Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Zimbabwe’s government will only consider a second fixed telephone operator when the Supreme Court has decided on TeleAccess' appeal against cancellation of its licence by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. TeleAccess was issued with an operator's licence back in 2003, but the indigenous firm could not roll out a second fixed telephone network because it was unable to find the capital to invest against a background of skyrocketing inflation.

- Aggrieved workers Nitel returned to picket the Bureau of Public Enterprises' (BPE) office this week to press home their demand for payment of over 18 months salaries owed them. About one hundred of the workers who came from many states of the federation converged at the BPE office, staging a blockade to stop staff of the agency from accessing the office.

- The Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) has pushed back the deadline for the nation’s mobile subscribers to register their SIM cards, the Sunday Standard reports. Pre-paid customers of Botswana’s three wireless operators – Mascom Wireless, Orange Botswana and BTC Mobile (beMOBILE) – were originally given until 31 December 2009 to register their SIMs or face the disconnection of their service, but the deadline has since been extended to 31 January 2010. According to BTA spokesperson Aaron Nyelesi, 85% of mobile users have registered their details, 45% of which have not yet been processed by the system.

- Mobile operator Moov Togo has resumed the provision of wireless services in the country after the suspension of its operations for four months, African news agency Pana Press reports. In August 2009 Atlantique Telecom, which manages Moov’s operations in Togo and five other countries in Africa, failed to renew its operating licence in the West African country. Under the terms of the new agreement, Moov will pay CFA25.75 billion over a period of twelve years, instead of the CFA20 billion previously required over a ten-year period. The company has reportedly already made a down payment of CFA11.75 billion, and will pay the remainder over the required time-span.

- Operators will have no leeway when it comes to the handset subsidy code of conduct, says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). The regulator quietly published the code of conduct late last year, intended to govern the sale, lease, rental or subsidisation of equipment provided to subscribers by operators. Despite legal opinion to the contrary, ICASA says the operators will be tightly bound to the terms of the code.

- Four bidders are now left in the race to buy out 75% of the Zambian government-owned telco, Zamtel. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) revealed that India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam; Libya's LAP Greencom or LAP Green Networks; Unitel, from Angola; and Altimo Holdings, of Russia, will enter into the second round of bidding for the telecoms operator.

- The Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa (ISPA) today called on South Africa’s telecoms regulator, ICASA, to confirm that it is on track to meet the November 2011 deadline for the unbundling of the local loop.