Angola’s Unitel invests 41.5 million euros to expand GSM network

19 May 2006

Paris, France, 19 May – Angola’s largest mobile telecom operator, Unitel plans to invest 41.5 million euros on expanding its GSM network, French company Alcatel, which will supply the technology, announced.

According to Alcatel, the contract with Unitel signed Wednesday outlines that the installation of the Evolium radio access solution in several areas of the country will be concluded by the end of the year. This system makes it possible to bring together the capacities of GSM and 3G technology, and allows for third generation mobile communications to be introduced to Angola in the future.

According to Nicolau Netto, president of Unitel, a company in which Portugal Telecom has a 25 percent stake, this solution will make it possible to “deal with, at an effective cost, the exponential growth of traffic and demand in Angola.”

The number of mobile phone users in Angola rose 33 percent last year to 1.6 million, according to figures from Angola’s telecoms regulator, Instituto Nacional das Comunicações (INACOM).

Around 70 percent of users are concentrated in the Angolan capital, Luanda, where a quarter of Angola’s estimated 15-million population lives.

According to Netto, expanding the GSM network would also contribute to “taking mobile telephony to parts of the country that had yet to be reached,” stimulating “the country’s development.”

Unitel, which was launched in 2001, offers voice and data services to around 1.4 million customers and is Angola’s largest mobile phone operator.

According to Olivier Picard, Alcatel’s president for Africa, it was a “considerable feat” for the French company “to become Unitel’s strategic supplier for Angola.”

Unitel is on the verge of launching operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in partnership with its shareholder Portugal Telecom.

PT and Unitel acquired 51 percent of the 900 to 1800 MHz GSM license-holding company from Zimbabwe’s Cellco. (macauhub)