Mauritian operator Emtel on Saturday last week signed an exclusive supplier agreement with Huawei Technologies for the supply, installation and commissioning of the island state's first 3G network. According to Emtel GM, Shyam Roy, the company has already successfully tested 3G, and hopes to begin roll-out of a commercial operation by sometime in December, which is around the time Vodacom initially suggested it would begin operations, although it will only announce the date of operation on 9 November.

“3G will usher in new services, improve work efficiencies and will boost the development of content provision services,” says Roy.

“While it will be incredible for a small nation like Mauritius to be so far ahead of many of the more developed nations in both the region and around the world, we do not consider it to be a race to be first – although that would be nice.”

According to Emtel, which has over 150,000 GSM users of which 85% are prepaid, the first phase of the operation is nearing completion and will provide an end-to-end solution with coverage of all major geographical areas throughout the island.

“While we are aware of the high cost of 3G handsets, some of the newer ones are no more expensive than the top end GSM handsets, and we expect the initial users of 3G in Mauritius to be from the high end of our subscriber market too,” he says.

“While the service is aimed mostly at local residents, it will also be of use to the some 700,000 tourists we host every year, and we are already in discussions with certain providers to begin offering location-based services such as where to find restaurants and the like.”

IT Web