Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Etisalat Increases It's Stake in Zantel

Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) yesterday announced the purchase of an additional 14% stake in Tanzanian fixed line, internet access and mobile operator Zanzibar Telecom (Zantel) for USD16 million, raising its equity holding in the African firm to 65%. Etisalat said the move to increase its influence in Africa is part of a wider plan to help lower its reliance on revenues generated in its home market. Etisalat had last increased its stake in Zantel by 17% in October 2007. Commenting on the purchase of the additional shares, Etisalat's Chief Financial Officer Salem Al Sharhan said: ‘The future is in data, information services and internet … Abroad, we will continue to look for opportunities everywhere. We will consider every market where we think we can be profitable.’

Monday, April 19, 2010

Icasa Rushes Through Mobile TV Licences

South African broadcasting and telecoms regulator The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is racing against time to issue mobile TV licences in time for the Soccer World Cup tournament starting on 11 June. Robert Nkuna, an Icasa councillor, was reported as saying that two multiplexes have been set aside for mobile TV. One multiplex can carry up to twelve TV channels, depending on the technology used. No company will be allowed to occupy more than 60% of a multiplex. MultiChoice, which has been testing mobile TV technology by streaming some of its existing pay-TV content to cellphones over the past three years in cooperation with various wireless network operators, is planning to apply for a licence. Its parent company, Naspers, said last year it had set aside ZAR98 million (USD13.4 million) for mobile TV services, which it has already launched in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia.

Interested parties have three weeks to submit their applications to Icasa. Nkuna said mobile TV licences would be offered on a technology-neutral basis. The second multiplex will be available after the regulator has opened the market for the second round of pay-TV licences.

In a separate announcement, Icasa has suggested an aggressive cut in mobile and fixed interconnection rates. The regulator has proposed a three-year glide-path for both mobile and fixed service licensees: mobile interconnection rates, currently set at ZAR0.89 per minute, are proposed to be reduced to ZAR0.65 from July 2010 and further reduced to ZAR0.40 from July 2012. Furthermore Icasa has proposed that fixed line interconnection rates be reduced to ZAR0.15 from July 2010 and ZAR0.10 from July 2012. Hearings related to the draft wholesale call termination regulations are set to be held at the beginning of June, and are set to be in place by the end of the month.

Friday, April 16, 2010

FT, Orascom Finally Agree On Mobinil

The long-running battle for control of Egyptian mobile network operator Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (MobiNil) looks close to being resolved after European telecoms giant France Telecom (FT) and Egyptian group Orascom Telecom announced that they had reached a tentative agreement.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, the proposed accord was announced by the two parties in conjunction with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which had overseen negotiations. It is understood that under the terms of the deal MobiNil’s current corporate structure will remain unchanged, as will existing voting rights in the cellco, with a statement announcing the deal noting: ‘The two groups will continue their partnership on a renewed basis going forward, implementing a revised shareholder agreement but with no change to the existing ownership structure or their shareholders' voting rights ... This agreement will allow the two telecoms operators to contribute their respective know-how and added value to the successful and profitable development of MobiNil.’

Further, the proposals will also see the integration of local internet service provider LINKdotNET Egypt, at present a wholly-owned Orascom subsidiary, into MobiNil, while FT has also reportedly agreed to change its accounting methods to fully consolidate MobiNil. FT and Orascom claim that the agreement will include settlements for all existing disputes between the shareholders, and full details will be made public once the deal has been finalised, which is expected to be ‘within weeks’.

The revelation comes hot on the heels of the announcement earlier this week that an Egyptian court had upheld an appeal by Orascom which blocked a proposed buyout of MobiNil by FT; FT had offered EGP245 (USD44.4) per share for the stake it did not hold in the mobile operator. MobiNil is owned by MobiNil Telecom (51%) and Orascom Telecom (20%), with the remaining 29% publicly floated. MobiNil Telecom is itself owned by FT (71.2%) and Orascom (28.8%), but following an April 2009 ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Orascom was instructed to sell its stake in the holding company to the French outfit.

