The Republic of Congo now has a fourth mobile network operator following reports that Equateur Telecom Congo, a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Bintel, has commenced commercial services. According to Cellular News, the cellco will offer services under the ‘Azur Congo’ banner, with coverage initially limited to Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, although it expects to expand to other cities shortly following launch. Commenting on the launch, Stephane Beuvelet, general manager of Azur Congo, said: ‘We have received overwhelming customer response for Azur during the soft launch and trial phase of service, and are pleased to open up full commercial services to all customers in Brazzaville and Point Noire ... In less than nine months since being awarded [its] licence, Azur will be providing full commercial service to customers in record time, through rapid network deployment and including a full commercial infrastructure.’
Azur Congo is also the first of Congo’s cellcos to adopt and implement the new national nine digit numbering scheme, which allows customers to retain their existing numbers with the 01 prefix on the Azur network.
Equateur Telecom Congo was awarded Congo’s fourth mobile concession in December 2009, announcing in March 2010 that it would open pre-registration for its services in July 2010. Those that registered during the promotional period were given the option of choosing their own number, while their accounts were also credited with XAF1,000 (USD1.93) and ten SMS messages. Minister of Telecommunications, Thierry Moungalla, subsequently made the first successful call on the Azur network in July 2010.