Telecoms News - In Brief


- Government has mooted a change to legislation to allow the South African Police Service to get access, through the courts, to the records of people using Research in Motion's popular BlackBerry communications service. Deputy communications minister Obed Bapela says "a lot of criminality is happening" on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), the instant messaging platform that has caught on like wildfire in South Africa.

- Angolan state-owned incumbent PSTN operator Angola Telecom is set to undergo a restructuring process ‘to better serve’ the public and the state in the telecoms field, the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Jose Carvalho da Rocha, announced during a broadcast by Angolan Public Television (TPA). News agency Angop adds that the minister expects the project to include an extensive assessment of the company to evaluate the best way for the government to ‘intervene’. On the same date, the minister said that the government intends to reduce the prices charged by mobile phone network operators in the country, as they are beyond the reach of most Angolans.

- More than three million Kenyan subscribers risk being switched off if they don’t register their mobile telephone lines. President Kibaki has directed that such lines be switched off the networks to protect the public from criminals.

- Mobile phone services have been shut-down in the capital of Swaziland, Mbabane at the start of five days of organised anti-government protests. Local media reports suggested that over 2,000 protestors were marching around the city and buses carrying more protestors were being blocked from entering the city by the army. Whether the mobile network disruption was due to workers striking, or was ordered by the government is currently unknown. MTN is the sole mobile network provider in the country, but is 51% owned by the government.

- Ghana’s telecoms watchdog the National Communication Authority (NCA) has announced that by the end of August 64,700 customers had switched operators via mobile number portability (MNP) since its launch two months earlier. 43,600 numbers were ported in August alone, representing around 0.2% of the total wireless market. The regulator gives no details regarding which operators are receiving the most ports, or losing the most customers, but does note that 515 customers ported back to their original provider after the minimum waiting period, whilst 67 elected to immediately switch to a third operator.