GUINEA-BISSAU: LAST AFRICAN COUNTRY GETS MOBILE ROLL-OUT AT LAST

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Things are beginning to look up for Guinea Bissau and its incumbent telco Guine Tel. Along with Eritrea (see Telecom news below), Guinea Bissau now joins the rest of Africa in having a mobile phone network. Word also has it that the dispute with Guine Tel’s owner Portugal Telecom may be at the "end of the beginning" phase. We understand talks have been taking place and if agreement can be reached, the Government would like it to return to the country. How this will occur is less clear as Portugal Telecom owned Guine Telecom. But if this occurs, it will be interesting to see how much the Government liberalises the regulatory regime to allow mobile competition to Guine Tel or its successor company.

Guine Tel has announced that it has completed the initial phase of its first deployment of a GSM network in the country using contractor, TECORE Wireless Systems. Guine Tel was faced with the prospect of deploying a network within an extremely aggressive schedule and it needed a scalable and reliable wireless system. There is a pent-up demand for a mobile service that has waited for a long time and Guine Tel needed to be able to get its offer to the market before other competitors were allowed to enter the market.

It plans to extend this initial deployment nationwide very quickly. The network is targeted to serve the rapidly growing residential and business markets within the country.

TECORE’s Guine Tel network deployment consists of a complete GSM network including the AirCore® Mobile Switching System with integrated HLR, prepaid capability, AirNet® GSM AdaptaCell® Broadband Software-Defined Base Stations, as well as a full complement of professional services for local deployment, commissioning, and operations support.

"After evaluating many other GSM network suppliers, we are very pleased to have selected TECORE because they had proven experience to rapidly deploy reliable, state-of-the-art GSM networks in difficult environments," said Joao Frederico de Barros, CEO of Guine Tel. "TECORE’s solution is the most innovative and cost-effective wireless platform that enables the feature set of much larger systems - without the need for costly external feature platforms. With less than one percent of Guinea-Bissau households having a fixed line telephone - a scalable solution, fast-deployment and lowest capital expenditure are essential to a short return-on-investment," added de Barros. "With TECORE’s integrated switching platform, software-defined base stations and professional services, our network was deployed and provisioned with revenue-generating prepaid subscribers within 30 days. And with their regional presence and local deployment and operations support of our network, we are now positioned for the next phase of subscriber capacity and coverage growth," said de Barros.

Tecore’s solution is interesting in African terms because the company is known for its work in converging wireless and IP networks. Perhaps as Guine Tel gets back on its feet it will be looking more closely at IP solutions to network expansion.