MTN and Telkom Ink Roaming Deal

Incumbent operator Telkom South Africa and mobile operator MTN South Africa yesterday announced that they have reached agreement on nationwide roaming. At the same time, Telkom also announced plans to build 2,000 base stations over the next two years as part of its strategy to launch wireless operations. Telkom has suffered profit declines from its core business after selling its stake in mobile group Vodacom in 2009.

The company says it will invest ZAR6 billion (USD82 million) over the next five years to launch a new mobile business. Pinky Moholi, managing director of Telkom SA’s business unit said: ‘The agreement paves the way for Telkom to launch its mobile service later this year by offering its customers seamless access to a stable MTN SA network with a substantial national footprint, whilst continuing to roll out its own mobile base stations,’ quoted IT News Africa.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ft and Orascom Plan to Resolve Dispute Over Mobinil

France Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding have presented a joint plan to resolve their long running and acrimonious dispute over the ownership of Egyptian mobile network, Mobinil. The agreement, which has been signed today and will be finalized over the coming weeks, will effectively bring to an end all disputes in relation to their joint investment in Mobinil.

In a statement, FT said that the two groups will continue their partnership on a renewed basis going forward, implementing a revised shareholder agreement but with no change to the existing ownership structure or their shareholders' voting rights.

The agreement also includes the integration of LINKdotNET - the leading ISP in Egypt - into their holding company, ECMS, allowing the company, subject to the approval of its corporate bodies, to extend broadband and corporate communications services to its 26 million customers; and create value for its shareholders and its 3,500 employees. Dr. Tarek Kamel, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology welcomed this step as the merge between the mobile services and internet services.

Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom, said: "I am very satisfied that we have reached an agreement with an entrepreneur such as Naguib Sawiris. Our two groups will now be able to continue working together in order to further contribute to the development of telecommunications services and information technology in Egypt. This market is very important for France Telecom and we will continue to invest and contribute our know-how in the years to come. In addition, this will also reinforce our commitment to maintain a strong R&D and Orange Business Services presence in Egypt."

As a result of the amended shareholder agreement, France Telecom will change its accounting method and will fully consolidate ECMS (ECMS was consolidated through proportional integration in 2009 and before).

The amended shareholder agreement will avail Orascom Telecom Holding operational rights commensurate with its co-owner and strategic partner position, in addition to protection and liquidity rights. Going forward, Orascom Telecom Holding will consolidate its participation in ECMS through equity method.

The outlined agreement will include settlements for all the disputes between the shareholders, the details of which will be communicated once the comprehensive agreement has been finalized.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

France Telecom Wants Payment From Kenya

According to local press reports, the first phase of negotiations over the KES28.9 billion (USD385 million) claim which France Telecom (FT) has submitted to the Kenyan government has ended amid secrecy. The French company is demanding the payment following complaints about Kenya’s competitive environment and a scathing attack on the market dominance enjoyed by rival operator Safaricom. Sources familiar with the negotiations told

The EastAfrican newspaper that in addition to the original USD385 million claim, FT has lodged an additional claim of USD300 million on the grounds that Telkom Kenya’s former management concluded a deal with equipment supplier Rapid Communications weeks before the French took over, thereby denying FT a chance to negotiate a deal under whose terms it would inherit future debts.

Ghana Set o Introduce MNP In 2011

Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Hon Huruna Iddrissu, says the National Communication Authority (NCA) in conjunction with the country’s telecoms industry operators will define the technical parameters for the smooth implementation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) which comes into force next year. The minister says testing of the equipment involved will commence in June this year, adding that the government hopes MNP will foster healthy competition in the market.

ETC Acquires New Satelite System

Gilat Satellite Networks has announced that it is providing a broadband satellite communications network to Ethiopia's monopoly telecoms operator, Ethiopian Telecommunication (ETC).

The new network, covering hundreds of sites, will provide an upgrade to ETC's existing Gilat VSAT network and will enable ETC to deliver advanced broadband services, which include video and data-centric applications, to meet the growing demands of its enterprise and government customers. ETC will also deploy Gilat's VSATs at remote community centers nationwide to provide citizens with toll-quality telephony and reliable broadband internet access.

