Under the Communications Regulatory Authority Act 2012, BOCRA has authority - within the guidelines established by the 1995 Telecommunication Policy to regulate telecommunications, among other sub-sectors communications. The telecommunications sector, sparred by the mobile technology, continues to experience significant growth in terms of the total number of consumers and variety of services.
The Telecommunications/ICT sector has undergone numerous reforms since the introduction of competition in 1998. Currently three Public Telecommunication Operators (PTOs) provide local, international, national and mobile services. The market structure for local services, domestic long distance services, market for international long distance services and market structure for mobile services has been partly liberalised. The telecommunications market is dominated by the three operators which operate under Public Telecommunications Operator (PTO) licence namely Botswana Telecommunications Limited (BTCL), Mascom Wireless Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Mascom) and Orange Botswana (Pty) Ltd (Orange). The other major player in the market is Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) which was issued an interim licence to provide wholesale services beginning 1 April 2013. BoFiNet started offering services in October 2013. Other market players are the Value Added Network Services (VANS) providers.
Although the PTO licence allows the operators to offer both mobile and fixed telephony services and products, Mascom and Orange continue to offer mobile telephony services only including mobile internet and value add services while BTCL provides both the fixed and mobile telephony services including data network services, providing access and connectivity.
The market for private networks is fully liberalised as Value Added Services (VANS) may provide services using any technology including very small aperture terminals (VSAT). The market for terminal equipment trade is also fully liberalised as no telecommunications licence is required to sell terminal equipment, however, vendors for radio equipment have to be approved by the BOCRA, as one of the functions of the BOCRA is to type approve communication equipment.
In addition, Private Telecommunications Network Licences (PTNL) have been issued to entities to build private networks for internal business use.
BOCRA reviewed the old ICT licensing framework that has been in operation since 2007 and began implementation of the new and converged framework in September 2015. The new ICT licensing framework was meant to create a more conducive environment for ICT development. Its development was motivated by the need to meet demand for real-time high quality and affordable services, and to accommodate emerging players for increased competitiveness. It is intended to deliver enhanced value proposition for consumers and the entire Botswana market.
The revised licensing framework has two major categories which are Network Facilities Provider Licence (NFP) and the Services and Applications Provider Licence (SAP) compared to the previous one which had three licence categories being PTO, VANS and PTNL.
The market for Internet telephony is also fully liberalised, and VANS are allowed to provide voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services. The number of PTOs has been restricted to three as a policy decision. In 2006, the Government of Botswana decided to privatise the incumbent, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). Following the Government’s decision to privatize BTC, in 2008, Parliament enacted the BTC (Transition) Act to assist the privatisation process. Consequently, the Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) was created as a wholesale provider of national and international telecommunication infrastructure while BTC remained a retailer. In 2008 BTC introduced its mobile network, beMOBILE. On the 1st of November 2012, BTC was converted from a statutory body into a public company limited by shares, in accordance with the Transition Act and Companies Act, and renamed Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited.