Uganda’s already crowded wireless market is expecting a seventh operator to launch in the first half of 2013, New Vision reports. Sure Telecom, backed by Cyprus-based Timeturns Holdings, tested its first GSM call late last week, and expects to stage a full commercial launch within the next six months. The telco received its public infrastructure provider (PIP) and public service provider (PSP) concessions in July 2007, but progress since then has been faltering and the telco has repeatedly pushed back its expected launch date, originally scheduled for late-2011. Sure revealed in mid-2011 that it was undeterred by the fierce competition in the Ugandan wireless market and was planning to offset potentially low profitability in that sector by investing in fixed line networks. TeleGeogrphy’s GlobalComms Database notes that there are currently six operational cellcos in Uganda – MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL), Warid Telecom, Orange Uganda and i-Tel – whilst fixed voice and data markets are dominated by UTL and MTN, though a number of WiMAX operators also compete in those segments. Further, Uganda’s fixed telephony space has seen rapid growth recently, with the total subscriber base increasing by around 40% annually for the last three years.
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