USDF objects to Swazi MTN getting gateway'
LOBAMBA – Chairman of the Portfolio Committee for the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Qedusizi Ndlovu, revealed that the army objected to MTN being given its own communication gateway as such would be a threat to national security.
MP Ndlovu said the USDF was consulted when his committee was compiling a report on the Electronic Communications Bill.
He said when compiling the report the committee members resolved thatã€€a gateway can only be issued toã€€MTN after five years of adoption of the Communications Bill. Even then, he said if they do not use it well, the licence to have its own gateway would be reviewed.
Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo concurred with Ndlovu, and said before he went to parliament yesterday a top brass soldier sent him a text message saying MPs must not approve a gateway for MTN.
"The top brass soldier said if this was allowed, it would compromise national security. We would not be able to monitor the gateway if it was given to other people. "In one country I was in, there was a communication blackout and we could not use the internet because no one had to know or communicate anything about the whereabouts of the head of state for security reasons. We have to be careful if we allow a gateway for MTN because it is very easy to track a stolen cellphone even before we give them the gateway.
"How much more if they operate it on their own? I think we will still continue to communicate even if we had one gateway as is the case in developed countries such as Ethiopia. We must avoid copying things from South Africa because if we do, then we would have to copy everything. If we are serious about the country and the security thereof, we must avoid giving them a gateway, but if we are serious about making money then so be it," he said.
MP Khumalo said SPTC was a major shareholder at MTN on paper yet reality suggested otherwise.
Only Mtsambama MP Bheki Mkhonta said for the sake of liberalising the communications industry, MTN must be given the gateway.
...govt can’t meet 7-day ultimatum
LOBAMBA – Government will no longer meet the sevenday ultimatum it was given with which to resolve the impasse between Swazi MTN and SPTC.
Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Senator Winnie Magagula said the new proposal by MTN that government must allow the company own gateway was the reason for the delays in resolving the spat.
Minister Magagula said MTN formally proposed that government gives it own gateway in exchange for the continued rollout of fixedfones, O
NE and the internet dongle.
Having own gateway would relieve MTN from relying on the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) for the service.
Minister Magagula told MPs in the House of Assembly yesterday that the sub committee was still to take the proposal to Cabinet for discussion.
She explained that a gateway is a pathway of communication from which a call made from a gadget is transmitted to its intended destination or to another gateway which will transmit it to its destination.
She said currently, such a gateway in the country is operated by SPTC.
"MTN has to use that same gateway and is charged a certain interconnection fee per call made. This is what makes the MTN calls to be expensive."
The minister said MTN representatives said they would allow the continual of the SPTC mobile gadgets only on condition that they are given their own gateway.
The minister asked the MPs to note that the issue was no longer that of her ministry but had become a national concern
"MTN says if we don’t want them to switch off, then we must give them a gateway of their own." Though government had been allowed seven days to resolve the spat between SPTC and MTN, the minister said the time frame would have to be removed in the light of yesterday’s developments.
"We now have to consider the new proposal that has been brought to the table, which will take us longer than the seven days," she said.
MTN MUST STOP THE BLACKMAIL. An interesting debate this one clouded by sentiments on both sides. Army and legislators believe security would be compromised. Maybe to help us understand the reasoning behind this, someone needs to unpack how this compromise would occur, especially if the ITU said it wouldn't. Again, Minister Winnie continues her crusade to sponsor MTN giving us the hogwash, telling us that the reason for MTNs high tariffs are the result of usage of SPTC gateway and explaining this as the interconnection fees. Spare us the rhetoric madame Minister. Interconnection fees are payable from both sides when subscribers call across networks, and if the argument were to hold, then by the same breath she is saying SPTC tariffs from landline to cell are higher because of the same thing. Interconnection fees would not go away, gateway or no gateway. But what the minister is forgetting is that SPTC is paying interconnection fees from landline to MTN cellphones. Actually, SPTC is paying a fortune to MTN in this connection. So Minister Winnie's reasoning is flawed. I think MTN needs to stop the blackmail. Before, it was Regulatory functions of SPTC, and Shareholding and now that regulatory function has been moved to ICT Ministry and government is going ahead to move the shares then it has to be the gateway. All along it was the 3G that was to be issued in return for SPTC's continued operation of ONE, and now that they got that license; albeit, using guerilla tactics, it's the gateway. In the 3G license saga, government and SPTC were taken hostage by MTN and the powers that be. Need I say more? This issuance of the license was in itself irregular and a violation of parliamentary resolution to suspend issuance of licenses until the Communications Commission bill is passed into law. Again everyone had to bend over backwards because MTN had backing. Question is, where will it end? As a corporate citizen MTN should look seriously at what it is doing to it's reputation to the public because they don't want to be sidelined by the populace as an act of boycott of their services when another cellular network provider comes into the scene. MTN is a jewel of Swazi success, and I am proud supporter of that, but i also recognize that it has a responsibility to protect it's image from being tainted by dealings that raise questions from whomsoever.
Apr 5, 2012, 8:31 AM, Burns Dlamini Lobhoncela (Burnspolitics@gmail.com)
We have had enough of this war. Who is MTN to make demands in our country, and why is this allowed? Is it because there is no communication company willing to get into the country or is it because of the high profile shareholders. The customers she (MTN) is fighting for are fed up. Please do something about this Hon Prime Minister before 'sitoyi toye'.
Apr 5, 2012, 8:31 AM, McKenzo LoTaken (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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