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 Friday, February 05, 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, February 05, 2016 9:15:34 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:14:31 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:11:05 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:09:53 AM (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.

LTE
Friday, February 05, 2016 9:08:55 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:08:09 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:07:00 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:06:07 AM (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.

LTE
Friday, February 05, 2016 9:05:03 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:03:53 AM (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.

LTE
Friday, February 05, 2016 9:02:56 AM (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, February 05, 2016 9:01:24 AM (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.

LTE
Friday, February 05, 2016 8:59:52 AM (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, February 05, 2016 8:58:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 19, 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, January 19, 2016 3:32:49 PM (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.

LTE
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 3:31:50 PM (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.

SIM
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 3:30:51 PM (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.

3G
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 3:29:53 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:29:02 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:27:47 PM (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.

LTE
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 3:26:07 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:19:26 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:18:28 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:17:27 PM (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, January 19, 2016 3:16:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Norwegian-backed cellco Telenor Pakistan has confirmed that it has signed up more than five million 3G subscribers, cementing its leadership in the nascent sector. The cellco made the announcement during an event unveiling three new low price 3G-compatible devices, also noting that its 3G network now comprises more than 5,100 sites many of them in areas that lacked ‘even basic landline or mobile telephony services.’ According to the most recent data from sector regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Telenor had 4.696 million 3G subscribers at end-July 2015, well ahead of its nearest rival Mobilink, which had 3.957 million at that date, whilst Zong and Ufone claimed 3.095 million and 2.613 million respectively.

The three new handsets are ‘Lite 3G’, ‘Smart Mini’ and ‘Smart Pro’, the first of which is a dual SIM feature phone with video calling and video streaming functions, and costs PKR3,690 (USD35.13). The Smart Mini and Smart Pro devices, meanwhile, are smartphones with 3.5-inch/4.0-inch displays and high speed processors with price tags of PKR5,490 and PKR6,990. Each of the new phones also comes pre-loaded with PKR600 of credit and 3GB of data. Commenting on the new devices, chief marketing officer Irfan Wahab Khan said: ‘Telenor Pakistan aims to bring 3G phones within the affordability range of people belonging to low and middle income groups…Capturing more than 32% of Pakistan’s entire 3G broadband landscape is yet another testament to our commitment toward facilitating 3G uptake by providing best-in-class and affordable internet services to all.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2:04:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Indian-owned Airtel Malawi, the largest cellco in the country by market share, registered 3.5 million subscribers in August 2015, according to local news site Nyasa Times. ‘Airtel believes customers deserve all the credit for making this attainment happen,’ commented Public Relations and Corporate Affairs Manager Edith Tsilizani. Meanwhile, in a statement the operator promises Airtel will ‘substantially increase its investment in corporate social responsibility activities,’ adding: ’Subscribers should also expect more people-centred innovative solutions, services and products’.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel Malawi became the country’s second mobile operator in 1999, launching a GSM network in October that year, before launching 3G services in September 2010. It competes with rival cellco Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), while a third company, Cellcom Limited, was awarded a public telecommunication services licence by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) in May 2011 but has since failed to launch services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2:03:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South African telecoms operator Telkom is planning to pass one million households with its fibre-optic infrastructure within the next three years, according to CEO Sipho Maseko. TechCentral reports that under the company’s plans, more than 70,000 homes with be covered by fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services by year-end, reaching 150,000 fibre households by March 2015 and 500,000 (end-2015). ‘By March 2018, we will have reached a million homes’, the executive said, adding that Telkom is also committed to providing open access to its infrastructure by opening its exchanges to rivals. ‘In the past we would fiercely oppose local loop unbundling [LLU]. However, going forward, we want to become much more of an open-access operator’, the CEO said. The telco is planning to provide alternative operators with access to 200 of its exchanges.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2:02:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to Bloomberg, the government of the Philippines has set out its stall to roll out free Wi-Fi services to at least half of all towns and cities by end-2015, rising to full coverage by end-2016, although it warns that the initiative threatens to curtail the data revenue generating opportunities for heavyweights Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecom. Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office, is quoted as saying that the new service will cost the state around PHP1.5 billion (USD32 million) per annum and will be available in sites such as schools, hospitals, airports and public parks. Speaking in an interview last week, Ibrahim confirmed that the government’s primary focus is ‘on areas that absolutely don’t have access,’ offering faster and (obviously) cheaper data services than those offered by the two telcos. ‘If subscribers move to using free public Wi-Fi, telecoms may need to lure them into getting higher-end services,’ Ibrahim noted, suggesting that PLDT and Globe will need to commit significant CAPEX in future to boost their network coverage and data speeds to entice users.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 2:00:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Albtelecom’s Eagle Mobile unit has confirmed the commercial launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which went live on Tuesday 1 September – the deadline previously set out by the Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications (AKEP). The telco has noted that the 4G cell sites are connected via a fibre-optic backhaul network, and claims that the new infrastructure is capable of providing data transmission speeds more than six times faster than those offered by its legacy 3G network.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:59:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iranian mobile operator MTN Irancell has revealed the latest details of its 3G and 4G network rollouts. The firm says its 3G network now covers 35.8% of the population in 427 cities and towns and 56 main roads across all 31 provinces, while its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network reaches 11.6% of the population with coverage in 82 cities. Irancell has constructed 4,250 3G base stations and 1,750 4G sites, and is claiming 12.5 million 3G subscribers and around one million 4G users. MTN Irancell launched 3G services at the start of September 2014 while 4G services were added two months later.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:58:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu), the Maldives’ incumbent telecoms operator, has revealed that it has expanded the coverage footprint of its 3G network to 98% of the population. Haveeru Online writes that the expansion drive forms part of a government directive to supply 40 islands with internet access by the end of this year, although the company itself has asserted that it is on track to provide broadband coverage to all 200 inhabited islands of the Maldives by that date.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:57:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Mozambique has reportedly abandoned its plan to force the country’s mobile operators to register all SIM card users. Authorities have tried in vain for almost five years to ensure that all mobile subscribers have their details registered, but a number of deadlines have come and gone with few visible results. The three active cellcos, mCel, Vodacom and Movitel, are thought to have registered the details of only around half of the country’s twelve million mobile users by the end of 2014. A report from news agency APA now suggests that the Ministry of Transport and Communications is giving up on the scheme, with Minister Manuela Rebelo said to have labelled the task as ‘hopeless’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Mobile | SIM
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:56:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

