TELECOMS

Telecoms News – In Brief

* MTN Swaziland is reported to be in a testing phase of developing a commercial 3G mobile network following a month-long pilot of four UMTS base stations. The South African-owned cellco was granted a temporary 3G licence to cover several events including the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) summit in the country in late August. The permit was valid from 16 August to 15 September, with 3G services offered to post-paid MTN customers only. MTN Swaziland’s existing commercial network is equipped with 2.5G EDGE technology, which it has deployed in the Mbabane Manzini corridor and other selected areas around the country.
* Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said last week that it has placed its 'B-' long-term corporate credit rating on South Africa-based mobile telecommunications operator Cell C on CreditWatch with positive implications.“At the same time, we placed the 'B' rating on the €400 million fixed-rate senior secured notes on CreditWatch with developing implications. The recovery rating on this debt is unchanged at '2', indicating our expectation of substantial (70%-90%) recovery in the event of a payment default,” said Standard & Poor's in a press statement.“We are also placing the 'CCC' rating on the $270 million senior subordinated notes on CreditWatch with positive implications. The recovery rating on these notes is unchanged at '6', indicating our expectation of negligible (0%-10%) recovery in the event of a payment default.”The CreditWatch placement reflects the potential positive effect that the partial refinancing of the €400 million senior secured bonds maturing in 2012, through a long-dated new credit facility, would have on the rating of Cell C.“We understand that a maximum of €240 million could be tendered only, as Cell C's main creditor, Saudi Oger Ltd., the owner of Oger Telecom Ltd., Cell C's main shareholder, is required to retain at least €160 million of the notes. We also understand that Cell C will continue to pay coupons for the bonds held by Saudi Oger.”
* MTN Group Ltd said data revenue from its South African network jumped 60 percent in the first six months of this year as faster third-generation technology let users consume more online content. “It’s an insatiable beast,” Karel Pienaar, MTN South Africa’s managing director, said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week.

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