TELECOMS

Two More GSM Operators to launch soon in Sierra Leone

The Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), has confirmed that two new GSM operators will soon roll out services in Sierra Leone. Bashir M. Kamara told local paper Concord Times last week that the GSM operators have already gotten the necessary approval and are ready to commence operation soon. The two new operators are Israel-based Cellcom and Lybian backed LapGreen Networks.

Kamara announced this while explaining his Commission's resolve to ensure that the country's telecom sector’s potential is maximized to the fullest to ensure affordable communication for the people. "We have less than a million phone users in the country out of a population of well over five million people. This shows that there is more potential for investment in the telecom sector by which many people could have access to phones," he said.

The country currently has five mobile networks - but its penetration level languishes at just 20.5%. Figures from the Mobile World show that the country ended last year with just under 1.3 million subscribers.

On issues that are likely to be of topmost priority for the newly-constituted Commission to be chaired by Architect Sieray A. Timbo, Kamara mentioned the high tariffs imposed by telecom operators on calls, especially those made from one network to another. He said tariff reduction has been an agenda for the old commissioners some of whom are still in the new commission.

Though he mentioned the cost of energy supply as service providers' major constraint, he maintained that the new commission will ensure fairness for consumers as the energy problem in the country is being addressed. NATCOM is poised to ensure that before the end of 2008, all GSM operators in the country must have achieved at least 50-70% coverage.

As a regulatory body which came into being in August 2006, the Commission will also concern itself with the quality of services offered by GSM operators as it has been receiving series of complaints about bad network quality, says Kamara.

various including Concord Times

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