ETC will additionally enhance its service offering by extending the range of cellular services to the country's remote locations, through Gilat's SkyAbis cellular backhaul solution.

"Gilat's technology has proven to be the most reliable, and has enabled us to improve the quality of ICT in Ethiopia," said ETC's CEO, Ato Amare Amsalu. "In addition to being an excellent technology partner, we have also enjoyed outstanding service and support from Gilat for the past 12 years. We look forward to continuing to work together with Gilat to fulfill our commitment to provide advanced services that meet the critical communications requirements of our customers throughout the country."

Court Blocks FT Share Offer For Mobinil

 The Egyptian Administrative Court has blocked a tender offer by France Telecom for shares in Egypt's Mobinil, citing principles of transparency and equal opportunity. At the heart of the matter is a long running dispute between France Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding over control of the Egyptian mobile network operator.

Last March, ­the Arbitration Court of the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favor of France Telecom, which has a 71.25% stake in a holding company, also called Mobinil, authorizing it to acquire the 28.75% interest in Mobinil held by Orascom Telecom.

Mobinil owns 51% of ECMS, Egypt's leading mobile operator, which markets its services under the Mobinil brand. This company is listed on the Cairo and Alexandria stock exchange. Orascom Telecom directly owns a 20% stake in ECMS.

Last December, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority approved a tender offer from France Telecom for ECMS outstanding shares at EGP245 each. Orascom has appealed the offer to the court, saying the price is lower than the EGP273 originally agreed to by the international arbitrator. However, the arbitrator had also said that a lower figure could be offered, if France Telecom is able to justify the difference.

Kenya To Introduce Mobile Number Portability From July

 Kenya's telecoms regulator has announced that the country's four mobile networks will be required to start supporting Mobile Number Portability from this July. The regulator has been planning to offer MNP in the country for several years, but kept deferring the plans.

The plans, originally announced in 2004 were put on hold in 2007 after the regulator cited the high costs of implementing the system. They were then resurrected in late 2008 for launch between March and September 2009. It now seems likely that the launch will finally occur in the middle of this year.

Subscribers will be charged an administrative fee for each time they port their number to a new operator, although the fee is still to be worked out with the operators.

Typically in most countries where MNP has been introduced, the smaller players tend to see a short-term jump in subscriber numbers at the expense of a dominant player - in this case, Safaricom.

The Mobile World subscriber database reports that Safaricom is the market leader with a market share of 82% with Zain  coming in at 11.3%. Newer entrants, Econet had 2.3% of the market while Orange (Telecom Kenya) had 4.1% of the market.

The regulator has also commissioned Analysys Mason to conduct a study into the market for wholesale and retail termination rates. The operators have until 7th May to respond to the survey.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Djezzy Clears Outstanding Taxes

Orascom Telecom’s Algerian unit, which offers GSM mobile services under the Djezzy GSM banner, has paid USD113 million to the country’s tax authority, Reuters reports. It is understood that Orascom has claimed that payment represents the last of the principal that the Algerian authorities had claimed the Egyptian parent owed in back taxes for the 2005-07 period. In addition, Orascom has claimed that a further USD25 penalty has been suspended pending a final court ruling. The latest payment by the Egyptian telecoms group means that it has now paid approximately USD597 million in principal, plus a further USD45 million in penalties.

Orascom however has maintained that Djezzy was tax-exempt for the period in question, and has argued that the tax bill is based on unfounded allegations of improper account keeping for the two-year period. It has said that it may yet still recover the full amount if its appeal against the bill is successful.

EASSy Lands In Tanzania

According to a report in the Tanzanian Daily News, the ship laying a 5000km long submarine fibre-optic component of the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) landed in Tanzania, at Msasani Peninsula, on 6 April. Once completed the EASSy cable will be capable of delivering data transmission of 1.4Tbps.

