TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Gamtel has recently launched a new prepaid card dubbed "Carte Suma Yai" at a ceremony held at its at Gamtel House in Banjul. The card, which comprises D25, D50 and D100, is aims to make communication easier between The Gambia and Senegal, in particular, Senegalese residents in The Gambia. The managing director of Gamtel, Omar Ndow described the card as a noble invention and that it has the similar functions with the katcha card. He said the new card will help to strengthen as well as address the communication needs of the people in the sub-region and address the need of the people in the sub region. He said Sonatel and Gamtel wanted to break the one way link between Sonatel and Gamtel and as a result created a link between Basse and Wellingara. With the introduction of Carte Suma Yai, Mr. Ndow stated, the link would be even more helpful.

Ndow assumed customers that the new product would not be a white elephant. "It is designed to satisfy the needs of the people in the sub-region. He said Gamtel is poised to provide more favourable network in the next two months.

- Fixed line incumbent Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) has disconnected 19 alternative telcos for not paying to use the operator’s network. Most of the disconnected companies were pre-paid card operators, including Northwest Communications, 3Comms Nigeria, DGC Services, Sungold, Datatel and QV Communications. The 19 telcos owed a combined NGN2.5 billion (USD19 million) in unpaid fees and NITEL is now threatening to disconnect a further 14 alternative operators unless outstanding accounts worth NGN5.4 billion are settled in full.

- MTN Uganda will launch roaming services for pre-paid customers soon, the firm's chief operations officer, Serame Taukobong, has said. Taukobong said the global campaign tagged 'MTN Everywhere you Go,' is an expression of the same brand that will be used across all MTN operations. "MTN has had different expressions of the brand in various countries. With MTN's Global Campaign, we are all speaking with one voice and the same brand wherever you go," he said. Under the new global campaign, customers should benefit and enjoy the same level of services and new products across all MTN operations.

"From a Ugandan perspective, it's a commitment and challenge to MTN. If you say you are 'everywhere you go,' it has a big demand on service quality, which we are focusing on and it's a significant change we are making across our business," Taukobong said. He said due to different regulatory regimes, it is impossible to offer a flat tariff rate across all MTN operations.

"MTN customers will enjoy a preferential tariff. A local call made while roaming will not be more expensive than a local call made while in South Africa," he said. Taukobong said MTN plans to expand its service call centres and increase distribution outlets.

- Celtel subscribers in Kenya can now share airtime and top up their friends' phones directly from their handsets, thanks to a new service that the mobile phone operator introduced last week. A service, dubbed Me2U, allows Celtel to Celtel direct airtime balance transfer between subscribers. This means that any Celtel subscriber can share the airtime they have with other subscribers on the same network. Celtel Kenya is the first operator to launch such a service in East Africa. The system is operational in Celtel Malawi and in South Africa. Me2U uses a standard GSM-based handset with a 32k sim card. Celtel's Chief Marketing Officer Gilles Atayi said the service allows subscribers to transfer any amount of airtime from Sh50 to Sh9,999 to fellow subscribers. "The service enhances the availability of airtime by enabling subscribers to share what they have with friends and family. "Imagine stationed in Nairobi a subscriber will be able to airtime to his mother in the rural area in Mpeketoni or Lodwar at anytime," Atayi said.