Director General of the Malawi communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), Godfrey Itaye, has said the recent agreement between Malawi and Zambia will help in managing radio signal spillovers between the two countries.
On May 31, Macra and its counterpart the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the bilateral co-operation on Telecommunications and Broadcasting Services Cross boarder Frequency co-ordination.
The deal which was signed in Lusaka by Itaye and Acting Director General for ZICTA, Patrick Mutimushi, aims at ensuring the two countries can jointly coordinate issues around radio frequency (signal) propagation and spillage between the two borders.
Radio signal spillage, according to Itaye happens because radio signal is not restricted by international borders and there was need for the two countries to coordinate in order to limit the spillover.
Responding to a questionnaire, Itaye told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that this spillover has in the past caused some inconveniences to both service providers and consumers.
“Due to incidental spillover of radio signal, there have been cases of unintentional roaming whereby people living along the borders have been considered to have roamed to either countries and yet it is not their intention to roam. To avoid this unintentional roaming which is very costly to customers, people living along the borders find it cheaper to purchase a sim card from an operator in another country,” he said.
According to Itaye, this development has negatively affected the revenue for operators in Malawi but now operators are expected to benefit from the deal.
“Now, Malawian operators will not lose out in cases where Malawians living along the border were buying Zambian sim cards because the signal from a Zambian operator was stronger in their area than the signal from the Malawian operator,” said Itaye.
The MoU will also help in seeing the reduction of cases of interference along the borders.
“This interference has been happening because in the past, there have been incidences where either country has assigned same frequencies to their operator. However with this MoU, frequency assignments will be coordinated and harmonized,” he said.
The deal will also enhance cooperation between the two countries in as far as issues of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are concerned and also from shared information and knowledge on best practices in spectrum management.
Radio Spectrum relates to the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors primarily for communication over the airwaves.
It ranges from three kilohertz (KHz) to 300 gigahertz (GHz) within the electromagnetic wave frequencies. In the past, Malawi has also had similar agreements with Tanzania and Mozambique.