West Indian Ocean Cable Company CEO, Chriss Wood, who was present at the landing site, said: ‘Interconnection with other undersea international cable systems will enable traffic on EASSy to seamlessly connect to Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and Asia, thereby enhancing the east coast of Africa’s connectivity to the global telecommunications network.’ The new submarine cable has landing points in nine African countries and will provide backhaul for a further dozen landlocked countries, enabling improved connectivity for the East African region. EASSy comprises of a 10,000km submarine cable system along the east coast of Africa, with landing stations in Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vodafone & CWN Take Case To Belgium

 It was announced yesterday that warring shareholders Vodacom of South Africa and its partner Congolese Wireless Network (CWN) had been unable to reach an agreement concerning their joint venture in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Now arbitration proceedings will be lodged under International Chamber of Commerce rules in Brussels. Bob Collymore, chief officer corporate affairs with Vodacom South African said, ‘We stand ready to fund further expansion and are hopeful that the arbitration process will bring a positive result.’

The disagreement between the two companies was exacerbated in recent months when Vodacom proposed a capital injection of USD484million, which would have diluted CWN's shares in Vodacom Congo. CWN refused the injection point blank and instead, earlier this week, proposed a liquidation or sell-off to a third party of Vodacom Congo, which Vodacom in turn rejected.

Vodacom Congo, which began operations in 2002, is 51% owned by Vodacom, the African mobile network operator majority owned by Vodafone Group PLC, and the remainder by CWN.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Starcomms Reports 53% Increase In Gross Profits

Nigerian fixed-wireless operator Starcomms has announced its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2009, reporting a 53% year-on-year rise in gross profit to NGN18.896 billion (USD124 million), compared to NGN12.385 billion in 2008. The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2009 leapt 633% to NGN7.334 billion, up from NGN935 million a year earlier, which Starcomms attributed to a 13% rise in service revenue, operational efficiencies from a greater scale of operations and effective cost control. Cash flows from operations increased to a positive NGN7.803 billion versus a loss of NGN7.142 billion in 2008, which will enable the firm to fund its planned capital expenditure whilst paying down a portion of debt in 2010.

However, the company posted a loss after taxation of NGN7.787 billion, of which NGN4.951 billion resulted from unrealised foreign exchange losses on remaining dollar denominated debt. Any appreciation of the naira will result in these unrealised losses being written back as profit in 2010. The company’s operating loss improved 85% from NGN4.448 billion in 2008 to NGN666 million a year later; if the naira remains constant or improves, Starcomms says it expects to see a much better bottom line performance in 2010.

At 31 December 2009 Starcomms recorded a total active subscriber base of 2.629 million, 26% higher than the 2.085 million reported a year earlier. During 2009 the company succeeded in expanding its coverage from 20 cities and twelve states to 31 cities and 22 states.

Global Telecom World Currently Awash With Mergers & Acquisitions

The telecoms world is currently awash with major M&A activity – Bharti is close to completing its acquisition of many of Zain’s African operations, America Movil is pulling Carso Group (Telmex and Telmex Internacional) back into a single fold, Orange UK and T-Mobile UK are rolling their operations into a joint venture, and both Telefonica and Liberty Global recently completed acquisitions in Germany. The past year also saw consolidation of service providers in some key markets, including Brazil, South Korea and the United States, while 2010 should finally see some long overdue consolidation of operators in Russia.

What common thread is driving these activities? A recent round of service provider benchmarking analysis provides some answers. With telecoms market growth rates declining and not forecast to return to previous levels, organic growth is proving to be more difficult for some companies, and virtually impossible for others. There are some clear consequences.

Aggressive growth-oriented companies that are determined to bulk up and join the ranks of the largest operators are having to rely more on acquisitions – Bharti is a perfect example. Other companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, have already diversified geographically, but are under increasing pressure to improve financial performance, and are focusing on cost savings and margin improvement. In the middle sits Telefonica which has historically grown through aggressive international expansion, but which has managed to maintain above average profit margins. It can afford to seek out further acquisitions without incurring the wrath of investors.

'The natural urge to maximise growth and gain global market share remains, but is now tempered by a need to focus more on profit margins,' said TeleGeography’s John Dinsdale. 'While it may be counterintuitive, many of the world’s largest service providers have among the lowest margins, which restricts their M&A options. Expect the bolder acquisitions to come from smaller operators and those whose actions are not constrained by unhappy shareholders,' he added.