As the New Zealand government begins the latest phase of its Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) high speed rollout programme, it now appears that up to 90% of the population could be in line to be covered by the new networks. In September 2014 Prime Minister John Key revealed that its coverage target had been upped from 75% to 80%, but a report from local website Stuff quotes an unnamed industry source as saying that this is likely to be a conservative figure and that 90% is more realistic. This would mean that all communities of 300 inhabitants or over would be connected to the fibre networks as part of the NZD210 million (USD175 million) project. The remaining areas are being covered by upgraded wireless broadband systems.

The government has just opened a tender to find a contractor to deploy fibre infrastructure in another 110 towns. The UFB networks recently passed the halfway stage of their planned rollout, with around 750,000 homes now reached by the high speed fibre connections. A further 269,000 premises in rural areas are covered by upgraded fixed and wireless infrastructure under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) rollout, which is being spearheaded by Vodafone New Zealand and Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:55:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) telco Du has launched the country’s first 1Gbps broadband internet plan for home users. The firm says the peak speeds are available as part of the new Talk, Surf & Watch Ultra triple-play package. Maximum upload speeds have also been increased to 100Mbps. Meanwhile, customers on the Max plan will see their upload speeds increased from 10Mbps to 24Mbps at no additional cost.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:53:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Worldwide international Internet capacity growth continues to slow, falling from 41% in 2011 to 31% in 2015. However, even with the declining pace of growth, backbone operators deployed 43Tbps of new capacity in the past year alone. New data from TeleGeography’s Global Internet Geography research service reveal that growth in international internet capacity connected to Africa continues to outpace that of any other region.

African Internet bandwidth grew 41% between 2014 and 2015, and 51% compounded annually over the last five years, to reach 2.9Tbps. Oceania saw the second fastest growth rate of 47% per year between 2011 and 2015 to reach 2.1Tbps, and capacity in Latin America and the Middle East grew 44% per year to 20.6Tbps and 8.4Tbps, respectively. While international internet capacity in each of these regions has doubled every two years over the period, growth in Europe and the US and Canada was far slower, at 33% compounded annually.

Despite the varying pace of new deployments, internet capacity growth has slowed in all regions over the past five years. This trend has been especially apparent in Africa. Despite the continent recording strong capacity growth between 2011 and 2015, it was a far cry from the 93% compound annual growth rate seen between 2006 and 2010.

