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 Monday, 13 February 2017

Vodafone Ghana, the country’s leading fixed broadband operator by subscribers, has announced the launch of its Vodafone Fibre Broadband fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service, Ghana Business News reports. At launch, the FTTH network has been connected to 1,000 homes across 20 communities, and is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 50Mbps. Vodafone Ghana CEO Yolanda Cuba commented: ’The Vodafone Fibre Broadband is positioning Vodafone as a total communications provider for home and businesses. This new technology, which is changing the phase of internet connection to homes across the world, will be delivered using our state-of-the-art fibre-optic infrastructure.’ The telco has partnered with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to monitor faults in over 50,000 homes that are expected to be connected to its fibre infrastructure network over the next two years.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 13 February 2017 15:27:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 03 February 2017

The Altan consortium has been awarded a grant to construct and operate a wholesale 4G network in Mexico by the country’s regulator, IFT.

Backed by investors from China, the US and Mexico – including TV firm Megacable and Mexican operator Axtel - the consortium was the sole participant in November’s bidding for the long-running wholesale tender. The only other interested party, a consortium consisting of Rivada Networks and Spectrum Frontier, was disqualified after failing to meet a deadline for presenting a $52 billion bid bond.

The introduction of a wholesale network to the Mexican market is aimed at increasing competition and reducing the market dominance of America Movil. The IFT grant will deliver a 20-year shared network concession to the consortium to deploy and maintain the 4G network, which will allow smaller operators to rent capacity and deliver coverage over the new infrastructure.

IFT stated that the grant would enable Altan to “take advantage and exploit frequency bands of radio spectrum for commercial use at the national level” between the 703MHz to 748MHz and 758MHz to 803MHz bands. The consortium can now begin building out the network following the numerous delays that have plagued the tender.

Altan is aiming to extend network coverage to 92% of Mexico’s population over the next seven years. It had raised $750 million at the time that it won the network tender.

Source: Developing Telecoms.


Friday, 03 February 2017 16:09:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iranian ISP MobinNet has launched its first services using time division duplex LTE (TD-LTE) technology. The firm has migrated its 3.5GHz WiMAX networks in four cities – Tehran, Karaj, Mashhad and Kish – to TD-LTE, bringing improved data speeds for both consumer and business customers. A report from The Financial Tribune says that MobinNet plans to have TD-LTE systems live in eleven cities by the end of the Iranian financial year in March. Rival operator MTN Irancell launched its own TD-LTE networks in parts of 25 provinces in August 2016, having followed a similar migration path from 3.5GHz WiMAX.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 03 February 2017 16:02:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 16 January 2017

Togo has become the latest country to join a programme abolishing international mobile voice roaming charges between a group of west African nations. Agence Ecofin reports that the Togolese Authority of Posts & Telecommunications Regulation (ART&P) signed an agreement last week with its Senegalese counterpart to introduce free voice roaming for travellers between the two countries from 31 March 2017. Via the pact signed in Dakar, Togo also abolished mobile roaming costs with Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso, all of which ratified a Protocol on regional roaming alongside Senegal on 28 November 2016. Director General of Senegal’s Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications & Post (ARTP), Abdou Karim Sall, announced upon Togo’s signing: ‘The free roaming will enter into force on 31 March 2017, [which] will enable those travelling within six Protocol countries … to receive and make calls as if they were in their own country.’ Although not mentioned in this statement, several regional publications have reported that a seventh country, Sierra Leone, is joining the west African roaming initiative, which is part of a wider plan to create a more united African continent as promoted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 16 January 2017 08:30:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 15 December 2016

MTN Congo, the largest mobile network operator (MNO) by subscribers in the Republic of the Congo, has become the first cellco to launch commercial 4G services. Confirming the development in a blog post, the country’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Leon Just Ibombo, said that LTE-based services had officially been made available at the tail-end of last week, with a ceremony held in the presence of the country’s prime minister to mark the occasion.

With MTN offering LTE-based plans under the ‘4G Turbo’ banner, it has a number of tariffs available at launch, with residential prices starting at XAF500 (USD0.81) for a 60MB allowance at the maximum speed possible (valid for one day), rising to XAF60,000 for a 45GB data cap (valid for 30 days). In terms of coverage, meanwhile, MTN’s website indicates that at launch the 4G network is available only in selected areas of the capital Brazzaville, as well as parts of the country’s second largest city, Pointe Noire.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 08:01:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 July 2016

