Telecom Namibia has appointed China’s ZTE Corp to build a unified mobile network for the provision of 2G/3G/4G mobile services and converged IP fixed/mobile applications under a USD46 million contract. Work is to start immediately on designing and implementing IP multimedia system (IMS), GSM, W-CDMA and LTE network infrastructure for Telecom Namibia and its recently acquired mobile subsidiary Powercom (Leo), with the first new services to be launched around the middle of the year. Frans Ndoroma, Telecom Namibia’s managing director, said, ‘This will result in a major enhancement of Leo’s network quality and efficiency, enabling improved customer experience and richer applications on the mobile platform.’ The rollout of base stations will happen in three phases, including road coverage sites throughout the country as well as cities/towns, creating a network capable of delivering download speeds of up to 100Mbps for 4G LTE users and 21Mbps for W-CDMA/HSPA+ users. ZTE will deliver a converged switching platform for both fixed and mobile service with an IMS core for multimedia communications. It will also provide mobile radio access networks, both 3G and LTE, to expand coverage and data capacity for Leo, as well as integrating the IMS core with the existing fixed network to provide a single service provisioning/billing platform. Ndoroma said building the group’s network on an IMS core platform will give customers a big advantage in terms of price and quality of service, adding: ‘With this unique platform we will optimise time, resources, and results on all IP communication services – from fixed and mobile phone calls to internet access, from social networks to email.’ The group’s strategic orientation is towards fixed-mobile convergence, he added. ‘More importantly, the IMS solution will also support most of Telecom Namibia’s existing PSTN/ISDN services and other multiple legacy interfaces, such as POTS,’ the MD stated. In parallel to the core network and value added services (VAS) platform enhancement phase, base stations will initially be deployed to replace the existing 2G sites of Leo and CDMA base stations operated by Telecom Namibia. According to the telco, the CDMA network will be dismantled once all CDMA customers have been transferred to the new Leo network. Ndoroma promised customers a variety of different products and services in the near future such as sales bundles, integrated tariffs and products and applications with convergent features. ‘Implementation of this project will allow us not only to expand mobile services and improve quality, but also help satisfy the increasing demand for mobile data and make fixed-mobile convergence a reality in Namibia,’ he concluded. TeleGeography notes that the telco has already launched bundles of its ADSL/WiMAX ‘Speedlink’ fixed broadband services with Leo mobile phone and tablet packages, offering discounts of ‘up to NAD5,000 (USD547)’ on its website.
After completing the takeover of Leo in late-November 2012 Telecom Namibia is aiming to gain mobile market share of 35%-40% in five years, as it gears up to take on dominant cellco Mobile Telecommunications (MTC). Changes to the branding of Leo are scheduled in the next six months, although final details have not yet been released.