Furthermore, while North African and Sub-Saharan African international internet bandwidth increased more than 90% compounded annually between 2006 and 2010, growth rates among the sub-regions have varied substantially in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, internet bandwidth connected to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rose at a much faster clip than that connected to North African countries, growing 66% and 43% per year, respectively.

‘New cable builds on the east and west coasts of Africa, including ACE, SEACOM, EASSy, WACS, and others, along with new terrestrial networks, have greatly increased available capacity in the Sub-Saharan region,’ said TeleGeography Senior Analyst Patrick Christian. ‘Meanwhile, content is moving to Africa as CDN services emerge and Google Global Cache servers are installed, tempering demand for long-haul capacity.’

TeleGeography’s Global Internet Geography is a comprehensive source of data and analysis about international Internet capacity, traffic, service providers, ASN connectivity, and pricing. It provides profiles of 119 backbone operators, international Internet metrics for 79 countries, and detailed transit pricing data for 38 countries.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:52:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Italian government has approved a EUR6 billion (USD6.7 billion) scheme to develop the country’s broadband networks. Domestic telcos will be offered incentives to encourage them to expand and upgrade their high speed internet infrastructure, with the funding coming from Italy and the European Union (EU). ‘This plan is based on the principle of technology neutrality,’ Bloomberg quoted Development Minister Federica Guidi as saying. ‘The market will choose the technology in order to achieve European digital agenda targets,’ she added. It has been confirmed that incumbent fixed line operator Telecom Italia will not be required to convert its entire copper PSTN network to fibre as part of the scheme.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate last October, Italy’s government hopes to have a minimum 30Mbps connection available to all Italians by 2020 to help it meet EU digital agenda goals, with around half of the population able to access 100Mbps fibre-based services by that date. Wi-Fi access points will also be deployed to support the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks being rolled out by the country’s four cellular operators: Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Wind and 3 Italia. Italy has the dubious distinction of having the region’s lowest broadband household penetration figure, while the country also lags the rest of Europe on broadband speeds; a July 2014 report from the European Commission (EC) placed Italy last amongst EU member states ranked by penetration of 30Mbps and above fixed internet services, with less than 20% of the population able to access higher speed services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:50:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

92% of Peru’s 196 provincial capitals will have access to high speed broadband during the first half of 2016, La Republica writes, citing Minister of Transport and Communications, Jose Gallardo. A total of 180 capitals are due to be connected via the PEN999 million (USD313.2 million) National Fibre-optic Backbone Network programme by the end of June 2016. Connections to the first seven capitals were rolled out in March this year in Huancavelica, and went live on 12 May 2015, whilst deployments in Ayacucho, Apurimac and Ica took place last month.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:49:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Slovenije announced that its LTE mobile network, launched in March 2013, now handles more than 40% of its mobile data traffic (which increased in volume by over 40% in H1 2015). LTE devices on the network increased by around 5% every month in H1. The multi-band LTE network now covers more than 86% of the population, and coverage is expected to exceed 92% by the end of 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:47:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Communications Authority of Kenya has published its statistical report for the three months ended 31 March 2015, in which it reveals that the total number of mobile subscriptions rose to 34.79 million from 33.63 million the previous quarter and 31.83 million at end-March 2014. Safaricom accounted for the lion’s share of total wireless customers (67.1%, 23.35 million), followed by Airtel Kenya with a market share of 20.2% (7.02 million) and Telkom Kenya (Orange), which reported 3.77 million wireless users at end-March 2015 to give it a share of 10.8%. The market’s only mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Finserve Africa (Equitel), had signed up a total of 665,661 customers by 31 March 2015, representing 1.9% of the total wireless sector. Finserve Africa, a subsidiary of regional bank Equity Group, was awarded one of three MVNO licences by the regulator in April 2014, and says its mobile service aims to make banking more accessible and affordable by enabling customers to apply for loans, transfer money, pay bills and carry out cross-border transactions using their wireless handsets. Mobile data subscriptions rose from 13.26 million to 18.68 million over the twelve-month period, with Safaricom accounting for 12.15 million of the total, followed by Airtel with 3.45 million, Orange with 2.42 million and newcomer Finserve Africa (Equitel) with 665,661.

