TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

* Telecom Namibia has announced the substantial lowering of international call tariffs with effect from 1 July 2005 in order to make it more affordable to telecommunication users. The decrease in international call charges will benefit largely also the users that make calls to the two increasingly popular destinations of South Africa and Angola. The decision to decrease the tariffs as early as the beginning of July 2005, instead of waiting for the annual Telecom Namibia Tariff Adjustments in October each year, has been taken for a number of reasons but mainly to help in creating an enabling environment for economic growth and to assist the private sector in driving this process.

* Multichoice Uganda, provider of Digital Satellite television (DStv) services, has started a Small Messaging Service (SMS) in a bid to improve communication between the firm and its customers. Multichoice Uganda Sales and Marketing Manager, Mr Peter Mungoma, said recently at their head offices in Kampala that customers would use the service to check their accounts or make inquiries about services. "Customers will not be required now to report to Multichoice offices to verify their accounts," he said. Mungoma also said the SMS option would be of great importance to their customers up country who may be limited by distance. The new service has been effective since July 4.

* Since last Friday, Mobile phone users in Uganda have been subject to a new tax on voice calls. In the country’s latest government budget, tax on airtime increased from 10% to 12% and VAT on calls went up by 1% to 18%. Uganda’s three wireless operators, MTN, UTL and Celtel, have all increased their tariffs accordingly.

* MTN Nigeria has switched on its new Network Management Centre in Ojota, Lagos. The Centre, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria, is a centralized network centre designed by MTN Nigeria engineers. It will provide constant monitoring and coordination of all network elements, thereby ensuring better network quality.

* Mozambique's publicly-owned telecommunications company, TDM, on Friday launched a pre-paid service for fixed telephones. As from now, any TDM subscriber can switch to paying for his or her phone by pre-paid cards. This, TDM administrator Salvador Adriano, explained to a Maputo press conference, will do away with the monthly TDM invoices, and the clients on the pre-paid service will no longer have to go to a TDM office to pay their bills. Currently a TDM subscriber pays 1,334 meticais (inclusive of Value Added Tax) per minute for local calls during weekdays. Using the pre-paid card, the same call will cost 2,100 meticais - which is 50 per cent more expensive. (At current exchange rates there are about 25,000 meticais to the US dollar.) The price of calls, using a pre-paid card, is exactly the same as at the public phone booths run by TDM.