4.4. Case Study
The case study being adopted in this research uses longitudinal surveys where collection of data is carried out at different times to help observe changes. In-depth interviews are carried out as part of the study to generate hypotheses in initial phase of the research process to examine behaviours of targeted respondents and understand how aware and ready they are towards the infrastructure sharing blueprint and its associated capabilities.
5. SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
5.1. Scope of the study
The research paper is about a case study of infrastructure sharing in the telecom sector to determine if broadband systems can be deployed to far-flung remote areas.
The scope uses quantitative analysis to investigate if infrastructure sharing can bring broadband coverage to a marginalised community. Whilst we investigate whether a shared infrastructure is an ideal mechanism for Zimbabwe, we need to answer to the following research question: What is the most suitable business case to use? This paper will show that it is commercially viable to expand broadband penetration to geographically underserved rural population.
5.2. Business Model
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country and relies on external internet service providers like West Indian Ocean Cable Company to distribute and deliver internet content to its citizens. Due to this, internet access is costly to those who need it to unlock important avenues which affect their daily lives. The proposed business model consists of formation of an independent entity called Zimbabwe Backbone Network (ZBN) under a joint venture by mobile operators to manage the passive network infrastructure facilities.
Each operator contributes part of the infrastructure towards ZBN and enjoys rights to shared facilities. The Zimbabwean government comes in to partner ZBN through public-private partnership (PPP) and will utilise annual contributions made into Universal Service Fund (USF) by telecom operators. This will go towards the Passive Infrastructure Sharing Blueprint (PISB) whose main strategy will include the following;
(i) Rural area Broadband Points of Presence (BPOPs): Setup carrier facilities which offer high speed wireless or leased-line access in rural district centres from which small business enterprises, schools, health institutions, churches, villages, etc, will be able to gain internet access via their Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
(ii) Rural area Immediate Network Agencies (IMA): Promote setup of WLANs (Wireless Local Area Networks) for Micro-finance agencies, local government entities, NGOs, etc who have direct social and economic linkages with rural communities.
(iii) Rural area information kiosks: Provide ICT-enabled services through provision of various public service offerings such as online application of birth certificates and passports to rural communities, public grievances, electricity bills, property registration, etc, at the villager’s doorsteps.
5.3. Limitations of the study
The study of network infrastructure sharing in Zimbabwe has some limitations and restrictions due to non-availability of essential data; hence theoretical analysis is being used in this research. Up-to-date technical data will be adopted to minimise margins of errors. Sharing of network infrastructure by operators is a very important initiative to explore in Zimbabwe especially at an opportune time when its neighbours like Zambia, Botswana and South Africa are adopting the same strategy.