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 Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

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

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

Source: Telecom Paper.

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

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

Source: TeleGeography.

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

Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) attracted 300,000 new wireless customers in the first nine months of the year. According to local newspaper Granma, around 40,000 of that total were signed up in August and September, while the telecoms operator has recently carried out work to modernise and expand its mobile network to cope with increasing demand for cellular services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, ETECSA had a wireless customer base of 1.996 million at the end of 2013, up from 1.681 million twelve months earlier. On 3 March 2014 the company introduced a mobile e-mail service known as @nauta.cu.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:40:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Data from TeleGeography’s new Business Broadband Research Service reveal that business broadband prices vary widely, not just by country, but also within countries.

Western European markets are among the most competitive in the world. The median monthly price of a fixed broadband plan with between 10Mbps and 16Mbps of downstream bandwidth is USD47 in Germany, while comparable plans cost USD28 in Spain and USD34 in the Netherlands.

Business broadband service is also relatively inexpensive in many East Asian economies, such as Taiwan, where the median price of 10-16Mbps service is USD37 per month; Japan, where it’s USD39 per month; and Vietnam, at USD29 per month. However, due to the diverse levels of broadband infrastructure availability and competition in the region, prices can be far higher in other countries. In Malaysia for example, the median price of a 10-16Mbps plan is USD140 per month. Business broadband service can be particularly expensive in Africa, where 10-16Mbps median prices are USD93 in South Africa, USD161 in Nigeria, and USD352 in Kenya.

Broadband prices can also vary widely within countries. In Chile, where the median price of a 10-16Mbps plan is USD41 per month, the highest price is two times the lowest price. In the United States, where the median price is USD90 per month, the high price is seven times the low. Similarly, the high price in Germany is three times the low price, while the high price in South Africa is an astonishing 24 times the low.

Business broadband services are priced for the local market. ‘Price differences between countries reflect competition, geography, population density, and the local cost of wholesale IP transit,’ said TeleGeography analyst Rob Schult. ‘Price differences within countries reflect similar characteristics, with the greatest differences coming between urban and rural markets. For a single geography and downstream speed, product features such as upstream bandwidth, multiple static IP addresses, data limits, and domain hosting have the greatest impact on price.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:39:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Zambia disclosed in a press release that it is upgrading its base stations across the country with a view to improving internet access for its customers. To date, 58 3G cell sites have been upgraded with faster technology since July 2014 while a further 242 site upgrades are expected to be completed by end of the year, according to the statement issued by the cellco’s head of corporate communications, Yuyo Kambikambi. So far 14 sites have been upgraded in Central Province, twelve in Copperbelt, eight in Southern province, seven each in Eastern, Lusaka and Northern provinces, plus three in Western province.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in July 2014 Airtel Zambia announced plans to invest around USD80 million in its network this year, on top of the almost USD270 million that had already been spent by India’s Bharti Airtel since it acquired the cellco back in 2010. As part of these plans the cellco was said to be planning to roll out 147 4G-enabled cell sites in Lusaka and Copperbelt this year. At that date the operator also issued an update on the current status of its infrastructure, with it claiming to have one of widest geographical network footprints in the country, with a total of 1,096 base stations up and running.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:34:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Gevorg Gevorgyan, the head of telecoms within Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), says that the country’s three mobile network operators – VivaCell-MTS, ArmenTel (Beeline) and Orange Armenia – have now deployed 3G services covering 97.7% of the territory, while 2G coverage stands at 100%. In a statement to the Commission yesterday, Mr Gevorgyan confirmed that as a result of the efforts of the incumbents, 3G now reaches all but 23 of the nation’s 1,001 towns and settlements.

VivaCell-MTS, majority-owned by Russian powerhouse Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), has the best 3G coverage, he says, with a live signal in 957 residential areas, and only 44 unserved. Second spot is taken by Orange Armenia with coverage of 773 settlements and 228 still to be upgraded, while Beeline can lay claim to just 346 areas served, and a sizeable 655 that are without 3G.

VivaCell-MTS also claimed the top spot in terms of GSM 2G coverage according to the PSRC, with coverage of 984 settlements (i.e. a deficit of 17), ahead of Beeline with 2G in 853 residential areas (148), and Orange Armenia with 803 (198).

