Telecoms News: In Brief


* Three out of 22 interested parties have been shortlisted to become Mozambique's third mobile phone operator, the National Institute of Communications (INCM) has announced. The three in question are TMN (the cellular unit of Portugal Telecom), UNI-Telecom (a joint venture between Angolan cellco Unitel and Mozambique's Energy Capital) and a Vietnam-backed bidder named Movitel. Though the ownership of the Vietnamese company was not reported, military-run GSM operator Viettel previously announced plans to seek investment opportunities in other developing countries including Mozambique, following its recent takeover of the Haitian operator Teleco. INCM director Americo Muchanga commented: ‘The three have presented required documents. Technical and financial proposals will be evaluated over the next two months after which we will announce the winning bid’. Mozambique is currently home to Mcel with an estimated 3.7 million customers in March 2010 and Vodacom with 1.49 million at the same date. Wireless penetration stands at 23.8%, leaving plenty of room for growth. * Telecel Zimbabwe has revealed it will launch its 3G service within the next three months. Telecel, the country’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, acquired 3G frequencies in February this year, and if the launch goes to schedule it will become the second domestic 3G operator in the country after Econet Wireless initiated its service last year. The operator said it had constructed an additional 30 base stations across the country to increase network coverage, and will have capacity for 50,000 subscribers at launch. * Tunis — According to a communiqué released on Monday by Tunisia's Central Bank (BCT), the mobile phone payment mechanism was launched early July. This service was developed by Tunisie Telecom and Monétique Tunisie under the aegis of the BCT, and in collaboration with other banks. The service will be launched on a two week trial basis. The new service benefits from world standard safety regulations. Until the end of 2010 the service is free for customers and merchants. This service will be open to all mobile operators by the end of the year. * Johannesburg — The telecommunications industry is anxiously waiting for the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to announce its final decision on the interconnection rate cut after a marathon three-day public hearing last week. The regulator issued a statement on Friday but did not commit to any time frames regarding the release of the final call termination regulations. The regulations mainly seek to reduce the wholesale price or interconnection rate - fees that fixed and mobile telecommunications operators pay each other to terminate calls on each others' network, and also the terms and conditions of those interconnection agreements.