Gabon Telecom has officially launched its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) networks in Libreville. The FTTH network, which supports download speeds of up to 50Mbps, is initially available in the following districts of the capital: Asecna, Sabliere, Tahiti, Narval, Kalikak and Batterie IV. In FTTB-enabled locations, the final connection is delivered in-building via a VDSL copper tail, the telco notes. While no prices are quoted on the company website, Gabon Telecom notes that it charges XAF200,000 (USD335.7) for an FTTH router and XAF80,000 for a VDSL/FTTB router, whilst broadband users also get a fixed voice connection.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:32:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Cameroon, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has expanded its LTE network to three new cities, namely Kumba, Limbe and Bafoussam. A total of eight major cities are now covered by the South African-owned company’s 4G service, equivalent to 53% of the population. MTN first launched its LTE network in Douala, Yaounde, Buea and Bamenda in December 2015, with the seaside resort town of Kribi following in May, and the firm says that services will be made available in Ngaoundere and Garoua by the end of this month.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March 2015 MTN agreed to pay XAF75 billion (USD130 million) to renew its operating licence in Cameroon for a further 15 years, at the same time receiving permission to roll out 3G and 4G services. The firm pledged to deploy 3G and 4G services at more than 700 sites in 16 towns in the first year of rollout, before gradually expanding high speed mobile data coverage to 75% of the population by 2018.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:30:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Korea’s LG Uplus has demonstrated its energy self-sufficient LTE network base stations for mountainous and remote island areas, the Korea Times reports. Showing off the technology at a base station at the Sky Ranch in Daegwallyeong, Gangwon Province, the telco claimed that the system, which integrates LG Electronics’ solar panels and LG Chem’s energy storage system (ESS) batteries, would not only improve network conditions in remote radio shadow zones but also minimise environmental damage. The demo facility in Daegwallyeong is LG Uplus’ fourth solar-powered LTE base station; the cellco established and began testing the same systems at Mount Gyeryong and Mount Oseo in South Chungcheong Province last year.

While South Korean cellcos are said to have mobile coverage of 99.9% of the population, geographic coverage is notably lower, standing at around 80%, in part due to the fact there are some 4,440 mountains and 3,677 islands nationwide. LG Uplus has suggested that the energy self-sufficient base stations will boost connectivity in radio shadow zones and can be used for emergency situations such as rescue operations in natural disasters and accidents, while it also expects the technology to help it obtain government permission to build such facilities in environmental protection zones such as national parks.

Commenting on the technology development, Heo Vitus, Network Strategy Unit Vice President at LG Uplus, was cited as saying: ‘With this base station system, we can now connect LTE networks even in remote areas where cable-based networks are practically impossible to build … This will boost both cost-efficiency and eco-friendliness in expanding LTE networks in radio shadow zones.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:29:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bangladesh’s mobile market leader GrameenPhone has activated its 10,000th 3G base transceiver station (BTS), announcing that its latest expansion work has brought its 3G network coverage to approximately 90% of the population. As reported by the Daily Star, GrameenPhone officials claimed that theirs is ‘the fastest 3G network rollout’ in the region in terms of population coverage, whilst the company’s next target is ‘to cover the rest of the country within a short time.’ TeleGeography notes that the W-CDMA/HSPA+ network was launched in October 2013 and reached 70% population coverage in January 2016, with GrameenPhone’s latest announcement claiming that it has covered an additional 20% of the population in less than six months, including many rural areas.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:27:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tele2 Lithuania has expanded the coverage of its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network to around 50% of the population. The ‘4G+’ high speed data service is now available in 33 towns, and subscribers with compatible handsets and data tariffs are able to access the faster rates at no additional cost. The Swedish-owned firm has also revealed that its LTE network footprint has increased to 100 towns, cities and villages, covering more than 98% of the population, up from 95% in March, and 90% at the end of 2015.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that Tele2 Lithuania’s LTE network was launched in March 2013 and utilises the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands. In August 2015 the mobile market leader introduced LTE-A services in twelve cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Panevezys, Jonava, Mazeikiai, Alytus, Marijampole, Nida, Palanga and Sventosios – covering 20% of the population.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:26:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Slovakia’s Office for Regulation of Electronic Communications & Postal Services (RU) says that more than two-thirds of the country’s population used 3G and 4G mobile internet services in 2015. At the end of last year Slovakia was home to 3.69 million mobile internet users, an increase of 250,000 in six months. The figures are for active users who accessed a mobile internet connection at least once in three months. The Slovakian mobile market is home to four players – Orange, Slovak Telekom, O2 and SWAN, which trades as 4ka – which between them served around 7.1 million mobile subscribers in total at the end of March 2016.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:24:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Australians in more than 130 rural and regional communities will reportedly gain access to 4G connectivity as part of mobile market leader Telstra’s AUD165 million (USD121 million) commitment to regional Australia and the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme. In a press release the operator noted that it will construct 135 4G small cell base stations in rural and regional communities across the nation, with these to be funded solely by Telstra. Such infrastructure is in addition to the 429 communities that have benefited from Telstra expanding 3G and 4G coverage under Round One of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

With Telstra Group Managing Director, Networks, Mike Wright noting that the roll out of small cell technology was part of Telstra’s commitment to expand its 4G coverage to 99% of the Australian population by June 2017, he said: ‘We worked closely with the Federal Government to identify the communities who were eligible for this small cell technology and we are proud to be part of this important initiative which will connect so many more regional communities. We will also continue to work with the Government to identify further opportunities to deploy this innovative technology to more rural areas.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:23:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 17 June 2016

