Movitel, which was awarded Mozambique’s third mobile concession in November 2010, having tendered a USD29 million bid, has confirmed its intention to launch full commercial services on 8 January. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Movitel commenced limited services over its first nine base transceiver stations (BTS) in October; the impromptu launch meant that Movitel technically adhered to the conditions of its licence, which stipulated that it must commence operations within twelve months of receiving its concession. Despite the meagre initial rollout, in October the operator optimistically declared that it will have deployed around 1,000 BTS by end-2011. In August 2011 technical director Huynh Quang Nghia commented: ‘Movitel plans to start operating with substantial coverage of the country’s 128 districts, and in January there will be 95% coverage; two to three months later we will have coverage of 100%’.
Movitel, which will operate with the prefix ‘86’, will compete with two established operators in the wireless sector: state-owned mCel and Vodacom Mozambique, which is owned by its South African namesake. The new cellco is a joint venture between Vietnamese military-run GSM network operator Viettel (70%), SPI, the holding company belonging to Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party (29%) and local investor Invespark (1%). Under the terms of the Mozambican licence tender, bidders were required to have at least two million clients in the countries where they already operate, and be able to provide evidence of revenue in excess of USD50 million a year.