POSTAL and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has granted a licence to a mobile virtual network operator, Dolphin Telecoms.
This will make Dolphin Telecoms the fourth mobile service operator in the country after Econet, Telecel and NetOne.
Dolphin Telecoms has partnered one of the three mobile networks to deploy Zimbabwe’s first virtual network, with the service targeting the market with a suite of affordable mobile services.
Its model is centred on the creation of a new layer of efficiency in the virtualisation space.
Mobile virtual network operators are telecommunication companies that do not erect base stations, but utilise excess capacity from existing network operators.
A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a mobile network operator that runs on top of another mobile network operator. Put simply, an MVNO virtually has no physical infrastructure like base stations. It makes use of the infrastructure of the operator it is running on. Which makes it easy to understand how Dolphin Telecom could afford to set up with just US$15 million. They had almost no infrastructure cost.
Dolphin’s service will be available across a large coverage area built on the partner’s extensive backbone. The commercial launch is planned for later this year.
According to company officials, out of nearly six million smartphone users in Zimbabwe, about 2,5 million are actively seeking custom data and calling packages with some using multiple devices.
POTRAZ states that a light MVNO can pay US$5 000 for a 20-year license and a full MVNO up to US$50 000 for the same 20-year period.
Dolphin believes that improving access to voice, SMS, and data services at economic rates is critical to driving entrepreneurial growth and the company aims to develop partnerships with digital service providers to ride on its network.
The company is also targeting the lucrative financial services market.
Dolphin expects to tap into financial services with a creative peer-to-peer financial system that will resolve many of the challenges that limit the usefulness of existing products.
The operator is coming onto the market at a time when telecommunication companies in the country are saying tariffs are inadequate and a threat to their viability.
Competition is always welcome. It breeds innovation and hopefully clever ways of providing value to Zimbabweans.