T-Mobile Netherlands says it now offers near nationwide coverage with its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network which was launched in January this year. The telco says that LTE-A technology has been extended to its entire 4G system, which reaches 96% of the population. The network uses carrier aggregation across the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, providing data download speeds which are double those available via the basic 4G equipment. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, T-Mobile is the third largest cellco in the Netherlands by subscribers, behind KPN and Vodafone but ahead of newest entrant Tele2.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:25:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

French cellcos Orange France and Free Mobile (part of the Iliad Group) have signed an agreement to gradually terminate their national 2G/3G roaming deal (inked in 2011) by the end of 2020, following several months of negotiations. Under the plan, the phasing out of Free’s roaming over the networks of Orange France is scheduled to start from January 2017. The contract will now be forwarded to the Authority of Regulation for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep), which must ‘verify its coherence’ with the outlined recommendations published in May 2016.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2016 Arcep opened a public consultation on its draft guidelines on mobile network sharing by proposing a gradual termination of all roaming agreements in metropolitan France. In regards to the Free/Orange deal, the regulator proposed that the termination process should start before the existing contract expires, with 3G roaming between Orange/Free scheduled to end between 2018 and 2020. For 2G (voice, SMS and data) services the termination date should be between 2020 and 2022.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:24:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The new Madagascan mobile operator ‘bip’ has attracted 10,000 subscribers since its launch on 2 June 2016, reports Agence Ecofin, citing bip’s marketing director Alexis Godinot. The company, which is the wireless subsidiary of ISP Gulfsat Madagascar (Blueline), also announced that it is gradually opening new stores across the country.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Blueline has become the country’s fourth cellco, having launched 3.75G wireless services less than two weeks ago.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:23:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cameroon’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has announced it will deactivate all unregistered SIMs from 30 June 2016, in accordance with Law No. 2010/13 of 21 December 2010 and amendments made via Decree No. 2015/3759 of 03 September 2015. In a press release, the ministry noted that: all operators had been ordered to commence suspension of unidentified SIMs as of 10 June; all operators will have to use a system to detect the MRZ code on identity cards produced by their subscribers; and operators must deploy teams nationally to ensure the registration is implemented.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:21:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Singapore’s telecoms regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), has laid down strict 4G rollout targets for the city-state’s mobile operators, requiring that they provide coverage of more than 95% of outdoor areas from July this year, rising to over 99% in July 2017 and more than 99% of tunnels by July 2018. The IDA has announced its rollout guidelines amid growing calls for strengthened regulation, noting that by January 2019 it expects 4G licensees to have boosted in-building signal coverage to more than 85%. Furthermore, the watchdog says that any new network operators will also have to adhere to the new standards, although they will be given more time to deploy their networks. TeleGeography notes that as at 31 March 2016, between them the country’s three incumbent cellcos – Singtel, StarHub and M1 – had a total of 4.242 million 4G subscribers, of which 3.771 million were on post-paid contracts.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:20:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iran’s Deputy ICT Minister has said that the government is looking to boost internet connections in the country to a minimum 20Mbps within the next five years. Barat Ghanbari says that the scheme will be backed by an investment of USD15 billion, half of which will go to the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI). A report from Mehr News Agency quotes Ghanbari as saying that internet services in rural areas will be expanded via the deployment of 4G LTE mobile technology. For many years most residential internet connections in Iran were limited to a maximum speed of 128kbps, with the cap only lifted in September 2014.

Meanwhile, TCI is to forge stronger ties with Kazakhtelecom, with the two telcos signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering the development of new services and the opening of new international traffic routes between the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The two countries intend to link their respective networks either via a direct trans-Caspian cable or overland through a neighbouring country.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:19:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Eritrea Telecommunication Services Corporation (EriTel), the country’s monopoly telecoms operator, has installed a total of 110 base transceiver stations (BTS) to offer mobile network coverage of 85% of the country, it has been confirmed. In an interview with Ministry of Information news service Shabait, Minister of Transportation and Communications, Tesfaselasie Berhane, said that the number of wireless telephony subscribers has reached around 500,000. Looking ahead, the Minister said that future focus will placed on expanding coverage in rural areas, increasing the use of solar energy to power networks, reducing service charges and improving quality of service (QoS).

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:18:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Madagascar’s campaign for SIM identification ended on 30 April, reports Agence Ecofin, with any SIMs not yet registered being deactivated as of 1 May. The country’s Agency for Regulation of Technology and Telecommunication (ARTEC, formerly OMERT) implemented the SIM registration campaign in early March 2016, and will enforce the move. As per regulations (Article 5 of Order No. 2471/2016), subscribers have 90 days from SIM deactivation to provide identification details in order to retain their mobile number, otherwise the mobile line will be cancelled permanently>

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:17:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 05 February 2016

Singapore’s biggest telecoms operator by subscribers Singtel has announced plans to offer home users a 10Gbps fibre-optic service, trumping rivals in what will be the city state’s fastest residential service to date. The carrier says that the ultra-high speed service will be hosted on its next generation 10 Gigabit Passive Optical Network (XG-PON), noting that trials of 10Gbps-based fibre services kicked off in May 2015 for selected customers, ahead of what it hoped would be a full commercial launch last year. Commenting on the launch, Mr Goh Seow Eng, managing director for the group’s home and consumer division, said: ‘We recognise that residential customers are using greater bandwidth and requiring faster speeds for their online activities … Our 10Gbps Fibre Home Bundle will offer households the fastest fibre broadband experience in Singapore.’ Singtel’s 10Gbps Fibre Home Bundle is priced at SGD189 (USD132.4) per month, including a 10G optical network router, a wireless dual-band AC router and installation.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Singtel rival M1 launched XG-PON fibre-optic broadband services in September last year over the city-state’s next generation national broadband network (Next Gen NBN), initially only available to corporate customers. Although XG-PON is due to be extended to residential users in due course, the business user plan is priced at SGD1,088 per month for a 2Gbps subscription, rising to SGD2,888 for a 10Gbps service.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:15:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

France’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has invited applications for the award of available 3G/4G spectrum in the French overseas territories (‘departement d’outre-mer’, DOM) of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Reunion, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy. The watchdog will auction spectrum in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands (yet unallocated overseas), along with additional frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. All interested parties are invited to submit their applications by 10 May 2016. The regulator will award up to four licences ‘per zone’, each with specific deployment obligations; Arcep said that the authorisations in Guyana will come with obligations to improve the coverage of the two national highways (NR1 and NR2). In regards to Reunion and Mayotte, Arcep decided to set the commercial launch of 4G services for 1 December 2016, due to the ‘particularly fragile’ competition environment since the November 2014 merger of SFR and Outremer Telecom.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in July 2013 Arcep unveiled a ‘broad public consultation’ covering mobile frequency assignments in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands, with a view to facilitating the introduction of LTE. The process was successfully concluded in February 2014, and a formal tender was expected to be introduced in 1H14, only for the regulator to miss its self-imposed target.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | LTE
Friday, 05 February 2016 09:14:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Canal+ in Benin has struck a deal to operate internet access services via the network of the Beninese Electric Power Company (SBEE), reports Agence Ecofin. A partnership agreement signed on 21 January 2016 provides for the operation of internet infrastructure by Canal Box Benin, the local subsidiary of the French-owned Canal+ pay-TV group, which TeleGeography notes is registered as a Beninese ISP under the name Espace Informatique Benin (EIT). The new internet service will initially be rolled out in Benin’s capital Cotonou, before a potential expansion to other areas, with the CEO of Canal+ declaring that: ‘Our ambition is to mesh the entire city of Cotonou, and gradually, a fibre-optic network that will enable end users to benefit from very high speed internet,’ whilst citing the example of successful powerline communications (PLC) internet services in Brazil as a precedent. Under the partnership, SBEE will receive fees for the use of its infrastructure, whilst the utility company says there are mutual benefits from the project including georeferencing its electricity poles and making the connection of customers easier.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:11:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Guinea is planning to introduce a new tax on SMS and mobile data services on 1 February 2016 as part of widespread changes to the Finance Act 2016, reports Guineenews, citing a statement from Budget Minister Mohamed Lamine Doumbouya. According to the report, a tax of GNF10 (USD0.0013) will be introduced on text messages, while the additional fee for mobile internet access will be 5% of the overall cost of the subscription package. The new levy follows the introduction of a GNF1 per second tax on fixed and mobile telephony calls on 1 July 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:09:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Movistar Argentina has revealed that it signed up a total of 1.5 million 4G customers by the end of December 2015. At that date, the cellco’s 4G network comprised 2,500 cell towers, with LTE coverage supported in more than 300 locations across 17 provinces. Also served by Movistar’s 4G network are 25 metropolitan subway stations. Going forward, the cellco has disclosed that a voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) launch is expected to take place in early 2016.

TeleGeography notes that Movistar’s LTE network went live in December 2014, one month after it won a nationwide concession pairing frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands; the cellco paid USD209.14 million for the spectrum permit.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:08:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Oman ended last year with a total of 434,932 fixed telephony lines, an increase of 15.9% from the 375,196 lines reported at the end of 2014. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), during 2015 mobile telephony subscriptions increased by 7.3% from roughly 6.19 million to around 6.65 million (including over one million MVNO customers) over the twelve-month period, of which post-paid users accounted for 585,166 (an increase of 10.7%) and pre-paid customers 6.06 million (up 7.0% year-on-year). The TRA reports that active mobile broadband subscribers in the Sultanate reached in excess of 3.25 million at 31 December 2015, an increase of 12.5% compared to twelve months previously, while fixed broadband customers rose by 31.7% during last year, to total 233,233 at end-December. Dial-up internet subscriptions continued to fall in 2015, declining by 10.1% to 2,771.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:08:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algeria’s telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications (Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms, ARPT) has revealed the results of a tender for authorising operators for the provision of universal telecoms services in the country. Out of the four companies that submitted bids for the concessions – Algerie Telecom (AT), Algeria Telecom Mobile (Mobilis), Ooredoo Algeria (Nedjma), and Optimum Telecom Algerie (OTA, Djezzy) – the regulator has approved three (AT, Mobilis and OTA), while Ooredoo’s bid was deemed too expensive. The authorisations will allow the successful bidders to provide basic telecoms services (wireless or fixed) and internet access at affordable prices to underserved areas. Under the first stage of the Universal Telecommunications Service (UTS) programme, a total of 97 communities in 28 wilayas (regions) in Southern Algeria (towns with population of between 500 and 2,000 people) and Northern Algeria (with population of between 1,000 and 2,000) will gain access to telecoms services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:07:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Idea Cellular, India’s third largest wireless provider by subscribers, has booked gross revenue of INR90.09 billion (USD1.33 billion) for the three months ended 31December, up 3.8% quarter-on-quarter. Idea notes that its rate of revenue growth has slowed – the cellco booked q-o-q expansion of 4.5%, 5.0% and 5.9% in its Q1 FY16 (to end-June 2015), Q4 FY15 and Q3 FY15 respectively – as a result of intense price competition and reductions in mobile termination rates (MTRs). Indeed, despite average minutes of use (MOU) per customer increasing to 393 in the period under review from 388 a year earlier and average data use increasing from 470MB to 653MB over the same period, ARPU has dropped from INR179 to INR176. EBITDA for the period, meanwhile, was INR28.51 billion, up from INR27.77 billion in the previous quarter. Net profit, however, was down 7.2% q-o-q, at INR23.49 billion. Idea claimed 171.9 million mobile users at the end of December 2015, including 27.6 million 3G customers, up from 166.6 million and 24.5 million respectively in September.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:06:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Digicel has launched Vanuatu’s first 4G LTE network, providing coverage to subscribers in the capital Port Vila. Daily Post Vanuatu cites the operator’s CEO, Mr Yaser Maher, as saying: ‘The licence the government has given us allows us to provide the people of Vanuatu with a world-class internet service … Since Cyclone Pam, we have been focused on rebuilding, investing and innovating.’ Customers with compatible devices can access the LTE network by swapping to a new SIM card while retaining their existing phone number. An LTE Mi-Fi (personal Wi-Fi hotspot), LTE modem and LTE router are also available to purchase, priced at VUV7,900 (USD68.7), VUV14,000 and VUV12,000, respectively.

Meanwhile, Chief Technical Officer at Digicel Vanuatu, Sajjad Ahmed, confirmed to TeleGeography that the LTE service was introduced on 20 January with ‘good coverage in Port Vila’s top residential areas and central business district.’

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digicel – which competes with sole rival Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) in the mobile sector – launched a 2G network in June 2008, followed by a 3G service in December 2011. The operator held an estimated 89.9% of the wireless subscriber share at end-September 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:05:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a programme for the development of the country’s high speed telecoms infrastructure, with the aim of increasing nationwide fixed broadband penetration to 40% by 2020. According to the Vietnam News Agency, the strategy also aims to ensure that at least 60% of fixed internet subscribers will have a minimum downstream connection speed of 25Mbps by 2020. The plan aims to ensure that all of the country’s public internet access points will use a fixed broadband service by that date, half of which will use a minimum download connection rate of 50Mbps. With regards to mobile data networks, the broadband development plan seeks to ensure that at least 95% of residential areas will have coverage of 3G/4G services at average downstream speeds of 4Mbps in urban locations and 2Mbps in more rural areas. In addition, the broadband programme will focus on promoting the application of digital content and ICT services, such as e-government, e-commerce and disaster prevention.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:03:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Nepal Telecom (NT) has asked the country’s regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), for permission to launch 4G mobile services. The state-backed telco says it is ready to begin upgrading its systems in the country’s major urban areas as soon as the NTA gives the nod. It also plans to expand its 3G services nationwide and phase out its 2G networks. A report from the Kathmandu Post quotes NT’s managing director Buddhi Prasad Acharya as saying: ‘We want the NTA to respond to our request so that we can start the service right away.’ Acharya added: ‘We need to compete with private players. However, we cannot procure equipment as fast as they can. This has impacted our quest to make the service quality better.’ NT competes in the mobile market with Ncell, which will be controlled by Axiata of Malaysia once its purchase of TeliaSonera’s 80% interest is completed; the USD1.365 billion deal was announced last month. Another privately owned operator, Smart Telecom, is deploying a GSM network but has still to launch commercially, while United Telecom Limited (UTL) provides limited mobility CDMA-based services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:02:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

El Salvador’s telecoms regulator, the Superintendencia General de Electricidad y Telecom (SIGET), has announced that a total of 85,170 fixed and mobile numbers have been successfully ported to another service provider since the service was introduced on 24 August last year. In a statement on its website, the watchdog claims that the country’s telecoms market has benefited from new and improved deals and promotions from service providers in the four months since the launch of number portability (NP), which gives consumers the opportunity to freely exercise their right to choose their telecoms operator.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that legislation calling for the introduction of NP came into force in 2010, but SIGET subsequently postponed the service’s implementation, stating that telecoms operators were not prepared for the change, while a lack of consensus over who would fund the process also led to further delays. Eventually, legislation stating that the cost of the process would be absorbed by the recipient operator was approved in October 2014, and in January 2015 SIGET announced that it had awarded the NP administrator contract to Mediafon, in association with local company imCard, ahead of the service’s official launch for fixed and mobile users in August.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:01:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The latest quarterly report from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows that the country has seen a surge in interest in 4G LTE technology thanks to the continuing network rollouts by mobile operators NetOne and Econet. There were 26,185 LTE users in Zimbabwe at the end of September 2015, up from just 474 three months before. The wider mobile market saw the active subscriber total rise from 11.95 million to 12.39 million over the same three-month period, with market leader Econet claiming 6.68 million users, up from 6.63 million at end-June, NetOne taking second place with 3.80 million (up from 3.38 million), and Telecel witnessing a slight fall, from 1.94 million to 1.91 million. Meanwhile, the number of mobile money customers in the country rose from 6.23 million at 30 June 2015 to 6.67 million three months later, though the total value of deposits fell by 10.5% to USD458 million due to the tough economic situation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:59:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From 1 February 2016 Sri Lanka will enforce a common minimum retail voice call rate for on-net and off-net domestic voice calls, to support competition between large and small network operators. As reported by the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has scrapped an existing dual-rate structure for on-net and off-net voice calls, by raising the on-net rate and lowering the off-net rate. The TRC said the floor rate revision was made in response to submissions made by the [smaller] telcos and would only be applicable for new connections issued from the effective date.

For end-user tariffs with per-second basis billing, the new unified minimum voice call rate will be LKR1.80 (USD0.01) per minute for calls within Sri Lanka regardless of making on-net or off-net calls; previously the on-net rate was LKR1.50 and the off-net rate LKR2.50.

For end-user tariffs with per-minute basis billing, the new common floor rate is LKR1.50 for calling all domestic phone numbers (previously LKR1.50 on-net, LKR2.00 off-net).

The SMS/MMS minimum charge was already a unified on-net/off-net LKR0.10 per message, but the TRC is raising this to LKR0.20 from 1 February.

Five mobile network operators are active in Sri Lanka, although the market leader Dialog Axiata accounted for more than 44% of all users at end-September 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:58:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim, has announced plans to restructure the telecoms regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) into two new entities: the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Government Technology Organisation (GTO). In a statement, the minister confirmed that the move will be implemented from the second half of 2016 to take into account the convergence of the city-state’s media and ICT landscape. Channel NewsAsia notes that the announcement follows the publication of the government’s integrated Infocomm Media 2025 master plan in August 2015, and aims to ‘better capitalise the ongoing convergence in areas such as pay-TV and telecommunications’. It also takes into account the evolving responsibilities IDA has taken on in recent times, such as cybersecurity and the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

The move to a new integrated regulatory framework will begin from 1 April this year. Under the reorganisation, IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh will switch roles to head up the GTO, while current MDA CEO Gabriel Lim will assume responsibility for the new IMDA. The official switch to the new regime will not, however, take place until the second half of 2016 the minister said, with the new IMDA tasked with implementing the government’s latest ten-year roadmap on the development and regulation of Singapore’s converging infocommunications and media sectors. The new regulator reportedly has a mandate ‘to deepen regulatory capabilities, safeguard the interests of consumers and foster pro-enterprise regulations,’ according to the minister. Legislative amendments to facilitate the reorganisation will be proposed in parliament in 2H16 to recognise both agencies’ regulatory oversight and, during the formative stage, there will not be too many changes to current regulatory frameworks, Dr Yaacob said. The new GTO, meanwhile, will be responsible for leading the city-state’s digital transformation in the public sector, such as in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. The GTO will also play a key central role in supporting the country’s Smart Nation push, particularly in delivering the Smart Nation Platform and its accompanying applications. It is understood that there will be no overlap between the two new bodies and related agencies such as the Smart Nation Programme Office (SNPO) and the Cyber Security Agency (CSA).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:32:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Fixed and mobile operator FLOW Jamaica has announced that it has begun rolling out 4G LTE technology on its networks. The company’s managing director, Garfield Sinclair, commented: ‘Initially we will be rolling out LTE in major high traffic sections of the Kingston metropolitan area and of the North Coast.’ He added: ‘These are indeed exciting times for the FLOW brand as we are constantly pushing the boundaries in our bid to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.’ The operator has not revealed when it plans to launch commercial 4G services.

