TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Old telephone lines in Keren province of Eritrea have been replaced with new ones that stretch underground. The head of Eri-Tel branch office in Anseba region, Aineta Girmai, pointed out that more than 2,000 permanent telephone lines have so far been made available to the residents of the town and that efforts are being made to meet public demand.  Reports indicated that around 2,470 customers in Anseba region got access to mobile telephone lines since the introduction of mobile phones in the region. The necessary infrastructure facility is already set in place for the distribution of additional mobile phone service.

- Vodacom, South Africa's will  add an additional number range to the current number ranges, including 082, 072 and 076 . As from 1 March 2006, Vodacom will officially add the 079 number range to its network, making sure there is sufficient capacity for future growth.

- Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has changed the brand names of its Ghanaian subsidiary Millicom Ghana to Tigo, in line with its strategy of having a single brand name for all its global operations. Previously the GSM operator offered its services as Mobitel/Buzz GSM. The evolution is being billed as more than a simple name change. MIC plans to offer a much improved service offering MMS, GPRS, international calls at local rates and other value added services. Ghana is the third MIC operation in Africa after Senegal and Chad to launch Tigo.

- Nigeria’s second national operator (SNO) Globacom has connected an additional 35 towns and cities to its mobile network Glo Mobile since January according to a report in local broadsheet Vanguard. The telco added five towns – Oju, Anywuogbu, Ochimodi, Ega and Ogengen - to the network last week alone and this week connected one of the county’s largest tourist resorts Obudu and its surrounding communities. Meanwhile MTSFirst, a mobile phone operator, has launched its service in Ibadan.  Subscribers will also enjoy SMS, Internet and other value added services available on the MTSFirst CDMA2000 1x wireless telephony network.  In a move further  MTSFirst also announced a massive cut in some of its international call rates to as low as N15 ($0.12) per minute for calls to the USA and Canada. Finally, Mtel, the mobile subsidiary of state-owned fixed line telco NITEL, has revealed plans to increase the capacity of its network by 2.5 million lines in the next six months, up from 1.2 million at present. The cellco said it would build 800 new base stations as part of the project, up from its current 500.

- Celtel Sierra Leone has expanded its GSM network to Pujehun Township and the surrounding towns and villages. The cellco currently provides coverage to around 75% of Sierra Leone’s territory, and said it wants to increase this figure to 100% over the next few years. Earlier this month it announced plans to invest USD20 million in network expansion. Meanwhile rival Comuim cellular announced that the  company its subscriber base has reached over 105,000 compared to only 35,000 in May last year.

- ZAMTEL launched its mobile service Cell Z in Mwembeshi. The launch of the mobile service would enable Mwembeshi residents and Nampundwe mines to enjoy the Cell Z network and ease their communication hurdles. Mwembeshi Earth Station capacity was still large despite the facility being established many years ago.

- Some 69 localities in the Somali State have become beneficiaries of wireless telephone services, the Jijjiga High Area Office with the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) said. Meanwhile, 17 localities in Pawe Special Woreda of the Benshangul-Gumuz State have also got access to wireless telephone services, Information and Public Organization Representative with the Special Woreda said.