TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

* MTN Uganda has announced that it has installed its 2,000th public phone under its Village Phone scheme. The programme is aimed at extending telephony services to rural communities across Uganda in partnership with microfinance institutions by creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to become Village Phone operators. Individuals take a loan for the equipment of around USD230 to be repaid over twelve months.

* Uganda Telecom has launched a new service that enables a user to access a variety of data using the mobile phone. By subscribing to the New Mango Smart SIM Card, a customer can receive updates on breaking news, commodity prices, ring tones, weather, and exchange rates - depending on the category they choose. Addressing a press conference at the UTL head offices on Rwenzori Courts on August 19, Hans Paulsen, the Utl Marketing Manager, said: "Simply go to the phone menu and everything is there. The news is pushed to you, instead of you pulling it," he said. To join the service, Mango subscribers can upgrade their old simcards for Shs4,000 and have their contacts transferred to the new one at any Utl main customer care centre while new subscribers can automatically get the new sim at Shs15,000. Haulsen said the card can store up to 500 contacts and a customer who subscribes will be charged the price of a normal sms everytime they get an update.

* Vodacom South Africa's new tariff offers a standard on-network call rate of R1.49 per minute for pre-paid and contract customers. The new tariff is effective on 28 August for pre-paid customers and from 1 October for all contract subscribers. The price-cut for subscribers is subject to ICASA's approval.