TeleGeography’s service provider benchmarking research includes analysis of revenues, profitability, subscribers, ARPU, growth rates, geographic footprint, market share, competitive positioning and future growth prospects. It is published as part of TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Insight service which is a companion to the GlobalComms Database, a regularly updated online database of wireline, wireless and broadband competition. No other telecoms market research service rivals their collective geographic scope and depth of coverage.
- TeleGeography.com

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Telecel Zimbabwe Users Nearing 1 Million

Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s second largest mobile network operator by subscribers, has signed up ‘close to a million’ users, parent Telecel Globe’s CEO Kai Uebach told media in Harare last Thursday, as reported by the Zimbabwe Standard. The cellco had 592,000 subscribers at end-December 2009 according to a Telecel Globe presentation, based on a 90-day user activity period, whilst Q4 2009 blended ARPU was reported as USD12, using the exchange rate as of 31 December.

Uebach told the local journalists that Telecel Zimbabwe was in the process of rolling out 170 new base stations countrywide, whilst its network signal quality had recently been significantly improved. Telecel has also invested heavily in electricity generators and batteries so that its network can continue operating during frequent and prolonged periods without mains electricity.

Meanwhile, he attributed the rapid rise in Telecel’s subscribers in the last few months to its reduction in the price of SIM cards to USD2, including USD1 of air time, alongside the lowering of the cost of international calls to countries where there were substantial numbers of ex-pat Zimbabweans. The CEO also rebuffed recent accusations of ‘externalisation’ of funds at the company, simply stating that equipment that was unavailable in Zimbabwe had to be sourced abroad, and was purchased at competitive prices.

Uebach said he had met with the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) and government ministers to assure them that Telecel Globe would comply with legal requirements for it to reduce its existing 60% shareholding to 49%. He indicated that his preference would be to float the shares on the stock exchange, for reasons including ensuring transparency. Telecel Globe is 94% owned by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom.

Libya Plans to Privatise Mobile Firms

The government of Libya is reportedly planning to sell stakes in two mobile operators, Libyana and Al Madar, according to Bloomberg. Under the first phase of the sale plan, an initial 5% stake in the two wholly state-owned companies will be divested for a total of USD400 million, with the government planning to the offer further stakes of up to 40%.

Beltone Securities International, a subsidiary of Egyptian investment bank Beltone Financial, is said to be advising on the sale.

Libyana and Al Madar are the country’s only wireless operators and are both wholly state-owned via the Libya Post and Telecommunications Information Technology (LPTIC). Libyana, which launched in September 2004, had an estimated subscriber base of 6.55 million at 31 December 2009, while sole rival Al Madar, which started operations in November 1996, had 1.4 million cellular users at the same date.

Mozambique Opens market For Third Mobile Firm

The Mozambican government has launched an international public tender for the country’s third mobile telephony operator, with 6 July set as the deadline for submission of bids. The government will then have 60 days to evaluate the proposals and select a winning bid. The successful applicant will be permitted to launch operations within 30 days of licensing, with an obligation to enter the market within a year.

Under the terms of the tender, the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) has set a USD25 million minimum bid for the 15-year licence. The regulations also require bidders to operate one or more networks with at least two million customers and to have selected a local partner. The government has said it will place more value on a bidder’s technical proposal, than its financial one.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bharti And Zain Sign Sale Deal

Just a few days after the revelation that the board of Kuwait-based telecoms group Zain had approved an offer for its African assets, India’s Bharti Airtel has announced that it has entered into a legally binding agreement for the acquisition. Under the terms of the agreement Bharti will make a cash payment of USD9 billion, of which USD8.3 billion will be paid on closing of the deal; the remaining USD0.7 billion will be due one year after completion. Further, Bharti will assume USD1.7 billion of consolidated debt obligations as part of the deal, making it the second largest ever overseas acquisition by an Indian company, only topped by the USD12.9 billion Tata Steel paid for UK-based Corus Group in 2007.