As at 31 March 2015 the Communications Authority of Kenya reported 87,838 fibre-optic broadband subscribers (up from 69,377 twelve months previously), 16,148 terrestrial wireless data customers (16,540), 14,685 xDSL connections (12,547) and 836 satellite broadband users (700). Wananchi Telecom remains the fixed broadband market leader, accounting for 46.8% of all customers at end-March 2015, followed by Liquid Telecom (15.3%), Telkom Kenya (10.1%), Access Kenya (9.6%) and Safaricom (6.9%). Kenya ended the period under review with a total of 202,905 fixed telephony lines in service (down from 206,129 a year earlier), including 91,373 fixed terrestrial connections and 111,532 fixed-wireless lines.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:46:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) will introduce mobile number portability (MNP) in October, enabling the wireless customers of Dhiraagu and Ooredoo Maldives to retain their number if they switch provider. Haaveru Online quotes the CAM’s CEO Ilyas Ahmed as saying that a lack of portability equipment – which had to be brought in from abroad – had previously delayed the introduction of MNP, which was originally scheduled for 31 July 2015. ‘In truth, it’s not much of a delay. We need to completely overhaul the Dhiraagu and Ooreedoo systems in order to introduce the service. It’s an expensive task and requires a lot of work,’ Ilyas noted.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:43:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In publishing its latest Communications Market Report, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has cited increased take-up of 4G services as being behind a surge in the number of smartphone users in the country. With the watchdog having claimed that two thirds of Britons now own a smartphone, it highlighted the fact that the number of customers signed up to an Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based tariff had increased significantly, from just 2.7 million at the end of 2013 to 23.6 million a year later, taking the proportion of total mobile subscriptions that were 4G to 28% at the end of 2014, up from 3% at end-2013. Meanwhile, with regards to coverage, Ofcom claims that at least one 4G mobile broadband service is now available to 89.5% of UK premises, while four in ten people reportedly have the option to choose from all four of the country’s mobile network operators – EE, O2 UK, Vodafone UK and Hutchison 3G UK (Three). With the cellcos continuing to expand and enhance their respective LTE network footprints, Ofcom notes that rules it has introduced mean that 98% of premises should have an indoor 4G signal from at least one operator by 2017.

Ofcom meanwhile has confirmed that in the coming months it plans to publish maps enabling consumers to compare operators’ mobile coverage throughout the UK. These maps will reportedly enable users to zoom to a specific location, or simply enter a place name or postcode, and receive data on coverage for each mobile network, down to 100 square metres.

Commenting on the development of the market, Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, was cited as saying: ‘Today’s report shows just how important reliable, fast internet access is to millions of consumers and businesses. Improving the coverage and quality of all communications services across the UK is a priority for Ofcom, for people at work, home or on the move.’

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:42:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Italian government has announced that the first EUR2.2 billion (USD2.4 billion) of funding is now available for its scheme to promote the spread of ultra-broadband networks to surpass European Union (EU) Digital Agenda goals by 2020. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the funds form the first part of a wider EUR12 billion 20-year broadband development scheme, which will involve EUR7 billion of public spending – including EUR2.1 billion from European regional funds – and EUR5 billion of private money. Under the Italian government’s plan, 85% of all households will have access to a 100Mbps connection by 2020, with the remaining homes being offered a minimum 30Mbps service.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 1:40:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The introduction of affordable smartphones designed specifically for emerging markets has been a game changer for Africa and has made an impact on Wi-Fi demand, says Ruckus Wireless.

In fact, according to published reports, mobile penetration in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase from 52% in 2012 to 79% in 2020, making it the fastest-growing region globally – with mobile broadband connections anticipated to quadruple from its 2012 figure to reach 160-million in 2016.

“WiFi technology has the potential to play an essential role in helping achieve universal access via ICTs for people in rural areas and territories where telephone or cable infrastructure is not currently deployed,” says Michael Fletcher, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.

“In fact, this was reiterated by South Africa’s Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, who highlighted that low-cost Wi-Fi installations could mean the difference between no ICT access of any kind and an affordable service as it can be used as a complementary medium to enhance the operators’ offering – allowing them to get cost effective access to consumers in these areas. In fact, South Africa’s government  committed to support and develop free Wi-Fi in rural areas in its election manifesto – which stands testament to this. For high-density areas such as cities, improved connectivity will be the building blocks and driver for smart cities and economic development in the digital age – where Wi-Fi is a critical complementary medium for 3G offload and connectivity.”

