TELECOMS

Telecoms News - In Brief

- MTN says it will invest US$235 million over the this year to improve network quality and services at its Ghanaian mobile unit. MTN has rolled out approximately 343 base stations since taking over Areeba, lifting the operator’s total to 1,000 BTS by April 2007. Going forward, it intends to install 100 BTS per month to optimise network efficiency, with the primary focus on increasing network capacity to cater for a subscriber base that has grown from 2.7 million in 2006 to three million currently.

- Mauritania’s newest entrant Chinguetel is experiencing some difficulty because its 3G phones are significantly more expensive than the plain old GSM phones of the other two players in the market.

- Last week Nokia launched its first handsets to feature Amharic in Ethiopia, The localisation covers the following phones: 1200, 1208, 1650, 2630 and 2760.

- According to Aminata.com, the Guinean incumbent Sotelgui is demonstrating its usual inability to run a telecoms company. Supply of the most used pre-paid cards (FG5,000) have been suspended and there has been recurrent interference on the network affecting call quality. Also quite often calls are wrongly routed resulting in wasteful wrong numbers. The alternatives to the cheapest pre-paid cards are the much more expensively FG15,000 and FG50,000 ones.

- Ezzedine Nasser, the owner of Insurances Broker Association in Côte d'Ivoire is claiming MTN owes him FCFA5 billion for money he lent to the previous owners of Loteny Telecom. With this, other challenges from former share and office holders, its tax troubles in Ghana and licence problems in Benin, MTN’s Investcom purchase shows some danger of turning into something of a “can of worms”.

- The Senegalese Socialist Party claims that the newest market entrant Sudatel is on an American blacklist for activities in Darfur and that the licence process should be re-run. Private sector ICT organisation OPTIC is complaining that the 15% put aside for local shareholders is too small.

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