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 Friday, 16 March 2012

Almost half of all households and businesses in Sweden can get broadband with a theoretical rate of at least 100 Mbps. Fibre accounts for the entire increase. This was shown in the 2011 Broadband Survey conducted by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS).

PTS’s Broadband Survey shows that 49 per cent of all households and businesses in Sweden have access to broadband with a theoretical rate of at least 100 Mbps. This represents an increase of approximately five percentage points compared with 2010. This increase is due to fibre being rolled out in the access network.

“A high level of interest in fibre can be seen from both operators and all of the village and local associations around Sweden that are making investments. The survey also shows that an increasingly large proportion of consumers are choosing to purchase the fastest subscriptions. This paves the way for further positive developments in access to fast broadband,” says Göran Marby, Director-General of PTS.

Just over 500,000 households had the fastest subscriptions in October 2011, and this increase corresponds to approximately 140,000 subscriptions.

The Broadband Survey also shows that there was a rapid increase in 2011 in access to broadband with LTE (referred to as ‘4G’) where we live and work, predominantly in larger urban areas. Approximately 48 per cent of households had LTE coverage in 2011, which may be compared with just over a tenth of a per cent in 2010. Access to LTE is expected to increase in areas outside urban areas and small districts in the future in pace with operators rolling out LTE in the 800 MHz band.

The proportion of households and businesses in Sweden residing in, or in the proximity of, a property that is connected to a fibre network increased from 54 per cent to 60 per cent between October 2010 and October 2011.

Source: PTS.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:19:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­The GSA has published an update to its Evolution to LTE report which confirms 301 operators, which is over 50% higher than a year ago, have committed to commercial LTE network deployments or are engaged in trials, technology testing or studies.

242 firm commercial LTE network deployments are either in deployment, commercially launched, or are planned in 81 countries. Another 59 operators in 14 additional countries are engaged in LTE technology trials, tests or studies.

57 LTE operators have launched commercial services, which is 40 higher than reported by GSA one year ago. Commercial LTE services are now available in 32 countries,

Alan Hadden, President of the GSA, said: "LTE services are being introduced at an accelerating rate. We have again raised our market outlook. GSA forecasts at least 128 LTE networks will be in commercial service by end 2012."

LTE commercial network launches per year:

  • 2009 = 2 networks launched
  • 2010 = 15 networks launched
  • 2011 = 31 networks launched
  • 2012 = 9 networks launched (to March 12, 2012)
  • GSA end 2012 forecast = 128 networks

Source: Cellular News.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:17:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azeri mobile operator Azerfon, which provides mobile services under the Nar Mobile brand, has announced the launch of its third-generation network in parts of the Baku Metro. According to a report by news agency Trend, which cites the company’s CEO for business development and communications Leyla Nasrullayeva, 3G services are available at the stations of Sahil, Nasimi, 28 May, Memar Ajemi, Azadlig and Darnagul. Azerfon, which according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database was awarded Azerbaijan’s first 3G licence in December 2009, plans to expand its 3G network to all metro stations in Baku by May 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:14:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­The transformation of the mobile phone from yuppie plaything to a tool that drives economic growth in the developing world is arguably the biggest technology story of the first decade of the 21st century, according to Tom Standage, Digital Editor of The Economist magazine.

Speaking at the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering last month as part of the Vodafone lecture series, Tom echoed Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University's Earth Institute development guru's statement that the humble mobile phone is "the single most transformative tool for development".

He said: "In 2008, three quarters of mobile phones were in developing countries, marking a massive shift from when they were merely playthings for yuppies."

While there are approximately six billion mobile devices used across the world, only a quarter are found in the developed world, which means that the mobile is predominantly a developing world story.

He pointed to Harvard economist Robert Jensen's research measuring the economic impact of mobile phones. By studying the historical price of fish in Kerala, Southern India, Jensen showed that, after the introduction of phone coverage, waste was reduced, consumer prices fell by 4% and fishermen's' profits rose by 8%.

Tom attributed the spread of the mobile phone into some of the world's poorest countries to standardisation, the effect of Moore's Law, (whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years leading to rapid improvements in processing performance of electronic devices), the use of microfinance and pre-paid billing to make mobiles more affordable, and deregulation.

"Healthy competition and deregulation force prices down and mobile penetration grows; even the governments make money by selling licences to operators - it's a win-win," he said.

