ICO Global Communications, a global mobile communications company, has appointed the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation a non-exclusive distributor of its mobile satellite communications services in Kenya.
Under the agreement, KPTC will market and distribute ICO services through local distributors and retail outlets. The company will also have the responsibility for ensuring the availability of handsets and for gaining compliance with national regulatory requirements.
The parties expect to complete a final agreement setting out the detailed terms of their arrangements for distribution of ICO's services in Kenya prior to the launch of ICO's service in August 2000.
The ICO regional general manager for Africa, Mr Khaya Dlukulu, said the agreement was a major step towards the provision of state-of-the-art telecommunications services in Kenya.
"By complementing the services KPTC already provides, we can extend the reach of telephony services to all corners of the country, including the very large rural areas. This is significant, because 80 per cent of Kenya's rural community has no telecommunications service," he said.
ICO's satellite service will be launched in 2000, based on a new generation of pocket-sized mobile phones that will allow users to make and receive calls at any time, anywhere in the world. The handsets will be dual mode, capable of working on mobile satellite networks. Customers will be able to roam between ICO and mobile networks around the world. If no cellular network is available, the handset will roam to ICO's satellite network to offer customers unrestricted mobility and accessibility for their communications needs.
Services will be available to a wide range of users - from people living and working in remote rural areas to the international business traveller.
ICO Global Communications was established in 1995 to provide global mobile personal communications services by satellite, including digital voices, fax and messaging services. It raised more than $2 billion in equity contributions from 60 strategic investors, comprising telecommunications and technology companies from over 50 markets around the world.
It is also quoted on the Nasdaq exchange. Its services will be marketed to international and domestic cellular users who roam outside areas covered by compatible cellular networks.