Mozambique’s third mobile phone operator, Movitel, has confirmed the official launch of its operations throughout the country, albeit on ‘an experimental basis’. According to a press release distributed to the local media, the company has rolled out a combined 2G/3G network consisting of 1,000 base stations, with 5,500km of fibre-optic cable deployed for backhaul capacity. The cellco claims that this network allows it to cover all eleven Mozambican provinces, and all 23 of the country’s urban areas that are generally classified as cities. Last month, TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that the start-up’s network was poised to go live on 8 January 2012, following a ‘soft launch’ in October 2011 which took place to ensure that the operator adhered to the initial deadline attached to the concession.
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.