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Econet to launch cell phone network in Auckland

Announcement and press release for Friday 2nd December 2005

Econet to launch cell phone network in Auckland

Econet Wireless New Zealand (Econet) will commence with the first step in the rollout of its mobile network with the construction of a core radio network in Auckland CDB during the first half of next year. Econet has registered 0281 to its system. Initially the network will service a limited number of subscribers until further cell sites are built.

The Network will be built by Huawei Technologies – a leading player in the global telecommunications market. Huawei has products deployed in over 90 countries, including the US, UK, France, Portugal, Russia, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand, and works with 22 of the world’s top 50 operators.

Econet Wireless International has recently signed a preferred W-CDMA supplier agreement with Huawei for the Asia-Pacific region.

Huawei have been chosen because of their flexible technology platform which provides a very effective but cost efficient impact on the Econet business plan.

Econet has invested considerable money in detailed site plans and business plans for the roll-out of their network in New Zealand. Econet is delighted that there are already Huawei engineers working on the project today.

It is anticipated that additional expansion will commence later in 2006 subject to the successful conclusion of commercial negotiations with existing carriers.

The roll-out of the Econet network will mean that New Zealanders move one step closer to enjoying cell-phone services at prices comparable to the rest of the OECD. A report from Argo TMC, commissioned and released by the Commerce Commission earlier this year, showed costs for cellular phone services in New Zealand are the highest in the OECD, with high airtime users paying 80% more than average air-time users elsewhere in the OECD.

Econet has invested with confidence, noting the success of many third and fourth operators in countries the size of New Zealand. A specific inspiration has been the success of Meteor Communications in Ireland, which broke the duopoly of O2 and Vodafone after the Irish regulator, Com Reg and the EU Commission delivered a level playing field for new entrants.

ENDS

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