Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) is expected to issue the first wholesale license to the newly established Botswana Fibre Network Ltd (BoFiNet), which is a new category of licensing for the Botswana market.
Government-owned BoFiNet is taking shape to provide and operate a world-class telecommunications backbone network infrastructure which will drive connectivity and economic growth.
BTA Head, Corporate Communications, Aaron Nyelesi, says that the plan is to issue the licence during the course of the year. He added that initial application was received towards the end of 2012 while resubmission was received in February 2013.
“Public Telecommunications Operator (PTO) market is a liberalised market with limited number of players. First the BTA has to determine whether the market requires more players. Once the need has been determined, a tender may be issued inviting applicants to provide service in the identified market, indicating the requirements,” said Nyelesi.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, he pointed out that the introduction of wholesale provider, such as BoFINet, is expected to level the playing field and enhance competition as it offers retailers of telecommunications services the opportunity to buy capacity from a neutral provider who has no business association to any of them but, more importantly, who will not be competing with them at retail level.
“A wholesale license is a new category of licensing for Botswana market. Therefore the conditions for such a license are not readily available as they are being developed at the moment,” he said.
Nyelesi observed that the wholesale layer in Botswana is one of the important components affecting the pricing of telecommunications services generally. He added that existing fibre infrastructure augmented by undersea cables is expected to increase bandwidth capacity, reduce tariffs and improve service delivery.
“All operators (Local and international) are expected to have access to high capacity, high speed connectivity offered by the wholesale provider through undersea cables,” said Nyelesi.
The BTA spokesperson also stated that some of the general requirements include business plan, citizen empowerment component, pricing and network rollout plans.
Currently, BoFiNet is led by the interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Keabetswe Segole, reporting to a Board of Directors appointed by the Minister of Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi.
BoFiNet was established in 2012 following government separation of the incumbent operator, BTC, into two separate organizations which are BoFiNet and BTC Ltd, which will be partially privatized once the separation is complete. BoFiNet was established as a commercial and self-sustaining business and has a completely independent strategy as well as structures separate from BTC.
Segole said that before end of May this year the executive structure is expected to be in place while awaiting the license from BTA, adding that office space is expected to be finalized in a couple of months.
“BofiNet will make domestic dark fibre available via lease to very high capacity operators, including international operators wishing to transit Botswana and who wish to deploy their own active equipment,” he stated.
Segole was also optimistic that the company will continue to efficiently service the telecommunications industry in Botswana such as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Mascom, Orange and also serve the international telecoms operator market.