Telecoms News - In Brief


- Nigeria’s four biggest mobile operators – MTN, Vee Networks, Nitel GSM and Globacom – have teamed up to lobby the government for an extension to their tax exemption status. United as the GSM Consultative Forum, the cellcos are asking the state to relieve them of the mandatory tax on their profits for another five years to help them sustain the rapid development of the mobile sector. The tax exemption status granted to all four operators expires next year.

- Egypt’s grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, has deemed the use of verses from the Holy Quran as ringing tones on mobile phones as insulting to Islam, Egyptian newspapers reported last week. “Such a use is unacceptable because it trivialises the Holy Book,” the cleric, the highest Egyptian authority on Islamic law, told students in Alexandria. “Therefore it is haram (prohibited) by Islam," he added. Egyptian newspapers carry scores of advertisements offering downloadable ringing tones ranging from Quranic verses to jokes and the latest Arab pop songs.

- The expansion of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s network has almost been completed, with the only outstanding work being the completion of the long distance microwave system linking Bulawayo to Harare. The expansion plan has cost over USD35 million, and the cellco hopes to have capacity for 500,000 customers by the end of 2005.