20 August 2007

Sierra Leone: More Mobile Internet Services for Country

Freetown — Celtel-Sierra Leone has unveiled its plans to offer internet services via mobile phones.

Mobile internet services will benefit a wide range of subscribers who may not have access to a personal computer (PC) at home. In Africa for example, the use of mobile phones is more widespread than PCs.

According to officials at Celtel's offices in Freetown, the Celtel mobile data from the Celtel mobile telecommunication will provide access to internet and exciting online downloads directly to Celtel subscribers on their mobile phones.

A senior official at Celtel said, the Celtel mobile data is on the way and subscribers will soon enjoy the facility from their mobile phones sooner than later.

"The mobile internet service is reliable, affordable and accessible to all subscribers using Celtel network all over the country", the senior official told Highway Africa News Agency (HANA). However, according to Mr. Andrew Johnson, a private IT expert, said that mobile internet services in the country were first offered by Tigo mobile.

"Every other mobile telecommunications network seems to be playing catch up with Tigo", he said adding that "this will make other mobile companies to come up with more improved facilities to boost up the communications industry in the country".

According to a few subscribers interviewed by HANA from various networks, Tigo so far offers the cheapest rate among the other networks especially during weekends for international calls.

It is no secret that Tigo had taken the leap into cyberspace by connecting its network to the World Wide Web.

Mr. Abu Kamara, one of the first Tigo mobile subscribers to start using Tigo network told HANA that Tigo subscribers from the convenience of their mobile phones can send and receive e-mails as well as search the web. He further went on to say that this is a good thing for journalists, students, researchers, sports fans and business people on the go who need up to date information on emerging global business trends.

Kamara also pointed out that Sierra Leone can today boast of having improved the flow of information, communication and technology after a long and bloody civil war that ended in 2002. He also said the setting up of the National Telecommunications Commission (NaTcom) by the Sierra Leone government has helped tremendously in the operation, regularizing of licenses and the smooth running of mobile companies in the country.

This latest development, he said, will change the face of the local media and communications industries.

Currently, a wireless communications company has provided online facilities for a few local newspapers in the capital Freetown to access internet from their various office computers during and after working hours, but has proved insufficient for those who want to access the internet anytime after working hours. An IT specialist told HANA in Freetown that the coming of mobile phones in the country has outnumbered the use of telephone landlines. The IT specialist said the majority of people prefer the use of mobile phones to telephone lines.

Mobile subscribers say the coming of Celtel's internet services will open up competition and probably drive down prices.

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