Uganda telecom will become the third local telecom company operator to go regional when it launches its regional roaming scheme next week.

Hans Paulsen, the chief operations officer, said this week that the seamless network will initially be launched with Safaricom, Kenya and then with Vodacom, Tanzania before the end of the month. The collaboration will also be extended to Burundi, a frequent destination for Ugandans. "Unlike before, our customers will be able to take their rates as they are to those countries.

"They will receive phone calls free of charge and will be able to load our airtime from those countries. Combined, we shall have a bigger network of subscribers," he explained. The company has already started network expansion for the targeted two million subscribers by the end of next year.

"As a first step, we have a signed a $50m contract with Huawei Technology of China to ensure availability of the service. We are going to take the network to 70% of the country. Once we have this, our offerings and brand will become the preferred network of choice," Paulsen explained.

He said the company plans to remain competitive in the tariff structure with this new investment, and with the introduction of new value added services and growing the distribution network. "We plan to spend about US$90m this year to bring new coverage and improve existing coverage," Paulsen said.

(SOURCE: New Vision)