to stand with them as they face high fuel cost, fluctuating inflation rates and plummeted voice call tariffs challenges.
There have been outcries of dropping calls, cross-linking of voices and poor connectivity from users prompting the statement from the service provider.
Zimbabwe Mobile Network Operators have been considering introducing downtime for their base stations to fewer hours per day, as operating them without power and support costs have drained the business.
Of the 8,884 active base stations in Zimbabwe as at March 2019, Econet holds 52.7% 2G base stations, 56.6% of 3G and 69.9% LTE coverage, and is the most affected in keeping these running during load shedding.
In the statement, Econet highlighted the 500% increase in fuel price and high inflation as major factors affecting its suitable service provision to its customers.
“The cost of fuel has gone up by 500% and the local currency has lost over 9005% in value to date. At the same time our voice tariffs have only increased by 33%,” read the statement.
In response to suggestions from critics to switch to renewable energy like solar, Econet highlighted they require over US$60 Million to upgrade equipment and convert their sites.
Telecommunications regulator POTRAZ, has 90%+ uptime obligation for all mobile network operators, regardless of excessive load shedding.
Meaning, base stations must always be available to the users. Quality of Service benchmarks enforced by the regulator penalise service providers should they operate under these mandatory standards
Unfortunately, even without constant supply of electricity by ZESA daily, mobile networks operators are still, by law mandated to provide apt services, regardless of prevailing environment.
In previous years, Potraz penalised all mobile networks of millions when then failed the quality of service test with dropping calls, cross-linking of voices and poor connectivity.