Safaricom, MTN, Vodacom join forces

By   |  January 30, 2007

Mobile phone giants Safaricom Kenya, MTN Uganda and Vodacom Tanzania will launch a single East African regional mobile phone network this week in an effort to compete with Celtel in the region, East African Business Week reported yesterday. The network will cover Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The new single network is aimed at enabling customers of the three mobile companies to make calls at local rates when travelling across the borders and to receive free incoming calls to reduce the costs.

The tie-up between the three operators comes four months after Celtel launched the first ever regional mobile telephone network in September last year.

“Today Celtel has a seamless network across East Africa that has enabled the MTC/Celtel group to scrap roaming call surcharges for its subscribers in the three countries,” Business Week reported.

“MTN, Vodacom and Safaricom will unveil the ‘just like home’ network to rival Celtel’s ‘one network’. This will pit Celtel against the three companies who will have a combined subscriber base of about 9.2 million subscribers.”

A week ago, Business Week quoted Eric Van Veen, MTN’s chief commercial officer as saying that the three companies had completed signing memorandums of understanding (MoU).

“We have already signed MoUs with Safaricom Kenya and Vodacom Tanzania who have some of the biggest clientele in their respective countries and we are proud to partner with them,” Van Veen said then.

MTN’s subscribers who use the company’s roaming service currently are paying an average of Ush819 (US$0.455) a minute for the privilege. Celtel Uganda subscribers now pay about Ush384 ($0.213) and Ush457 ($0.253) a minute while in Kenya and Tanzania respectively, down from Ush793 ($0.440) a minute previously, Business Week reports.

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