World’s Highest Paid Soccer Star Launches Telecom Network

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[Sudarshana Banerjee]

The most expensive soccer player of the world (no its not Leo Messi or Ronaldo) is launching his own telecom network. The 30-year old Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o’s eponymous Set Mobile network is scheduled to go live later this month on January 21, the opening day of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Even though the network has not yet been activated, Set Mobile has reportedly already sold 50,000 SIM cards in soccer-loving Cameroon. Not a mean feat, competing against the country’s two existing mobile telephone operators, Orange Cameroon and MTN Cameroon.

Since we are reading on Cameroon, lets take a quick look at the country’s telecom scenario. The country has one fixed-telephone operator, the incumbent Camtel, operating a wired network and a CDMA network, other than the two mobile carriers just mentioned. There are around 9, 223,718 telephone subscribers in Cameroon, which has a total population of 19,406,100 million people, making it an attractive market for mobile carriers.

According to Pauline Tsafak Djoumessi, chief, Market Observatory Service, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Yaoundé, Cameroon, about 35 per cent of inhabited Cameroon is yet to have cellular penetration, while 52.5 per cent of the country do not have a landline phone.

GSM is the technology of choice, and there are around 8, 684,214 GSM subscribers. GSM operators hold 86 per cent of market share in value terms. The incumbent operator Camtel has the rest at 14 per cent.

Let us not forget Mr. Eto’o. Currently captain of the Cameroon national team, Mr. Eto’o plays as a striker for Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala, owned by the Russian billionaire Suleyman Abusaidovich Kerimov. Eto’o reportedly has a yearly pay check of $20 million (Messi earns $10.5 million a year, Ronaldo $12 million, in case you were wondering).

Mr. Eto’o is currently sitting out a 15-match ban, after being found guilty of instigating a strike, by the Cameroon FA disciplinary committee. The action is believed to have been a protest against non-payment of match bonuses, and Mr. Eto’o has declined to appeal.