Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) is expected to give the market a surprise New Year present in the first quarter of the year by launching its mobile phone network that will push the number of competitors to three.
Close sources told The Sunday Standard that the network could be on the market as early as February.
“The target launch into the market is February/March. Currently, the network is undergoing some tests and it is working. All what is left is that BTC is doing some quality assurance,” a source said.
However, BTC last week did not want to go into details except to say that plans to launch the new service were well advanced.
“The plans are well advanced and we are currently doing some testing,” spokesperson for BTC, James Molosankwe, told Sunday Standard on Wednesday.
In August this year, BTC said at the BPO Call Centers conference organized by IFSC and Outsource Botswana, that it was busy burning midnight oil with the view of entering the mobile phone race.
BTC’s chief executive officer, Vincent Seretse, said his organization was in the process of entering into the mobile phone business which had been triggered by the liberalization of the telecommunication industry. The liberalization move was unveiled by the Minister, Pelonomi Moitoi-Venson mid last year.
“Following the announcement of the liberalization of the telecommunication industry by the minister, it now means that we can also do anything within the telecommunication industry. We can now go into mobile phone business and we are currently working towards that. Similarly, our competitors, Orange and Mascom, can do the same . I can promise you that before the end of the year we would make an announcement towards that regard,” he said.
BTC’s network setting is understood to have “taken off at an incredibly fast pace” against what other players in the market had endured. International experts said ordinarily the system to work normally takes at least nine months for the system to pass the test.
It is understood that the BTC system was set up by a well experienced expert who helped one of the internationally renowned mobile network companies who was also surprised by the corporation’s high quality infrastructure – and the time it took for the system to be up and running.
“It took him six weeks for the system to be up and running. And some people are already using the network (starting with 73-) for testing basis. And it working perfectly,” one source said.
The new developments will usher in fresh fierce competition in Botswana mobile phone market which has been monopolized by Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana. The two existing players benefited from the then crisis ridden BTC’s billing system and the flexibility of the mobile phone.
However, the impending entry of BTC mobile phone network has seen the two existing players enhancing the quality of the equipment which aimed at benefiting the end consumers. Further, they are clamouring for the lowering of the tariff rates, especially in the international gate-way to ensure fair play.