Argent Networks Awarded Convergent Billing and Customer Care Contract in Afghanistan; Contract Will Help Reconnect Afghanistan With Outside World

Argent Networks Awarded Convergent Billing and Customer Care Contract in Afghanistan; Contract Will Help Reconnect Afghanistan With Outside World

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

KABUL, Afghanistan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 11, 2002

Argent Networks has won a coveted convergent billing and customer care contract that will help reconnect Afghanistan with the outside world, following decades of wartime separation.

The US$2.25million contract was awarded by the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) – a joint venture between New York-based Telephone Systems International, Inc. (TSI) and the Afghan Ministry of Communications.

AWCC has chosen Argent Networks’ award-winning ArgentEclipse product to provide pre paid and post paid billing and customer care for its wireless GSM and IP (Internet Protocol) networks.

By implementing ArgentEclipse, AWCC now has a real-time event based system that can bill for any service – whether it’s voice or data – on either the GSM or IP network. The technology is also designed to rate and bill for every event as it occurs.

Installation of the ArgentEclipse billing system will allow AWCC – for the first time – to interconnect with other wireless service providers outside Afghanistan, a key step in Afghanistan’s telecommunications development.

The contract includes hardware and software infrastructure, system deployment, platform maintenance and support, as well as training. Argent has already deployed personnel on site in Afghanistan to begin the installation and integration.

Argent Networks chief executive, Chris Jones, said the contract is both tremendously exciting and challenging: “We’re thrilled with this latest opportunity to showcase our advanced billing technology – particularly in such a diverse and challenging environment as Afghanistan.”

Talking specifically about the challenges of operating a GSM network in Afghanistan, Jones said: “The first major challenge is that the infrastructure for the network is operating in an environment where there is unreliable or non-existent power, difficult physical characteristics, and major logistical difficulties.

“Secondly, you have the challenge of a monetary and banking system that is not yet fully developed – subscribers are not able to pay at the local ATM or by credit card, and the postal system cannot be relied on to deliver the monthly bill.”

It was the lack of financial infrastructure within Afghanistan that prompted AWCC to provide mobile services on a pre paid basis, and ultimately to appoint Argent. According to Jones, pre paid services are not only popular in Afghanistan, but globally.

Discussing his company’s billing technology, Jones said: “Argent is leading the pack with technology that is capable of handling PSTN, simultaneous billing, data billing by volume, as well as content based billing.”

Complementing Argent’s pre paid billing technology is a post paid billing system that makes it possible to generate financial reports, as well as view invoices and account information online. In addition to the deployment of the billing technology, Argent is also handling the integration with the existing GSM infrastructure.

The AWCC GSM network is currently available in four primary cities – Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. Jalalabad will be rolled out soon. Internet connectivity is being provided in Kabul and will be extended to the rest of the wireless network over the next year.

According to Ehsan Bayat, founder and president of TSI, the network will be a ground breaking example for other developing countries building networks with limited or non-existent infrastructure: “The combination of satellite links, voice and IP data, as well as pre paid and post paid billing is unique, allowing us to offer the service at minimum cost and delay. It’s a very attractive model for developing countries.”

According to Jones: “AWCC will be converted into a fully integrated mobile carrier, able to interconnect with all major networks around the world. Subscribers will be able to use the service when traveling overseas, just as visiting subscribers will be able to roam in Afghanistan,” he says.

Notes for Editors:

About Argent Networks Limited

Argent Networks Ltd designs, develops, integrates and supports innovative enhanced services solutions which enable telecommunications operators to offer value added services to their customers. Argent’s product areas encompass messaging, pre-paid and post-paid telephony, intelligent switching, mobile Internet, convergent billing and customer care. For further information visit www.argentnetworks.com

About Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC)

The Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) provides wireless voice and data services in Afghanistan with national and international connectivity. It is a joint venture between Telephone Systems International, Inc. (TSI), a privately held company headquartered in New York City, and the Ministry of Communications of the Afghan government. In April 2002 AWCC became Afghanistan’s first terrestrial mobile communications service provider.

About Telephone Systems International (TSI)

Founded in 1995, Telephone Systems International, Inc. is a U.S.-based provider of international telecommunications services. TSI also operates the Afghan Wireless Communication Company in a joint venture with the Afghan Ministry of Communications. Through AWCC, TSI provides wireless, Internet, and community telephone services in Afghanistan.

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