TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Sierra Leone's mobile phone company, Celtel Monday officially launched its network in Tongo East of the country. Tongo has about 75,000 people and 50,000 of this are adults with over 200 licenses and 20,000 direct miners would be accessing Celtel network," adding that other areas have over 250 license holders with 12,000 direct miners who would make a very big market.

- Developing nations are the fastest growing destinations for international VoIP traffic, according to the latest data released by TeleGeography. Brazil and Nigeria led the world in growth last year, with 112% and 103%, respectively. Bangladesh was a close third with 97%, followed by the Dominican Republic at 81%. Globally, VoIP traffic grew by 35% in 2004. Since 2001, Latin America has been the largest destination region for international VoIP traffic, with 36% of the world market in 2004. Mexico accounts for almost half of the region's incoming VoIP minutes, with 5.3 billion. The economic impact on Mexican carriers is significant, as VoIP is now used to carry half of all incoming voice calls. TeleGeography estimates that international VoIP traffic will exceed 42 billion minutes in 2005, representing over 16% of the total international voice market.

- South African users of Telkom's 0866 should be aware that the fax-to-email service is not the money saver it appears to be, says AmVia MD Not only is the service charged at premium rates of R2.02 per minute, but consumers are not informed of the real cost, claims Hurwitz.Fax-to-email services for inbound faxes on the 0866 number range cost R2.02 per minute, 400% higher than the Telkom rate for local calls during standard time. “To rub salt into the wound, the sender is also unaware that a significant portion of the revenue generated is paid to the company receiving the fax,” Hurwitz says.

- Subscribers to Mango, the mobile phone service of Uganda Telecom (UTL), have this week been told by the company that they can expect a significant improvement in service quality once network upgrades are completed. Mango users have recently been experiencing network failure and other service problems, partly due to work being carried out, but UTL says such interruptions should cease once it has finished the installation of integrated IN and Soft Switched equipment. Chief commercial officer, Faisal Khan, said that after the new upgrades, customers would be able to access value added features such as MMS messaging and internet browsing ‘in due course.’ Meanwhile, UTL is dropping the Mango brand name in favour of offering all fixed line, internet and mobile services under one banner. CEO Aimable Mpore said this week: ‘Of course we will not kill you if you referred to our mobile network as Mango, but we are Uganda Telecom. Over time, all customers will identify with the brand.’