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 Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Broadband connections over fibre networks in the Netherlands increased by 6.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014, taking the Dutch consumer broadband market to quarterly growth of 0.8 percent. This led to a total of 6.916 million consumer broadband connections in the Netherlands on 31 December 2014, according to the latest research by Telecompaper.

Cable still accounted for almost half the connections and grew by 0.2 percent in Q4 to slightly more than 3.2 million broadband subscribers. The number of DSL lines decreased over the same period, by 0.1 percent to slightly less than 2.95 million.

The combined market share of Ziggo and UPC, which recently merged to form a near-national cable broadband network, amounted to 44.1 percent at the end of 2014. Ziggo alone accounted for 28 percent of broadband connections in the country, and UPC contributed a 16.1 percent market share. The merger makes the operator the largest broadband provider in the Netherlands, surpassing incumbent KPN, including its XS4ALL and Telfort brands. The latter saw its market share grow by 0.3 percentage points during the quarter to 40.1 percent at the end of 2014.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 8:28:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 12, 2015

The number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe increased by 60 percent in 2014, new figures have revealed.

The FTTH Council Europe announced there were 12.3 million subscribers as of December 2014 across the European Union’s 28 countries.

Lithuania was the leading country with over 34 percent of homes subscribing to FTTH/B, ahead of Sweden and Latvia.

FTTH is available to 63 percent of subscribers, with Norway the country leading the way, while FTTB is on offer to 37 percent.

Spain made the most progress – the number of subscribers increased 137 percent year-on-year thanks to Telefónica increasing the number of homes passed with FTTH/B by more than six million during 2014.

Despite failing to reach the minimum threshold of one percent of homes subscribing to the two technologies – the benchmark required to merit a ranking – the industry body singled out Germany as having made significant progress in 2014. Europe’s biggest market is expected to reach the one percent mark sometime this year.

After connecting fewer than 20,000 new FTTH customers, the UK remains missing from the ranking, which saw no new countries enter the top 20.

Valerie Chaillou, Director of Telecom Studies at the IDATE, which compiled the data for the FTTH Council, told Europan Communications that incumbents such as BT were too focused on the short term.

The UK operator announced in January that it planned to deploy G.Fast technology next year. But Chaillou warned that it could be a false economy as it would have to “spend again” in a few years to future proof its network.

Despite the absence of two of the continent's biggest markets, Karin Ahl, President of the FTTH Council Europe, said the overall figures demonstrated “phenomenal progress” of FTTH.

She commented: “It proves that FTTH/B is poised to become the mass market broadband product in Europe, even though there is still a long way to go to reach the Digital Agenda target of 100 Mbps for 50 percent of Europe’s households by 2020.”​

Source: European Communications.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:42:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A1 Telekom Austria, in association with Eutelsat, is now offering a satellite broadband solution in a bid to serve remote locations that are otherwise difficult to reach. The service will primarily be used to serve ‘frontier zones and mountain regions’ where the nearest A1 switching centre or mobile base station is too far away to enable a satisfactory broadband connection. The new package supports transmission speeds of up to 22Mbps/6Mbps (down/uplink). Around 1% of buildings in Austria currently lack access to DSL services, according to company estimates.

Previously, in September 2013 Telekom Austria Group and Eutelsat signed an accord signalling their intention to enable the delivery of TV services via satellite in central and south-eastern Europe. Further satellite rollouts are planned across the group’s operating markets later in 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:39:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

We may have only just covered the UK declaring some 1.9 million homes as able to access superfast broadband from the BDUK programme and now the DCMS has added up the figures for January 2015 and declared that over two million premises can now order a superfast broadband service via the gap funding scheme.

Breaking the two million figure also means that coverage is now at 80% of UK premises at superfast speeds when combined with the commercial coverage. Of course people need to order the upgrade to benefit from the extra speeds made available and this is one of the bones of contention from the vocal complainers, which leads to a complain complaint that some believe take-up would be higher if the project has concentrated on the slowest parts of the UK first.

Number of premises with access to fibre based broadband via the BDUK projects

NOTE: This is the total of fibre premises passed, the headline 2 million figure is based on DCMS calculation of how many can get superfast speeeds

North East England 85,048
Yorkshire and Humber 232,536
North West England 272,894
Midlands 292,985
South East England 265,935
South West England 200,272
East of England 288,729
Scotland 220,000
Wales 299,876
Northern Ireland 17,500

For the previous 1.9 million premises news article we ran an analysis on the speed spread to give people some idea of the number of premises not getting superfast from the largely FTTC based BDUK roll-out, and this calculation was done independently of any DCMS figures and ahead of the release of the two million announcement, the results from that analysis agree very closely with the proportion of superfast versus fibre based in these latest DCMS figures.

Obviously 80% is still a long way short of the overall 90% target for phase 1 of the BDUK project, but the roll-outs are continuing and with phase 2 contracts now being awarded the 95% target for 2017 is getting to closer to becoming reality. It must be highlighted that contrary to a belief in some circles that the 95% target is for every community, the target is a nationwide one, thus some areas that exceed the 95% target will make up for projects that decide to aim for lower but more attainable targets (i.e. need less intervention funding).

The remaining 5% of the UK is dependent now on the outcome of a number of pilots that are exploring how well various technologies can handle the dispersed nature of the last 5% and how much it will cost to deliver. Only once costings and viabilities have been looked at can we expect announcements of the availability of the necessary funding. A major change in the final 5% pilots is that BT is not heavily involved and the pilots feature various technologies that suppliers have been trumpeting as solutions for getting superfast to rural areas.

