TELECOMS giant Econet is locked in a new interconnection dispute with new and smaller phone companies after it blocked their calling card service.
Econet has blocked Aquiva and Telco's calling card services, severely crippling their operations.
The calling card system allows users to place calls to the network’s access number from a mobile or fixed phone line. They are then given the flexibility to make calls to other networks that are connected to Aquiva or Telco at affordable Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) rates.
The row follows another multi-million dispute between Econet and NetOne which spilled into the courts, with Econet accusing the state-run firm of not paying for interconnection services.
Mobile phone networks sign an interconnection agreement under which the operators remit a fraction of the call charge - US7c per minute in the case of NetOne and Econet - for calls going into each other’s network.
Aquiva director Blessing Mutenga on Friday accused Econet of defying regulations put in place by Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz).
"We have since approached Potraz to mediate since its mandate is to create a level playing field in the sector.” Mutenga said.
"Our operations have been severely crippled and consumers disadvantaged.”
He said plans to roll out the service to Diaspora communities in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States would now be pushed back.
"We had intended to commercially launch in December last year to allow the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to have more talk time with their loved ones. We estimate that would cut the cost of calls by up to 50 percent,” he added.
A meeting with Potraz last month yielded nothing and the regulatory body is yet to fully respond to the dispute.
Econet corporate communications manager Ranga Mberi requested that the queries be put in writing, but had not responded by the time of publication.