24 November 2006

Namibia: Telecom Namibia Enters Mobile Market

Windhoek — The country's fixed line monopoly, Telecom Namibia this week entered the mobile phone market using its wireless CDMA technology, company executives announced on Thursday. Telecom Namibia, which has a monopoly on fixed line services will battle it out in the mobile market with MTC Namibia, the first mobile phone company in the country and PowerCom which was granted a licence recently.

Amando Perny, Telecom Namibia's senior manager: product research and development, told a media briefing that the services will be available in Windhoek, Oshakati, Ondangwa, Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop. Next year the services will be extended to Rundu, Mariental, Katima Mulilo and Lüderitz. Telecom Namibia's mobile service, which goes by the brand name Switch, will be available in post paid and pre paid services, Perny said. The post paid service will be introduced next near. Switch will be operated on devices, which look like normal mobile phones. Penny said customers who wish can opt for a device, which will carry both the MTC or PowerCom simcards and the Switch simcard at the same time. Perny said the advantage of CDMA technology is that it has faster data transfer capabilities and a good quality of voice calls. Perny said Switch will have an advantage over GSM technologies operated by MTC and PowerCom because it is based on the latest technology, is clear, faster and will have low prices.

Telecom Namibia's acting managing director, Robert Offner defended Telecom's entry into the mobile market. Offner said Telecom Namibia applied for a frequency allocation for the provision of a CDMA service in 2004 and obtained such allocations in the 450 and 800 Mhz bands in February last year. Offner said the Namibia Communication Commission (NCC) afterwards attempted to limit the scope of the service to be rendered by Telecom with subsequent correspondence. "Telecom Namibia has placed its position on record with the NCC that the company will continue to utilise such frequency bands as was duly allocated to it by the NCC, to provide a telecommunication service deploying leading technology to provide an affordable and cost effective service for Namibian consumers, particularly those consumers in rural and previously disadvantaged areas," said Offner.

Offner said Telecom is satisfied that its rollout of a wireless CDMA service is within the parameters of the Namibian law. Telecom Namibia's head of legal services, Leezhel van Wyk also said the Post and Telecommunication Act of 1992 allows the company to introduce the wireless service.

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