Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

- South Africa’s third mobile operator, Cell C says that it has deployed a next-generation-network using Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), and expects to reap benefits within a year. Initially the network will carry Cell C's data traffic (GPRS and EDGE wireless services), but, in due course, the full capabilities of a next-generation-network will be leveraged to transmit voice traffic using VoIP, he adds.

- Telecom Egypt (TE) is to increase the cost of domestic fixed line calls, according to Reuters citing TE Chairman Akil Beshir. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has apparently given the operator permission for the price rise to help offset some of the company's lost revenue ahead of the planned licensing of its first competitors in the international calls market. TE's monopoly on the local, domestic long-distance and international voice telephony sectors was removed on 31 December 2005, but it remains the only licensed operator in all three markets.

- First National Bank (FNB) will launch cellphone banking in Botswana tomorrow, and bold plans are under way to introduce cellphone banking in some neighbouring African countries.The launch will make every cellphone handset in Botswana a potential banking channel. Initially, the service will only be available on the Mascom cellular network, which has approximately 500,000 subscribers. But FNB envisages that the cellphone banking service will also be available via the country’s second cellular mobile operator, Orange, in the near future.

- LiberCell in Liberia has launched its new GPRS, EDGE and MMS services. The new technology will enable LiberCell subscribers to have full access to wireless Internet via their mobile phone and computer.

- Nokia announced the opening of an office in Maputo, to service the entire southern African region, except South Africa itself.