TELECOMS

TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

- Incumbent operator Ghana Telecom (GT) says it will introduce a pre-paid telephony service for home users by December this year, as it attempts to cut down the number of customers defaulting on their bills. The new card-based system will also allow users to make calls at public phone booths and GT has signed agreements with a number of major banks to allow customers to top up airtime at their branches.

- South Africa’s leading mobile operator Vodacom is optimistic about the future of its 3G service – the first in the country – after revealing that it has around 14,000 users of the technology so far. Vodacom received a temporary UMTS licence in June 2004 and has an option to convert it to a full licence for ZAR6 million per annum. It launched commercial UMTS services in Johannesburg, Sandton, Midrand, Pretoria, Durban and selected holiday areas in late December 2004. In an aggressive marketing tactic Vodacom offers video calls at the same price as voice calls to lure customers away from MTN and Cell C. Vodacom’s CEO Allan Knott-Craig says that 3G users currently boast monthly ARPU close to four-times the ZAR163 (USD24.4) reported by its 2G users. Knott-Craig says that he expects 3G customers to account for one tenth of Vodacom’s total user base within three years, and added that the cellco is set to double its number of UMTS base stations to 900 by the end of 2005.

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