TELECOMS

TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

- MTN held its global brand media launch in Kampala on Thursday adopting a single, global brand for all its markets, the global brand replaces the similar but separate faces of the MTN brand across Africa under the payoff line Everywhere You go‚ writes Esther Nakkazi. Each of MTN‚s Africa operations had disparate pay-off lines prior to Everywhere you go‚ with separate faces including The Better Connection‚ in Cameroon, Your best Connection‚ in Nigeria, Tubitaycho‚ in Rwanda, Hello the future‚ in South Africa, The Swazi connection‚ in Swaziland and Live it. Love it‚ in Uganda.

"We want the brand to speak with one voice so that MTN is available everywhere the customers go, not only geographically but we want to walk with our customers everywhere," said the MTN chief operations manager, Serame Taukobong. Customers on MTN will enjoy preferential tariffs in the countries were MTN is operates in Africa and beyond, said Taukobong. MTN has six operations of South Africa, Cameroon, Uganda, Nigeria, Swaziland and Rwanda thus the need for one global brand. MTN officials said Everywhere You Go‚ means customers say Nigerian customers traveling to Uganda can enjoy the same levels of customer services and seamless communication that they have in Abuja or Lagos.

- Uganda Telecom (UTL) has reached an agreement with Kenya’s Safaricom and Tanzania’s Vodacom to provide roaming services at discounted rates. The scheme includes calls to UTL’s mobile network, which operates under the Mango brand, as well as calls to UTL fixed lines.

- Mobile operator Safaricom has announced plans to invest up to KES520 million to set up 26 base transceivers in Coast Province. The investment is part of Safaricom’s ongoing plan to expand its network and increase its presence in the country, which will cost a total of around KES14 billion.

In a separate story local public data carrier company Kenya Data Network (KDN) has started work on a USD50 million fibre-optic cable. The company has contracted Siemens to help with the rollout of the cable, which will run from Mombasa to Busia on the Ugandan border.

- Mobile phone operator Celtel Kenya on Tuesday launched new rates. The new tariffs include a major thrust into per second billing, and per minute billing and have off-peak and peak tariffs for pre-paid subscribers. The per-second Celtel 35s customers pay Sh32 in peak and Sh11 in off-peak hours within the network. Another tariff is that which customers are charged a flat Sh15.37 a minute within Celtel and Sh25.61 to Safaricom. Chief marketing manager Gilles Atayi of the second largest mobile phone services provider, said: "We are now allowing more flexibility to our clients." Customers have been given eight weeks to change, free of charge. After that they will be considered to have opted for the existing tariffs. The service was from Tuesday morning.

- Per Erikson, the CEO of MTN Rwandacell said that MTN had embarked on USD10 to USD20 million to improve on many services offered and customer centricity. Currently MTN has 147,000 subscribers with a greater community being served through public phones popularly known as Tuvugane.

- About 20,000 telephone lines will be made available to interested subscribers by NITEL in Niger State soon. The Territorial Manager Engineer Jubril Audu who made this known in an interview with journalist in Minna, the state capital said already arrangements have been concluded to increase lines in the state within the next two years. He said the increase which is aimed at meeting up the numerous demands of returnee businessmen from their private networks is invariable expected to increase the capacity of Minna area from 5,000 to 10,000 lines. Engineer Audu expressed concern on the analogue facilities still present in the state which is affecting the effectiveness of the enormous services of the territory in the face of stiff competition, pointing out that, analogue zones like New-Bussa, Mokwa, Paikoro, Rejanand Nasko will be digitalised during the period under review. "As a stop gap measure we do hope to install the Coded Division Multiple Acc (CDMA) system in New-Bussa so that the pairs of our clients especially the Federal parastatals would be eased by the digital installations" he said. He disclosed that the plan of the tariff if office is to build a digital exchange that would boast of at least 1000 lines in Borgu area which has been cut off for a very long time due to incapability of spare parts of the analogue facilities.

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