The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) cleared the air last week stating that its mobile phone network is to be launched within the next two months adding that what is now left is to fine-tune the system and select the guest of honour to grace the launch ceremony.
The move 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.
“We are preparing to launch the mobile network around February/March this year. We are still fine-tuning our system and, at the same time, trying to get a guest of honour who will launch the network,” spokesperson of BTC, James Molosankwe, confirmed last week.
He said the current advertising blitz is aimed at recruiting the necessary personnel who will man the yet to be launched product that will give BTC a bigger stake in the telecommunication systems of the country. That will see the BTC being in control of both fixed lineÔÇöcurrently monopolizingÔÇö- and having a share in mobile telephony, a product which has the largest penetration in the country.
In August last year, the BTC warned of the impending development at 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 is in the process of entering into the mobile phone business which has been triggered by the liberalization of the telecommunication industry. The liberalization move was unveiled by the Minister, Pelonomi Moitoi-Venson, in mid 2006.
“Following the announcement of the liberalization of the telecommunication industry by the minister it now means that we can do also anything within the telecommunication industry. We can now go into the mobile phone business which we are currently working towards and, similarly, our competitors, Orange and Mascom, can do the same. I can promise you that before the end of the year (2007) 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 for 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. The expert was also amazed 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’s perfectly working,” 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.