TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

- Following a three-month re-branding promotion, Uganda Telecom Limited has registered more than 15,000 new customers, according to company sources. The firm recently merged the operations of Mango (its mobile phone brand) with UTL - all other telecom services - into one brand name; Uganda Telecom. The new brand is expected to give a uniform image of the company's products.

- Kenya’s Safaricom has revealed plans to launch 3G mobile services. The company would launch a pilot test of third generation services in March, 2007 while at the same it expects to hit the 5.5 million-subscriber base. This will be some 9-months ahead of earlier projections that had indicated that target to be achieved at the end of 2007.

- Buvuma Islands is the latest addition to MTN-covered areas as the company's network reaches 73% of the Ugandan population. MTN's network reaches 397 sites in over 180 towns and villages. The company had completed a ring along the eastern network route to ensure absolute recovery of traffic should anything happen to the main traffic route. The network is boosted by the presence of 3,991 village phone units in 56 districts and over 2,600 Publicom phones.  In 2005, MTN reached 71% of the population and 56% geographical coverage.

- A verbal battle has emerged in South Africa between the newest entrant Cell C and incumbent Vodacom which provides a national roaming service for the operator. Last Friday, Cell C customers roaming onto the Vodacom network found that all voice calls had been shut down. Vodacom stated that that after investigation, it had found that incoming data received on links with Cell C's network appeared to have caused the disruption. Vodacom severed all links to Cell C's network until the problem could be solved.

- Operators of Ghana Telecom's (GT) GT/Easyfone Maxi product have been cautioned to safeguard their businesses by charging the requisite rates for satellite calls (INMARSAT) from their customers or risked jeopardizing their businesses. Satellite calls, which are described as super international calls attracted 90,000 cedis per minute, according to GT billing system, but operators ignorantly charge between 6,000 and 7,500 cedis, as normal rates calls to destinations like the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

- MTC Namibia announced a reduction in the Starterpack pricing with effect from 13th of May 2006 in the interest of reducing barriers to entry for most Namibians to telecommunications.  MTC Namibia has been reducing the Tango Starterpack prices over the past couple of years from an initial cost of N$179, 00 to the recent N$90,00.  The new effective price is a reduction by a further 45% to N$49, 00, which includes N$10, 00 airtime.