Telecoms News - In Brief


- Reuters reported that the Egyptian government is set to delay the offer of a second tranche of shares in fixed line monopoly operator Telecom Egypt. It had originally suggested it would offer shares in the telco during 2009, but it now looks likely to postpone the offer. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, was quoted as saying, ‘There were plans that the government would offer an additional tranche of Telecom Egypt on the stock market...we were planning for this to happen in 2009, but all indications confirm that we will postpone this offering.’ An initial public offering (IPO) of 20% in the operator took place in December 2005 and raised EGP5.13 billion (USD930.3 million).

­ Ethiopian Telecom Corporation (ETC), Ethiopia’s monopoly operator, has announced that it has launched 3G services in the city of Addis Ababa. The operator will offer commercial pre-paid services over a W-CDMA network, offering speeds of up to 384kbps. The network infrastructure will initially be limited to 49 regions of the city, but coverage is expected to grow, although the operator has not announced any specific details of its expansion plans. ETC has also noted that it will launch multimedia messaging services (MMS) and a voice mail service in the near future.

- In South Africa Vodacom has extended its 3G HSDPA coverage beyond the major metropolitan centres. In December Jongensfontein, Franskraalstrand, Citrusdal and Saronsberg were added to its network. Lamberts Bay and Veldrif will receive coverage in January.Vodacom’s 3G HSDPA network in the Western and Northern Cape now covers: Laingville, Stompneusbaai, Club Mykonos, Piketberg, Morreesburg, Darling, Yzerfontein, Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Robertson, Scarborough, Rooi Els, Betty's Bay, Kleinmond, Gansbaai, Bredasdorp, L'Agulhas, Struisbaai, Riversdale, Stilbaai, Prince Albert, Jongensfontein, Franskraalstrand, Citrusdal and Saronsberg.

- The Nigerian federal government has handed over the management of the first phase of rural telephony project to five private telecommunication operators (PTOs) at the cost of $266.3m. The companies include Key Communications Limited, Suburban Broadband Limited, Voicewares Network Limited, Gicell Wireless Limited and Hezonic Limited. The five companies emerged after a transparent and competitive bidding process that involved 54 telecommunications firms. Key Communications Limited bid $38m to manage Ibadan zone, Suburban Broadband Limited bid $140.5m to manage FCT, Enugu and Kaduna zones, while Voiceware Networks Limited will pay $30 to manage Enugu zone also. Hezonic Limited and Gicell Wireless Limited bid $30m and $20m to manage Enugu and Bauchi zones respectively.