The rapid expansion of mobile telecommunications in Africa is seeing operators turn to innovative technologies in the scramble to reach new areas and grab market share, according to recent industry research. Gateway Communications has seen a huge increase in demand for its turnkey network solutions over the last few months. Gateway controls the design, implementation and management of networks on behalf of mobile operators.

The potential cost savings of network outsourcing were highlighted in a recent report from Pyramid Research, which showed that it could reduce mobile operators’ costs by 20 to 25 per cent. The authors predict that operators will increasingly take advantage of outsourcing globally and Gateway says this is particularly true for Africa, where they are driven by the need for cost-effective, rapid network deployment in reaching new subscribers in new geographies.

In an expanding mobile telecoms market the first operator to establish coverage gains a huge advantage over subsequent entrants, because users are signed up to long contracts and there is inertia in moving to new networks. It is imperative, therefore, for operators to roll-out their technology as quickly as possible to beat the competition.

The company’s service incorporates the design, installation and management of the physical satellite network. Recent projects have been undertaken in DRC, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, and Kenya. In Zambia its specialist expertise has been used by Celtel to roll out its network over the last six months. Since then it has achieved a market-leading position with 900,000 subscribers and now covers all of the country’s 72 districts. Just-released government statistics show that Zambia has experienced “significant growth”, which is attributed to the expansion of network coverage, primarily through Celtel’s programme.

David Venn, managing director of Celtel Zambia, said: “Celtel Zambia had worked with Gateway Communications in Zambia in the initial stages of this project, and their local expertise, bandwidth capacity and technical knowledge enabled the rapid roll-out of our network. In just six months we extended coverage from 35 to all 72 Zambian districts. The project is proving to be a huge success, with subscriber numbers showing strong growth, as rural subscriptions drive further urban subscriptions. Mobile phones are making a huge difference to the lives of African people and both Gateway and Celtel continue to encourage development.”