Telecoms News: In Brief


*Swedish technology provider Ericsson has begun a new phase of a network expansion project for Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to allow the cellco to increase its capacity to approximately five million users by August 2010, as well as ensuring that central Harare has full 3G coverage by the end of this month. The work forms part of a three-year frame agreement that was signed last year, with Ericsson responsible for expansion of the core and access 2G and 3G networks as well as business support system delivery. Furthermore, Ericsson is proving transport and transmission technologies and services such as system integration and business consultancy.

* South Africa’s he Competition Tribunal yesterday dismissed an interim relief application by internet service provider Gogga Tracking Solutions (GTS) against Vodacom. GTS had filed a complaint against Vodacom earlier this year saying the cellphone network provider was manipulating prices to squeeze it out of business.
GTS wanted the tribunal to order Vodacom to sell its bulk data products to it at the same price as the general public.GTS is 51% owned by Somnium Family Trust, represented by Eugene Beetge, the sole director of GTS. Vodacom subsidiary Vodacom Ventures owns 49%.Vodacom Ventures had in fact withheld its consent, and was opposed to the interim relief application.But the tribunal said shareholders should not perceive this decision as a source of encouragement to draft and implement shareholders' agreements to prevent access by firms with co-shareholders to the competition authorities if disputes arise about competition issues.

* Family Bank's launch of another mobile-based bank account (Pesa Pap) that links up with M-Pesa sets the stage for a renewed competition among telecom agents, especially in urban areas. The product, just like the recently introduced M-Kesho, allows users to access credit, deposit money into their accounts (where it earns interest), and pull money from their bank accounts to M-Pesa accounts.