According to Vietnamese press reports, Vietnamese-owned cellco Movitel – which was awarded Mozambique’s third mobile concession in November 2010, having tendered a USD29 million bid – has commenced limited commercial services over its first nine base transceiver stations; the impromptu launch means that Movitel has 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 rollout to date, the operator has optimistically indicated that it will have deployed around 1,000 base stations by end-2011. Further, the cellco plans to add an additional 12,000km worth of fibre-optic backhaul to the 5,000km already rolled out.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 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.
Movitel 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.