Fletcher continues: “The evolution of WiFi in Africa has been slow in comparison to international counterparts, but as demand for access has risen, good progress has been made, and businesses and consumers are starting to see the benefits.”

WiFi in Africa has predominantly been reserved for businesses and airport business lounges but this has fast changed says Fletcher. “Lagos’s Murtala Muhammad Airport Two (MMA2) was the first airport terminal in Africa to offer its passengers a free WiFi Hotspot at the end of 2012 and since then, WiFi has spread across the continent’s biggest airport hubs.”

Hospitality is another sector that jumped on board – where guests would pay for vouchers or have Wi-Fi access added to their room bill. In fact, mid-tier hospitality chains (e.g., 3 – 4 star rated hotels) were one of the first to offer free Wi-Fi in their rooms as part of their accommodation packages but today Wi-Fi is considered an essential in-room amenity. “Previously no roaming between access points and re-authentication woes stifled the growth,” adds Fletcher. “However, as roaming and streamlined SSID authentication became possible, Wi-Fi access has now become simple to access and so has spread across airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, universities, and more recently,  public venues and cities.”

According to Fletcher, Africa is likely to see more WiFi being deployed in cities and metro areas now than ever before that connect more and more people. “Six to twelve months ago, I would have said South Africa was ahead in terms of these deployments, but now other African countries are implementing some impressive WiFi initiatives, where even fixed line operators are offering WiFi. What’s more, looking at neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, the speed is incredible as in some cases they are back-hauling Wi-Fi to fibre, resulting in very high download speeds. They are also being incredibly smart about the use of WiFi – either monetising their investment by partnering with various business interests, or better mobilising communities via improved ICT.”

“Wi-Fi has certainly evolved here, and so too has its uses. As we see more and more metro and city type deployments across Africa, so-called “Smart city” deployments, it will become truly evident that this communication enabler adds immense economic value to our African cities and will be a key driving force to development,” concludes Fletcher.

Source: IT News Africa.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 10:03:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Wi-Fi networks will carry nearly 60% of smartphone and data tablet traffic by 2019, Juniper Research has predicted.

The research firm estimates that smartphone and data traffic over Wi-Fi will grow from under 30,000 petabytes this year to over 115,000 petabytes by 2019.

Mobile operators are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi offload to address patchy coverage and alleviate the strain being placed on mobile networks due to voracious demand for data.

"Juniper Research said Wi-Fi offload also has the potential to help create new services such as voice over Wi-Fi, and to increase uptake of existing 3G and 4G services."

But Wi-Fi offload also creates challenges for operators in the form of ensuring ROI as well as effective deployment.

“Operators need to deploy their own Wi-Fi zones in problematic areas or partner with Wi-Fi hotspot operators and aggregators such as iPass and Boingo,” Juniper Research’s Nitin Bhas commented.

Juniper Research expects overall mobile data traffic from mobile devices to surpass 197,000 petabytes by 2019. This year, global smartphone data consumption is set to be nearly twice the amount generated from tablets.

Source: pctech magazine.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:50:58 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
TE Data, the internet service provider (ISP) unit of fixed line incumbent Telecom Egypt, has updated its tariff structures, while making 1Mbps its new entry-level speed, having done away with 256kbps and 512kbps plans. According to Ahram Online, customers looking to sign up for the plan offering a 1Mbps download speed and 10GB data allowance will be charged EGP50 (USD6.5) per month, with this charge being notably lower than the EGP90 TE Data had previously charged for a 512kbps connection. Meanwhile, the operator’s new top-end plan will provide downlink rates of 8Mbps and a 300GB data cap.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:48:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Belarus’ Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyazi) has reportedly issued a statement confirming that the country’s state-owned telco Beltelecom had more than 2.1 million ‘byfly’ broadband subscribers at 1 July 2015. Telecompaper quotes the ministry as saying that the PTO added a net 90,700 high speed internet subscribers in the year to end-June, while over the same period the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots in service climbed by 42,500 to 345,000. Further, Beltelecom is seeing strong demand for its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network based on Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology, with subscribers here reaching 423,000 by 30 June, up from 289,600 a year earlier, IPTV customers climbed 81,400 to approximately 1.1 million, and ZALA-branded over-the-top (OTT) subscribers rose to 4,500.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:45:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azerbaijani mobile operator Bakcell, which announced the commercial launch of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on 5 May, says it now has 373 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) live in its network, a figure it plans to increase to 1,000 by mid-2016. However, the company has clarified that its LTE network currently remains restricted to capital city Baku. In addition, Bakcell’s 2G network covers more than 99% of the population (93% of the territory, excluding occupied territories), and comprises 2,947 BTS. Elsewhere, 3G cell sites number 1,979 and cover 85% of population and 70% of Azerbaijan’s territory (again, excluding occupied territories).

