KAMPALA, UGANDA – Rwanda’s second mobile telephone operator, Rwandatel, has replaced its CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) platform with a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and 3G network.

The company signed a US$35 million deal with Huawei Technologies of China in February for the latter to revamp Rwandatel’s landline network and replace its public switched telephone network with a next-generation network.

The new network covers most of Rwanda’s urban centers, inhabited areas and roads with a 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. With a capacity of 1 million subscribers in the first phase of roll-out, the network will initially be available in urban areas but will progressively be extended throughout the country by the first quarter of 2009, said Rwandatel CEO Patrick Kariningufu.

“The launch of the new GSM and 3G networks is a key milestone in Rwandatel’s complete revival that constitutes a decisive step in Rwanda’s telecommunications development,” Kariningufu said.

Rwandatel will now be able to offer its subscribers superior quality convergent services in mobile, fixed and Internet telecommunications, according to Kariningufu. The new network will enable international roaming capacity between different providers, easy activation and switching of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards, as well as compatibility with cell phone handsets on the market, he added.

GSM has become the preferred technology for mobile telephony, while the CDMA technology that Rwandatel has replaced is favored by data service providers for its high speed.