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Kabul gets GSM network

Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has set up a small GSM network in the Afghan capital to aid UN humanitarian operations in the next few months. The network can cope with up to 5000 users.

Ericsson has set up a small GSM network in Kabul to aid UN humanitarian operations in Afghanistan for the next six months.

Ericsson is working with the World Food Program (WFP), the leading UN agency in humanitarian aid, also responsible for the initial set-up and maintenance of relief telecommunications in the Afghanistan region.

"This project is unique and the largest Ericsson Response effort so far," says Kurt Hellström, president and CEO of Ericsson. "It is in line with our long-term commitment and partnership with the World Food Program. We are proud that our telecommunications equipment and expertise will improve the quality and efficiency of relief operations."

The Swedish company has installed a complete GSM system on a hill in the centre of Kabul. The network can host up to 5000 users, but will initially be used by 200 relief workers from the UN and other organisations. Ericsson is also donating several hundred R250 mobile phones.

"The availability of reliable communication is vital to ensure the delivery of food and the provision of humanitarian aid to areas stricken by natural or man-made disasters," said Jessie Mabutas, assistant to the executive director of the World Food Program. "Through the partnership with Ericsson, WFP is building new answers to emergency telecommunications' requirements."

Telia Mobile has provided a satellite link to its GSM network in Sweden, meaning that anyone can call a mobile in Kabul by using the Swedish country code.

The aid comes as part of Ericsson’s Response programme, a partnership with the World Food Programme and the International Federation of Red Crescent Societies.

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