Source: ThinkBroadband.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:38:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of fibre lines in the Netherlands grew to 2.3 million in 2014 from 1.95 million the year before, with penetration rising to 31% from 26%, according to data from the Telecompaper FTTH Monitor.

Reggefiber had by far the largest market share: 85% of all homes passed were covered by Reggefiber, with CIF taking the rest of the FTTH market with 12%.

Penetration was highest in the Flevoland province, while Overijssel recorded the strongest growth in 2014. In absolute numbers, Gelderland had the most lines, while North Brabant added the most lines last year.

Source: Broadband TV News.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:35:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone Italy has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network now covers 80% of the population, equivalent to 3,500 municipalities. Meanwhile, the cellco’s ‘4G+’-branded LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network is now active in more than 150 locations; the upgrade was introduced in November 2014 and offers end-users downlink transmission speeds of up to 225Mbps. Elsewhere, voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) connectivity is available in Milan, Rome and Ivrea. Finally, Vodafone notes that more than 1.2 million customers have signed up to its 4G plans to date.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:31:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 05, 2015

Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market's inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.

"The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn't enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung's struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren't cut out for today's tablet market."

Apple's lead over other vendors has yet to be truly challenged as it shipped 21.4 million tablets, accounting for over a quarter of the market with 28.1% volume share. Despite Samsung's woes, it managed to hold on to the second place with 11 million units shipped. Lenovo (4.8%), ASUS (4%), and Amazon (2.3%) rounded out the top 5 although only Lenovo managed to grow annually when compared to Q4 2013. Lenovo maintained its tight grip on the Asia/Pacific market thanks to its massive scale in the PC business and the success of its low-cost tablet offerings.

Source: IDC.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:08:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zimbabwe’s state-owned fixed line operator TelOne has revealed that it is 60% of the way through a project to connect 20,000 households to fibre via its Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) rollout. A report from local news portal The Source says the telco has completed links from Harare to Mutare, Bulawayo and Kariba, while other major towns such as Gwanda and Masvingo have also been connected. Work is underway to connect the border town of Beitbridge. The firm says the work will enable it to diversify its business and shift its focus to the broadband segment as fixed voice revenues continue to decline. Funds for the fibre deployment have come via a loan from Chinese banks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:06:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

T-Mobile Hungary, a wholly owned unit of Magyar Telekom (MTel), has announced that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscriber base reached 450,000 at the end of 2014, an increase of 70% from 265,000 one year earlier, and up from 320,000 at the end of October 2014. According to the telco, its 4G data traffic tripled during 2014.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, T-Mobile Hungary launched 4G LTE services in January 2012, initially in the capital, before expanding its coverage to around 80% of the population by December 2014. As at 30 September 2014 T-Mobile was the country’s largest mobile service provider in terms of subscribers, with 48.1% of the market, placing it ahead of the Hungarian units of Telenor (28.6%) and Vodafone (23.4%).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:04:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

US technology giant Microsoft has launched what it claims is Africa’s first commercial broadband network utilising ‘white space’ broadcast frequencies in Ghana, via its 4Afrika initiative. In partnership with SpectraLink Wireless – and in the wake of successful white space pilot tests at universities in Koforidua, Ghana, from May 2014 – the new network will offer students affordable, high speed internet bundles and zero-interest loans in partnership with UT Bank for the purchase of eligible internet-enabled Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and HP devices. Data packages start from GHS2 (USD0.6) for 24 hours access.

Professor H Nwana, executive director of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, of which Microsoft and Spectra Wireless’ parent company are both members, commented: ‘Having overseen TV white space (TVWS) trials in the UK at Ofcom, I am truly delighted to see Spectra Wireless and Microsoft’s move to make TVWS-based broadband a commercial reality in Ghana, a first in Africa. I applaud the Ghanaian regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), in granting a commercial licence, which allows use of TV frequencies on a secondary basis as long as TV is not interfered with. This would drive up spectrum efficiency of TV bands in Ghana, and I hope other countries learn from NCA’s decision.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:02:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A total 20 operators worldwide have launched Category 6 LTE-Advanced networks, according to the latest report from industry group GSA. The networks supporting speeds up to 300 Mbps are available in 15 countries: Australia, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The 3GPP defines a Category 6 system in its Release 10 specifications as having a theoretical speed of 300 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink. According to the GSA, a further 22 Cat 6 networks are being deployed or in a trial phase, for a total 42 operators in 24 countries investing in the technology.

