Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Following the call for tender for 3rd generation licences the Moroccan regulator, the ANRT, has granted three third generation mobile licences to respectively Maroc Connect, Itissalat Al-Maghreeb (Maroc Telecom) and Medi Telecom. There were only three licences to be granted and therefore Njema Telecom Maroc (Kuwaiti Group Wataniya International), the forth shortlisted company has been turned down in the final round. Each licencee will be asked to pay 360 millions dirhams (US$42 millions) and to provide a extra financial contribution in the spectrum reorganisation.

- Lacom, the 2nd fixed national operator in Algeria has issued a statement in the local newspaper Liberté in which it announces that the company has to consult its stakeholders, namely Egypt Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding regarding the continuation of its activity in Algeria. According to Lacom the deployment of its network has constantly been hampered by Algerie Telecom, the national incumbent which Lacom accuses of setting up constant barriers to the new entrant and ignoring competition rules.

- Transcorp, the potential new owners of NITEL were given 60 days extension period within which to make payments for the ailing national carrier. The grace period was to allow both BPE and Transcorp to sort out the final details of the share purchase structure and also to allow the banks to complete the due process for a loan of that magnitude. On the other hand Nitel has just announced receiving payments for debts from four Private Telecommunication Operators (PTOs), and an indigenous company.

- The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) last Friday closed submissions from the public on the new telecom policy. Various stakeholders were given seven days from July 7 after a consultative workshop at Kampala's Grand Imperial Hotel to discuss the new licensing regime under the policy guidelines issued to UCC. Some of these submissions, if and when they are accepted and considered vital will be incorporated in the new policy.

- Rwanda's two major telecom rivals, Terracom Communications and MTN Rwandacell have come to an agreement regarding their long-standing interconnection wrangles. Terracom’s mobile customers can now receive calls from MTN-Rwandacell customers. According to an interconnection agreement signed recently, interconnection charges are now Frw40 (US$7 cents) for a call from a fixed to mobile phone, while a call from a mobile to fixed phone will be Frw30 ($5cents).

- The Kenyan regulator has shown its resolve to halve telecommunications costs by unveiling a 72mn Kenyan shillings (about $9.7mn) study to review tariffs and rates. The study would end in October this year and would provide insight in determining relevant cost elements. The commission would then use this to establish market retail and interconnection rates and tariffs.

- The national union of Telecommunications of Burkina Faso (SYNATEL) has announced a 24 hours strike on 25th July. Employees of Onatel, the national incumbent oppose the government’s plan to privatise the company and sell 51% stake of the company to international strategic partner. In the meantime in Tanzania trade unions and opposition parties have united to oppose plans for Canada’s SaskTel International to take over the management of the country's sole fixed line operator, the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd (TTCL).