Following the launch of Cameroon’s third wireless operator Viettel (operating as Nexttel) earlier this month, the government has decided to award a new licence for the establishment and operation of a mobile telecoms network to the country’s state-owned fixed line monopoly CamTel. Journal du Cameroun reports that the 15-year licence agreement was signed on Friday by CamTel’s president of the board Victor Mukete and the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam, in the capital Yaounde. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that CamTel previously operated in the mobile market via wireless arm CamTel Mobile, but in February 2000 South African telecoms group MTN acquired 70% of the cellco (now operating as MTN Cameroon) for a reported XAF63.9 billion (USD140 million), whilst its local partner Broadband Telecom bought the remainder. MTN is Cameroon’s largest cellco by subscribers, with a total customer base of 10.223 million at the end of June 2014 (a market share of 62.5%), ahead of second-placed Orange Cameroun with 6.146 million (37.5%). A third operator, Vietnamese-owned Viettel Cameroon, was announced as the winner of the third mobile licence in December 2012 and launched the country’s first 3G wireless services under the brand Nexttel brand earlier this month.
In a separate development, Investir au Cameroun cites a report by Le Quotidien de l’Economie as saying that Viettel’s request for an extension of its exclusivity on the provision of 3G services has been turned down by the government. Under the terms of Viettel’s licence, which was awarded in December 2012, the cellco was given a two-year period of exclusivity on the provision of 3G services, but earlier this year it was reported that the Vietnamese-owned company was seeking to extend its monopoly, due to delays in rolling out commercial services. However, the Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART) has reportedly authorised MTN and Orange to begin offering 3G services from next year, indicating that Viettel’s application to extend its monopoly was turned down.