TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

- Nigeria's Second National Operator, Globacom, has commenced commercial deployment of its fibre network in Nigeria. The first route to come on is the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano axis. The Lagos - Epe - Ijebu /Ode - Ore - Benin; the Lagos-Sagamu- Abeo-kuta-Owode- Ibadan rings are yet to come on and the Ibadan - Ilorin - Minna-Abuja-Makurdi- Port-Harcourt-Owerri-Enugu- Onitsha - Benin routes would be completed later in the year.

- Telkom Kenya has introduced a wireless telephone connection system in Nairobi and Diani area of Mombasa. The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) does not require cable wiring but uses radio frequencies that are similar to those used by mobile phones. "It is a digital wireless transmission technique that allows multiple frequencies to be used simultaneously," CDMA brand manager Charles Waitikwa said. He also said of the service; "It filters out background noise, cross-talk and interference so you can enjoy crystal-clear voice quality, greater privacy and enhanced call quality." He said that Telkom Kenya had laid out plans for heavy deployment of the service in Nairobi its environs and will be installing more base stations in the next couple of months. CDMA has the capability of handling both voice and data and can therefore be used for Internet connection. Clients will be hooked to the system at a cost of Sh15,394. This is broken down into Sh10,000 equipment deposit, an activation fee of Sh3,394 and an initial talk time charge of Sh2,000. The service will be billed at the rate of Sh8.30 per three minutes for post-paid and 39 cents per six seconds for pre-paid customers. "It is designed as a pre-paid service but one can convert to post-paid and vice verse," Waitikwa said.

- Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has contracted Nokia for the expansion of its GSM/GPRS network, as an extension to an agreement signed between the two companies last August. Under the terms of the new deal, which is worth around USD30 million, Nokia will supply and deploy an expansion of ETC’s core and radio networks to boost capacity and expand coverage. The capital Addis Ababa and the eastern city of Awash will be the focus areas for the network expansion, with the roads leading from Awash to the national border with Dijibouti also being covered.

- Nigerian mobile operator, Mtel,has concluded plans to start GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) in March this year. It would be the second mobile operator to offer the service after Glo Mobile. The first phase of the launch which is what would be launched in March would accommodate about 300 subscribers. There would be more capacity for the service in subsequent phases. Momife who said the operator was not in a hurry to sell too many lines so as to allow for effective GPRS service said space was being reserved for the GPRS subscribers to make sure that there was no complaints when the service takes off.

- Celtel Kenya has launched a prepaid electronic airtime top-up system that is aimed at strengthening its distribution network.Gilles Atayi, the firm's Chief Marketing Officer said the new facility would complement the existing physical re-charge voucher system through the use of scratch cards.

- Cell phone users in N'djamena, the Chadian capital, complained of lack of service from Tuesday

- Gabon's mobile phone operator, Libertis, announced on Friday that it would effect reduced Sunday charges starting from 8 January until the end of March 2005, an official source said in Libreville. Gabonese company Freecom, a communication company has set up kiosks with mobile phone sets for the handicapped under a loan scheme worth 450,000 francs CFA per unit, an official of the local association of handicapped said Wednesday.