FLOW incorporates the businesses of LIME Jamaica and cableco FLOW following the USD3 billion regional merger last year of their parent companies, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus Communications. The other mobile operator on the island, Digicel, acquired 700MHz spectrum for 4G in 2014 but has still to announce plans for a rollout of LTE-based services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:31:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has launched a campaign for the re-registration of its more than 60 million users, reports local newspaper the Daily Trust, citing MTN Nigeria’s new CEO Ferdi Moolman. Subscribers are being invited in batches to register their details at the firm’s SIM registration centres across the country. Last October MTN was fined by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to meet a deadline to disconnect around 5.1 million unregistered subscribers. The NGN1.04 trillion (USD5.2 billion) penalty was subsequently reduced by 25% to NGN780 billion, but MTN failed to meet the 31 December 2015 payment deadline set by the NCC, and is now challenging the fine in the Federal High Court in Lagos.

In a separate development, Leadership Nigeria quotes Moolman as saying that MTN Nigeria is developing a framework for the integration of CDMA network operator Visafone, which was acquired by the South African group earlier this month. According to the executive, the new framework will include the roll out of 4G LTE services in key cities within the next twelve months.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:30:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Moov Togo, a majority-owned subsidiary of Maroc Telecom, has finally been given the official go-ahead from the government to launch its 3G mobile service. To date, the company’s 3G ambitions have been scuppered by regulatory red-tape. The cellco was ostensibly promised a 3G licence in July 2012, after previous negotiations in 2011 broke down amid disagreement on the cost of the concession, with the subject referred to the government for consideration. The impasse was only broken on 13 January 2016 when, during a cabinet meeting, the government adopted a decree allowing the Minister for the Digital Economy, Cina Lawson, to authorise Moov to operate a 3G network. Agence Ecofin notes that the cellco’s permit allows it to offer the advanced mobile service until 2021.

The cellco’s mandate requires it to undertake ‘significant investments in infrastructure, [including] the extension of access cover, the densification of areas covered and [to actively] participate in the creation of jobs and particularly those for Togolese citizens in management positions’. The government says the move to license Moov Togo is designed to rebalance a market in which, to date, only Togo Cellulaire (Togocel), a subsidiary of state-owned fixed line operator Togo Telecom, has been able to offer 3G services. That being said, the powers that be have been somewhat slow in driving change.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in July 2014 the government announced plans to begin the process of auctioning off a third mobile licence via an international tender. The ministry confirmed that the tender for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services would hopefully be concluded by October that year but, with no news forthcoming, in November 2015 the League of Consumers of Togo (LCT) wrote to Cina Lawson’s office demanding that the government redress the woeful state of mobile services by licensing a third operator. In an open letter, the LCT accused the ministry of turning a blind eye to what it termed the ‘indifference, carelessness, callousness and especially the ease with which mobile operators Togocel and Moov deal with consumer complaints, despite the alarming cries [of end users]’, and pointed out that more than a year had passed since Togo launched the tender for the award of the third licence to set up a new firm offering 2G, 3G and 4G services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:29:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A Thai state-backed national broadband network enabling affordable internet access is scheduled to be rolled out over the next twelve months, with construction to be jointly handled by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), according to ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana, quoted by the Bangkok Post. According to the minister, ‘All 70,000 villages nationwide will be able to access low-cost broadband internet service at minimum speeds of 30Mbps in the next twelve months.’ Mr Uttama also said he assigned the two state telecom enterprises – TOT and CAT Telecom — to help develop last mile infrastructure for wireless broadband access in rural areas.

Uttama added that cheap broadband internet access at 2,000 community-based ICT centres under the ICT Ministry is currently available, with such village centres to be expanded to 2,300 by this year’s end. The ICT Ministry has a fiscal 2015 budget of THB20 billion (USD550 million) to develop ICT projects and support digital economy policies. ‘The ministry will work closely with the NBTC to promote all ICT-related investment and activities including infrastructure, digital content and ICT-facilitated learning communities,’ the minister said.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the regulator will take responsibility for providing telecom services in remote areas to narrow the digital divide in compliance with the Frequency Allocation Act, and noted that the watchdog has backed broadband internet network rollout in 7,000 districts nationwide via the NBTC’s universal service obligation (USO) budget. Mr Takorn echoed Mr Uttama in saying: ‘We aim to provide last-mile internet access to 70,000 villages nationwide over the next twelve months.’ The NBTC has allocated a budget of THB20 billion this year for USO funded projects.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:29:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bosnia’s Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA) has been tasked with aligning the prices charged for mobile services by the nation’s wireless operators with those charged by cellcos in other countries in the region. According to Telecompaper, which cites a report by Capital, the Committee on Transport and Communications of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina has directed the watchdog to ensure relative price parity within 120 days. The call comes after a decision last June in which Bosnia’s House of Representatives noted that Bosnian citizens were paying the highest prices for mobile services in the former Yugoslavia region; as such, the government then gave the CRA 90 days to bring Bosnian mobile prices in line with nearby countries, though this order was ultimately not implemented.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:27:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Abdou Karim Sall, the director of Senegal’s telecoms industry watchdog, the Regulation Authority of Post and Telecoms (Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes, ARTP), has announced that the call for applications for fourth-generation mobile licences in the country received no bids from the three incumbents – Sonatel subsidiary Orange, Tigo, a unit of Millicom International Cellular (MIC) and Sudatel’s Expresso Telecom – suggesting they may have boycotted the process over a disagreement on the licence fee. With the regulator refusing to revise its reserve price of XOF30 billion (USD49.86 million) for each of the 20-year concessions, the ARTP confirmed that on 17 December 2015 it received ‘in open violation of the Public Procurement Code and the consultation regulations (Article 3.4 and Article 7.14 of the Regulations of Call for Candidacy) … a signed letter [from the] three operators to report their concern about the licence reserve price’.