The next stage of LTE-Advanced, Category 9 as defined under 3GPP Release 11, is being tested or deployed in nine countries (Australia, Japan, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and the UK). This will increase the theoretical speed to 450 Mbps downlink.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 10:59:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Belarusian national PTO Beltelecom has announced that the number of subscribers connected to its Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) has reached 300,000. The technology supports ultra-high speed connections of up to 1Gbps and is capable of delivering triple-play services of television, broadband access and voice telephony on a single cable. Work on the rollout of GPON infrastructure began in the capital Minsk in 2011 and the fibre-optic technology is now being deployed in regional and district centres where Beltelecom is upgrading its networks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:41:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Monaco Telecom has launched an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network in the Principality under the ‘4G+’ banner, adding 800MHz frequencies to its existing 2600MHz network to deliver peak (theoretical) speeds of 223Mbps using carrier aggregation (CA) technology. The Xavier Niel-controlled operator says that at launch the service is available in the port area of Port Hercule, and that it will cover the whole of the Principality with 4G+ services this year. Although it stopped short of providing a date when this will happen, Monaco Telecom says that its nearly 35,000-strong user base will be able to benefit from LTE-A automatically – i.e. they will not be charged an additional fee to sign up and can access it via packages that start from EUR34 (USD38.1) per month for two hours of voice calls and 1GB of data. The cellular arm is selling four smartphones initially that support LTE-A, namely: Samsung Galaxy Alpha, Note and Note Edge and the Huawei Mate 7.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:40:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cellco Airtel Ghana has entered into a venture with social networking giant Facebook to launch Internet.org, an initiative aimed at making the internet more accessible in under-connected parts of the world; the service has been extended to Airtel’s pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. Via Internet.org, users will have free access to basic internet services for education, health, employment and communications, promoting the spread of knowledge and information across the country. Upon its launch, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commented: ‘By connecting everyone, we hope to unlock even more opportunities for Ghana.’ Spearheaded by Zuckerberg, Internet.org is a collaboration between Facebook, Nokia, Ericsson and Qualcomm, alongside a number of other technology companies.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:38:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-owned fixed line incumbent Uzbektelecom has added 390 premises in Tashkent to its fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) network, UzDaily writes. The telco’s fibre network, the deployment of which has been financed by the China Development Bank, has so far passed 3,287 premises, including 915 connected in 2014.

In a related development, the telco has cut tariffs for international bandwidth for internet service providers (ISPs) for the fourth time this year, dropping prices to USD251.94 per Mbps from USD253.74. Earlier this month, Uzbektelecom cut the price to USD259.29, before lowering the cost to USD257.42 and USD253.74. Prices for international bandwidth have been steadily falling in recent years; TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the price fell from USD1,510 per Mbps in March 2010 to USD529 by the end of 2011.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:36:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodafone Malta has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data network now offers coverage to 70% of the country’s population, 14 months after its commercial launch in November 2013. Vodafone is so far the only Maltese cellular operator to have implemented LTE technology, with rivals GO and Melita still to reveal their 4G rollout plans. Vodafone accounted for around 46% of Malta’s 560,000 mobile users at the end of September 2014, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while GO took 39% and Melita had a 15% share.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:35:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telkom Kenya (operating under the Orange brand) has expanded its 3G network to a further 14 urban areas across the country, as it seeks to grow its data services business. Following the rollout of 3G services to Eldoret and Nakuru last year, the firm has now launched its 3G network in Isiolo, Othaya, Keruguya, Kenol, Mwingi, Loitokitok, Namanga, Mai Mahiu, Gilgil, Bomet, Eldama Ravine, Siaya, Webuye and Kilgoris. Orange has also revealed that its data business grew by 50% in the fourth quarter of 2014, driven by the provision of high speed broadband to 35 county governments and through the improvement of its network across the country. ‘Part of our KES2.5 billion (USD27.3 million) investment last year was dedicated to the rolling out of 3G network across the country, and the transformation of our operations to enhance service delivery,’ commented Orange Kenya CEO Vincent Lobry. He added that the business is strengthening its national broadband reach with the laying of transport cables across the country. By the end of Q1 2015 an additional 27 urban areas will be connected to the Orange 3G network.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Africa | Mobile
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:34:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu), the Maldives’ incumbent telecoms operator, has expanded its 4G LTE service to the island of Fuvahmulah (Gn) and Addu City, the country’s second largest city. In addition to these two new locations, coverage of the firm’s 1800MHz network is also available in Male’ City, Villingili, Hulhumale’, Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Villingilli (GA), Thinadhoo, Kulhudhufushi (Hdh), Naifaru (Lh). Dhiraagu’s LTE network supports maximum downstream speeds of 100Mbps, with customers experiencing average data rates of between 15Mbps and 20Mbps.

At the official 4G unveiling ceremony in Fuvahmulah, Dhiraagu’s managing director and CEO Ismail Waheed said: ‘We continue to make constant investments nationally to ensure our customers can take full advantage of the latest services on their smart devices. One of our key objectives is to give the fastest and reliable internet connectivity in the country to enhance both quality of life and economic growth of the country and the current investments on the enhancement of our mobile network is a testament to this.’ Dhiraagu currently provides 4G LTE coverage to 50% of the population, while its 3G network reaches 95% of Maldivians.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:33:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Movistar Argentina has activated a total of 50 LTE-4G base stations in the centre of Buenos Aires, reports local daily Clarin. Company sources said the network is already operational and that they accelerated the deployment to improve the service and decongest 3G networks. They also announced that 200,000 customers who already have 4G-enabled devices will shortly be sent the new chips that are needed to use the service.

Movistar is the first Argentine operator to launch 4G services and is expected to be followed shortly by the operators Personal and Claro. Movistar last week revealed that it had sold 100,000 4G-enabled since announcing the service in December and that the company had already installed 160 LTE base stations covering several cities in the Buenos Aires province, including Buenos Aires itself, as well as the nearby conurbations of Mar del Plata, Pinamar and Carilo.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:30:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, January 26, 2015

Elephant Talk Communications has announced that Vodafone Spain’s low-cost MVNO brand, Lowi, has been launched on Elephant Talk's full services mobile platform in Spain, joining other MVNOs such as Lebara, BT and Eroski. The low-cost Lowi brand began providing services on 18 December, offering a single postpay tariff, called “Tu mismo”, which includes 1GB of mobile data and unlimited calls to all Spanish mobile and fixed numbers (EUR 0.19 call set up fee payable) for EUR 6 per month.

