Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Ghana Telecom (GT) has ‘lost’ the underground network cable that provides communications to a number of major government offices in the Osu Castle in Accra, according to The Statesman newspaper. Bulldozer operative Collins Antwi is currently in police custody for causing unlawful damage to state property after his machine allegedly tore through the GT cabling as he worked on a site close to the Guinean Embassy. Around 7,000 users are thought to have been cut off following Antwi’s actions, including workers at the National Police Headquarters, the National Fire Service and the Bureau of National Investigations. The Statesman says that with the network down the running of the country will be a ‘Herculean task’.

- Zimbabwe's state-owned fixed line operator, TelOne, has said its ZBD1.3 trillion (USD216 million) debt poses a serious threat to its role in the telecoms market, with links to South Africa and the UK having been cut due to unpaid debts. The telco is heavily indebted to BT, South Africa’s Telkom, Belguim’s ING-Bank and France’s Banque National de Paris among others. TelOne has denied speculation that it is technically insolvent.

- The Algerian Telecom Regulatory Authority has announced it expects the total number of subscribers in the country to soon exceed 10 million. The total number of subscribers in Algeria stood at over 9.8 million as of end-August 2005.

- Kenyan cellco Safaricom has hit the three million subscriber mark, ahead of its fifth birthday next month. The cellco, whose customer base has grown by over a million in the last twelve months, attributed the growth to a rural expansion project and its range of new products and services launched over the last twelve months.

- MTN South Africa, a cellular telephone operator, has been awarded with the exclusive telephony rights to the 2006 FIFA world cup in Germany. The exclusive agreement for mobile telephony rights for MTN according to Mark Comwerford, a lecturer at the Stockholm University's Department of Journalism and a speaker at the 9th Highway Africa Conference, would offer MTN relaying near live matches on mobile phones with MP3 and video cameras.

The deal signed with Infront Sports & Media gives MTN the right to exploit up to four minutes of video material per match for "near-live" and/or delayed highlight coverage on mobile phones. The deal, which is exclusive to South Africa, covers all 64 matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and gives full access to the archive material from the 2002 World Cup. The license is valid until October 2006.