Celtel plans borderless Africa phone network

Monday October 2 2006

A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican

Celtel International, the leading pan-African mobile telecommunications group, will soon launch a borderless mobile phone network for sub-Saharan Africa after its successful launch of the product in East Africa.

"We are the fastest growing mobile operator in Africa, which gives us the ability to channel the telecommunications opportunities throughout the continent," Celtel Tanzania managing director Steve Torode told The East-African in Dar es Salaam.

Last week, the company launched a common network for Celtel customers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, effectively phasing out the regional roaming service.

This means that any Celtel subscriber in the region will be treated as a local customer no matter which country they are in.

Under the new service, touted by its architects as a major technological breakthrough in the history of mobile telecommunications in the world, Celtel subscribers can use any Celtel sim card across all the three East African countries.

Known as One Network, the new service, which takes effect immediately, will also allow Celtel subscribers to top up anywhere in the region with local scratch cards using a new common reload code for East Africa. Incoming calls from a Celtel line from anywhere in the region will also be free. Unlike the traditional roaming facilities, Celtel subscribers within East Africa will not be required to pay roaming or international access deposits, sign-up fee or pre-registration charges under the new service.

The new product will give Celtel an edge over its competitors such as Safaricom, Vodacom and UTL. The three companies provide roaming services only to prepaid customers and charge for all incoming calls and require a special subscription and tariff plan.

Speaking at the launch of the new service in Nairobi last Wednesday, Celtel chief executive officer Gerhard May said the new product is aimed at making cross-border communication easier for those who depend on cross-border contacts.

The launch was conducted simultaneously in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. According to Mr May, the new product is timely, since East Africa is currently experiencing high cross-border traffic because of the ongoing integration of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Celtel's chief commercial officer, Michael Dabaly, said the company's objective for East Africa is to provide customers with the same user experience across the region and to be the leading network in the region under the company's new concept. Reported by Francis Ayieko and Mike Mande

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