The Southern Sudan government has stepped up its campaign to secure rights to manage the telephone gateway to the Sudan.

A delegation from the telecommunications and postal services ministry is in Istanbul, Turkey to present South Sudan's case to the International Telecommunications Union, Elijah Biar Kuol, the Ministry's Director General, said on Wednesday.

"My minister is already there," Kuol said. "We are saying let's share the Sudan gateway; let half of it be managed in the south and the other half in the north, just like the banking and the army." The Khartoum government currently controls the Sudan gateway, the 249.

Southern Sudan says this has handicapped its plans to improve telecommunications. Mobitel and Sudani, the two mobile telephone providers who use the Sudan gateway are often congested in Southern Sudan. This has left Gemtel, which uses the Ugandan gateway of 256 as the most reliable telephone provider. "We are trying to manouvre so that we can issue licences to telecom providers. Right now, we don't have a frequency to allocate anyone," Kuol said.

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