A multimillion dollar debt owed to wireless network provider Econet, by the state owned mobile operator NetOne, has resulted in all interconnection services between the two being cut off.
Econet announced the termination of the service this week in a public notice, which revealed that as much as US$20 million (excluding interest) is owed from as far back as 2009. Econet said it has tried engaging the Zimbabwean telecoms regulator POTRAZ, and the government to intervene, but with no success.
The company has now said it is "obvious that NetOne was not prepared to honour its obligations" even though NetOne has been collecting the fees due to Econet from subscribers as part of the interconnection deal.
Econet has said it's ready to reconnect, once NetOne "makes a substantial payment towards the historical debt and commits to meet future obligations on due date".
According to Econet, an interconnection agreement is reached on the basis that there is a mutually agreed cost of terminating calls on each other's network.
In Zimbabwe, POTRAZ regulates the cost of terminating domestic and international calls. These rates are 7 cents per minute for a domestic call and 20 cents per minute for an international call.
NetOne and Econet have had an agreement for domestic call terminations for many years. Each of the operators normally charge its customers 23 cents per minute (including 15% VAT) for a call to each other's network and is supposed to pay the other operator 7 cents per minute whilst keeping to itself 16 cents.