Botswana Fibre Networks has ruled itself out of taking accountability of expensive internet in the country even though the company sells internet services to local service providers.
This was said by the fibre network organisation at the third installment of BOFINET Media Telco Workshop on Tuesday at Masa Square Hotel.
Chairperson of the Botswana Editors Forum, Spencer Mogapi asserted that internet is unreliable and very slow yet expensive.
“Internet remains for the rich and urbanised areas in this country. I wonder if you have competition because competition is good for customers as the prices will be brought down and the complaints of speed and reliability can also be addressed. Botswana Power Corporation and Water Utilities Corporaton stated that they have the capacity to partner with BOFINET, so I wonder why they are not partnering to better their services,” he said.
In response to Mogapi, BOFINET chief executive officer Mabua Mabua said that they are a “wholesale provider and they are aware of the prices they give to the market and cannot be held accountable for expensive internet in the country. It is not our decision to regulate prices of service providers”. He also noted that their services are good and service providers themselves can only address the concerns over high pricing and poor service quality.
Mabua said that BOFINET has competition, and the market allows their competitors to provide services like theirs.
“There is also an issue of Water Utilities Corporation and Botswana Power Corporation assets being available for use by Botswana Fibre Networks. This is an issue of the process of how the assets will be used and accessed in the market. Government created BOFINET as a national implementation agent,” he elaborated.
Tlhako Sekopo, BOFINET chief engineer technology planning said that their national broadband targets achieved a lot from the past five years. “During the year 2014-2015, we set a target of 2mb/s while for the year 2018-2019 the target stood at 50mb/s. In rural areas, the 2014-2015 year was targeted at 530kb/s while the year 2018-2019 was targeted at 30mb/s,” he said.
Sekopo revealed that they have currently covered 3,854 houses or yards in their broadband connectivity. In addressing the poor service quality concerns, he said that there is an issue of contention ratio (the number of users sharing the same data capacity) and affordability issues (pricing that hinders faster connection services uptake by end users).
“Government has made a decision to transfer Department of Broadcasting Services to BOFINET and this move has many benefits, which include competition stimulation, infrastructure provision on an open access basis and low capital for content distribution,” Sekopo said.