Vodafone and Elephant worked together to complete the platform in three months, with Elephant Talk changing the complete core network, the systems architecture and the billing engine, while developing all the functionality required and integrating with third parties for the website and distribution. "In only three months, we were able to deploy a fully redundant installation including new HLR\HSSs, new upgraded IP systems, new GGSNs, new provisioning, a new postpaid billing system and backup systems in two co-location data centres in Barcelona and Madrid,” said Elephant Talk CTO Martin Zuurbier.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Europe | Mobile | MVNO
Monday, January 26, 2015 9:15:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The World Bank has given an update on the expected timetable for the Republic of Benin to be connected to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) high speed international submarine cable, which is currently in its second-phase rollout of connectivity to additional countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The Bank stated that a technical team from Alcatel-Lucent – the consortium cable’s main technology partner – deployed equipment in the transmission room of the Cotonou (Benin) cable landing station in late-December 2014, while the cable laying ship is scheduled to reach Cotonou on 24 February 2015, and Benin will be connected to ACE on 3 March 2015, quoting Alcatel-Lucent projections. In parallel, the architecture of the system allowing the switching and routing of international traffic between ACE and Benin’s sole existing submarine cable link (to the SAT-3/WASC system), is currently being designed by an international consultant financed by the project, the World Bank’s report disclosed. Moreover, building works to house a new Beninese internet exchange point (IXP) ‘should be completed in January 2015,’ although noting that ‘the crossing of the site by the power line feeding the landing station is nevertheless a major obstacle that could delay the works. The Bank and project teams are monitoring this issue and working with the utility company to avoid any further delays.’

Benin’s involvement in the ACE consortium (led by France’s Orange) is being managed via a local special purpose vehicle (SPV) named Benin ACE GIE, a joint venture which includes local mobile operators and internet service providers (ISPs). The World Bank’s latest report says that the operating team at BENIN ACE GIE now has three appointed permanent staff and eight cable landing station technicians. It adds that the draft licence for operating access to the ACE cable via BENIN ACE GIE is currently under review within the various legal departments of the SPV members, as questions have been raised about legal status: the current legal framework for the SPV remains ‘vague’, and this status may be ‘difficult to reconcile with the conditions for open and non-discriminatory access [to ACE cable bandwidth], as capacity allocation to new entrants could pose problems.’ The report continued that once the cable is operational, the legal issues will be further examined to identify the ‘most adequate legal status for the SPV’. Referencing the relatively recent launch of ACE connectivity in another western African country, Guinea, the World Bank added that: ‘In order to build on the Guinean experience, the project team will travel to Conakry in the second quarter of 2015 to meet and exchange with their Guinean counterparts.’

The latest timetable was given in a report dated 25 December 2014 as part of an assessment of World Bank-supported project ‘WARCIP 1-C’ which aims to help increase the geographical reach of broadband networks and to reduce the costs of communications services in Benin

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:10:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tele2 Lithuania has announced in a press release that its 4G LTE network now covers 65% of the country’s territory and over 66% of the population, providing mobile data speeds of between 20Mbp and 100Mbps for LTE handset, tablet and modem users at no additional cost. Tele2 Lithuania added that its 4G network currently consists of more than 200 LTE base stations, using the 800MHz frequency band for wide coverage across urban and rural/highway zones, alongside the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands to meet coverage and capacity demands in cities. By the end of 2015 the cellco intends to expand the LTE footprint to 75% of Lithuanian territory and 90% of the population. The release also stated that 4G devices now represent around 10% of Tele2’s Lithuanian mobile user base, whilst total data service revenue accounted for 12% of all turnover in Lithuania by the end of 2014, a statistic which is lagging behind its Baltic sister companies, Tele2 Estonia (where data represented 24% of 2014 revenue) and Tele2 Latvia (22%).

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:05:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ugandan cellular operators MTN and Airtel have confirmed that they have implemented the One Network Area arrangement which has removed international roaming costs for calls between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. MTN has gone one step further, adding South Sudan to the scheme. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate last week, cellcos in Rwanda and Kenya had implemented the scheme last year, acting on a decision by the Northern Corridor Summit Heads of State.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:04:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to new data from telecom market research firm TeleGeography, international telephone traffic continues to grow, despite formidable challenges. International traffic grew 6% in 2013 to 542 billion minutes and is projected to reach 569 billion minutes in 2014.

While growth is slowing, international call traffic has quadrupled since 2000, driven by a fundamental shift in international calling patterns. In 2000, two-thirds of all international calls were made to people in high-income advanced economies, and fixed line phones in advanced economies received just over half of all traffic. Today, those positions have been almost completely reversed. Between 2000 and 2013, traffic to mobiles in emerging markets grew at an annualised rate of 32%, to 245 billion minutes, while traffic to fixed lines in advanced economies grew a paltry 4% annually, to 109 billion minutes. Mobile phones in emerging markets now receive 45% of all international traffic and emerging markets account for 63% of all terminated international telephone traffic.

The proliferation of mobile phones in emerging market countries, which have enabled immigrants to call their families at home, and relentless price declines, which have made calling home increasingly affordable, fuelled the rapid growth of emerging-market traffic. However, this engine of growth is starting to sputter: in 2013, traffic to mobiles grew just 9%.

‘The long boom in traffic to emerging markets was driven by rapidly increasing mobile phone penetration and declining call prices,’ stated TeleGeography analyst Cody Williams. ‘However, phone penetration is nearing 100% in many emerging market countries and, after years of price declines, the incremental effects of further price reductions are also diminishing.’

The abating pace of growth to emerging markets suggests that challenging times lie ahead for carriers, which must also contend with relentless price declines and growing competition from over-the-top (OTT) communications services. However, with 8.3 billion fixed and mobile subscribers at year-end 2014, the PSTN will not fade away anytime soon.

