Telecel switches off 100 000 lines

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ZIMBABWE’S second-largest mobile phone operator by subscription, Telecel Zimbabwe, has switched off nearly 100 000 lines after the country’s telecoms regulator issued a directive ordering players to disconnect unregistered lines.

ACTING BUSINESS EDITOR

Responding to questions sent by NewsDay Business, Telecel branding and communication director Obert Mandimika said the mobile phone company had switched mainly inactive lines, adding the development would have minimum impact on revenue.

“We disconnected about 100 000 subscribers who were not properly registered. Close to 90% of these were subscribers deemed technically dormant as they had gone over 90 days without any activity on their lines,” Mandimika said.

“However, as per Potraz (Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) regulations, we were keeping them on our database until the allowed 365 days elapsed because we completely delete them from our system. This has had a minimal impact on our revenue because the lines were not active. Most active subscribers have responded positively to the call to regularise their details.”

Last month Potraz ordered mobile phone operators to disconnect all unregistered lines by August 31 amid concerns that subscribers were engaging in criminal activities using the lines.

Following the directive, Telecel urged its subscribers to register mobile phone lines before the telecoms regulator switched off illegal lines.

The development came at a time when the market was flooded with activated lines from the country’s three mobile operators — Econet, Telecel and NetOne.

Telecel, once the smallest operator in terms of subscribers, became the first mobile phone operator to slash the cost of subscriber identity module cards (SIM cards) in a bid to grow its subscriber base after the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009.

This move resulted in the telecoms company overtaking State-owned NetOne although it remained a distant second from Econet Wireless, which has over eight million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Potraz has announced plans to introduce new measures to protect consumers against unfair practices by mobile phone operators as competition in one of the country’s most resilient sectors intensifies.