Telecoms News - In Brief

- The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has commenced a review of the Rural Communication Development Fund (RCDF) policy, as well as the design of new technology projects to be completed between 2008 and 2013.

- National Telecommunications Operator, Globacom, has commenced commercial service on its fixed line operation as it connects key corporates in Lagos and Abuja. In a press statement, it said it is also ready to introduce fixed line services to individuals in key cities around the country.

- Workers of the Central Regional branch of Ghana Telecom held a peaceful demonstration last Tuesday in support of Government's proposed sale of 70% shares of the company to Vodafone Plc.

- In Nigeria, SMS tariffs may soon be reduced following the outcome of a Consultative Forum which the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, had with the various network operators. Costs of SMS in the country range currently from N5.00 on-network to as high as N15.00 off-network, depending upon the network, while interconnection between operators stands at N5.00. In parallel, the NCC has set the ball rolling on its plan to register all SIM cards of pre-paid mobile phones in the country with the setting up of a 25 person working group (WG) in Abuja.

- Two international telecommunications manufacturers (Ericsson and ZTE) contracted by Zimbabwe mobile phone operator Econet have resumed work after temporarily suspending the project during the March and June elections.

- In Sierra Leone, Africell has revealed that its subscriber base has increased to more than 500,000 users. According to IDG News Service, the company has exhausted the numbers available in the 077 code and has been forced to apply for an additional national dialling code, 088. Africell launched a GSM network in 2005 and at the end of March 2008 claimed a 31.1% share of the market, just behind leader Zain with 33.4%.

- Mobile operator Telecel in Central African Republic had its mobile licence upgraded to a global licence. For the upgrade, Telecel has agreed to pay CFA Francs 3 billion (US$7.1 million). With its new licence, Telecel will be able to upgrade its mobile offering to 3G as well as launch fixed lines and Internet services.

- Mali's seven-digit dialling system will move to eight digits from 31 October 2008 pursuant to a decision by the Telecommunication Regulation Committee (CRT).

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