The TeleGeography Report has been a vital source of statistics and analysis for the international long-distance market for over 20 years. To find out more and to download a copy of the executive summary, please visit www.telegeography.com/research-services/telegeography-report-database.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:00:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile number portability (MNP) is finally expected to be implemented in Kazakhstan by the middle of this year, with legislation to pave the way for the scheme currently proceeding through parliament. Local website Profit.kz quotes a spokesperson from Tele2 Kazakhstan as saying that the country’s larger operators ‘will be forced to engage in a real fight for the customer by reducing tariffs and improving the quality of service’. Tele2 sits in third place in the Kazakh mobile sector behind TeliaSonera-backed K’cell and Vimpelcom subsidiary KaR-Tel (Beeline), while the market is rounded out by number four provider Altel, which is owned by Kazakhtelecom.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:57:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications Technology (MCT) is reportedly planning to connect half of the country’s population to 3G mobile broadband services in 2015, All Africa reports. In order to achieve its ambitious goal, the government is aiming to complete Phase 1 of a wireless broadband infrastructure upgrade and expansion project, which is part of the National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), by year-end.

According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the National Broadband Plan was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in June 2013. The main aim of the plan is to increase penetration of fixed broadband services to 20% and mobile broadband to 80% of the population by the end of 2017. It outlines a number of ways to achieve this, including the release of more spectrum for broadband services, facilitating rapid rollout of wireless and wireline infrastructure and providing incentives to encourage a national 3G wireless coverage to at least 80% of the population by 2018.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:55:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone UK’s chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp has been cited as saying that his company is focused on ensuring its 4G network is strong and reliable, rather than it looking to compete with the likes of market leader EE in terms of coverage. According to TechWeek Europe, Vodafone UK’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure is now available to around 50% of the country’s population – compared to the more than 80% EE announced earlier this week – while it has signed up around 1.4 million subscribers, far fewer than its rival’s 7.7 million customer base. However, Mr Hoencamp has highlighted the fact that Vodafone UK’s use of low level 800MHz spectrum will allow it to offer superior indoor coverage, while pointing out that it will only ever declare a location as ‘4G ready’ once it can serve the entire population, and not just a town or city centre. ‘It’s not about who’s got the most coverage,’ the executive said, adding: ‘It’s more about having the strongest signal. We’d love to expand the network faster, but it’s about doing it right first time; I’d rather do it at the pace we’re doing and get it right, than try to go faster and build a thin and flimsy network. You can have a few sites here and there, but that would give you really patchy signal. We only turn 4G on when we have built or updated enough sites.’

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:51:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thailand’s cabinet last week approved a draft Cyber Stability & Security Act stipulating sweeping changes to data privacy and surveillance rules relating to communications providers, which will now be presented to the national legislative assembly for passage into law, Telecomasia reports. Under the act, a Cyber Security Commission chaired by the Prime Minister would have powers to directly order communications providers to supply any requested information, logs or documents to the commission, which could also summon individuals for questioning, while the act removes the existing requirement for a court order to carry out surveillance of communications or gain access to information. The report adds that under the draft wording, any officer appointed by the Cyber Security Commission would have the legal power to read e-mails, instant messages and other text communications plus listen to any voice conversations on any network in Thailand, while also having the power to demand access to information on ‘any computer system’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:50:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Digicel Jamaica has announced that it now has one million smartphone users on its mobile network, accounting for more than 45% of its overall subscriber base in the country. The firm says it has focussed on providing low-cost smartphones under its ‘DL’ range, while it has also expanded its 3.5G HSPA+ network to reach 92% of the island’s population, and has been increasing the amount of free online content for local users. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digicel claimed 77% of the Jamaican mobile market at the end of September 2014, with LIME accounting for the remainder.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:48:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ooredoo Qatar intends to complete a national LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network coverage footprint this year whilst aiming for a target of ‘100%’ fibre penetration among its fixed broadband customers, the company told the Gulf Times at a press conference. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Ooredoo Qatar reached the milestone of 200,000 customers connected to its fibre broadband network in December 2014, around three years after launching the high speed triple-play connectivity service, with the lion’s share of its existing fixed broadband customers having been transferred from lower-bandwidth ADSL connections. Also that month, Ooredoo launched the country’s first commercial LTE-A service under the ‘4G+’ banner, boosting its mobile network’s peak mobile downlink data speeds to 225Mbps from its previous limit of 150Mbps, and covering parts of Doha – including Corniche, West Bay lagoon, Katara, Souq Waqif, Al Rayyan, Shahaniya and Sealine – for devices supporting LTE-A on either 800MHz or 2600MHz frequency bands. Ooredoo’s new chief business officer Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Thani told Gulf Times yesterday that 4G+ services were now available in additional major areas such as Al Wakrah, Al Gharafa and Education City, but the LTE-A technology was ‘still pending in some highways along the northern and southern parts of Qatar’ while the goal was to ‘provide the entire country with 4G+ services’. Sheikh Nasser also said Ooredoo was in ‘constant talks’ with Samsung, Huawei and Apple for the manufacture of LTE-A-capable smart devices, noting: ‘Our challenge to mobile phone manufacturers is to keep up with the technology that is now available in the market because not many smart devices are capable of using 4G+.’ To address the compatibility demand, Ooredoo has launched the Samsung Alpha, Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and Huawei (Mi-Fi) E5786 devices.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:47:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Central Bank of Ecuador anticipates that during 2015 at least 500,000 people will join its Electronic Money System which it launched in late-December 2014, according to manager Mateo Villalba, quoted by TeleSemana. Users of the mobile money service are forecast to make transactions worth approximately USD12.5 million in the year based on an average of USD25 per account. In mid-February a wider range of transaction functions (such as paying, depositing, withdrawing, transferring etc) will be implemented for the bank’s virtual account users, while paying utility/tax bills will be enabled over the platform during the second half of the year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:46:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ecuador’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society (Mintel) reported that the country currently has 35,111km of optical fibre transmission infrastructure installed and expects to reach 45,000km by the end of 2017, supported by a state initiative to reduce the digital divide. As reported by TeleSemana, in 2006 Ecuador had a domestic fibre backbone spanning 3,500km which rose to 15,000km in 2012, whilst for its part state-owned incumbent telco Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) said its fibre-optic infrastructure reached 12,410km in mid-2014.

