TELECOM RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE

Telecoms

* Celtel has launched what it claims is Tanzania's first Swahili STK menu to give its subscribers access to a full range of information. The new service is called Pata. Habari in swahili and Know It All in English. This information request sevice costs 54 shillings (inclusive of VAT) per request. The Pata.Habari sim card the service runs off is available nationwide and costs TS 6,000. The company has also launched a new electronic airtime recharge voucher distribution system known as Mobile Top-Up. The new system transfer of vouchers electronically, thus speeding the distribution of vouchers to match its wide network coverage countrywide particularly to areas that were difficult to access. Subscribers will obtain Mobile Top-Up services from their current retailers of scratch cards who are connected to the Celtel network.

* Tanzania's Vodacom Limited reduced its retail call charges by 33 per cent. Under the new rates, the company has reduced tariffs on Vodacom-to-Vodacom calls by 20 per cent for pre-paid subscribers under per second tariff plan This means, charges for off peak, late night, public holiday calls have dropped from to 4/- from 5/- per second. The company also announced a sharp drop in the international short message service (SMS) rate at 45/- from the former 100/-.

* Implementation of the new interconnection rates in Tanzania were supposed to start on August 1, this year, but latest information said TCRA has postponed it to September pending further discussions between all operators and TCRA. Mobile operators seem unsatisfied with the new rates, urging the authority to seek consensus of all operators before effecting the new rates.

* MTN customers in Uganda will be able to send some of their airtime from their phones to colleagues, relatives and friends following the introduction of Me2U. MTN's Philip Besiimire said in a statement on Wednesday that Me2U allows clients to transfer up to sh20,000 daily, in denominations of sh2,000, sh5,000 and sh10,000. "The customer goes to the message functionality, types GIVE, leaves a space, types the number of the person they are sending the Yellotime to, leaves a space, types the amount of Yellotime to be transferred and sends it to 192," he said.