Movitel, Mozambique’s third mobile phone operator, announced the official launch of its network on Tuesday, at a press conference in Maputo. Since formally acquiring its licence on 10 January 2011, Vietnamese parent company Viettel claims to have rolled out 1,800 mobile base transceiver stations (BTS) and deployed 12,600km of fibre-optic cable, meaning that the newcomer now presides over the bulk of both sets of infrastructure in the south-eastern African nation. To date Viettel has invested around USD117 million in Movitel’s operations, on top of the USD29 million cost of the licence itself.
According to AllAfrica.com, spokesperson Safura da Conceicao indicated that Movitel now covers 105 of the country’s 128 districts, exceeding the target of 72 regions set out under the terms of its licence award. As such, the company estimates that 43% of the population can be reached by its signal. Despite its position as market newcomer, Movitel already claims to have a larger distribution network than both of its long-established rivals, Vodacom and mCel, with 50 retail stores complemented by as many as 25,000 sales agents spread across the country. Surprisingly, Conceicao claims that Movitel already has 415,000 subscribers, all of which have been signed up through word-of-mouth publicity, with the company yet to launch an official advertising campaign publicising its network.
Going forward, investment will continue throughout 2012, with the company aiming to raise its total number of BTS to 3,200, whilst extending its fibre-optic infrastructure to 20,000km. With reference to the company’s social responsibility programme, Conceicao said that Movitel is committed to providing internet access free of charge to 4,200 schools, with 500 establishments benefitting to date.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, 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. Previously the company staged a soft-launch in October 2011 and an additional ‘experimental’ launch in January 2012, thereby satisfying the tight rollout schedule attached to its concession.