According to other end-of-year statistics from Mintel, ‘eight out of every 100 people’ in Ecuador use fixed broadband services, while by November 2014, 7,105 public educational institutions were connected to broadband in a programme benefitting more than 2.6 million students and 123,558 teachers. At the end of 2014 Ecuador had 490 operational community telecentres (infocentro) benefiting nearly 2.8 million people.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:44:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Mozambique is considering a number of projects to encourage broadband internet usage. One scheme will see citizens offered free internet access on Saturdays via a number of Digital Resource Centres (CPRDs) around the country; a report from Star Africa quotes the Ministry of Science and Technology as saying that the centres will be established in all provinces of the country except Maputo and Manica. The government is also thought to be in the process of setting up an ICT Universal Access Fund to complement the existing fund for universal access to basic telecoms services. Meanwhile, authorities are also promoting the idea of shared infrastructure among the country’s operators to help spread the cost of expanding coverage to more rural areas. Figures from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database highlight the fact that household broadband internet penetration in Mozambique stood at just 0.7% as of end-September 2014, well below the average regional penetration level of 4.5%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:43:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the annual report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for 2013/14, the country’s four privately owned mobile operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel – collectively invested BDT98 billion (USD1.24 billion) in the development of their networks and services. The telecoms regulator told local paper the Daily Star that another private operator, CityCell, and state-backed Teletalk ‘did not invest during the year’ although this has been disputed by Teletalk with its MD Giasuddin Ahmed saying that his firm had committed CAPEX in the period under review, but that ‘BTRC did not seek any information from us on our investment’. However, he declined to say how much the firm had actually spent.

TeleGeography notes that in September 2013 the four cellcos each acquired 2×5MHz of bandwidth in the 2100MHz band for the rollout of 3G/4G services, agreeing to pay a total of BDT40 billion in instalments. Teletalk also bought a 2×10MHz block of spectrum but it is yet to clear the payment — around BDT16 billion. The state-run operator has been using the spectrum since 2012. CityCell, meanwhile, did not buy any 3G spectrum and is struggling to pay off its 2G licence renewal fees and the portion of its revenue it is required to share with the government.

The BTRC’s annual report goes on to say that the six mobile network operators generated total (gross) revenue of BDT207.65 billion through voice, data and other value added services (VAS). Additionally, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh notes that between 1997 and 2013, the cellcos invested more than BDT718.7 billion in their networks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:42:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Senegal’s industry regulator L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes (ARTP) says that it now plans to launch a mobile number portability (MNP) regime in the country in February 2015 – despite previous assurances that MNP would go live in October 2014. It was June 2014 when Abou Lo, former director general of ARTP, said that the country was on course to launch MNP by October. In an interview at the time, the former ARTP official said he had signed an edict on MNP guidelines in Senegal, including the process of selecting the firm to manage the running of the single platform for it. Lo’s statement followed a similar announcement in October 2013 in which the watchdog confirmed it was conducting a public consultation on a number portability regime, to help achieve an October 2014 launch.

However, Biztechafrica quotes ARTP boss Abdou Karim Sall as saying that following a long consultation process with mobile operators, starting July 2014, to agree matters such as the terms of pricing and assessing customer experience, the testing phase of MNP will now begin this month before moving swiftly to the commercialisation phase. In other words, ARTP now has just two months to meet its latest deadline for finally introducing mobile portability in the West African nation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:41:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) aims to expand mobile phone services to all of the roughly 10% of villages in the country which remain unconnected to cellular networks by December 2016 as part of the Digital India programme, Telecompaper reports, quoting The Economic Times. Of some 600,000 villages across India, around 55,000 are still not connected to mobile services. The coverage gaps are particularly noticeable in certain zones: according to regulatory data, in the Arunachal Pradesh region nearly 56% of villages are not yet within the mobile footprint, while the figure is 38% in the Meghalaya area, 32% in Mizoram and 24% in Manipur. In a related move, in September 2014 the government approved a state-backed plan to deploy 6,673 cellular towers across 8,621 villages, mainly in the north-east.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:40:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Oman Broadband Company (OBC) has launched in cooperation with Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) a pilot project to provide high speed internet services using the fibre-optic cable infrastructure of electricity companies. Oman Tribune quotes Said bin Abdullah Al Mantheri, CEO of OBC, as saying that the project is being carried out in Hamam Al Sunub in the wilayat of Bausher, and involves the extension of fibre-optic cables between an Omantel mobile phone tower and an electricity transmission station. The network provides an internet connection of up to 40Mbps, compared to the previous speed of 3Mbps. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that state-owned OBC has been licensed by the TRA to provide the infrastructure in accordance with the plans and objectives of a new National Broadband Strategy (NBS), which was formally approved by the government in September 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:39:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile service provider Vodacom Congo has reportedly funded the installation of a USD83,000 digital centre in the Congolese University of Kinshasa, according to Biztech Afirca. The centre will include 100 computers providing internet access, and will help transform the university from its current state – it lacks landline phones, adequate electricity and tap water – into a modern functioning study centre. Vodacom Congo managing director Murielle Lorilloux said: ‘We remain convinced that access to new information technologies and communication is a powerful means of development … access to the internet should not be a privilege.’ The operator has previously reached out to underserved Congolese communities, having conversed with local residents in November with regards to increasing 3G network coverage in rural areas of Kasai.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:38:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, head of telecoms watchdog the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), has revealed that the watchdog is currently discussing a mobile number portability (MNP) report with policy makers and industry stakeholders, AllAfrica reports. Last year RURA hired a consultant to study the feasibility of the potential implementation of a MNP project and associated costs, with the final report being submitted in November 2014. The official pointed out that a cost benefit analysis of the service will be conducted prior to its introduction in order to determine if the project will be profitable, adding: ‘There is infrastructure investment involved in a centralised system which will allow people to port…’.