Marking Bharti’s third attempt to enter the African markets, after two failed attempts to purchase South Africa’s MTN Group, when the deal closes the Indian company’s subscriber base will increase by approximately 42 million, spread across 15 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Niger, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Zain’s Moroccan and Sudanese subsidiaries are, however, not included as part of the deal. Indian billionaire and Bharti’s chairman and founder, Sunil Mittal, said of the development: ‘With this acquisition, Bharti Airtel will be transformed into a truly global telecom company.’

Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday by Reuters that the government of Gabon may oppose the sale of Zain's Gabonese unit to Bharti. The state reportedly issued a statement saying that it disapproves of the transaction and 'reserves the right to take all necessary measures', adding that Zain Gabon has 'not complied' with local telecoms regulations.

FT Takes Over Managent of ETC

The management of Ethiopian state-owned fixed line incumbent Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has been officially transferred to European giant France Telecom (FT), AllAfrica.com reports. It is understood that a deal between the French company and existing management at ETC was signed last week.

Under the terms of the agreement FT will take control of the telco on behalf of the Ethiopian government for a three-year period, and it will be paid an annual management fee, while there reportedly also remains a possibility of revenue sharing from enhanced services, although this has not been confirmed. It has, however, been claimed that the deal has yet to be sent to the Council of Ministers for approval.

FT, which faced competition from South Africa’s MTN Group and Indian state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for the ETC management contract, will now be tasked with implementing the government’s ambitious plans to expand telecom services nationwide. The state has said that it wants basic telecom services made available within a radius of five kilometres to 100% of the population by the end of 2010

The government has set aside USD2 billion over a two-year period to expand the infrastructure, aiming to boost the number of Points of Presence (PoP) it has from 1,900 at end-2006 to 17,000 by end-2010. ETC is also aiming to increase fixed line subscribers to four million and mobile customers to 8.5 million by that date.

Zain Annual Net Profits Stumble

The Zain Group has posted an annual net profit of KWD195 million (USD671.76 million) in 2009, down from KWD322 million in 2008. Zain chairman Assad al-Banwan said the biggest challenge was strong currency fluctuations, which cost Zain around KWD38 million last year. Annual EBITDA rose 24% to KWD926 million while earnings per share fell to KWD0.51 from KWD0.88 in 2008.

The board proposed a cash dividend of KWD0.170 per share, excluding any distribution from the sale of some of Zain's African assets to Bharti Airtel. Zain said it expects a profit of USD3.3 billion from the sale of its African assets after settling debt and provisions. The gain is expected to be reflected in Zain's 2Q10 financial results.

‘Last year was the most difficult, not only for Zain Group, but for everyone,’ al-Banwan added. ‘The group’s companies were working under the pressure of the global financial crisis, and a majority of markets were massively impacted by the consequences of the crisis, especially the African markets.’

Ecoweb To Introduce Mobile WiMAX

Ecoweb, the wholly owned ISP subsidiary of Zimbabwe’s largest cellco Econet Wireless, has revealed that it is in the final testing phase of a mobile WiMAX project and will be opening up the new network to subscribers next month.

Ecoweb’s general manager, Tororiro Isaac Chaza, said: ‘The deployment of mobile WiMAX will take place in two phases. In the initial phase, a total investment of 100 WiMAX base stations will be deployed across the country, targeting our main business centres. All the network elements are in place and testing and network optimisation is currently in progress. Deployment of the service is envisaged to begin April 2010 ... The mobile WiMAX network will be capable of carrying mobile, nomadic and fixed services ranging from individual netbooks to large corporate networks. The technology is also suitable for use as backhaul for mobile networks.’

Ecoweb first announced it was preparing to launch mobile WiMAX services in October 2009.

Safaricom to Begin Testing 4G System

Kenya's largest cellco by subscribers, Safaricom, plans to start testing Long Term Evolution (LTE) services on its network later this year. ‘The reason why we are looking at testing 4G is because it is a natural technology growth from 3G to 4G,’ CEO Michael Joseph told Citizen Television.

Joseph did not give a timeframe for when Safaricom hopes to start tests. In an interview with Reuters earlier this month, Joseph said he hoped to obtain some 4G spectrum this year, although he added it might be insufficient to launch a commercial service immediately.