Emirates satellite telecommunications company may soon start providing mobile phone services in Tanzania if the government approves its application to provide new generation services. A source in the Tanzania Communications Commission (TCC) told The East-African in Dar es Salaam last week that the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company has proposed providing mobile telecommunication services via the Global Mobile Personal Communications Satellite through its dual-mode handsets and satellite payphones.

This comes in the wake of the cancellation of the contract with the Malaysian-owned Tritel late last year after it failed to comply with a number of operational conditions. Vodacom, Mobitel, Celtel and Zantel currently provide cell phone services in Tanzania. It is hoped that the entry of a fifth service provider will encourage a competitive market and lead to a reduction in connection fees. Tanzania’s charges are among the highest in East Africa. The source said Thuraya would offer a high-generation satellite cellular (GSM) service and location determination system (GPS) in a single dual-mode handset. The source said TCC had agreed in principle that frequencies that were previously used by Tritel should only be given out to a dual-mode handsets and satellite payphones provider. "We want to get a new-generation provider. Thuraya has the technology we were looking for," the source said.