TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

Algerian mobile operator suffered loss of coverage in the following wilayas: Tarf, Jijel, Béjaïa, Tizi Ouzou, Médéa et Djelfa. The main reason for loss of coverage was power cuts that hit these wilayas. It said last week that 70% of base stations were now functional again.

SA telecommunications company Storm launched its VoIP solution suite on 1 February 2005, following the September 2004 announcement by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri that VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) was to be legalised on this date. Storm’s per-minute billing is cost effective for any company making over 5000 minutes per month of international calls or with a total monthly telephone bill of around R8 000. The billing structure is transparent and allows clients to compare the difference between Telkom’s fixed line rate and Storm’s VoIP rate. Storm expects to be able to offer its VoIP clients savings of up to 70% on international and up to 60% on national calls.

Marking the first day of SA's liberalisation of the telecoms market, Phone IT has launched a voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service site, PhoneHome, and free VOIP numbers. Phone IT says users can register on the new VOIP service Web site to obtain their own VOIP phone numbers. The company says this number allows an IP phone or any other SIP-compliant VOIP device to make and receive VOIP calls. Once users have an IP phone number, they can place calls to other IP phone numbers free of charge. Calls to international destinations start at 20c per minute.

In an effort to reduce call costs between countries, facilitate commerce and regional integration, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has embarked on an ambitious project to develop a single SIM-card usable right across the African continent. The single African SIM-card, to be used for both mobile and fixed lines is envisaged to improve the intra-Africa network. Akossi Akossi, the secretary general of the Africa Telecommunications Union, revealed this initiative while presenting a paper on postal services, infrastructure and access at the African Regional preparatory conference for the WSIS. The feasibility study, expected to last 12 months has a budget of USD800 000. The African Development Bank (ADB) is providing the financial backing while the ATU is to provide all the equipment needed for the project. The project is to be based in Nairobi, Kenya.