As a result of the operators’ service expansions, all residential areas in the country were served by at least one cellco at 1 January 2014, where it says 8.5% of settlements are served by a single network, 23.0% from two operators and 68.5% from all three.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:32:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Having launched LTE-based services on a limited basis in Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city, in January 2014, Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) is reportedly planning to expand its 4G network nationwide next year, according to ITWeb Africa.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, hot on the heels of rival MTN Zambia launching LTE earlier in the January 2014, Zamtel was swift in announcing the launch of its own 4G mobile services in Kitwe, with the operator revealing it had set up a walk-in 4G Live Experiential Centre at its offices in the city so that customers could see the technology in action. The network development was carried out in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei, and Zamtel noted that the deployment of LTE meant that it would be able to offer theoretical downlink speeds of more than 50Mbps to customers.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:30:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Zanzibar Telecommunication (Zantel), which is majority owned by UAE-based Etisalat, has launched its 3G network in mainland Tanzania, strengthening its telecoms portfolio in the country. At the launch ceremony in Dar es Salaam, its chief executive Pratap Ghose, said the new high speed network would ‘revolutionise’ the company’s service offering, with its director of enterprise solutions, Mohamed Ahmed Seif, confirming that from launch the 3G network is currently operational in Dar es Salaam and the islands of Zanzibar (since May 2012). Going forward, Zantel intends to extend its 3G coverage into other regions.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:28:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 16, 2014

The number of fixed broadband connections worldwide will see an annual growth rate of 5.7 percent during the period between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a report from Quantum-Web. The number of fixed broadband connections will jump by 78 million over this period to 749 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The report also forecast that the dominant technology will remain xDSL accounting for 55 percent of total fixed broadband connections by Q4 2015. Cable modem would come second (21%), followed by FTTx (20%) and other fixed broadband technologies (4%). The fastest growing region in terms of connections are North and Latin America with over 24.5 million new connections while the Middle East has the highest CAGR growth clocking up 16.9 percent over the same period.

The number of broadband net additions is expected to reach 78 million by the end of 2015. The number of broadband connections in China would reach 182 million, adding more than 11 million subscribers by the end of 2015. The five countries leading the net additions in fixed broadband connections – China, USA, Japan, Germany and Russia – would account for more than 42 percent of the global new connections.

In the Asia Pacific region, the largest global market, the growth is fuelled by emerging markets such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesia with 41 percent CAGR would be the fastest growing market among the top three. In North and Latin America, USA, Brazil and Mexico with over 17 million net additions represent over 71 percent of the whole regional growth. Uruguay with 49 percent CAGR has the highest growth rate in the region.

In the Middle East, Iran is expected to see over 2 million net additions and 66 percent growth over the next two years. Iran will become the biggest market in the region overtaking its southern neighbours: Saudi Arabia and UAE and the region’s current leader Israel. In Africa with over 2.5 million net additions, Egypt would be the largest fixed broadband market standing at 49 percent CAGR followed by Algeria and South Africa.

In Europe and central Asia region, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine would maintain their positions as the top three markets. These three countries enjoying a net addition of over 8.6 million or 68 percent of the growth in the whole region over the next two years. In the EU 27 market, a net addition of 16.5 million new connections is expected over the next two years. Germany, France and the UK are the top countries in terms of net additions at nearly 46 percent of the European Union.

The number of xDSL connections expected to grow at a CAGR of around 1.8 percent between 2013 and 2015. Cable Modem the second largest fixed broadband technology after xDSL and would maintain this runner up position during the forecast period. The growth of cable modem connections is expected to rise to over 150 million by the end of 2015. North and Latin America with over 88 million connections represents 56 percent of total Cable Modem connections in 2015. FTTx the fastest growing fixed broadband technology is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 24 percent, taking the total number of fibre optic connections from 57 million to over 151 million in 2015. A significant portion of FTTx growth is primarily generated in Asia Pacific. According to our forecasts around 70 percent of fibre optic connections would be in that region. 

There are around 1,600 network operators that currently provide fixed broadband to over 670 million subscribers or 9.46 percent of the global population. China Telecom, with 88.8 million fixed broadband connections, is the largest operator in the world followed by China Unicom and Comcast. The number of China Telecom connections is forecast to rise by 5 percent CAGR to 98.6 million connections between 2013 and 2015. The fastest growing operator, among the top ten operators in the world, is Russia Rostelecom with 11 percent CAGR during the same period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:51:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian fixed line incumbent Algerie Telecom (AT) has introduced fixed-wireless Long Term Evolution (LTE) services to business subscribers, ahead of a planned consumer launch in the second half of 2014. According to a company press release, AT has deployed 200 ‘eNodeB’ sites across the country’s 48 wilayas (provinces), with plans to install 2,000 LTE-enabled base transceiver stations (BTS) by end-2015. From 1 May 2014 business users can subscribe to one of two LTE plans, both of which include a CPE LTE-compatible router and SIM card: the introductory offer, including a 5GB data allowance, is priced at DZD3,500 (USD44.54), while the premium plan, which includes 10GB of data, costs DZD6,500.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2013 AT Group CEO Azouaou Mehmel said that business customers would be the initial target group of the company’s commercial LTE network because of the high costs involved. Mr Mehmel added that the tender for the acquisition of LTE equipment was worth an estimated EUR40 million (USD53.42 million).

