Telecoms News - In Brief

- The Uganda Communication Commission has clarified that it has licenced five national telecommunications operators and not six as was reported by the media in the last few days. The statement said, "The commission has not received any application for Public Service Provider and or Public Infrastructure Provider licences from Reliance Communications Limited."

- More than half of Telkom Kenya employees (4,000) are to be laid off over the next two weeks as the loss-making firm starts implementing a plan expected to help it return to profitability. The layoffs will save Telkom Sh4.2 billion in labour costs annually. The staff numbers currently stand at about 7, 521 after it sent home 9, 767 last year, earning the firm the distinction of having retrenched the most workers in Kenya's corporate history within a span of eight months.

- The Nigerian Telecommunications Subscribers Association NATCOMS has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and all the telecomms operating companies in the country to provide free anti-mobile phone theft service to Nigerian subscribers.

- The Gambia’s Trust Bank Ltd has introduced SMS banking services. Customers will be able to view their account balance, receive details of their last five transactions, transfer funds from account to account, view up to date foreign exchange rates. They will also be able to top up their mobile phone credit using money in their bank account.

- A notice was published in the press by the Ministry of Finance of Namibia to advise that prepaid telecommunication cards for airtime sold by any person that is registered for value-added tax will be subject to value-added tax at 15 per cent from February 1 2008.

- Maktoob Research has published the findings of a recent online study which canvassed the opinions of 4,618 cellular subscribers of various nationalities, aged 18 and above, across four countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan. Among the findings of the survey, 76% of Vodafone Egypt's users claimed to be satisfied with its services, while 66% of Etisalat Misr and 47% of Mobinil users said the same. Vodafone (59%) claims highest brand recognition in Egypt followed by Mobinil (56%) and Etisalat Misr (46%). An overwhelming majority of respondents in all four countries were not comfortable with the idea of watching live television on their mobiles (Jordan 78%, Egypt 88%, KSA 82% and UAE 58%).

- During an interview with local newspaper “l’Express de Madagascar” Celtel, CEO, Ihab El Fouly has announced that it targets to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of the year and extend coverage to 89% by the end of 2009.

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