Telecoms News - In Brief


- President Thabo Mbeki has signed the Electronic Communications Act (EC Act), formerly the Convergence Bill. A notice that he has assented to the Act was published in Government Gazette number 28743 and is available on the Department of Communications' Web site. The Act provides a regulatory framework for the convergence of broadcasting, broadcasting signal distribution and the telecommunications sectors. The Act also repeals the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act and portions of the Broadcasting Act. However, there are other legal processes that have to take place before it becomes operational law.

- The Chairman of the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Rajabu Yusufu, says the average cost of making telephone calls has increased dramatically since the government privatised the industry. Yusufu blamed the rise on the imposition of new taxes on telephone facilities by various authorities, while has placed an additional burden on investors and operators. High import tariffs on telecoms equipment – all of which have to be imported – have undermined efforts to improve access to the masses. He said that the number of people connected to the PSTN or a mobile network numbered just four million out of a population of 35 million.

- Nokia has introduced an IVR system in local language in Nigeria. The phone manufacturer has introduced Nigerian languages like Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo as local language options on their mobile phones. This will be in the menu and manuals of the phone.

- Qatar's Qtel has announced its second partner in the bid for the 3rd Mobile License in Egypt. Qtel says that it has partnered with Naeem Holding, an Egyptian company; one of the fastest growing Investment Banking houses in the region. Qtel has already announced its partnership with ST Telemedia, an information-communications company. Together, Qtel, ST Telemedia and Naeem Holding have formed a consortium, of which Qtel is majority owner, to jointly bid for the 3rd GSM License in Egypt.