TeleGeography notes that the launch of MNP services, which allows subscribers to retain their phone number when they switch service provider, was originally slated for 2011. RURA said in February that year that it had postponed the implementation of the service to 2012 to allow the country’s three mobile operators to fully establish themselves in the market. ‘We have decided to postpone the introduction of the service to 2012 because the market is not yet ready for it; we also want the market to have a 60% [mobile] penetration.’ The country passed the 60% mobile penetration mark in January 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:37:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Canada’s government has announced plans to release an ‘unprecedented amount of mobile spectrum’ in 2015, with Industry Canada claiming that by May 2015 the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have increased by almost 60% against early 2014.

As part of its plans, the state has confirmed it will launch an auction of ‘Advanced Wireless Spectrum-3’ (‘AWS-3’) frequencies (1755MHz-1780MHz, 2155MHz-2180MHz) on 3 March 2015, with it saying these will ‘enable the delivery of fast, reliable service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to encourage sustained competition’. In addition, the government said it will seek views on plans to make spectrum in the 600MHz band available for mobile use, and plans to provide a path for mobile use in the 3500MHz frequency band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless internet services in rural areas. Further, the state intends to develop a plan to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum band (2000MHz-2020MHz and 2180MHz-2200MHz) in order to enable the launch of a new operator, with a view to increasing ‘[the] choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas’. Rounding out the plans, Industry Canada said an additional 2100MHz of spectrum will be made available, while it intends to establish a ‘more efficient and consistent process’ for new concessions in the 24GHz, 28GHz and 38GHz bands.

Commenting on the plans, James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, said: ‘Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:18:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Canada’s government has announced plans to release an ‘unprecedented amount of mobile spectrum’ in 2015, with Industry Canada claiming that by May 2015 the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have increased by almost 60% against early 2014.

As part of its plans, the state has confirmed it will launch an auction of ‘Advanced Wireless Spectrum-3’ (‘AWS-3’) frequencies (1755MHz-1780MHz, 2155MHz-2180MHz) on 3 March 2015, with it saying these will ‘enable the delivery of fast, reliable service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to encourage sustained competition’. In addition, the government said it will seek views on plans to make spectrum in the 600MHz band available for mobile use, and plans to provide a path for mobile use in the 3500MHz frequency band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless internet services in rural areas. Further, the state intends to develop a plan to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum band (2000MHz-2020MHz and 2180MHz-2200MHz) in order to enable the launch of a new operator, with a view to increasing ‘[the] choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas’. Rounding out the plans, Industry Canada said an additional 2100MHz of spectrum will be made available, while it intends to establish a ‘more efficient and consistent process’ for new concessions in the 24GHz, 28GHz and 38GHz bands.

Commenting on the plans, James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, said: ‘Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:18:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ooredoo Qatar reached the milestone of 200,000 customers connected to its fibre broadband network on 13 December, it announced in a press release yesterday, having launched the high speed triple-play connectivity service nearly three years ago. Ooredoo added that around 9,000 homes a month are currently being connected to Ooredoo Fibre, supporting 100Mbps broadband speeds, voice telephony and IPTV (‘Mozaic TV’), while the lion’s share of its existing fixed broadband customers have now been transferred from ADSL connections. Sheikh Saud bin Nasser al-Thani, CEO, Ooredoo Qatar, said: ‘As our community prepares to celebrate Qatar National Day together, I am proud that Ooredoo has lived up to its promise to connect people to the fastest-available fibre network.’ Ooredoo’s fibre investment will continue throughout 2015, while the full-service operator is also planning a significant infrastructure investment and capacity-building programme in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:17:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Mobile penetration reached 147% in Jordan at the end of September, compared to 146% three months earlier and 143% at end-March 2014, according to the most recent statistics published by sector regulator the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC). The number of mobile users expanded to 11.00 million from 10.69 million in the previous quarter, with pre-paid users increasing from 9.90 million to 10.17 million over that period. Mobile broadband subscriptions meanwhile reached 1.3 million from 1.21 million and 1.13 million in the preceding two quarters. Elsewhere, the TRC notes that there were some 5.6 million Jordanians, or 74% of the population, using internet services in Q3 compared to 5.4 million (73%) in Q2 2014. Broadband subscriptions totaled 344,738 at end-September, including 211,732 ADSL (207,713 in Q2), 125,481 WiMAX (125,909) and 6,000 cable (6,069).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:16:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Guatemalan operators Claro, Movistar and Tigo have returned some six million mobile numbers to the government in order to minimise the burden of a new tax approved for the 2015 budget which will cost the operators GTQ5 (USD0.64) per number. El Periodico quotes the president of Guatemala’s Telecommunications Union, Acisclo Valladares, as saying that the numbers to be returned belonged to inactive users whose lines will be deactivated, adding that each of the trio still had sufficient resources to cope with national demand. Each of the three cellcos returned around two million numbers. According to the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SIT), ahead of this move there were 21.474 million registered mobile subscribers in Guatemala, of which 20.474 million were on pre-paid plans, with 70% of these users (14.302 million) topping up less than GTQ10 per month. Valldares warned that those customers that used less than GTQ10 per month might be affected by the deactivation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:14:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Uruguay’s national telecoms operator Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel) has achieved its target of connecting 500,000 households to its high speed fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network by year-end, the company’s president Carolina Cosse is quoted by Subrayado as saying. Last year the state-owned company said it will invest USD1.112 billion in its operations by 2017, around USD727 million of which will be spent on its access network, including the rollout and expansion of its FTTH infrastructure. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that China’s ZTE was selected in September 2011 to build Antel’s national FTTH network and the first home was connected to the infrastructure one month later. Services are marketed under the brand ‘Vera en tu Hogar’, with plans for residential users ranging in price from UYU690 (USD33.8) per month for the entry-level 20Mbps downstream connection to UYU1,590 per month for the top-end 120Mbps/12Mbps download/upload plan.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:13:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

World wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for internet access to be recognised as a human right. Presenting his World Wide Web Foundation's latest report tracking the internet's global impact, Berners-Lee said the internet could help tackle inequality as long as rights such as freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality were "hardwired" into the basic rules of net use. "It's time to recognise the internet as a basic human right," he said. "That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of web users regardless of where they live."

However, the 2014-15 edition of the Web Foundation’s annual Web Index found that the web is becoming less free and more unequal. Almost 60 percent of the world’s people – 4.3 billion – cannot get online, while over half of those who can access the internet live in countries that severely restrict their rights online. In fact, laws preventing mass online surveillance are weak or nonexistent in more than 84 percent of countries, said the report, and 38 percent of surveyed countries are blocking sensitive online content to a "moderate or extreme degree", an increase of 6 percent from 2013.

The report ranked Denmark, Finland and Norway as three countries that gained the most social and economic benefit from the internet in terms of universal access, relevant content and use, freedom and openness, and empowerment. The UK and Sweden were ranked fourth and fifth, while Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia came in at the bottom of the list of 86 countries.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:12:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi telco Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has announced that it has achieved its objective to cover 60% of the population in 31 provinces in the central and western regions of the country ahead of schedule; the obligations were set out by the Communications and IT Commission’s (CITC’s) Universal Service Fund (USF). Under Project No. VII, which aims to increase connectivity in twelve provinces in Riyadh and 13 provinces in Qaseem, Mobily has constructed 216 new towers, while 197 existing base transceiver stations (BTS) in the two regions were upgraded, thus increasing coverage in 1,147 communities. Meanwhile, Project No. VIII, which aims to improve telecoms services in six provinces in the Mecca region, saw Mobily build 137 new towers, while 80 BTS were upgraded; 80% of the targeted population in 759 communities gained access to telecoms services following the expansion.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the CITC awarded the two USF projects to Mobily in December 2013: the first project encompasses 1,868 communities in the provinces of Qaseem and Riyadh, while the second seeks to increase connectivity for nearly 330,000 residents of Mecca province. The regulator has also received approval for its Fifth Operational Plan, which will see three projects funded by the USF: Project No. IX covers 1,130 communities in Madinah and Hail; Project No. X will improve connection to almost 1.2 million people in Aseer Province; while Project No. XI will encompass 457 communities in Tabuk. All three contracts were expected to be awarded in 2014, although no further details have emerged.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:09:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobilink, Pakistan’s largest cellco by subscribers, has extended 3G coverage to Muzaffargarh, Muridke, Okara and Kharian, increasing the number of cities within its 3G footprint to 24, Pro Pakistani writes. Users in these four cities will have free access to 3G services for two weeks, after which customers will have to subscribe to one of the operator’s plans to continue using the service.

In a related development, Warid Telecom has started trialling 4G services for pre-paid customers. The cellco has already begun serving Long Term Evolution (LTE) corporate and contract users on a trial basis in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Peshawar.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:07:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Luxembourg has announced its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage has reached 85% of the population, while 3G and 2G coverage is 98% and 99% respectively. Speaking at a press conference, the operator revealed that this year it has invested nearly 10% of annual revenue into improving its networks, saying that its subscribers’ 4G consumption has increased eight-fold in less than a year to reach the same level as 3G consumption. TeleGeography notes that at 30 September 2014 Orange Luxembourg had 128,000 wireless subscribers, around 15% of the country total, behind Tango (32.6%) and Post Luxembourg (52.5%), both of which also offer 4G LTE services.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:06:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 10, 2014
GrameenPhone, the Bangladeshi mobile market leader, last week announced reaching the milestone of 50 million network users, and declared that its number of internet users alone will match this figure within the next five years. GrameenPhone CEO Vivek Sood said that the company has maintained an annual average investment budget of USD154 million over the past few years to upgrade and expand its network, adding that the level of investment will be significantly increased. Internet speeds of its existing 3G data plans are being doubled at no added cost as part of a new promotion.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:41:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |