Telecoms News - In Brief

Telecoms

- Richard Branson’s UK-based Virgin Mobile is expected to announce the details of its much-anticipated cut-price mobile venture in South Africa before the end of the year, according to Reuters. Branson told Reuters that a ZAR500 million (USD75 million) joint venture deal with South Africa’s third-largest operator Cell C is due to be announced ‘quite soon’. ‘The cost of making a phone call in South Africa is exorbitant and we plan to do something about it,’ Branson said.

- In Kenya, Safaricom is to begin upgrading its network in December at a cost of Sh14 billion. This is the second phase of what it calls its "Intelligent Network Integration". The money includes the third phase of its Nairobi network upgrading expected to cost Sh1.5 billion, utilising the extra spectrum it recently acquired from the Communications Commission of Kenya."With the ongoing Sh14-billion network expansion and upgrade budget this year, we hope to further increase the total capital expenditure to about Sh52 billion, making us one of Kenya's leading investors," said chief executive Michael Joseph.He was speaking during a media party he hosted to mark the company's fifth anniversary at the Pampa Restaurant in Panari Hotel. Of the Sh14 billion, the company would spend over Sh1.5 billion to rejuvenate its capacity in Nairobi.He said "We shall also launch a strategic rural network expansion project. We plan to roll out out services to more than 70 new rural locations by the middle of next year." The company sees its subscriber base hitting 3.2 million. Hence the need to improve its network.

- Fibre optic cable work to start in March 2006. The laying of the proposed fibre optic cable along the entire stretch of the East African coast will start in March next year. This is according to information provided by Uganda Telecom, which is chairing one of the project's implementation committees. Bids for the development of the project-known as the East African Sub Marine Cable System (EASSy)-have already been advertised and potential developers are expected to submit their proposals by end of November this year.