by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE – ZIMBABWE’S mobile network operators are advocating for a ban on Over The Top Services (OTTs) after it emerged they were losing significant revenues as subscribers increasingly abandon voice calls for cheaper alternatives.
The operators have decried the loss of US$26 million (about R390 million) in the wake of the advent of OTTs such as Immo, WhatsApp and Skype.
This has denied government some $4 million in potential tax revenue collection from the three operators- Econet, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans, who are searing under economic challenges with unemployment hovering above 85 percent and rising voice and data tariffs, are exploring other possible communication channels.
Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Service, Supa Mandiwanzira, confirmed the concerns raised by the mobile operators.
“All networks (Econet, NetOne and Telecel) have approached my office to say we need to do something about this because the investment that we put in infrastructure is not going to be recouped because a lot of our revenue is now being lost,” said the minister.
He said a total of 186 million minutes, equivalent to $26 million (about R390 million), were lost in the process as subscribers turned to OTTs.
“There was evidence that the entire sector is bleeding as a result of OTTs,” Mandiwanzira said.
He said the government was yet to make the pronouncement over the proposal by the telcos to ban OTTs.
Zimbabwe, with a population of 14 million, has a mobile penetration rate of 97 percent, according to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
– CAJ News