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:49:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Around 19,000 families and businesses in 15 communities across Australia are set to complete the transition to the National Broadband Network (NBN), the company tasking with overseeing the project, NBN Co, has announced. With existing fixed line services provided over infrastructure owned by incumbent PTO Telstra to be switched off today, the locations have been named as: Armidale, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs in New South Wales; South Morang and Brunswick in Victoria; Townsville, Aitkenvale and Mundingburra in Queensland; Willunga in South Australia; and Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Sorell, St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania.

NBN Co has, however, been keen to stress that the move to the NBN is not automatic, and has urged home and business owners to ensure they have taken the necessary steps to connect to the new fibre infrastructure. To that end, John Simon, NBN Co’s chief customer officer, noted: ‘The overwhelming majority of people in the affected areas have made the switch to the NBN over the 18 months since the countdown began and are enjoying the benefits of fast broadband … Any family or business that is yet to make the switch can choose to place an order with their preferred phone company or internet service provider or they can stick with a mobile or other wireless solution. The choice is up to them. But we are working hard with the industry to ensure that no-one in these areas who wants the NBN is left behind.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:48:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is preparing for the arrival of competition in the wireless sector, drafting in help from its sister company in Panama, and former Digicel executives, Tribune 242 writes. Phil Bentley the chief executive of parent company Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) said that the Bahamian unit was the second largest contributor to the group’s annual income in the year to end-March 2014, adding that CWC was ‘cognisant’ of the threat posed by cellular liberalisation. The official confirmed that ex Digicel executive Niall Merry, now CWC’s chief commercial officer, has been called in to assist BTC with its preparations, helping assess what his former employer may attempt if it is successful in securing the second mobile licence. BTC is also to draw on the expertise of CWC’s Panama subsidiary, which has experience as an incumbent battling new market entrants. Speaking to shareholders and analysts in a conference call on CWC’s annual results, Bentley explained: ‘We’ve had the team in, and certainly Niall [Merry] has been helping in war gaming what we think Digicel might do if they come in. We’ve had the Panama team helping us, because they’ve gone through pretty intensive new entrance strategies in how to fight those off.’

CWC highlighted the fact that it likely to have an advantage over newcomers in its broadband network, adding that the telco will explore converged offerings: ‘It’s all part of this fixed-mobile convergence play, so we’ll be able to move to that Wi-Fi offload for products that a mobile-only entrant will be unable to support.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:47:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

FPT Telecom, a unit of Vietnam’s largest listed telecoms, and technology software company FPT Corporation, has announced that it has upgraded the downstream speed of three of its broadband plans at no additional cost to the customer. Under the changes, the speed of the firm’s ‘Mega Save’ package has increased from 3Mbps to 5Mbps, while ‘Mega You’ has been upgraded to 8Mbps from 6Mbps and ‘Mega Me’ to 10Mbps from 8Mbps. FPT Telecom, which operates in 57 provinces and cities across the country, will implement the upgrades in three phases, with customers in 15 provinces and major cities (including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) the first to benefit, followed by a further 25-30 provinces, ending with the remaining locations during the third rollout phase.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:44:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has unveiled plans to reduce mobile termination rates (MTRs) further, despite saying that the rate had fallen ‘significantly’ in recent years on the back of its previous intervention. With the rate currently standing at GBP0.0815 (USD0.017) per minute as of 1 April 2014, under the watchdog’s latest proposals it has set out reductions for each of the next three years. As such, from 1 April 2015 Ofcom has said that the MTR will be reduced to GBP0.0515 per minute, before falling to GBP0.0498 per minute and GBP0.0476 per minute at 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2017, respectively. The new rates will apply to all operators.

Having concluded its previous review of MTRs on 15 March 2011, Ofcom has said that in reaching its latest decision there were a number of relevant factors that it had considered. Among those was the fact that between 2011 and 2013 the availability of spectrum to provide mobile services had increased significantly following the regulator’s work on spectrum liberalisation and the 4G auction. Further, it has argued that mobile networks and technologies are also becoming more efficient, leading to lower costs, and has claimed that the new charge controls are designed to ensure that the charges levied by operators reflect these lower costs.

Brian Potterill, Ofcom’s Competition Policy Director, said of the plans: ‘Consumers in the UK benefit from a thriving competitive market, and mobile calls have never been cheaper. The average cost of a call bundle has fallen from GBP40 to around GBP13 in real terms over the last ten years … We want to ensure mobile users continue to benefit from competition, which will deliver affordable services in the years ahead.’