Mr Sall’s statement points out that the ARTP considers the licence fee to be appropriate, adding that it was set as a result of ‘a benchmark of over 20 countries in the world, taking into account the quality and quantity of available frequency bands (bands 700MHz, 800MHz and 1800MHz), the population, income of the telecom market in Senegal and obligations of the licence for 4G coverage. The ARTP recalls that the telecom market in Senegal represents over XOF1 trillion per year, with the rate of return (EBITDA) of operators of 20%-50%. The ARTP considers this price justified under the obligations of the licence, the market potential of 4G and the best international standards.’ He goes on to note that: ‘No formal request to postpone the date for submission of bids has been made by the operators throughout the process.’

In short, the ARTP is dismayed at what it acknowledges to be ‘the collective and coordinated non-participation of the operators’, and confirms it will take the necessary actions as a result of this shortcoming. Furthermore, the watchdog intends to restart the 4G licensing process, this time opening the call for applications to ‘new entrants [and] international telecommunications operators’ wishing to develop Senegal’s mobile market, suggesting too that the trio may have already ruled themselves out of participating and throwing into doubt the government’s planned commercialisation date for LTE-based services in the African state.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:26:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Following the Barbados government’s increase in VAT on mobile services from 17.5% to 22% (effective 1 January 2016), cellco Digicel Barbados has announced that it will not pass on the cost to its end-users. In contrast, however, rival Flow Barbados (formerly LIME) posted an advertisement informing: ‘Pre-paid customers will experience less usage and may therefore need to increase their level of top-ups. Post-paid customers will notice an increase in their total bill due to the 4.5 percent [point] increase in the VAT rate. Customers with bundled packages, including mobile, will see the 22 percent mobile VAT stated separately from the 17.5 percent VAT on fixed line services.’

Flow’s head of marketing Shelly Ann Hee Chung was pressed to comment on Flow’s response to the decision by Digicel to absorb the additional 4.5 percentage point VAT, to which she responded by instead drawing attention to upcoming plans to enhance Flow’s range of services, NationNews reports

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:19:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator Viettel Tanzania, which launched commercial services under the Halotel brand name in October last year, plans to increase wireless population coverage from the current level of 90% to 95% by the end of this year. East African Business Week cites the company’s deputy managing director, Le Van Dai, as saying that Viettel Tanzania’s mobile network is currently available in over 1,500 towns and villages across 26 regions, with coverage set to reach a further 1,500 villages in the future. ‘With 18,000km of optical cable and more than 2,500 base transceiver stations (BTS) all over the country, the company can [offer] coverage [to] more than 90% of Tanzania’s population of over 47 million,’ the executive noted, adding that Viettel is implementing a number of social projects in the country, such as supplying 450 schools with free internet access.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Vietnamese telecoms group Viettel was granted a licence to build and operate a 3G mobile network in Tanzania in October 2014 and the firm went on to launch its Halotel-branded 2G and 3G services twelve months later, claiming 81% population coverage at launch.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:18:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The newest entrant to the Slovakian mobile market, 4ka, which is run by telco SWAN and the Slovak post office, says it has reached the 100,000 subscriber mark and plans to attract 300,000 users by the end of this year. Having launched in October, the operator now offers 4G LTE coverage to more than 50% of the population over its own infrastructure, with other areas covered by roaming agreements. The Slovak Spectator reports that 4ka is looking to have 80% network coverage by end-2016. According to the TASR newswire, 24% of 4ka’s customers have transferred their number from one of the country’s other mobile networks, which are operated by Orange Slovensko, Slovak Telekom and O2 Slovakia.


Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:17:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has announced that from 6 February the country will use a nine number dialling system. The change will allow the regulator to implement intermodal number portability, enabling customers to port their fixed number to a mobile subscription and vice versa. At present, mobile lines use an eight digit numbering system whilst fixed lines use a ten digit system. Under the new structure, calls to fixed lines will drop the first ‘0’ of the current number, whilst mobile numbers will add an extra ‘9’ to the start.`

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:16:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |