TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Ghana Telecom has extended its GSM mobile service to the Bibiani region in the south of the country for the first time. At the inauguration ceremony of the Bibiani network, the cellco said that it will have a total of 195 cell sites in operation by the end of the year. By leveraging its fixed line infrastructure, Ghana Telecom, an uneasy joint venture between the state and Telekom Malaysia, offers the largest mobile coverage within Ghana by far, though it remains the number two operator by subscribers behind Millicom Ghana’s Mobitel.

- Namibia’s main fibre-optic cable link to South Africa was severely damaged on Monday by workers digging out a water pipe, bringing many Namibian businesses to a virtual standstill and leaving a large number of people without internet access and unable to withdraw cash from banks. Some of the companies worst hit were those which deal mainly with neighbouring South African businesses, as well as tour operators which rely on the internet for bookings.

- The distribution plan for the five million free cellular SIM cards in South Africa should be finalised by the end of May, says Department of Communications deputy director Phakamile Pangwana. Former Department of Communications director-general Andile Ngcaba's made a statement in Parliament two years ago that cellular operators Vodacom and MTN would make the SIM cards available, as part of a deal that would allow them access to the 1 800MHz frequency. Pangwana, who will move to Vodacom at the end of May, said last week that the Independent Communications Authority of SA had issued the licences to Vodacom and MTN in November, provided they formulated a distribution plan within three months. “However, they were unable to do this as it is government's job to determine where these SIM cards and the 250 000 cellular phones should be deployed,” he said. The original intention was for the cellular phones to be sent to the emergency services, mainly the SA Police Service (SAPS), but Pangwana said this was not possible and SAPS, in particular, was not able to take up the offer. “The distribution of the SIM cards and phones to beneficiaries has proven to be particularly tricky. We have examined a number of possibilities, such as community social officers and health workers. There is also the question that if people who deserve the SIM cards and phones are located in an area where there is no cellular coverage, then the network operators have to erect a base station,” he said.

- MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has splashed N20 million free airtime on its customers who participated in the just-concluded Recharge & Win Promotions. In all 200,000 customers are being credited with N100 airtime each. By last week, 100,000 winners who were drawn from the first two rounds of draws had received their N100 free airtime each, totalling N10 million. Congratulatory messages signed by MTN authorities were also sent through SMS to each of the lucky customers. Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr Afam Edozie said by the awards, MTN has demonstrated a firm commitment to its loyal customers. The promotion, which was designed to reward loyal customers of MTN, has so far produced three millionaires from the last three draws.