MTC may have to wait for the launch of their Long-Term Evolution 4G after revelations that the City of Windhoek, apart from the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia’s delay in issuing a licence, wants shares in the company before granting them their wishes.
Although City of Windhoek CEO, Niilo Taapopi confirmed that as a city, they once had eyes set on MTC shares, this, however, is not the reason for the delay in allowing the company to lay its fibre network.
Taapopi said Telecom had asked them not to allow MTC to go ahead with its own network since there was enough for both telecommunication companies.
Currently, MTC shares the fibre metro ring with Telecom but wants the City of Windhoek to allow them to lay its own fibre network and base stations.
But MTC Communications and Human Resources Manager, Tim Ekandjo said the City of Windhoek is demanding for ‘something’.
“Telecom has agreed to share the fibre but for 4G to materialise, we need more fibre and more base-stations (towers). We have the finances, we have the expertise and infrastructure but we do not have the go ahead.
“President (Hifikepunye) Pohamba in his State-of-the-Nation address said Namibia should be among the first African countries to go live with 4G. But, we cannot succeed with the City of Windhoek being so overzealous and CRAN delaying us.
“The City of Windhoek went to the extent of saying, ‘every time a call is made through fibre, you will have to give us something’. How on earth does the City want to get a joint venture with us if they are not a shareholder?
“Even the PM, in one of our meetings, told them that they have no business with us. MTC already went out on tender for the fibre and a contractor has been waiting for two years to begin the job but this can only happen once the City realises that we don’t owe them anything,” Ekandjo said.
The City’s stance, according to Ekandjo, has forced MTC to use Telecom’s fibre infrastructure, which is not ‘available everywhere across the country’.
Ekandjo added that although the City’s technical experts have advised in favour of allowing the fibre installation, the Council is the one being defiant.
MTC Chairman, Dirk Conradie has also weighed in on the matter saying, “We certainly do not want to do a third trial (of 4G) but we would now like to go live with 4G in the best interest of our customers and the country as a whole.
“We, therefore, implore all stakeholders involved, especially the Regulator and the City of Windhoek, which are the two critical stakeholders, to bless this very important development for Namibia so that we can become amongst the first countries in Africa and the world with this technology. Time is critical and not on our side anymore and we, therefore, need to move fast.”
City Chief Executive Officer, Niilo Taapopi has confirmed that they once had interest in MTC shares but ‘have since shelved the matter’ saying they were advised against it.
“The issue is now between Telecom and MTC who should go to the Minister of Information, Communication and Technology to sort out their mess. We have the land. Telecom has informed us that MTC cannot start its own fibre network. It says it has enough but MTC is saying it’s not enough. The City is just a pawn in this fight of communication giants, that’s why it is easy for them to blame us,” Taapopi said.
In his speech during the trial of the 4G in Windhoek, PM Nahas Angula took a swipe at CRAN and the Ministry of Information and Technology for contributing to ‘dead capital’.
“This loss (N$225m investment) should be attributed to CRAN, because if there is no return, we are losing. Last year, I chaired a contentious meeting between all the parties involved and they could not agree on the rig issue. Telecom says it owns the entire communication infrastructure in Windhoek while the City of Windhoek had no idea about the infrastructure.
“CRAN must give the frequency. MTC has made an investment with public money and if the West Africa Cable System (WACS) cable is not working and the end-user is not getting good services, then CRAN must take the blame. Give license for the infrastructure to get activated,” he said.
In response last week, CRAN said MTC was a cry-baby ‘seeking preferential treatment’.
“CRAN was established in May last year. MTC submitted their license request in July of the same year. There is a lot we are working on to get done in terms of setting up a management team and opening up the marketing for more liberalisation.
“We have started with a band plan process to determine the number of operators who will be entitled to the frequency. MTC’s application is pending and so is the opening up of the market for other operators to be treated the same. It’s a matter of time and they must not cry out loud because there are more players in the game. We may give them a licence in the second quarter of the year,” said CRAN Chief Executive, Stanley Shanapinda.