TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

* MTN recently announced an overall decrease in pricing that will be applicable to both contract and MTN Pay as you Go customers. The overall reduction is a combination of decreases on subscription fees, voice rates and SMS rates.Icasa approved MTN's tariffs for 2005/06 last Thursday. MTN's pricing for contract customers decreases on average by 2,4% and 0,9% for MTN Pay as you Go customers. The new rates are effective from 1 November. Ashraff Paruk, GM, Products and Innovation, MTN SA, says: "MTN aims to partner with customers for life, and our price adjustments endorse our commitment to provide them with products that meet their needs."

MTN's annual tariff adjustment includes a 12% reduction in contract SMS rates from 86c to 75c, applicable during peak and off-peak times. MTN Pay as you Go PayBack customers will pay 75c for their 1st SMS of the day, 60c for their 2nd SMS of the day and 40c for the 3rd or more SMSs per day. MTN's ProCall 300 customers will now benefit from per second billing from the first second giving customers extended value for money together with traditional contract benefits. The new prices together with per second billing results in a decrease of 16,1% for the average ProCall 300 customer.

* In Uganda MTN has opened a service centre in Mbarara to provide improved fixed and mobile telephone services to customers in western Uganda. The centre, the first of its kind in the region, will also function as the regional MTN offices. The centre will offer support services including buying airtime vouchers, starter-up packs, simcard replacements, phone repairs and payphone bills.Noel Meier, the CEO opened the centre on Mbarara High Street recently. "Everybody's interest is that we extend to other areas. This is our first step in regionalising our services."Our engineers will be based here to offer support services in western Uganda."Our dealers can now buy stock and other basic services will be provided here," Meier said during the launch.

* In Angola the private mobile phone company Unitel, as from this month, will start implementing a plan aimed at extending the communication network in the main inter-provincial roads. In a interview to Angop, Unitel director, Nicolau Jorge Netto, revealed that communication Towers-posts are being installed on the sides of the roads Luanda / Kwanza-Sul / Benguela. "It is fundamental that whoever has a mobile-phone has a guaranteed communication, mainly in roads, for their own safety, in case of car breakdown or other situations for drivers and passengers, as well as for the local community", he stressed. According to the source, this plan is part of an investment package, which started last January, and by the end of year will amount to about 120 million US dollars, to improve assistance for its customers. This sum of money is also being used in the extension of the network, opening of agencies and construction of offices for the technical area in the province capital. Jorge Netto said that, during this year 240 network tower-posts were installed in the country, being expected the opening of agencies and shops to assist customers in the provinces' chief towns, as well as in municipalities with a large population, already to be installed next week in Andulo, Bié Province, and Luau, Moxico. He further added that by 2007, the investment will be higher than 300 million dollars, to fulfil the aim of setting up about 380 stations.

* Ugandan mobile operator Uganda Telecom (UTL), which markets its service under the brand name Mango, says it has signed up 4,000 subscribers to its network during its re-launch in the north of the country. The company’s regional marketing manager James Mutebi said the new additions had come in just two weeks and the company was enticing users by offering prizes such as bicycles, radios, stoves, mattresses and school bags.