IN BRIEF:

Internet

- Malawi incumbent telco Malawi Telecommunications Ltd (MTL) has launched MTL FreeNET, a dial-up internet service for its fixed line customers in the capital Blantyre, via the company’s own ISP MTL Online. ‘FreeNET is a dial-up service, which will enable MTL customers to have access to the internet with no monthly subscription or registration, and the service connects to your computer via a modem and your MTL line,’ said one company official, adding that MTL was targeting a potential 70,000 internet users.

- There were 3.9 million unique internet users in South Africa in May, according to a report from Nielsen//NetRatings compiled with the Online Publishers Association. That compares to a total population of around 44 million. The number of users is up 121 percent from 1.8 million two years ago. Page impressions grew by 129 percent during the period, to 207 million from 91 million in May 2005. The report found that most interest users in the country are male, aged 25-49 and speak English.

- Arianespace said it had won a contract from Thales Alenia Space to launch Africa's first pan-continental telecommunications satellite.  The launch, at Kourou in French Guiana, is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2007. The Rascom 1 satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space as part of a contract originally awarded to Alcatel Space in June 2003, will supply telecoms, Internet and TV services to rural areas and cities and will also provide inter-urban and international connections. The original contract was awarded by Mauritius private group RascomStar-QAF.