Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

- Efonica, a global Internet telephony company with offices based in Dubai Internet City and New York, has developed a network to provide an equivalent to the Skype service for businesses and end-users in the Middle East, including North Africa. The services will be offered on a unique network running on a technology that eliminates the method of routing utilized by many Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) peer-to-peer networks, in which many users' Internet bandwidth and/or PCs are utilized as part of the carrier's larger network to set up calls for thousands of other users. Efonica’s parent company, Fusion Telecommunications International, Inc. has filed a patent application last month with the United States Patent Office for its Directed Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) Peer-to-Peer (DSP) technology. The patent application describes a system that Fusion plans to utilize to provide its free service between SIP devices.

- Qualcomm has opened its African hub, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Qualcomm's new office will also serve as a base for implementing Wireless Reach projects, which seek to empower underserved communities through the use of 3G wireless technologies to strengthen economic and social development. Qualcomm recently announced an in-kind donation to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation for the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center which is currently under construction in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The contribution consists of 50 CDMA2000 1xEV-DO wireless devices and embedded laptops for hospital staff and a financial contribution in cash that will be used towards the purchase of service for the devices, medical software and information technology training.

- Six mobile phone operators in Europe have last Thursday agreed to halve the price of average wholesale roaming tariffs....No sign yet of African mobile operators following suit.

- Télécel Gabon has launched a tariff called UNIK that gives users national and international calls for FCFA190 a minute on a pre-paid card. Télécel Gabon is a subsidiary of Atlantique Télécom and has 40,000 subscribers in the country. The company is also extending its coverage with 30 new cell sites.

- Areeba Guinea at its first press conference announced that it had attracted 86,642 subscribers since launching on 18 April 2006 and has 110 employees but will have 250 by the end of the year. It is currently FCFA400 a minute, a tariff identical to incumbent Sotelgui. Its network coverage extends to Kindia, Boké, Mamou, Pita, Labé, Faranah, Gueckédou, Kankan, Siguiri and Zérékoré. It intends to cover the smallest villages in the country by this time next year.