Ofcom’s consultation on the proposals closes on 13 August 2014, and the regulator has said it expects to publish its final decision by March next year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:43:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) has revealed that it is in the process of deploying 80 new cell sites to improve capacity and relieve network congestion. A report from local news portal Cuba Si says that the firm has carried out traffic management work in Havana and other areas due to an increase in traffic caused by the introduction of new services. New offerings include mobile e-mail, which was launched on 3 March this year under the brand name @nauta.cu. ETECSA operates a nationwide 900MHz GSM network and is expected to launch further mobile internet services in the coming months.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:42:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Iraqi government has reportedly granted the country’s three national mobile operators – Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait’s Zain Group, Ooredoo subsidiary Asiacell and Orange affiliate Korek – permission to utilise 3G frequencies, effectively bringing an end to a lengthy stalemate. Reuters quotes a statement by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers as saying that the trio now have ‘the right to use third-generation frequencies’, without providing specific details. The assertion was backed up by Hayder Ahmed, head of corporate communications for Zain Iraq, who told Reuters that the Council’s decision was ‘a positive step for the development of the telecom industry in Iraq’, even if his company had yet to be made aware of the government’s launch conditions.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as recently as March 2014 Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) was determined to preside over a two-step process, which would see a quick, closed 3G auction, followed by the introduction of a fourth mobile player further down the line. Meanwhile, the government said it remained keen to combine the two processes, potentially delaying the country’s introduction of 3G technology even further. Based on previous statements by the regulator, the 3G licences are expected to comprise 15MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:41:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chinese state news agency Xinhua has announced the launch of China’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), T.Mobile, on Sunday. The provider piggybacks on the network of China Telecom but is currently limited to Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, although the operator plans to expand to other areas of the province. T.Mobile is a unit of Chinese firm Telephone World Digital Group (TWDH), not to be confused with the preferred T-Mobile moniker of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT). TWDG is one of 19 companies granted MVNO licences, with others including a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba and retailers Suning, JD.com and D.Phone. The other MVNOs are due to launch shortly, and Suning and D.Phone began taking pre-orders for their service on 1 May.

The potential impact of MVNOs on China’s telecoms market is widely disputed, with many commentators expecting the high prices levied on virtual providers by network operators to limit their effect on competition. Xinhua cited several unnamed industry insiders as saying that the poor prospects for profitability would hamstring the MVNOs ability to drive competition, with one executive from China Telling Communication noting that each MVNO would require one million active subscribers to reach break-even. Nevertheless, some areas of the sector remain optimistic about the introduction of privately-owned MVNOs into a market previously controlled by three state-backed entities, namely China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. Zou Xueyong, the secretary general of China’s Industry Association of Mobile Virtual Network Operators, remained adamant that: ‘Virtual operators will help push forward reforms in the telecom industry and drive down prices of telecom services.’

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:40:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Belgian mobile operator Mobistar said it has completed initial network tests of LTE Advanced, achieving speeds of over 200 Mbps. The company is using a combination of 1,800 MHz band (20 MHz) and 800 MHz band (10 MHz) frequencies for the tests, which it said provides for more efficient spectrum use, higher speeds and improved indoor coverage. The tests were conducted in Mechelen from January to April, using a prototype Cat 6 device from Huawei. With the aggregation of 1,800 and 800 MHz band spectrum, the operator achieved speeds of 213 Mbps download and 41 Mbps upload. Mobistar said it plans to launch the 4G+ services once commercial devices are available.  

Source: Telecom Paper.

LTE
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:39:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iraq has granted its three mobile operators the right to provide 3G services, reversing an earlier decision to hold a multimillion dollar auction and ending years of stalemate. The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers announced the approval of granting mobile companies operating in Iraq the right to use the 3G frequencies, Reuters reported. The statement did not provide further details and it was unclear when the operators - Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek - will receive the frequencies required for 3G. Hayder Ahmed, head of corporate communications for Zain Iraq, the country's top mobile operator by subscribers, told Reuters that the Council's decision was "a positive step for the development of the telecom industry in Iraq", but added his company had yet to be told the government's conditions for launching 3G.

Source: Telecom Paper.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:37:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Deutsche Telekom has announced the launch of the MyWallet app and MyWallet Card to let customers in Germany make purchases with their smartphones. All customers who sign up for mobile payments with the MyWallet Card now will get an introductory bonus of up to EUR 40. MyWallet can be downloaded as a free app from the Google Play Store. Thomas Kiessling, Chief Product & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said that it planned to launch mobile payment products internationally later in 2014, including Slovakia in mid-May and Hungary later in the year. In addition to the app and a MyWallet-capable Android smartphone from Deutsche Telekom, customers need an NFC-enabled SIM card to use the digital wallet. Deutsche Telekom customers who already use a suitable smartphone can order the NFC SIM card free of charge.

The first MyWallet service is a payment card. The MyWallet Card is a prepaid MasterCard. Users can pay at more than 35,000 PayPass merchants throughout Germany and more than 1.6 million merchants worldwide. Partner chains in Germany include Starbucks, Aral, Douglas, Kaufhof, Thalia, Vapiano and the Telekom Shops. The card is issued by ClickandBuy International, a Deutsche Telekom subsidiary. Additional MyWallet products will be launched in summer 2014. These will include a partnership with Tank und Rest to enable  MyWallet and other contactless payment systems at 400 motorway rest stops across Germany. From June, customers will be able to store digital coupons from supermarket chains Hit and Edeka using MyWallet.

Bonn has been selected as the flagship city for supplying mobile payment terminals, with around 1,000 acceptance points in restaurants, shops and filling stations. Wirecard, German provider of electronic payment and risk management services, is the technical service provider for the MyWallet scheme.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:36:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Group has earmarked investment of over USD3 billion for the upgrade and expansion of its Nigerian business over the next three years, in a bid to improve the quality of its services amid rapid subscriber growth, Business Day reports. The Nigerian market is South Africa-based MTN’s largest by revenues and subscribers, but the company has been penalised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to meet minimum standards of service quality, while it also faces attacks on its infrastructure in the north by militant Islamist group Boko Haram. MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa acknowledged that the firm has challenges with quality of service driven by the ‘high demand’ in Nigeria, adding that the company will ‘continue to invest at this rate in the medium term, and make sure the overall quality of service is acceptable’. At 31 March 2014 MTN Nigeria’s subscriber total stood at 57.2 million, up 12% from 51.3 million twelve months earlier and making it the market leader by some margin. The cellco expects its customer base to exceed 60 million by the end of the year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:34:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Costa Rican regulator Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) has announced that it will hold a public consultation regarding the possible introduction of a flat rate for mobile internet services for both pre- and post-paid customers based on the amount of data transferred, local news outlet El Financiero reports. Under the proposed scheme, all users would be charged CRC0.0075 (USD0.00001) per kB, regardless of transmission speed, and at present, that pricing model is used only in the pre-paid space. Senoran Matias, the manager of Spanish-backed cellco Movistar, a relative newcomer to the market, commented that the charging model was a necessary change and would allow a wider range of offers, adaptable to the needs of customers, adding that limited download plans were ‘unsustainable.’ The hearing is scheduled for 1 July and Sutel has a month to respond to the comments of the consultation before making a decision on the tariff plan.

Sutel president Mayleana Mendez was quoted by TeleSemana in an interview in late April as saying that unlimited use tariffs had created a strain on the network resources of telcos, to the detriment of overall service quality and going as far as to say that some ‘aggressive’ consumers were almost abusing the system. According to Mendez, 40% of network resources were being consumed by 5% of the subscriber base. The official added that the situation was troubling and that the regulator was investigating measures to address the matter.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:33:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s ICT minister, has announced that a nationwide 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will be commercially deployed in August 2014. Agence Ecofin reports that the network is currently in its trial phase.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in March 2013 the Rwanda Development Board enlisted South Korea’s KT Corp to establish a public-private joint venture company, Olleh Rwanda Networks Limited, in order to develop, construct and operate a nationwide 4G LTE network, as well as providing wholesale LTE infrastructure services to customer-facing cellcos and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). KT will control the management of the firm, while the Rwandan government will provide financial and administrative support. The would-be wholesale LTE provider is set to cover 95% of the population with LTE by 2017.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:47:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ecuador’s telecoms minister has signed Ministerial Agreement 035-2014, which states that by 2017, 90% of the country will be covered by fixed and mobile broadband networks, Telesemana reports. To meet this goal, the Ministry set policies for the development and implementation of high speed networks, while it also established the need to promote technological upgrading, promote the modernisation of transmission media and infrastructure service delivery, accelerate the granting of spectrum bands and encourage the creation of business plans and services that are affordable to priority groups and economically disadvantaged citizens, among others. The ministry has also amended the official definition of broadband to: ‘bandwidth provided to a user at a transmission rate equal to or greater than 1024kbps down[link].’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:46:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam, has announced that construction will soon begin on the country’s first internet exchange points in the cities of Yaounde and Douala. ‘The implementation of internet hubs at the local, national, sub-regional and regional levels is a priority if we intend to solve the connection problems and improve the quality of service as well as lower interconnection costs,’ Business In Cameroon quotes the minister as saying, although he did not state the potential cost or planned timeframe of the project.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:45:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Ministry of Communications in Cote d’Ivoire is calling for the three smallest operators in the country’s cellular market to merge to create a more effective competitor to the trio of dominant players, MTN, Orange and Moov. Communications Minister Bruno Nabagne Kone is recommending that Comium, Green Network and Cafe Mobile unite to create a fourth player with 1.13 million subscribers and a 6% share of the overall market, Agence Ecofin reports. MTN and Orange currently claim around 36% of the market each, while Etisalat subsidiary Moov has the remaining 22%, with the country being home to 19.39 million subscribers in total at the end of 2013, according to figures from the regulator, Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de Cote d’Ivoire (ARTCI).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:43:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to data published by Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and reported by Gulf Times, all segments of the population now have access to internet-enabled ICT devices (and in particular mobile phones), although smartphones and tablets are yet to ‘fully penetrate’ the market. In its ‘ICT Landscape 2014: Households and Individuals’ report, which monitors ICT access and usage behaviour in the country, the government is confident that ‘use of basic online services such as e-mail, internet browsing, social networking and peer-to-peer file sharing is prevalent across all segments of society’. The study confirms that the ongoing transition towards full access continues apace, and that mobile phones are now used by ‘nearly 100% of the population’, while smartphone penetration has reached 65% and laptop ownership has topped 93% – up from 83% in 2012. Moreover, a rapid rise in the penetration of tablet devices means that as many as 52% of Qataris are now connected to the internet via such means, compared to just 32% in 2012. The ICT study goes on to say that whilst 83% of users access the world wide web for e-mail and 93% for social networking apps, only 18% use internet banking and 15% e-commerce. Finally, the ministry report notes that with the increase in smartphone and tablet penetration, the demand for mobile broadband has risen and household penetration now stands at 61%, compared to fixed broadband penetration of 94%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:42:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodacom Tanzania is offering all users unlimited access to mobile internet on its new ‘Uhuru Wa Kweli’ data bundles, irrespective of what type of phone they use, available on all daily, weekly and monthly plans. The cellco’s managing director Rene Meza said the move is designed to help ensure Tanzanians have access to the internet at affordable rates and to narrow the digital divide in the country. Uhuru Wa Kweli allows Vodacom Tanzania users to purchase a daily data bundle for TZS1,000 (USD0.62), or TZS6,000 for a seven-day equivalent, while monthly data bundles will cost TZS20,000.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:41:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
According to national telecoms regulator Agence de Regulation et de Controle des Telecom (ARCT), Burundi’s overall mobile base stood at 2.53 million at end-2013, up 13% from 2.24 million a year earlier. Reuters reports the watchdog as saying that the gains were largely the result of network expansion projects undertaken by most operators in the east African nation, noting that ‘Some companies which were just covering the capital Bujumbura are now present in a large part of the country’. The ARCT went on to point out that an increase in competition has resulted in a reduction in call prices and handset costs, further driving uptake; Burundi had only 270,000 mobile phones users in 2007. In its report, the regulator confirmed that U-Com Burundi (leo) – a unit of Egypt’s Orascom – dominates the domestic mobile market with 64% of all users. The remainder is shared between Econet Wireless Burundi, Smart Telecom (Lacell SU), Africell (TEMPO) and state-backed Onamob. The government has also recently issued a licence to a sixth player, Vietnam’s Vietel Telecom, for USD10 million.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:40:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), the country’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, increased its tariffs by an average of 14% at the start of this month, in response to the high inflation in the cost of utilities, goods and services. The company said in a press release that it ‘must maintain profitability of its operations to support sustainable development of telecommunications in Malawi, which in turn contributes significantly to the country’s economy.’ It adds that in order to achieve this level of profitability, TNM must continue to invest heavily in network expansion and infrastructure development; the tariff adjustments therefore aim to keep pace with the financing needs of TNM’s operations, while sustaining profitability. Going forward, the company, which exceeded the two million mobile subscriber mark in July 2013, says it plans to continue introducing new products and services at affordable prices, while also striving to maintain network service quality.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:30:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Armenian fixed and mobile operator ArmenTel (trading as Beeline) says it received just 1,642 applications from people wishing to port their existing mobile number to its network in the month following the launch of mobile number portability (MNP) in the country on 1 April. The company’s press officer Tatevik Hayrumyan said of the new regime: ‘The most important thing is that this service works. For us it is important that subscribers who use the MNP service to switch to other operators do not feel any discomfort. We have not received complaints from subscribers.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:29:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

T-Mobile Czech Republic has confirmed plans to cover 51% of the population and 73% of the territory with its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network by the end of this year, while the cellco’s combined 3G/LTE network infrastructure will reach 93% of inhabitants in 80% of the country by the same date. The cellco, part of the Deutsche Telekom Group, is investing CZK4 billion (USD202.9 million) in 4G – including buying the licence – and plans to invest an additional CZK13 billion in the coming years. It has already launched LTE commercially in the 800MHz band in the district of Plzen-South in Prague and will continue to extend to other parts of the capital with the aim of covering the entire city by October this year. It also plans to begin pilot trials of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) functionality on the network by the year end.

Yesterday’s CommsUpdate reported that T-Mobile CR and rival Telefonica O2 CR have signed an agreement to share LTE networks across the country by the end of this year – excepting the cities of Prague and Brno. Under the plan, the pair will start tests on the sharing of Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, but will retain control over their own network infrastructure and maintain separate business strategies. It is hoped that upon conclusion of trials in the coming months, a commercial launch will follow in the second half of 2014, with Telefonica O2 CR and T-Mobile CR sharing transmitters in order to speed up the use of their LTE networks in the country earlier than the date set by the government’s auction. Telefonica O2 CR will be responsible for looking after the eastern part of the country, while T-Mobile will look after operations in the west of the Republic. The pair say initial data speeds will reach a peak of 75Mbps.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:28:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
One year after the official launch of fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile services in Brazil, the country was home to 2.077 million 4G connections by 31 March 2014, while LTE coverage has been extended to 99 cities where around 36% of Brazilians reside, according to data from telecoms regulator Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes (Anatel) and the SindiTelebrasil telcos association. Despite the relatively poor take-up of 4G, the pair note that all domestic carriers were able to launch advanced mobile services within the timeframe established by the watchdog. As at 1 April, Telefonica (Vivo) was reportedly the largest player in the segment with around 858,000 LTE accesses, followed by TIM Brasil (676,000), Claro Brasil (321,000) and Oi (222,700).

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:27:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the country’s leading telco in terms of subscribers, has announced that it has passed around 900,000 households with its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network. Going forward, the operator will continue to extend the footprint of its fibre network although no time-frame has been provided; the FTTH network supports downlink speeds of up to 200Mbps.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, STC introduced its FTTH services in August 2010, with the service being available in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam at launch. Over 600 locations in sixteen cities/towns were covered by October 2013, and by year-end the company revealed that a total of 830,000 households had been covered by the network.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 7:25:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 01, 2014
According to the latest data published by Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel, the country was home to a total of 273.58 million mobile phone subscriptions at 31 March 2014, up a net 860,210 connections on the previous month and compared to the 370,020 new connections added in the month of February. Mobile market leader Telefonica (Vivo) increased its slice of the pie in the month of March, from 28.62% to 28.68%, while second-placed TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) saw its market share rise from 27.00% to 27.02%. However, number three player – America Movil (AM)-owned Claro (Brasil) reported a drop in market share to 25.13% from 25.28% in February. Finally, fourth-placed Oi SA closed out the period with an 18.49% share, down from 18.47%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:27:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Gabon has announced details of its 3G mobile network expansion plans, following the official launch of its commercial W-CDMA/HSPA+ services in the Gabonese capital Libreville. At the launch event, Airtel Gabon officials including CEO Antoine Pamboro said that the cellco will gradually cover the whole country, following the first-phase commercial launch which currently covers only the northern part of Libreville, Agence Ecofin reported. The area covered by the W-CDMA/HSPA+ network runs from Downtown to Agondje Stadium, the CEO clarified, adding that the second phase will take place in the next quarter and will focus on covering southern Libreville, an area defined as extending ‘from downtown to PK12, including Owendo’, the executive elaborated. He continued that by the end of the third quarter of 2014 a third-phase rollout will introduce 3G services to Gabon’s second largest city, Port Gentil. Pamboro stated that a fourth-phase 3G deployment scheduled to be completed by the end of the year will see 3G coverage reach all provincial capitals.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:26:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT, including cellco Mobitel) has agreed with the country’s Board of Investment (BoI) a commitment of USD415.44 million to be spent within the next two years on expanding and upgrading broadband, telephony, information technology and converged network infrastructure. According to the partly state-owned telco’s press release, the BoI agreement signing on 23 April 2014 covers ‘the expansion of multi-faceted national ICT infrastructures’, including: internet data centres, voice telephony, enterprise and wholesale services, fixed broadband access including fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), IPTV (‘Peo TV’), fibre-optic transmission networks, 4G LTE mobile broadband, international connectivity and Wi-Fi wireless broadband.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:25:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), through its mobile divisions Smart Communications and Digitel (Sun Cellular), is on course to achieve 100% coverage of the country by the third quarter of this year, having already completed the rollout of a 650km submarine fibre cable linking Palawan province to the rest of its national backbone. The PHP861 million (USD19.3 million) Palawan link formed part of a wider fibre-optic rollout programme, which now spans more than 78,000km. Speaking to reporters in November 2013, PLDT/Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno said that the group’s 3G coverage would stand at ‘75% to 80% by first quarter’ of 2014. The 3G network provides more capacity, faster data rates and richer data and video applications than a second-generation network.

PLDT has allotted PHP32 billion for capital investments this year. The amount will be spent largely on expanding and improving the group’s network coverage including the ultra-fast 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Backbone
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:23:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Orange Group has announced the milestone of ten million customers of its Africa-Middle East mobile money service ‘Orange Money’, which is now available in 13 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt (under the name Mobicash), Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal and Uganda. In 2013, Orange says more than EUR2.2 billion (USD3.04 billion) in transactions were conducted through Orange Money. The French group added that in some countries, such as Cote d’Ivoire, more than 40% of all Orange mobile customers have an Orange Money account. Orange executive Stephane Richard called it ‘proof that we made the right choice when we decided to offer mobile payment services in 2008,’ and added: ‘While making a strong contribution to economic and social development, mobile financial services also represent a major growth engine in Africa and the Middle East as well as in Europe for Orange.’ TeleGeography notes that Orange is just one amongst the multinational mobile groups who are all expanding their mobile banking/payment/money transfer services to meet demand; regional rival group MTN reported this week that its Mobile Money service reached a total of 16.6 million registered users across Africa and the Middle East at the end of March 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:20:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Group, a leading emerging market mobile operator, reported a ‘satisfactory performance’ in the first quarter of 2014, with subscriber growth of 1.1% quarter-on-quarter pushing the group’s total to 210.065 million in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East by the start of April. Data revenues as a proportion of total revenue continue to bolster the carrier’s performance, it said, increasing 43.3% year-on-year and contributing 17.0% of total revenue, while the encouraging progress of its ‘Mobile Money’ service saw total registered users top 16.6 million at the end of the period under review. The operator’s MTN South Africa unit ‘continued to focus on regaining relevance in the pre-paid segment and maintaining its post-paid market share’, despite which, the subsidiary’s subscriber base dipped a net 824,768 to 24.875 million customers at 31 March, marginally below the 24.950 million recorded at end-March 2013. MTN said the fall is mainly due to the disconnection of 973,064 subscribers who had been showing activity but not generating revenue as per its 90-day ‘active user’ definition. Data subscribers increased to 14.5 million by 1Q14, largely due to competitive data packages and the launch of the cellco’s low-cost ‘Steppa’ smartphone. Blended ARPU decreased by 11.3% to ZAR100.47 (USD9.50) per month. Further, MTN South Africa says it remains committed to seeking a permanent resolution to the recent mobile termination rate (MTR) glide path and asymmetry regulations announced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which came into effect on 1 April for a period of six months.

Meanwhile, the group’s MTN Nigeria unit delivered a satisfactory performance during the three months under review, and increased its subscriber base despite the one-month ban on the sale of SIMs imposed by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), for three of the four GSM operators active in the market. MTN Nigeria had a total of 57.2224 million subscribers at 31 March, up 0.8% from 56.766 million three months earlier and 51.295 million at the end of 1Q13. In its filing, MTN Group said that: ‘Encouragingly we have seen strong subscriber growth post the lifting of the ban’. MTN’s Nigerian unit has also worked hard to improve its network quality and capacity, with 483 2G and 597 3G sites added during the January-March quarter. Partly as a result, MTN Nigeria reported strong growth in 3G enabled devices on the network, which increased to 7.1 million in the quarter.

The group’s ‘Large opco cluster’, which includes operations in Iran, Ghana, Syria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Uganda and Sudan, ended March with a total of 95.540 million users, up 2.2% q-o-q and up from 89.318 million subscribers at 31 March 2013. Finally, the ‘Small opco cluster’ (comprising units in Yemen, Afghanistan, Benin, Congo [Republic], Zambia, Guinea (Conakry), Rwanda, Cyprus, Liberia, Botswana, Guinea-Bissau, Swaziland and South Sudan) registered 32.426 million connections, up from 31.882 million at the start of the year and 29.825 million at end-March 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:19:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mauritian telecoms regulators the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA), are reportedly working on the development of a quality of service (QoS) guide for internet service providers (ISPs) in the country, Agence Ecofin reports. According to the article, the QoS guidance will impose a minimum speed threshold for broadband access, with ISPs likely to be required to indicate all relevant service specifications in a customer’s contract.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:18:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |