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Deadline for telecoms firms beckons

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ZIMBABWE’S largest mobile phone operator by subscription, Econet Wireless has embarked on a massive campaign to register unregistered subscriber identity module cards (sim) after the country’s telecoms regulator ordered firms to switch off the chips by month end.

In a statement on Sunday, Econet said all unregistered chips would be disconnected by November 1 following a new statutory instrument by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) early this month.

The new law which came into effect on October 1 obliges all telecommunications service providers to disconnect unregistered customers.

The development came at a time the market was flooded with activated lines from the country’s three mobile operators — Econet, Telecel and NetOne.

Econet has nearly eight million subscribers followed by Telecel with just over three million.

In the event of a lost, stolen or destroyed sim card, the new regulations require subscribers to report any such loss, theft or destruction to your nearest police station. The police, according to the new law, will issue you with a report bearing a reference number which will then be used to replace the chip.

Meanwhile, Econet’s rival Telecel Zimbabwe last month announced that it had switched off nearly 100 000 lines after the country’s telecoms regulator issued a directive ordering players to disconnect unregistered lines.

Telecel, once the smallest operator in terms of subscribers, became the first mobile phone operator to slash the cost of sim cards in a bid to grow its subscriber base after the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009.

This move resulted in the telecoms company overtaking State-owned NetOne, although it remained a distant second from Econet Wireless, which has over eight million subscribers.

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