Telecoms News - In Brief


- South Africa’s three GSM operators – Cell C, MTN and Vodacom – have agreed to clamp down on mobile phone theft by signing an agreement that will see the trio sharing their databases on lost, stolen and ‘destroyed’ handsets. Mobile phone theft is currently a major problem in the country, but up until now only Cell C has made it policy to disable handsets reported as stolen or lost. MTN and Vodacom merely disable the SIM cards of such phones allowing thieves to re-use the handsets with a new SIM. Now all three will share their databases and ensure that any phone reported missing is rendered unusable.

- Aon Explorer has been selected by RascomStar-QAF for the delivery of integrated aerospace services. RascomStar-QAF is the premier pan-African operator whose mission is to provide the entire African continent with efficient and inexpensive telecommunications facilities and to meet their radio and television broadcast requirements. Aon Explorer will design and place the launch insurance of the RascomStar’s satellite, which is based on an Alcatel Space Spacebus 3000 platform. The launch of the satellite is scheduled for the first quarter of year 2006.

- China’s Huawei Technologies has extended its cooperation agreement with the Nigerian government by signing a USD200 million contract to deploy a nationwide CDMA450 wireless network covering remote areas of the country currently underserved by the nation’s operators. The China Development Bank has provided a loan to fund the project, which will also provide communications linking the country’s 320 local government offices. The agreement comes just one week after Nigeria’s second largest mobile operator Vee Networks (which trades under the V-Mobile brand) contracted Huawei for the expansion of its GSM network in a deal worth USD80 million. Huawei also recently inked a cooperation agreement with the communications ministry to assist with the rollout of next-generation services. The Chinese company is the largest telecoms equipment manufacturer in Nigeria, with annual sales of around USD340 million in the country; it expects that figure to rise to around USD600 million this year.