Econet and NetOne in debt row

cellInterconnection services between Econet and Netone has been restored after a High Court intervention. (Image source: sxc.hu)Zimbabwean mobile service provider Econet and mobile operator NetOne are at loggerheads over a multimillion dollar debt that Econet has claimed NetOne owes it

Econet had cut off all interconnection service with NetOne over the conflict on 23 August 2012 though it had to restore the service after a High Court order forced Econet to reverse its decision on 24 August 2012.

According to a Reuters report Econet suspended interconnection services to NetOne last week, saying the government-owned network had refused to pay it US$20mn in fees from 2009.

Lawyers for both companies confirmed the development, adding High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshawayo had told them their row would needlessly inconvenience subscribers.

Econet’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo said, “Econet has taken a unilateral decision to reconnect NetOne considering both the negative impact on the subscribers and the unreasonable stance that NetOne took of disregarding the impact of the disconnection.”

Collin Kahuni, representing NetOne added, “The basic position is that the chairman of Econet, Tawanda Nyambirai, has agreed to reconnect NetOne immediately and he has been given a postponement... to enable Econet to file their response to our application.”

Econet had abruptly cut off NetOne claiming it had failed to meet the terms of their interconnection agreement under which the operators would pay US7 cents per minute for calls going into each other’s network.

After failed attempts by Econet to reach an agreement through the Zimbabwean telecoms regulator Potraz, Econet said that it was obvious that NetOne was not prepared to honour its obligations, and had promptly cut off all interconnection services.

Potraz said the companies’ dispute over the interconnection fees needed to be taken to arbitration.

Potraz director general Charles Sibanda said, “This is an issue that involves the shareholder and we will wait for the parent ministry to react to it first.”

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