SOUTH AFRICA: MTN AND CELL C SCRABBLE TO FOLLOW VODACOM'S LEAD

Telecoms

Mobile operator MTN has announced a strategic partnership with Ericsson, which will become its partner of choice for its third-generation (3G) network. Following all the recent hype surrounding the provision of 3G services, with rival operator Vodacom claiming it will offer 3G by the middle of this month, MTN has said it will begin its 3G roll-out in the first quarter of 2005.

Meanwhile South African wireless operator Cell C is planning to launch domestic 3G network services next year, Chief Executive Talaat Laham announced yesterday. Mr Laham said that the cellco had applied for a 3G licence from the regulator, ICASA, and had put out a tender for technology suppliers to implement the network rollout. He went on to say that the company plans to start 3G testing in early 2005 in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Meanwhile, rival mobile operators Vodacom and MTN will launch 3G services in selected South African cities in late 2004 and early 2005 respectively. Cell C, owned by 3C Communications, launched commercially in November 2001. At the end of June 2004 it had an estimated three million subscribers, in a wireless market of around 20 million.