TELECOMS RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Uganda telecom has completed a technical project under Northern Uganda Reconstruction Programme (NURP II). The about $7.1m (sh13b) project was funded by Nordic Development Fund.

- Both Cell C and MTN have beefed up their cellular networks to offer faster data downloads. Cell C has opted for Edge (enhanced data rates for global evolution), which carries data three times faster than its existing network. Cell C will cover 90% of the metropolitan areas with Edge for internet access, multimedia messaging, video and audio downloads at speeds of up to 240kB a second. The fees range from R2 for 1MB of data with no monthly fee, or R1,55 for 1MB of data with a monthly fee of R60.

Meanwhile, its rival, MTN, has begun testing a different technology, high-speed downlink packet access, also known as 3G Evolved. Trials are being conducted with some corporate customers to see if it lives up to expectations of better speed and bandwidth. The technology is designed for mobile and interactive television, enhanced video telephony, multiplayer gaming and the sharing of information. A 3MB file should take 12 seconds to download, compared with 68 seconds using a normal 3G (third generation) network. However data still accounts for less than 6% of the cellular networks' revenue.

- Telecommunication companies Econet Wireless and Zimpost this week entered into a strategic partnership that will see the postal company becoming a trade channel of the mobile phone operator. The multi-million-dollar deal was signed in Harare in which Zimpost will purchase Econet recharge cards and lines and distribute them across the country, taking advantage of their widespread branch network. The agreement will also see the introduction of electronic airtime distribution in all Zimpost branches.

- Telkom Kenya has applied to regulator CCK for approval to change its billing method for local voice services from per three minute billing to per minute billing from 1 July 2006. The CCK notice points out:”The migration to the per minute billing method is also in preparation to move into per second billing in the near future as is currently the practice in the mobile telecommunications industry.”

- MTN Rwanda has introduced a product called Tel'mbere aimed at rural areas without direct connections to the MTN network. Grameen International has been contracted to supply the kit and promote the product. It costs Frw150, 000 for a full kit of handset, battery, Antenna and charger. Calling on MTN network using the product will cost Frw20/unit, Frw25 to Rwandatel fixed lines, Frw50 to Great lakes and Frw76 for international calls, Frw55 for short message services and Frw65 for MTN information request. MTN Rwandacell's network so far covers 78 per cent of the country.