Tanzania – The Converged Licensing Framework

This Practice Note is an excerpt from Tanzania’s Experience in Licensing of Communications Operators under the Converged Licensing Framework (Geneva: International Telecommunications Union).  This document was submitted as a contribution to  ITU-D Study Group 1 Question 10 -2/1 on Regulation for licensing and authorization of converging services.

 

 

Tanzania’s Experience in Licensing of Communications Operators under the Converged Licensing Framework

 

1            Introduction

On 23 February 2005, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) introduced the Converged Licensing Framework (CLF). The CLF was introduced after the end of the exclusivity of the incumbent fixed line operator. The new framework is designed to encompass technology and service neutrality and crafted to match with the dynamism of the communications sector. In addition, the CLF not only ensures regulatory flexibility, addressing market and technology developments, but also ensures efficient utilization of network resources and encourages market entry of small scale operators.

 

This paper highlights Tanzania’s experience in licensing communication operators under the CLF from 2005 to 2006. Focus will be made on CLF as defined in Tanzania and lessons learnt in the licensing process which may be adopted by countries which plan to introduce new legislation aimed at supporting the development of converged services.

 

2            The CLF principles

Under the CLF, there are basically two major principles: technological neutrality and services neutrality.

 

2.1         Technological Neutrality

This allows a licensee to choose any type of technology and equipment to be used to provide communication services. The main purpose of this principle is to ensure that the licensing framework is flexible to meet the fast moving technology developments in the sector.


 

2.2         Service Neutrality

The CLF allows a licensee to provide different types of services which are in demand by consumers and those that are emerging in the sector. This opens the door to communication operators to be more flexible and creative in developing communication services.

 

3            The converged licensing framework in Tanzania

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is the communications regulatory body in Tanzania. TCRA has powers under the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act, 2003 and the Tanzania Communications Act, 1993 to issue licences and carry out other regulatory functions.

In Tanzania the legal framework for the CLF is provided under the Tanzania Communications (Licensing) Regulations, 2005. General provisions on licensing issues and licence categories are provided under the said Regulations. The Schedule to the Regulations provides for the following four licence categories.

 

3.1         Network Facility Licence (NF)

Under this category a licensee is authorized to install, own, control and provide access to electronic communications facilities, like fixed links, radio communications transmitters, satellite station, submarine cable, fibre /copper cable, towers, switches, etc., to other licensed operators on commercial bases.

 

Facilities established/to be established for the purpose of self support (private usage) or sharing with other providers to provide Applications Services are exempted for this licence.

 

3.2         Network Service Licence (NS)

This licence category allows a licensee to operate and maintain public electronic communication networks with various technologies (like CDMA, GSM WCDMA, WLL, ASDL) that involve intelligent network platform signalling control, traffic distribution switching translation and quality of services control. Examples of network services include mobile service, fixed lines services, bandwidth services and broadcasting distribution services.

 

3.3         Application Service Licence (AS)

An Application Service Licensee is responsible for the provision of electronic communications services to end users. Access to these services can be through establishment and operations of private facility and network or procurement and reselling of services from licensed facility or/and network service providers. Examples of these services include Internet services providers, virtual mobile provider, payphone services, fixed/mobile service.

 

3.4         Content Service Licence (CS)

The licensee is similar to Application Service licensee except that the licensee is responsible for provision of content services such as satellite broadcasting, broadcasting terrestrial free to air TV, terrestrial radio broadcasting, subscription TV and other broadcasting services.

 

4            Licensed Operators Under the CLF

From December 2005 to December 2006, a total of 93 licensees have been licensed by TCRA under the CLF.  When examining the list of licensed operators under the CLF one can observe that the new framework has been embraced by both existing licensees (who have migrated into the CLF) and new entrants who have decided to venture into the communications sector.

 

The first licence to be licensed by TCRA under the CLF was issued to TTCL. As from 30 December 2005, TTCL was issued with three licences for International and National Network Facility, International and National Network Services and International and National Application Services.

 

The second to follow was a new entrant, Six Telecoms Company Ltd, who was issued licenses for International Network Facility, International Network Services and National Application services. On 13 January 2006, this operator opened the door to many other new operators. Under it licences, Six Telecoms Company Ltd is authorized to put in place an international gateway and provide international calling cards.

 

On 20 January 2005, TCRA issued ZANTEL licences for International and National Network Facilities, International and National Network Services and International and National Application Services. ZANTEL, which was the second communication operator to migrate into the CLF, is now offering favourable tariffs to consumers, both in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.

 

On 17 May 2006, a number of operators were licenced by TCRA under the CLF. This group had both migrating licensees and new entrants with the majority of them being licensed as National Application Service Licensees.

 

The first licenses for Content Services were issued on 28 June 2006. On this occasion, a total of 59 were licensed as Content Services, with 21 as broadcasters (television) and 38 as broadcasters (radio). This included big broadcasters such as ITV, CTN, DTV, Star TV and East Africa Television, as well as small broadcasters such as Orkonerei FM and Masasi District Council.

 

On 26 July 2006, Vodacom Tanzania Ltd was issued licences for International and National Network Facility, International and National Network services and International and National Application services. In early 2007, Vodacom Tanzania  Ltd became the first operator to introduce 3G services in Tanzania. Towards the end of the year 2006, the number of application service licences keep on increasing as on 31 August 2006 four National Application service were issued and on 1 November 2006 three National Application Service licenses were also issued. This brought the number of Application service licensees in December 2006 to a total of 23 licensees.

 

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