TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

* Pan-African GSM operator Celtel has announced it is to lower tariffs for customers making calls to other Celtel subscribers within East Africa. Contract and pre-paid mobile users in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will now be billed at the new regional rate, which is ‘significantly lower’ than the previous charges, according to the company’s marketing department.

* MTN Nigeria has begun selling pre-pay mobile credit top-up cards in the UK in the hope that ex-pats will send them back to relatives and friends in Nigeria. The cellco is also offering customers travelling in the UK the chance to settle their post-paid bills by loading the top-up cards onto their handsets.

* Ugandan operator MTN has this week extended fixed line telephony services to Nakapiripirit in the Karamoja region, Butogota in Kanungu, Rubindi in Mbarara and Karamurani in southwest Mbarara. The company said that a further twelve towns would be covered in the next eight weeks.

* Africa's biggest cell phone operator MTN has cut the price for some data services by 55 percent as competition intensifies with rival Vodacom. MTN said it had reduced prices for multimedia messaging, which includes video and music messages, to 0.9 rand from two rand from September 12. The company said one in four customers had MMS-capable handsets. MTN has denied it is waging a price war with South Africa's market leader Vodacom despite a rash of price cuts from both operators. The companies are under pressure to cut prices ahead of results from a regulator probe into what a key consumer group has called "obscene" prices for mobile phone calls in Africa's biggest economy. Both MTN and Vodacom -- which is majority-owned by fixed-line company Telkom -- deny they charge more than international averages for calls and data.

* Glo Mobile Nigeria has announced a new subscriber acquisition package under which new subscribers to the network buy a Classic SIM pack at just N405 and get a whopping N575 worth of free airtime. The free airtime of N575 is credited to the customers account as follows - N200 worth of airtime on activation of the line, another N300 on first recharge and a minimum of N75 on his recharge. The additional N75 is as a result of the 15% instant recharge bonus offer. This recharge promo which was initially scheduled to end on 27 August 05, has now been extended for all recharges up to September 30, 2005.

Also available is the existing N805 Classic SIM which now includes N1,075 worth of free airtime (N500 on activation, N500 on the 15th of the next month and a minimum of N75 on every recharge). These new offers also includes 30 free Glo to Glo SMS every 30 days, till December 2005 and access to other value added services such as MMS, Mobile Banking, Mobile Internet, Prepaid Roaming and magic Plus. These special offers are in addition to the extension of validity for subscribers recently announced by the company, which gives 20 days access to the network for N500 worth of recharge, 45 days for N1000 recharge, 90 days for N2000 recharge and 120 days for both N3000 and N5000 recharges respectively.

* Angola's second main mobile phone company Movicel has announced its selling campaign of mobile phones with its 912 line network, at the reduced price of 59 dollars, an initiative aimed at increasing communications and contribute to the decrease of cell phones theft, Movicel's executive director, Francisco Basílio, has announced. Apart from the 59-dollar cell phones, another model will be sold at 109 dollars. On the other side, the client will also be able to pay 60 dollars in six instalments, in a six month period, by charging their cell phones with a speaking credit of 125 UTT. Francisco Basílio believes that this type of selling will allow a lot of people to have mobile phones without having to purchase it from the black market. With this campaign, named "Arreiou Arreiou", Movicel expects to get 80 thousand clients by the end of the year. The previous campaign "Kilapi" attracted about 40 thousand clients. The 912-line network grew from 72 thousand clients at the end of 2002, to 400 thousand, representing an increase of 400 percent in three years.

* Syechelles telco Airtel announced a 25% reduction on international calls to all destinations on weekends, irrespective of whether they are made from a mobile or fixed phone.