TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms Rates, Offers and Coverage

- Safaricom has stepped up its foray into mobile commerce by introducing M-Pesa-based booking of travel tickets and hotel accommodation - a new service that also promises to open additional revenue opportunities for the company's agents. Though the telecommunications operator had introduced a similar ticket-payment service almost one year ago, the new system is an improvement on the earlier "Easy Travel" version in that it allows customers to obtain ticket printouts from Safaricom's customer care shops and later from M-Pesa dealers. "We have launched the service with the necessary infrastructure at over 30 Safaricom shops countrywide for now. Plans are under way to recruit strategic agent outlets which will offer the service," said Bob Collymore, the company's chief executive. In addition, parents and guardians can now remit school fees for their children to the learning institutions through Safaricom's mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa.

- The signal of the cellphone company, Movicel, has reached Caimbambo district, in central Benguela province, thus connecting the locality to the rest of Angola and the world.

- Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom, the country's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, has announced that it has reduced the price of sending an on-network SMS to KES1 (USD0.01), down from KES3.5. An SMS sent to an alternative operator's network will cost KES2, down from KES5. Safaricom has confirmed that the newly reduced rates will be permanent, and apply to both pre-paid and post-paid customers.

- InMobi, a leading mobile ad network, has released its updated network research report.It provides a snapshot of mobile advertising trends in Africa between July 2010 and October 2010. “Africa continues to be a major market in the global mobile ad ecosystem. With nearly 19 per cent – growth in mobile ad impression inventory in just 90 days, it’s clear Africans are increasingly connecting to the Internet via their mobile phone. Key findings include breaking of the 3 billion impressions mark to reach 3.3 billion monthly impressions saying this represented an 18.8% growth over just 90 days.

- AdMob, the mobile advertising agency now owned by Google says that it is now handling in excess of 2 billion ad requests per day, more than quadrupling the daily rate over the last twelve months. The growth is global. Nine countries in the AdMob network generated more than a billion monthly ad requests in December 2010, up from just one country a year ago. The strongest regional growth in monthly ad requests over the past year has come from Asia (564%), Western Europe (471%) and Oceania (363%). Growth in Africa was recorded at 81%.

- Namibia’s mobile operator, MTC Namibia has broadened its customer service capacity by introducing an Outbound Call Centre as from mid-December 2010. Before the opening of the Outbound Call Centre, MTC only had an Inbound Call Centre which caters for customers calling in to seek solutions and understanding of various queries that they may have with the company’s products and/or services.

- A research team at the University of Dar es Salaam says half the Tanzanian population is currently hooked to mobile phones, and that it takes just a handset to run a business in the country. Led by Prof Ophelia Mascarenhas of the university, there is no need for offices, visiting cards or huge capital investments. The Tanzanian study is part of four-nation initiative code-named Picture-Africa. The other countries currently doing similar studies are Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – all financed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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