Tanzania: Tz Okays More Cellular Firms

Dar es Salaam — Competition in Tanzania's telecommunication sector is expected to get stiffer after the country's regulatory authority licensed four more cellular phone service providers to bring the number to ten.

Officials from Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) have said that four new cellular phone providers will go into operation in the next six months.

Before the entry of newcomers at the end of this March, Tanzania had six operators; Zantel, TTCL, Mic Tanzania-Tigo, Celtel, Vodacom and Sixtelcom who furiously compete for subscribers.

The firms are now lowering tele-tariffs substantially to attract subscribers and at the same time introducing new products and investing in new technology.

TCRA acting director general, Mr. Goodluck Ole Medeye has named the new companies that are expected to rollout their services within the next six months as Broadpoint, Mycell, Dovetel and Betafone."This is the benefit of reforms (after) the introduction of full liberalisation of the market in February 2005," said Medeye after opening the Spectrum Management System for Developing Countries (SMS4DC) In Tanzania.

Up to last February, Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) was sole provider of fixed-lined telephone. But after the end of the monopoly period, TCRA introduced the Converged Licensing Framework which merges communications and content services into broadband services.

"The objective of the converged licensing framework, among other things, is to enhance the process of creating a conducive environment to attract investments from both local and foreign entrepreneurs," Mr Medeye said.

Since TTCL monopoly ended last February, Medeye said, the number of telephone subscribers increased from 2.9 million to 4.0 million as at the end of March this year.

"Over the same period, radio broadcasting stations increased from 14 to 32 and internet service providers from eleven to 23," Medeye said. He said the converged licensing, which, unlike the previous system is technology neutral, "is implemented through a beauty contest making it very popular to investors."

The system has attracted a number of potential investors and introduction of new technology including Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and third generation (3G) leading to scramble for scarce resources in particular the frequency spectrum.

Vodacom Group is investing Tsh150billion to make Tanzania the only country after South Africa on the African continent with a state-of-the-art third generation (3G) network. Mic Tanzania not only changed its name from Buzz to Tigo but will also invest US$70million (about 70billion) for the expansion.

TTCL and Tigo last month announced telephone tariffs reduction to attract more subscribers.

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