Malawi's industry regulator said on Tuesday last week it would not approve a proposed USD25 million deal between local partner Malawi Mobile Ltd and Ericsson to launch the country's third GSM standard mobile phone netowrk. Communications Regulatory Authority Chairman Abdul Pilane told Reuters the deal was off, saying Ericsson's local partner Malawi Mobile Ltd (MML) had failed to meet a government deadline for introducing the service. "MML was given 90 days from February from which to roll out or have its licence revoked ... those days are over and therefore (there is) no deal for them because they have failed to roll out since 2002 when they got the licence," he said.Under the deal announced last month Ericsson was going to supply MML with services, hardware, software and infrastructure for its GSM network over a three-year period.

MML Director Patrick Tsaperas told a local newspaper last week that he did not expect the government to block the roll-out because the deadline had been extended and the company had paid required fines.