Air on a shoestring: government explains rural rollout delays

20 Jun 2007

Gambia Telecommunications Company (GamTel) needs to raise GMD50 million (USD1.9 million) to complete the rollout of wireless links to provide fixed line telephony access to around 350 villages, according to Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, Secretary of State for Communications and Information Technology, who was responding to questions in the National Assembly. Macdouall-Gaye, quoted by allAfrica.com, said that the Airspan wireless technology being deployed in rural and semi-urban areas by the incumbent was proving costly and this had led to delays. She estimated that residential lines provided via Airspan cost GMD80,000 each to deploy, and cheaper alternatives such as CDMA were now being planned in locations including villages within a 25km radius of Kaur. She added that work is pending in about 350 villages earmarked for connection to the PSTN, and that GamTel is currently reviewing the Airspan project, whilst seeking government approval to borrow additional funds from local banks. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, GamTel first rolled out fixed-wireless local telephony services using CDMA technology under the brand name ‘Jamano’ in July 2005.