Bakcell CEO Richard Shearer commented: ‘Today, Bakcell is a leader in terms of the number and capacity of its base stations in Azerbaijan. We outpace our competitors by expanding our 2G and 3G network in order to provide high quality mobile communication and internet service to our customers all over the country, including the most remote areas. We also have the largest share of the mobile internet market in the country. Our competitors are lagging behind us both in terms of quality and capacity of the mobile internet’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:43:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Senegal’s Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes (ARTP) has published its market development report for the three months ended 30 June 2015, noting that the total number of active mobile users in the country exceeded 14.819 million at that date, up 0.82% (119,817) quarter-on-quarter, and 462,998 higher than the 14.356 million at end-June 2014. Of the total, an overwhelming 14.718 million are pre-paid users, with just 100,466 on contract service plans – broadly unchanged q-o-q. According to the watchdog’s calculations, cellular penetration reached 109.7% at end-June, down slightly from 111.5% a year before.

Orange Senegal continues to hold a dominant position in the mobile sector, with a 56.8% slice of the pie at end-June, although it lost some ground in the three months under review, with its share declining 0.05% despite increasing its base by a net 61,312 users to nearly 8.418 million. Orange’s loss was Millicom International Cellular-owned Tigo’s gain: the Luxembourg-based cellco’s local unit boosted its base to 3.469 million at the end of the second quarter, increasing its market share by 0.07 of a percentage point to 23.41% in the process. Meanwhile, number three operator – Expresso Telecom – closed out the second quarter with 2.932 million subscribers, a net gain of just 20,484, and saw its share of the pie slip marginally from 19.81% to 19.79% in the process.

Further, the ARTP’s report highlighted that monthly outgoing voice traffic reached 4.871 billion minutes in Q2 2015, up 4.73% when compared to 4.656 billion minutes of voice traffic in the prior quarter. However, SMS traffic is following a downward trend; the total number of text messages sent stood at 131 million in June 2015, down from 140 million (June 2014), 132 million (September 2014), 148 million (December 2014) and 131 million (March 2015).

Turning to the fixed line market, ARTP reported that the country was home to 102,623 broadband (ADSL) connections at 30 June 2015, up from 102,410 three months earlier but still below the 105,738 figure reported in June 2014. Incumbent PTO Sonatel is the monopoly provider of fixed broadband services and also controls 100% of the dial-up market, which numbered 18,283 users at the same date. In terms of voice telephony, there were a total of 305,843 main lines in service at end-June, down 0.4% q-o-q, of which Sonatel controlled a 93.6% market share and Expresso, 6.4%. The Sudatel-owned second national operator (SNO) is struggling to make headway in a market dominated by its Orange-backed rival. The SNO had a fixed telephony market share of 11.0% in June 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:42:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nepal’s government plans to spend NPR1.48 billion (USD14 million) from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) in the current fiscal year to mid-July 2016. The Himalayan Times says that the planned investment represents just 14% of the funds currently available under the RTDF, which was set up in 1998 and collects 2% of telco operator revenues to help pay for the provision of telecoms services in rural areas. The newly announced investment will go towards four main projects: the District Optical Fibre Network programme (NPR1 billion of the total spend); broadband infrastructure development in 14 earthquake-affected districts (NPR330 million); the establishment of one model e-village development committee in each of the country’s 75 districts (NPR75 million); and the extension of internet services to 500 rural community schools and colleges (NPR75 million).

Separately, the Nepalese government is hoping to push through a new ICT Policy by the completion of the current administration’s term at the end of August. According to a report from the Kathmandu Post, the new policy is expected to clarify the jurisdiction of a number of ministries and agencies which oversee the ICT sector, and there has also been discussion over the creation of a new Ministry of ICT (MoICT) to replace the current Ministry of Communications (MoC), while the regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), will be restructured as the Nepal Communication Authority (NCA). If approved, the changes would take effect in 2016. The new policy would also aim to address security concerns in ICT, promote public access and content development, develop the ICT industry sector, and increase access to telecommunications for people with special needs.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015 9:41:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |