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 Wednesday, 08 February 2012

Mobile number portability (MNP) will be available to Bangladeshi cellphone users in around a year, according to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Zia Ahmed. The regulatory chief told that MNP is expected to be introduced after the BTRC and the telecoms ministry set out guidelines and implement some new technological solutions. Ahmed said that the regulator had begun initiatives to introduce the service after ‘resolving some technological issues.’ The parliamentary standing committee on the telecoms ministry recommended that the industry watchdog introduce MNP within the current year, at a meeting on 8 January. The issue was included in the 2G mobile licence renewal guidelines, and a four-member committee led by a director was formed to prepare guidelines on number portability – which are nearly finished, according to the report. Aside from technical issues, cost/revenue sharing agreements between operators related to MNP must be settled.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:51:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Australian government has opened the Darwin fibre-optic link which stretches more than 3,800km from Darwin to Toowoomba, passing through more than 30 towns. The link will benefit more than 160,000 people across Queensland and the Northern Territory. The opening of the Darwin fibre link also marks the completion of the entire network construction phase of the government's AUD 250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP). The programme has now delivered over 6,000 km of fibre backbone across regional Australia, benefiting around 400,000 people and more than 100 regional locations. This also forms part of th­e National Broadband Network. Nextgen Networks was responsible for the roll-out of approximately 6,000km of backbone infrastructure, as well as operating and maintaining the backbone transmission links for an initial five-year period.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:50:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The EU Parliament is pushing for much steeper reductions in roaming fees than those proposed last year by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes. According to a draft proposal seen by Reuters, the parliament is aiming for a rate of EUR 0.15 per minute, compared with Kroes's plan for a one-third cut to EUR 0.24. Mobile data would be capped at EUR 0.20 per MB, rather than EUR 0.50 under the European Commission's proposal. Angelika Niebler, a German politician steering the proposed regulation through parliament, said mobile operators should not charge customers differently depending on where they are. "There should really be no roaming (fees) at a time when we are supposed to have a single market," Niebler said in an interview. The two sides are set to debate the measures in the coming months with the aim of arriving at a compromise law that would be phased in over three years. Under the parliament's proposal, the caps proposed by Kroes would come into force in July 2012, with its steeper cuts implemented in 2013 and 2014. Niebler's draft proposal would lower the cost of incoming calls to 5 cents per minute by 2014, half the rate proposed by Kroes, and c­ut the price of a text message by 50 percent to EUR 0.05. The current caps are EUR 0.35 per minute for outgoing calls and EUR 0.11 for incoming calls.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:49:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The French telecoms regulator Arcep has published a press release reminding all mobile operators who are members of the EGP-EIG (the body responsible for managing mobile number portability [MNP] in the country) of their non-discrimination and transparency obligations regarding portability. The regulator notes that since the arrival of fresh competition in the shape of Free Mobile on 12 January, EGP-EIG and mobile operators alike have been contending with an upsurge in MNP requests, which have increased from an average 12,000 a day in 2011, to 40,000 today – the current system’s maximum capacity. Indeed, Arcep reports that on 13 January it informed EGP-EIG of ‘the urgent need to implement all of the means necessary to handle this exceptional surge in the number of portability requests’.

The regulator has therefore welcomed a joint announcement from the cellcos and EGP-EIG on Friday 27 January that they have agreed in principle to increase the system’s processing capacity to 80,000 portability requests per day, in an incremental fashion to avoid putting the MNP system in France in peril. Arcep has also invited operators to increase the capacity of their respective information systems proportionately. Furthermore, the chairman of the regulatory authority has sent a memo to all concerned, reminding them that, in accordance with the applicable rules, they must ‘ensure compliance with the principle of non-discrimination and provide consumers with clear and transparent information on how mobile number portability requests are processed’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:47:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Mexican government aims to promote high speed internet adoption in part by the sale of concessions which will allow the winning bidders to utilise state-owned fibre-optic lines and to build networks in those areas that currently do not have access to broadband services. According to Bloomberg, the initiative will see the government conduct auctions that will include contracts to use two fibre-optic lines from state-owned powerco Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), while bids will also be taken on the use of fibre links running on along the federal highway network. Mexican president Felipe Calderon is pushing the move with a view to boosting the country’s standings in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of broadband uptake; as per the group’s recent report, Mexico had 10.5 broadband subscriptions per 100 residents at the end of 2010, a figure placing it 32 out of the 34 countries in the organisation. Commenting on the plans, President Calderon noted: ‘We’re promoting social connectivity with broadband.’

The move is not the government’s first in the fibre sector; as noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Mexico announced plans to auction off access to two unused portions of a nationwide fibre-optic network in May 2009, in order to boost broadband competition. Subsequently, in June 2009 the Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) announced that CFE had formally requested the regulator auction the two fibre portions on its behalf, but some industry figures criticised the proposals as not going far enough, claiming that the CFE had 36 fibre strands suitable for sale, and calling on the state-run entities to consider expanding the scope of the auction. Despite the calls for an extended tender, bidding for the two fibre strands started on 27 January 2010, with a minimum combined bid for all three sections of MXN858.6 million (USD66.13 million). With the state having set a 5 April 2010 deadline for bids, a joint venture between Megacable, Telefonica and Televisa JV emerged as the sole bidder for the fibre links in May 2010. The following month the SCT confirmed the consortium had been awarded the licence allowing access to the two strands of dark fibre, and having bid MXN884 million in the auction, the trio also revealed that they plan to spend a combined MXN1.3 billion on upgrading the infrastructure for future use.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:46:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brazil’s national regulator Anatel has ordered local telecoms operators to reduce tariffs by 10.78% starting from 24 February, Dow Jones reports. In a statement published yesterday, the watchdog is looking to reduce prices of calls from fixed to mobile numbers and also for mobile to mobile calls, it said. It hopes the move will further boost consumer take-up and in so doing compensate for any initial losses to operators revenues. Under the plan the cost of a call from a fixed line to a mobile phone will come down from BRL0.546 (USD0.311) per minute to BRL0.487. The regulator has also ordered similar reductions from the start of 2013 and 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:45:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ukraine’s Ukrtelecom reports that its 3G mobile subscriber base increased in December 2011 by 4.5% or 34,000 users, to reach 790,200 active SIMs as of 1 January 2012. As reported by CommsUpdate, Ukrtelecom is in the process of selecting a buyer for its W-CDMA/HSPA-based cellular operations, after accepting second-round bid proposals up to a deadline of 25 November 2011. In September Ukrtelecom announced it was transferring all assets of its mobile business from its internal Utel division into a newly formed company, TriMob, for sale, effective from 1 January.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:44:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Argentina will launch the mobile number portability system in March this year. Mobile operator Personal has already launched an informative campaign on its website instructing users how to use the new service. Argentina approved the introduction of the number portability system in August 2010, but the system launch has been delayed until now. The number portabil­ity service will be available for individual and business customers across Argentina, using either postpaid or prepay mobile services. Customers will be able to port their number free of charge for the first time. Further number portings will be charged, Infobae reports. Customers who port their number will be required to remain in the recipient operator's network for a minimum of 60 days.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:43:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a Direction to all telecom operators on the publication of tariff plans, in a bid to offer greater transparency for telecom subscribers in choosing their tariff plans.

According to the report, the Direction asks for all tariff plans meant for pre-paid and post-paid subscribers to be published in separate formats. Further, in order to facilitate easy comparison across tariff plans, these formats should contain all the tariff plans offered by the telecom access service provider in a service area inclusive of all tariff items along with the respective tariff in tabular formats at one place.

The Direction also states that all the tariff plans should be made available to the subscribers in the prescribed formats at the customer care centres, points of sale/retail outlets as well as on the website of the telecom access service provider. Also, the telecom access service provider is required to ensure that the tariff plans published in the prescribed formats are updated on their website and customer care centre every time there is a change in any of the tariff plans, and make available the updated tariff plans in these formats by the 7th day of January, April, July and October at their points of sale and retail outlets.

As per the Direction, it is mandatory for the telecom access service provider to publish all the tariff plans in prescribed formats in at least one regional language and one English newspaper at an interval of not more than six months, and provide compliance to the regulatory authority.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Wednesday, 08 February 2012 11:41:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 07 February 2012

News agency ARKA reports Armenia’s National Statistical Service (NSO) as saying that the country’s communications services sector generated earnings of AMD158 billion (USD408.5 million) last year, broadly unchanged on the total for 2010. The NSO’s report said revenue from fixed telephony services fell by 14.6% last year to AMD29.3 billion, while earning from mobile phone services dipped by 2.6% year-on-year to AMD96.1 billion. The statistics bureau went on to add that overall revenues from telecoms, TV and radio broadcasting rose by 0.5% to more than AMD172.2 billion.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:58:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Figures published by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) show that the country was home to 15.034 million fixed and mobile telephony users at 14 December 2011 (Nepal calendar: Magh, 2068), up from 13.762 million three months earlier (Bharda, 2068), a combined teledensity of 56.46% (up from 48.14%). At that date the regulator said there were more than 13.354 million mobile connections – broken down as 12.498 million (GSM) and 856,234 (CDMA) – and 845,542 fixed lines in service (618,426 PSTN and 227,116 WiLL). Furthermore, the watchdog noted that some 832,366 people were using Land Mobile Services (LMS) and 1,742 had a Global Mobile Personal Communication System (GMPCS) satellite phone. In addition, the total number of broadband connections in the mountain Kingdom at 14 December 2011 stood at 125,151, including 77,737 (ADSL), 30,495 (wireless or fibre-optic) and 16,919 (cable modem) lines. More than a million people were also hooked up to the internet via a (sub-broadband) GPRS or CDMA2000 1x link and 19,671 were using dial-up.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:56:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Morocco’s Agence Nationale de Reglementation de Telecom (ANRT) reports that the country had 36.554 million mobile subscribers at the end of December 2011, an increase of 404,000 in the fourth quarter and up from 31.982 million twelve months earlier. According to the regulator’s calculations this gives the country a cellular penetration of 113.6%. The ANRT claimed that Maroc Telecom held onto a 46.9% share of subscribers at the end of 2011, down from 52.8% a year previously, while Medi Telecom (Meditel) had 32.9% (down from 33.7%) and Wana (Inwi) accounted for 20.2% (up from 13.5%). In the 3G mobile internet sector, data-only subscriptions reached 1.499 million at the end of December 2011, a growth rate of 6.83% over the previous quarter, while the number of mobile voice-plus-data subscriptions reached 1.091 million, up by 17.83% quarter-on-quarter. Total 3G mobile broadband subscribers stood at 2.591 million as of 31 December 2011, representing an 11.2% growth rate in the fourth quarter, and 89.58% on an annual basis. At the end of the year, the mobile broadband market shares were: Maroc Telecom 42.53%, Meditel 34.99% and Wana 22.48%.

The watchdog also reported that mobile voice traffic leapt up by 65.6% in 2011, to 23.315 billion minutes, reflecting price reductions. In contrast, in the fixed line sector, voice traffic was down by 9.4% in the year to 5.487 billion minutes. In terms of subscribers, too, the fixed line market shrunk slightly in 2011, with 3.566 million lines in service at the end of December, down from 3.749 million year-on-year. 61% (2.295 million) of the total connections were based on limited mobility CDMA technology, a large majority of which are provided by Wana. This was the first time since 2006 that the total fixed line subscriber market had declined. In terms of overall market share in the fixed line (including limited mobility) sector, Wana accounted for 64.59% of customers at end-2011, Maroc Telecom claimed 34.79% and Meditel 0.62%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 14:55:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 02 February 2012

Ecuadorian regulator Supertel reports that the country’s mobile operators reached 15.8 million telephony subscribers between them at the end of 2011, compared to 15 million a year earlier. Market shares were only fractionally changed from a year ago: Claro, the local subsidiary of America Movil, claimed around 70% of the total, with Telefonica unit Movistar Ecuador serving around 28% of users and state-backed CNT bringing up the rear with a 2% share.

Growth of the total market is being affected by the implementation of compulsory pre-paid mobile user registration; Ecuadorian SIM card owners were given nine months from 5 July 2011 to register their details on a national database or have their services limited from 5 April 2012 to incoming calls or messages only. In July 2012 all remaining unregistered SIMs will be disconnected.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 02 February 2012 10:58:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 27 January 2012

The number of Brazilian municipalities covered by the country’s national fixed broadband plan (Plano Nacional de Banda Larga, or PNBL), now stands at 692, the communications ministry reports on its website. A total of 471 municipalities were covered in 2011, but the footprint has increased significantly through the addition of 221 new cities in January, it said. The goal is to reach a total of 4,424 cities by 2017. The ministry has published a full list of the cities covered by low-cost services from TNL (Oi), Telefonica Brazil and Sercomtel (Algar Telecom) – each of which is offering internet access capped at BRL35 (USD19.9) per month.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 27 January 2012 09:30:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Equatorial Guinea has launched a telecoms operator called Gecomsa (Guinea Ecuatorial Comunicaciones Sociedad Anonima). Equatorial Guinea is currently served by two telecoms operators – Getesa and Hits. Gecomsa will provide mobile voice and internet services across Equatorial Guinea. Gecomsa is a joint venture between the government of Equatorial Guinea, which owns a 51 pe­rcent stake in the company, and the government of China with the remaining 49 percent.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 27 January 2012 09:30:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 25 January 2012

­The UMTS Forum has announced that global connections to the 3GPP family of Third Generation/IMT-2000 mobile networks have passed the one billion mark.

Representing almost a fifth of all mobile connections worldwide, the one billion total spans customers of WCDMA, HPSA/HSPA+ and LTE networks. This figure also includes around 50 million subscriptions to TD-SCDMA networks -- the Chinese 3G system.

Global 3G connections are boosted by a further 225 million CDMA2000 1xEV-DO subscribers, mainly in Asia and North America. Standardised separately from 3GPP, 1xEV-DO is the technology recognized by the ITU as part of the IMT-2000 family of third generation systems.

Of almost 400 3GPP-family 3G networks worldwide, the vast majority (over 385) have now implemented HSPA that gives data speeds in the 2-14 Mbps range. Furthermore, around 140 network operators are using HSPA+ technology to deliver even higher peak theoretical speeds of up to 42 Mbps for their customers.

After the first LTE networks launched commercially in December 2009, commercial LTE deployments now number almost 50 networks, with over 150 operators committed to launch the technology. In a second step, 4G/LTE-Advanced -- recently standardised by ITU -- will be commercialised by 2015, promising theoretical peak data rates in the region of 1 Gigabit/s.

"The commercial success of 3G around the world is unarguable, with 3GPP/UMTS as the leading standard", states UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé. "Capitalising on that success, 3GPP/LTE will become the global wireless standard, around which current mobile technologies will converge for the benefits of customers in terms of roaming, interoperability, and a seamless mobile broadband experience".

Taking the end of 2009 as "Year Zero" for commercial LTE deployments, there are fast approaching 10 million subscriptions to LTE networks.

"While forecasts vary, some observers predict that LTE subscriptions will ramp up faster than the birth of 3G a decade ago", notes Bienaimé. "As the classical constraints on consumer uptake are removed - notably terminal availability and pricing -- it's already looking likely that demand for LTE will hit mass market volumes from 2013."

Source: Cellular News.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012 09:45:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 20 January 2012

China is on track to surpass 1 billion mobile connections before the end of the current quarter, fuelled by growth in 3G which will soon account for a quarter of the country's connections. According to Wireless Intelligence, China ended 2011 with 973.7 million connections, up about 16 percent year-on-year. The number of 3G connections surpassed 200 million in Q4 and accounted for 22 percent of the total. Market penetration is estimated at 72 percent, up almost 10 percent from a year ago. ­3G is now accounting for almost 80 percent of new connections in the country and 3G net additions in Q4 are estimated at 26.8 million out of a total 34.2 million. China Mobile remains the country's market leader, with an estimated 648.7 million connections in Q4, giving it a 67 percent market share. However, 3G connections account for just 8 percent of China Mobile's total base. 3G accounted for 20 percent of the total at second-placed Unicom, while third-placed China Telecom had 26 percent of its base migrated to 3G.

Source: Telecom Paper.

3G | Mobile
Friday, 20 January 2012 11:33:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 19 January 2012

Tariffs for mobile broadband on laptops, netbooks and tablets have fallen slightly in the past half year in most Western European countries, according to the latest research from Telecompaper. The average monthly cost was down in ten out of the 16 countries surveyed, although prices vary significantly still across countries. The Netherlands has moved from the most expensive in Q1 2009 to seventh place in Q4 2011. Mobile broadband prices for laptops and tablets were still the lowest in Finland, the UK and Ireland, based on the average monthly rate, while Switzerland, France and Spain remain the most expensive. In the past, unlimited, affordable subscriptions were the norm in order to stimulate use of mobile data. Today the majority of operators have switched to tiered pricing, with data allowances and speed reductions after using a certain volume of data. The huge growth in mobile broadband use, both on phones and other devices, is driving­ operators to develop new pricing models, in order to support further development of their networks. This means that consumers can expect to continue to pay more for data used.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:46:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Kyrgyz mobile operator Megacom has announced the commercial launch of its third-generation wireless network, offering services such as videocalling, mobile TV and high speed mobile broadband. Services are initially available in the capital Bishkek, but the company plans to expand 3G network coverage to Kant, Tokmok and Kara-Balta in Chuy province by March 2012, with other regions, including Naryn, to follow later in the year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:43:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chile’s telecoms regulator Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel) has announced the launch of mobile number portability (MNP), which commenced on 16 January. Chilean wireless subscribers are now able to switch providers whilst retaining their phone number. Subtel encouraged customer mobility further with a ban earlier this month, forbidding the sale of carrier-locked handsets, and imposing on operators an obligation to unlock devices for free.

Subtel reported that in the first day that the service was operational, 1,190 subscribers switched provider, with Entel gaining the most new users from the service, and Telefonica Moviles Chile (Movistar) losing the most. Entel saw net additions of 333 customers, mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Grupo GTD gained nine new customers, and Nextel added just two. Claro and Movistar saw net losses of 66 and 279 respectively. All of the nation’s telcos chose to absorb the CLP377 (USD0.74) fee per number ported.

Whilst MNP was launched nationwide simultaneously, fixed number portability (FNP) is being launched region by region, having started in Arica in December last year. Santiago will be the next region to receive the service in March, with the final areas due to receive the service by the end of February next year. Subtel has launched a separate website ( to inform customers of the changes and to assist with the porting process.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:40:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Kyrgyzstan mobile operator Megacom has launched its 3G network in Bishkek. The Chuya region also will be covered with the network soon, and 3G services will be launched in other regions later. Megacom said customers will have access to data services up to 30 times faster and the cost of 1MB of traffic will be three times cheaper. Customers can choose from three types of billing: an anytime rate for 3G or GPRS at KGS 1.95 per MB, subscribe to a bundle of data and pay as little as KGS 0.23, or take the plan for tablets and USB modems and pay KGS 1.5 per MB during the day and KGS 0.75 at night. The Huawei E173 USB modem supporting speeds up to 7.2Mbps is available for KGS 1,650 and come­s with 10MB data per day free for 30 days.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:38:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Albania’s telecoms watchdog the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (Akep) has invited interested parties to bid for a third 3G concession by 24 February. The licence will authorise the use of 2×15MHz of paired spectrum in the 1950MHz-1965MHz and 2140MHz-2155MHz bands and an unpaired 5MHz spectrum block in 1910MHz-1915MHz range. Akep has set a minimum bid of EUR12.5 million (USD15.8 million) for the concession, the same amount stipulated in its previous 3G tenders. As with the existing 3G concessions, the licence requires that the operator’s network must achieve population coverage of 35% in the first six months, 65% within twelve months, and 85% in 18 months.

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Akep awarded the nation’s first 3G licence to Vodafone in November 2010, with a second granted in June 2011 to Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC). Akep’s decision to issue concessions individually has been widely criticised by the country’s four cellcos, which have expressed their concern that single licences might encourage anti-competitive behaviour.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:36:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has set the date for the country's often-delayed 3G auction as the 29th March 2012.

PTA Chairman, Mohammed Yaseen told the Reuters news agency that the base price for the auction would be $210 million.

"We're expecting 10 to 15 potential investors in the initial bidding process," Yaseen told Reuters.

The 3G licenses will vary from 8 to 15 years in duration, and there will be a $31.5 million deposit for any bidders.

Any incumbent mobile networks awarded a 3G license will be able to offer services immediately, although new entrants will not be allowed into the market until March 2013. This is due to an agreement not to offer any new radio spectrum when the government sold a 26% stake in the state-owned Pakistan Telecommunications Company in 2006 to Etisalat.

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:34:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the Brazilian telecoms regulator Anatel, the country was home to more than 242.2 million mobile SIMs at the end of December 2011, a cellular penetration of 123.97%. Net additions for the year reached 39.3 million, it said, including 6.1 million in December alone. At the year end, Anatel reported that 191.2 million connections were for pre-paid users, equivalent to 81.8% of the total base, with the remainder (44 million, or 18.2%) on monthly contracts. Telefonica-Vivo closed out the year in top spot, with 29.54% of the market (71.55 million users), ahead of TIM Brasil with 26.46% (64.08 million), which leapfrogged Claro Brazil (24.93%, or 60.38 million) in the process. Fourth place was taken by Telemar Norte Leste (Oi) which secured 45.48 million subscribers, equivalent to 18.78% of the market, and regional operator CTBC Cellular (Algar Telecom) had a total of 653,905 subscribers, or 0.07% of the sector. Anatel also noted that 3G devices (including handsets and dongles) topped 41.1 million at 31 December 2011, up 99.3% year-on-year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:33:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Venezuela’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries (MPPCTII) has given a presentation in which it points out that the country’s telecoms sector grew from 3.6 million fixed line subscribers in 2007 to 6.32 million at the end of 2011, an increase of 76.5% over five years. Overall, since the re-privatisation of national PSTN operator CANTV, the telco saw 79% growth in its fixed line base, the MPPCTII added. The ministry also stated that CANTV’s mobile division Movilnet reached 14.8 million subscribers by the end of 2011, up from 8.3 million customers over the same timeframe. Other statistics quoted included that Venezuela ended 2011 with 11,482km of fibre-optic backbone infrastructure in service, with around 6,000km expected to be added to the network in 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:30:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has announced that there were 128 million 3G subscribers in the country at the end of 2011.

Of the total, 51.2 million used China Mobile TD-SCDMA network, while 40 million were on China Unicom's WCDMA network and the remaining 37.2 million used China Telecom's CDMA network.

The Ministry also confirmed that there are 814,000 3G base stations in the country, with 220,000 being TD-SCDMA, 270,000 WCDMA and 324,500 CDMA2000 EV-DO base stations.

Source: Cellular News.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:29:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of subscribers using Zain Jordan’s 3G services reached 700,000 by the end of 2011, according to the company’s CEO Ahmad Al Hanandeh. The chief executive told local daily The Jordan Times that the number was likely to double in 2012, as a result of legislation exempting smartphones from tax. In August last year, the government removed the sales tax on high-end handsets, reducing the price to end users by between JOD88 and JOD100 (USD123.77 and USD140.65). Zain launched its 3G service in March last year and had signed up 41,000 subscribers by the end of that month. Jordan’s third mobile provider, Bahrain-backed Umniah, announced late last year that, having previously abstained from 3G offerings on the grounds that the market was not ready, it too would launch a foray into the 3G sector in 2012. In its announcement, Umniah noted that the increasing availability of smartphones had influenced its decision.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 11:08:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Hungarian telecoms watchdog the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) says the total number of mobile subscriptions in the country reached 11.642 million at 31 December 2011, although net additions only inched up marginally by 47,000 in the last month of the year. Excluding ‘inactive’ accounts, the NMHH said active mobile subscriptions (i.e. where a call was made within the past three months) topped 11.10 million at the same date – with December net additions standing at 112.000. T-Mobile Hungary’s market share based on active users stood at 45.40% by the year end, up from 45.38% in November, Telenor’s fell to 31.98% from 32.03% and Vodafone’s rose to 22.63% from 22.59%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 19 January 2012 08:25:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 18 January 2012

MTN Swaziland has launched a new campaign titled ‘airtime for education’ for its prepaid subscribers enabling them to win one of the seven school fee packages. According to reports, users will need to recharge with a minimum of US$ 1.23 daily to be able to win the price worth US$ 185.

As per sources, Ambrose Dlamini, CEO, MTN has said that through this promotion they aim to offer consumers relevant rewards and better engage with them. He added that MTN is a happy brand and they are determined to fully explore this trait. They want their customers to interact more with the brand and derive a satisfactory level of fun and excitement for being MTN customers.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:40:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of broadband lines worldwide grew by 17.4 million in the third quarter of 2011 to a total 581.3 million, according to latest figures from Point Topic for the Broadband Forum. This is the highest quarterly additions since early 2009 and represents annual growth of 12.9 percent in the total base. DSL remained the dominant access technology with 61.5 percent of all lines, after adding more subscribers than any other technology in Q3. However, in percentage terms both FTTH and FTTx/hybrid technologies showed the highest growth at 8 percent overall, compared to 2.2 percent for cable and 2 percent for DSL. FTTx added just under 19 million lines in Q3, more than double the number in the same period last year, bringing its market share to 16 percent, just behind cable at 19.5 percent. Asia was the biggest geographic market and showed the strongest growth, up 4.3 percent quarterly to 246.06 million lines. This was driven by China which added over 8 million lines in Q3 for a total 152.5 million at the end of September 2011. Europe grew 2.3 percent sequentially to 173.3 million lines­, and the Americas were up 1.9 percent to 144.53 million. Meanwhile the IPTV market grew by 6.1 percent to 54.4 million users. This was led by growth in France (the biggest market for IPTV), China and Russia; the latter entered the top ten markets for IPTV for the first time, in seventh place.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:39:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Free has gone for low prices, which it says are 2.5 times cheaper than the lowest priced offer at its rivals. Unlimited calls, SMS and MMS, including calls to 40 other countries, costs EUR 20 per month and also includes 3GB of data use. Existing broadband subscribers pay only EUR 16 per month for the same plan. No subscription contract is required, unless the customer opts for a handset such as the iPhone. A basic offer of 60 minutes and 60 SMS per month is also available for EUR 2, or free for existing Free customers. Free has said the prices are valid for only the first 3 million mobile customers (it already has almost 5 million broadband subscribers). This may mean the price will go up slightly later to drive ARPU growth.

Free is known for its simple business model, aimed at quickly building market share: a triple play costs EUR 30 per month, the hardware (Freebox) and software are largely developed in house and it is continually adding new services. This saves on most marketing costs. The model is similar to that of HKBN in Hong Kong (see our commentary 'City Telecom sets the good example for FTTH operators'): low prices, innovative services and a shift away from marketing to sales spending. HKBN does this through its call centre, which has as many employees as the rest of the company combined (1,500 each). The call centre actively upsells services, pro-actively targeting customers in order to sell more services per subscriber and increase ARPU.

The question is whether Iliad can reproduce this model on the mobile market. A low price is an important part of the strategy, and the company has clearly succeeded in that - there could very possibly be a flood of customers now that it has started taking on subscribers. It is also a fitting strategy for a newcomer, which has no 'burden' of legacy revenues such as voice/SMS to worry about losing, nor an existing mobile organisation or (GSM, UMTS) network to maintain. At Free, innovation is driven by its own development team and CPE. In addition there is an active external community developing apps for the Free platform. While Free is unlikely to take on developing its own handsets, the move into mobile may stimulate both its internal and external developers to step up the creation of new services and apps.

What remains is a newcomer that can credit itself with starting a price war. In this sense it's an interesting case study for the Netherlands, where there is a good chance a new fourth operator will also soon emerge. Dutch consumers can hope that Tele2 Netherlands and Ziggo4 (Ziggo/UPC) take Free Mobile's example close to heart. Even for the existing operators, Free Mobile is an operator to keep a close eye on in the coming quarters. 

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:37:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Free Mobile has announced the prices of its new service, staying true to its promise of simple tariffs and to halve consumer bills. The company started signing up new customers on the morning of 10 January, effectively launching France's fourth mobile network. For customers new to Free, the unlimited package costs EUR 19.99 a month with no contract tie-in period, for unlimited calls in France, overseas French territories and 40 international destinations in Europe and the US. The subscription also includes unlimited SMS/MMS and internet with VoIP, Wi-Fi and 3G/3G+ up to 3 GB a month. The operator states that at this price point it is 2.5 times chea­per than the best price of any competitor. Free Mobile has also introduced a EUR 2 a month, no tie-in period contract for 60 minutes of calls and 60 SMS a month. Extra SMS cost EUR 0.05, compared to EUR 0.10 at Orange France and SFR, and EUR 0.09 at Bouygues Telecom. Free Mobile also revealed advantageous pricing for sister company Free's internet customers. The unlimited mobile plan costs EUR 15.99 rather than EUR 19.99 and the 60 min/60 SMS plan is free instead of EUR 2. These prices are reserved to the first 3 million customers. Free Mobile said it offers a range of the best mobile phones on the market and choice will continue to grow with BlackBerry handsets and services still to come. The iPhone 4S will start shipping on 27 January. The 16 GB version will cost EUR 1 for the first month, then EUR 19.99 a month over 36 months. The 8 GB model will cost EUR 1 plus EUR 15 a month over three years. Free Mobile will start taking iPhone 4S orders on 20 January.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:35:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Haiti’s new national full-service telecoms operator Natcom, a joint venture between Vietnam’s Viettel and the Haitian government, has announced that it signed up 500,000 mobile customers after two months of its commercial cellular network launch on 7 September 2011. Viettel also revealed on its website that the number of Natcom’s sales agents and customer service outlets reached 4,000 as of November 2011, doubling the amount at launch. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, between the launch of trial services in July 2011 and its official launch two months later, Natcom attracted 140,000 2G mobile subscribers and ‘thousands’ of 3G internet subscribers, deputy director Tran Sy Tien was quoted as saying, and the company claims to have reached its target of 500,000 users by the end of 2011 early, although it is not yet known if it achieved a goal of 20,000 3G connections amongst this total. Natcom’s Vietnamese parent has invested in the rollout of approximately 1,000 2G and 3G mobile base stations as well as deploying 3,000km of fibre-optic cable, and by end-2012 is aiming for two million mobile subscribers. Haiti’s mobile market is currently led by Digicel, which competes with another GSM provider, the country’s second-largest operator, Voila.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:33:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Data published by the national regulator the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) shows that the mountain Kingdom was home to 14.75 million mobile subscribers at mid-November 2011, after net additions of 2.14 million new connections in the preceding month. At that date overall teledensity (fixed and mobile) stood at 55.41%, according to the NTA’s latest Management Information System report, as fixed lines reached 844,816 (including 228,305 WiLL lines).

Nepal Telecom (NT) added a net 130,000 mobile subscribers in the month to mid-November to boost its total to 7.18 million (including 857,981 CDMA users), while fellow GSM provider Ncell reported close to 6.69 million connections, having added a net 350,000 users in the month under review. Meanwhile, the country’s smaller players fared less well in terms of subscriber growth. United Telecom Limited reached reached 588,307 customers from 585,170 previously, Nepal Satellite Telecom upped its total from 97,280 to 98,985 and Smart Telecom had 193,064 users, up from 179,136 at mid-October.

At the same date the NTA said the total number of internet subscribers stood at 3.75 million, up from 3.59 million a month earlier, with the overwhelming majority (almost 3.44 million) arising from GPRS mobile internet connections. The number of ADSL connections topped 76,740 for NT, with cable modem and other (wireless, fibre-optic) reaching 16,898 and 30,397 respectively.

In a separate development, Nepalese newspaper MyRepublica writes that last Friday the Bills Committee of the cabinet endorsed the amendment to Telecommunication Regulations, raising the licence renewal period for all operators and ISPs to ten years. Until now, service providers have been required to renew their licences every five years. The decision came despite recommendations from both the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) that the government not effect any changes to local telecoms rules, particularly as they were investigating cases of possible anomalies concerning previous licence awards. The Bills Committee seemingly has disregarded this advice and even moved to endorse a provision that could pave the way for the introduction of a Unified Licensing Policy – a proposal still being pushed by the NTA even though the government rejected such a call four years ago.

Finally, the CIAA is also being called upon to carry out a study on the contentious allocation of frequencies for 2G and 3G mobile services, and to look into an ongoing issue of a possible ‘scam’ surrounding voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony in Nepal. The Himalayan News Service reports that a sub-committee of the CIAA is being advised to bring former and current NTA board members into the spotlight of the investigation, and has also hinted it take action against government ministers. The sub-committee — formed on January 13, 2011 — has raised the issue of frequency allocation, 3G frequency distribution without charge, royalty disputes and different standards for different rural telecom service providers in its report.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:32:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, part of France’s Vivendi Universal group, has started deployment of an international high speed fibre-optic submarine cable between Morocco and Spain, named ‘Loukkos’, which is scheduled to be ready for service in March this year. Moroccan newspaper Le Matin reports that the telco’s self-funded MAD143 million (USD16 million) cable linking Asilah in Morocco with Rota, Spain, is being supplied by Alcatel-Lucent unit Alcatel Submarine Networks and CanaLink. The 187km cable will have an initial capacity of 80Gbps, upgradeable to 1.28Tbps, and is designed to add diversity and redundancy to Maroc Telecom’s international traffic routes as well as cope with increasing demand from broadband service users and the trend for international offshoring activities, particularly call centres.

TeleGeography notes that Maroc Telecom part-owns the existing Spain-Morocco undersea fibre-optic cable Estepona-Tetouan, while the telco wholly owns the Atlas Offshore submarine cable linking Asilah in Morocco with Marseille, France, which was completed in April 2007 under a MAD300 million contract with Alcatel-Lucent. The partly state-owned operator also provides landing stations for the SEA-ME-WE-3 consortium cable and the legacy Eurafrica (Morocco-Portugal-France) system. It is also currently engaged in a project to link its African subsidiaries with a land-based international cable system to span Morocco, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Gabon, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:31:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Swaziland has admitted that users of its long-delayed 3G network are experiencing problems with the service due to a lack of bandwidth. Corporate affairs manager Mpumelelo Makhubu told the Times of Swaziland that the South African-owned cellco has applied for additional spectrum from the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), but has yet to receive a response from the regulator. Although Makhubu declined to elaborate on the precise details of the technical issues, the newspaper claims that the ‘network is still sluggish because there is an acute shortage of bandwidth’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, MTN’s 3G network finally launched in October 2011, following a lengthy war of words between the cellco and the SPTC, which saw the latter accuse MTN of making unreasonable demands regarding 3G exclusivity. During the launch event, chief marketing officer Phillip Besiimire confirmed that the cellco had invested nearly SZL300 million (USD37.2 million) on the network, of which SZL37 million went on the long-denied 3G licence. Besiimire added that the company is also obliged to pay the SPTC a percentage of its profits as part of the agreement.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012 09:30:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |