Telkom and AT&T plan expansion in Africa

Operators sign agreement to connect their networks and collaborate on regional growth plans

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By  Roger Field Published  April 19, 2009

South African fixed line operator Telkom has signed a deal to connect its regional network with the global network of US telecoms giant AT&T, allowing the two companies to deliver a greater range of telecoms services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The operators intend to improve mobile services for corporate customers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and extend global Virtual Private Network services to support the network needs of customers with a base in the region, or firms seeking to expand their presence in the region.

Once implemented, the deal will allow multinational companies seeking to establish or expand their operations in Africa the chance to obtain Internet Protocol (IP) based applications and mobility services more easily.

Reuben September, CEO, Telkom said the agreement would “definitely contribute” to his company’s aim of expanding its reach beyond South Africa and to become a fully fledged Pan-African operator.

Meanwhile, Ronald E. Spears, president and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions, added that the deal would be instrumental in helping the Texas-based company expand its IP based services in Africa. “By working with Telkom we will be able to extend AT&T’s world-class IP based services to Sub-Saharan Africa as well as strengthen our ability to serve the needs of customers in the key South African market,” he said.

“This deal provides AT&T with a significant opportunity to drive IP networking for multinational companies to some of the most exciting, dynamic, but so far, under-served markets in the world.”

Telkom’s expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa was, until recently, restricted by the company’s stake in South African mobile operator Vodacom. These restrictions were lifted following Telkom’s sale of a 15% stake in Vodacom to the UK’s Vodafone Group, and the unbundling of the remaining 35% to Telkom shareholders.

September added that Telkom is now free to compete and that the company will cooperate with AT&T to explore opportunities in the mobile services sector in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

He cited roaming agreements between the two companies’ mobile carriers and centralised transaction management for corporate customers, as being among potential opportunities.

In statement, AT&T said it would also be looking to explore sectors such as telepresence, hosting and professional services with Telkom in the region.

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