TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

  -   Monopoly incumbent Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), the sole telecommunications service provider in the country, introduced new tariffs for its mobile telephone service as of last Monday. Charges for a call from mobile to mobile within the same zone is 0.72 cents per minute while that of inter-tariff zone is 1.50 birr per minute. The Corporation used to charge 0.75 and 2.72 birr respectively. A call from mobile to normal telephone or vice versa within the same tariff zone, used to be 0.75 cents per minute, is now reduced to 0.72 cents per minute and for outside tariff zone the charge is 1.50 birr per minute. Meanwhile, ETC urged customers of different tariff zones to limit and restrict the use of their mobile phones to their respective zones in order to avoid the current congestion in the network.

  -   SA's MTN has decided to take complete ownership of its customer relationships and is ending its third-party partnership with eBucks. In an e-mail sent to subscribers, the cellular operator claims it will be able to offer its customers an improved offering and enhanced service levels by taking total control of its customer service. It has announced that MTN subscribers will continue to earn eBucks until 30 June next year, as it phases out its relationship with the online rewards programme, and that all eBucks earned will remain valid and will not be forfeited, as they never expire.

  -   SA's Vodacom is now oferring its cellphone tracking service, Look4me to prepaid customers. Currently, 30,000 Vodacom contract customers have registered for the service enabling them to determine the general location of tens of thousands of consenting Vodacom prepaid and contract customers, which has obvious value in emergency situations. Mthobi Tyamzashe, Group Executive - Corporate Affairs of Vodacom said:"Look4me users are discovering numerous applications for the service, from checking that their children are at school, to tracking their own cellphones when they are lost or stolen." For more information on Look4me, Vodacom customers can go to www.look4me.co.za, or make a free call to Vodacom Customer Care on 111 from their Vodacom cellphones.

   -   Telkom Kenya last week  announced that it plans to increase by price of local calls by up to 16 percent. The highest increment will affect those with private lines, whose tariffs have been adjusted by 16 per cent from Sh7.40 to Sh8.60 for three minutes. Public Payphone (booths) users will pay an extra 14 per cent when the new price of Sh8 per three minute comes into effect. Previous they paid Sh7. The company also increased the price of local calls using prepaid and calling cards, which are billed per second. Consequently, prepaid customers will now pay 11 cents more, reflecting the Sh0.50 price up from Sh0.39. Telkom also announced that its calling card customers would pay an adjusted price of Sh0.33 per second, up from Sh0.29 per second.

  Telkom also reduced the price of trunk calls within the East African region as well as out of the region. National trunk calls were reduced by 31 per cent from Sh17.40 to Sh12 per minute, peak hour tariffs within the region went down to Sh40 from Sh45, reflecting a reduction of 11 per cent. Similarly, peak rate international calls to any destination in the world were reduced to Sh72 (USD0.90 cents).

  -   SA's MTN is aiming to prove that mobile phones really are mobile by encouraging the millions of people who travel in communal taxis every day to make a phone call on the move. The initiative to increase access to communications and to boost MTN's income will see the network operator provide pay phones specially designed to be fitted in taxis. The initiative is dubbed Ring'uvaya, or phone while you travel, and will eventually be rolled out across SA. The first phones were fitted in Durban taxis last week.

  -  Nigeria's  M-tel, has said that Kafanchan in Southern Kaduna will soon be re-connected to the national telephone network. The work was currently going in the area to ensure that the people begin to enjoy telephone services by December 2004. NITEL services to the area was put on hold about five years ago when the organisation's mast crashed.