Monday, August 11, 2008

Namibia - incumbent barred from mobile

Bill Limits Telecom Namibia to Fixed Lines

A dispute has erupted between Namibia's sole fixed-line telecom service provider and its government over the new telecom bill that confines the company to only fixed-line services.

Telecom Namibia wants the new bill to include licenses across the whole spectrum of telecommunications and information and communication technologies.

But in its current form, the bill does not allow Namibia Telecom to venture into mobile and other services, including Internet service provision, other than fixed service.

Namibia Telecom has a right to be granted a license that includes all telecom services, Namibia Telecom Managing Director Frans Ndoroma told IDG Infrastructure Service.

The company will push for an amendment to the bill, which is under review but has not yet been presented to Parliament.

Two years ago, Namibia Telecom introduced "Switch," a mobile service company. If the currently proposed bill becomes law, the service will either be shut down or operated under restrictions. The government has said that if Switch is allowed to continue operating, it will only be allowed to operate within the radius of the country's capital city, Windhoek.

Ndoroma said his company wants a license that would encompass the convergence of technologies rather than just one service.

A service-neutral license would mean that national public telecommunication services could be provided over fixed, mobile, wireless or wire lines using available technologies, including the operation of the international gateway.

"The intentions of the proposed bill do not encompass convergence technologies and service. Policy change should aim at promoting and regulating convergence technologies," Ndoroma said.

The telecom sector, Ndoroma said, has evolved to an extent where one telecom company should be allowed to operate the Internet, fixed voice, mobile, data and network services.

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