Students, teachers and lecturers will be able to access more free data bundles for all mobile network operators and some internet access providers through an initiative of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
Besides rolling out reduced-cost bundles and zero-rated services, TelOne, NetOne, Econet, Telecel and Liquid Telecom have intensified their fight against Covid-19 through donation of ICT equipment and bandwidth.
Portraz itself has been allocated extra bandwidth at no cost to the operators so they can cope with potential congestion and at the same time reduce their average costs.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said in a statement yesterday that the importance of ICTs during the Covid-19 period could not be overstated given that many people were working from home using e-platforms while students were engaging in e-learning, in compliance with lockdown restrictions which discourage needless travel.
"In light of this, the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services has been working tirelessly in facilitating and coordinating the ICT sector's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry has also been instrumental in giving direction to the sector regulator, Potraz, on what course of action to take in regulating the sector in the midst of the pandemic. As a result of such strategic direction from the Ministry, Potraz and ICT sector operators have been engaging in various Covid-19 mitigation interventions," said Dr Muswere.
The ICT ministry has coordinated the ICT sector support towards the setting up of a clinical Covid-19 National Operations Centre at Parirenyatwa Hospital, which saw Liquid Telecom providing 100Mb/s of bandwidth, while TelOne provided 10 fixed tollfree lines and handsets.
Telecel availed 12 tollfree lines for use on fixed cellular terminals with NetOne providing 20 tollfree lines and handsets. Econet Wireless chipped in with four desktop computers while Potraz provided 20 laptops, 17 servers and two multifunction printers.
Potraz also issued the short code "2019" to be used as a Covid-19 hotline for mobile networks and "0800 2019" for use on the fixed network.
Dr Muswere said following recommendations by his ministry, Potraz allocated free additional spectrum to all mobile network operators and some IAPs.
"Under this initiative, the Authority assigned an additional channel of 2x5MHz each for congestion relief to NetOne, Econet and Telecel until December 2020. Liquid Telecom was assigned a free additional 15 MHz in the 2300 MHz band for congestion relief on its LTE network for the same period.