Telecom Namibia says it is committed to developing the telecommunications sector in the country. One such area was wireless technology. The company says it's rolled out the infrastructure to provide wireless Internet service to the northern parts of Namibia as part of Phase One and continued expanding to Windhoek.

"We are expanding our service availability in response to the demand from the market and also for reasons where Telecom Namibia sees itself as making a difference in the lives of our customers," says spokesman Ferdinand Tjombe.

Tjombe says Infinitum, a subsidiary of Telecom, has played a role in the provision of this service last year will continue to expedite the role out of the service. He said the Always On Internet Protocol (AOIP) service would be made available to all Internet service providers, who in turn will resell it to their customers.

"Reductions in the internet charges will not necessarily be influenced by this service, because the Wireless IP service will be provided between the customer point and Telecom Namibia's base station. The overall pricing for the Internet is influenced by international operators who provide access for Telecom Namibia," says Tjombe.

Telecom Infinitum has engaged in talks with all ISP's in Namibia to discuss ways to launch the Always On IP product, using the ISP's as the channel.

There is limited coverage at the moment in the Oshakati, Ondangwa and Windhoek areas. Swakopmund will be included in the coverage soon.

Tjombe adds that Telecom Namibia has since its inception played the role of providing universal access to Namibian society as a whole through its telecommunications network.

In 1995, it established a fully digital data network enabling a service subscriber with Wide Area Network and Virtual Private Network capabilities.

In 2000, Telecom made ISDN available, an integrated digital dial-up service.

In 2003, Telecom launched Infinitum enabling any ISP to provide a universal Internet dial-up service. Combining the Infinitum Backbone IP network services and the Digicon Data Service Always On IP services became available at cost-related prices.

It further introduced off-peak and off-off-peak tariffs for the dial-up market.

"Telecom Infinitum is now going to launch much cheaper Always On IP services, but with limited coverage at the initial roll-out.

Future services being looked at currently are Digital Subscriber Loop (DSL) with full multimedia capability and a Multi-Protocol Layered IP backbone (MPLS). In order to deliver a sustainable ICT model, XNET has been established, enabling Schoolnet to deliver services to disadvantaged schools," says Tjombe.

He adds that the rebalancing of tariffs has also been in motion for the past three years, bringing international calls down by an average of 15% last year and 14% this year again. Telecom has also reduced the call distance bands from 4 to 3 to make cheaper national call prices.

"There are also plans on the table to reduce leased line prices for residential customers in the following months," says Tjombe.

Namibia Economist