Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage (briefs)

Telecoms

- Nigerian CDMA operator Visafone has announced that it is aggressively moving towards the 1 million subscribers mark, six months after the launch of its service. The telecoms firm is also increasing its coverage in 16 states and over 150 cities in Nigeria.

- At the end of Q1 08, there were 42.3m mobile customers in South Africa, meaning it was surpassed by Nigeria as Africa’s largest market. This was mostly due to a strong quarter in Nigeria, but the loss of 0.61m South African customers in Q1 certainly helped. This decline also meant that South Africa failed to break the 100% penetration barrier, having reached 97.9% at the end of 2007; the loss of customers saw it slide to 96.6%.

- In Zimbabwe, three mobile network operators - Econet, TelOne and Telecel have again announced tariff increases by slightly over 100 percent.

- The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ernest Ndukwe has assured consumers that plans were underway to reduce SMS tariff by GSM operators.

- Tigo Tanzania doubled the number of ring back tone subscribers to 100,000 in March alone. Meanwhile its WAP users have reached 80,000 just three months after the launch of the service.

- China's ZTE says that it is developing Ethiopia’s nationwide network to cover 14 major cities including, Addis Ababa, the country’s capital. This cooperation marks ZTE’s success in penetrating Ethiopia, after reaching an agreement with Ethiopia Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) to help construct an IP-backbone network late last year. It is unclear how the fibre backbone that ZTE will be building relates to the existing fibre backbone the company said it built several years ago.

- Celtel Malawi has announced that it has reduced the cost of its cheapest handset by 35%, from USD25 to USD16. The move follows the government's eradication of a 25% customs and excise duty on imported handsets and cellular network equipment.