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Paratus falls back to lawyers as CoW remains with telecom license

Telecommunications company, Paratus, has now fallen back on its lawyers for advice on the way forward as the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) yesterday upheld its decision to give the City of Windhoek a Class Comprehensive Telecommunications Service Licence (ECNS and ECS).
Paratus boss, Barney Harmse said they will not comment on the matter for now as they are now seeking advice from lawyers in connection with the latest developments.
Paratus and the City of Windhoek have tussled over this issue for some time now as the former contends that this does not bring about fair play as the municipality will act as a competitor and regulator at one go.
The first ground for reconsideration was that “an unauthorised person made the purported application.”
CRAN noted that Paratus argued that the City application for a license is ultra vires because it was brought by the Strategic Executive: ICT instead of the Strategic Executive: Electricity as directed by Council resolution.
But CRAN has said, “The Authority and all parties concerned knew who the applicant is and no one was confused as to the particulars of the Applicant. To this end, this issue is perhaps best debated before a platform with inherent jurisdiction, but not for purposes of considering this application before the Authority”.
A few months ago, the city flexed its muscle by seizing digging equipment of the company, accusing it of digging fibre optic cable on city land, although it lost the mater in court.
“CRAN has upheld their decision and I believe that the industry will probably challenge that,” said lawyer Eben De Klerk adding that the City’s desire is to monopolize the telecoms space.
He also said, “We feel that there is a very strong hand higher up in government that is pushing this”.
But the City says it now seeks to disrupt how a business has always been done, more to create a digital society than to make a profit.
The City believes that the private sector feels threatened because they are treating the market as a pie instead of partnering with the municipality.
“The operators feel they can do these things and that the City can not do these things but the world has changed. The city has to take its responsivity to provide smart city services. We can do it in partnership with other operators. They should not see competition,” said City acting CEO Rekliff Kandjiriomuini.
He has also watered down claims that there is a master-plan to work with Huawei.

Kelvin Chiringa

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