He pointed to two African countries as proof that bad regulation is more prohibitive to growth than chaos. Ethiopia is one of the last telecoms monopolies and in 2008 had just 3.5% mobile penetration, compared to Africa's average of 40%. Even war-torn Somalia without a government had 8% penetration at the time, proving that "warlords want their phones to work too!"

Mo Ibrahim, Founder of pan-African mobile group Celtel has proved that Africa is open for business. "It's not Western multinationals but local companies with local knowledge that are creating jobs and building mobile companies," said Tom.

He is particularly excited about mobile money. People in Kenya started using airtime as a quasi-currency to transfer funds and pay for goods. Kenya's M-PESA mobile money service now leads the world. Standage said that the mobile money transfer model works so well as it transforms every one of the 28,000 corner shops selling mobile credit into a banking outlet and makes economies more efficient.

Mobile money has yet to catch on in the Western world and Tom said: "you can pay for a cab in Nairobi with your phone but not in New York."

In fact, the West is learning some valuable mobile lessons from developing nations. Western operators used to spend a lot of money air-conditioning mobile base stations before discovering that they did not bother in considerably hotter India, as by the time the stations were damaged by heat, they were out of date anyway.

India also used tower sharing before the West. Indian operators fought over sites to place expensive towers until it became clear that it would be more efficient for companies to rent towers. European regulators had considered this idea but feared it would lead to price-fixing by operators. However, India disproved their theory and now Vodafone uses tower sharing in Europe.

Source: Cellular News.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:12:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Namibia’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), has announced that it reached the milestone of two million subscribers in February 2012, having grown its customer base from the 1.67 million users reported at the end of December 2010, and having doubled its total following the landmark of one million customers reached in September 2008.

MTC also reported that its annual revenues grew by 3.2% in its fiscal year ended September 2011, to NAD1.45 billion (USD189 million), although net profit fell by 14.2% to NAD319 million, compared to NAD372 million in FY2010, while EBITDA saw a drop of 1.4%. CAPEX investment was reduced to NAD237 million in the fiscal year, down from NAD417 million in the previous twelve months. The cellco partly attributes its growing sales to an increase in the average Namibian’s disposable income over the last few years, while the decrease in profitability was put down to ‘increases in costs of maintaining the network, as well as costs related to personnel.’ Post-paid customers represented 6.6% of MTC’s total user base but generated 34% (NAD490 million) of total revenues in the year under review, compared to pre-paid (‘Tango’) users accounting for 93.4% of customers and 66%, or NAD960 million, of revenue. Revenue from data services contributed 21% to total turnover in FY11, up from 18% in FY10, and mobile internet access alone accounted for 9% of sales, compared to 5% previously. SMS revenue represented 13% (12%) of the total.

Elsewhere, in response to MTC’s recent complaints of delays to the country’s fourth-generation (4G) mobile licensing process, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has assured the cellco that it is working to ensure the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) network services in the capital city of Windhoek in the next few months, via the planned issuing of new 1800MHz band frequencies. However, the regulator has also stated that technical issues must be ironed out before the 800MHz 4G band is issued to cellcos, under its draft national frequency allocation plan, which is designed to take into account prospective new market entrants.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:11:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom (DT) has announced that researchers at its Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs) have realised a 512Gbps transmission over a single fibre-optic wavelength channel, which the company claims has broken the transmission speed record. The signals were sent over a distance of 734km from Berlin to Hanover and back again. DT said the usable bit rate was 400Gbps, around four times faster than current top speeds. ‘Together with our technology partner Alcatel-Lucent and the experts at Telekom Network Production, we are very proud of having attained this tremendous transmission performance over the internet under real-world conditions,’ commented T-Labs manager Heinrich Arnold, adding: ‘With them, we have successfully developed an innovative method by which the transmission capacity of optical fibre can be increased significantly in network operation.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:09:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Construction of the Azerbaijani segment of a new fibre-optic international gateway system, which links Oman to Frankfurt in Germany via Russia and Iran, is nearing completion, Trend News Agency reports, citing Delta Telecom’s technical director Raed Alekberli. A test run of the Europe Persia Express Gateway (EPEG) is expected in the near future, Alekberli said. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, four international telecommunications companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March 2011 to develop the EPEG cable system, namely: Oman’s incumbent fixed line operator Omantel, Iran-based Telecommunications Infrastructure Company (TIC), UK-based Cable & Wireless Worldwide and Russian carrier Rostelecom. The 6,000km cable system is expected to be ready for service in May 2012, helping to accommodate the increasing traffic from the MENA region, Central Asia, Russia and Europe, providing an alternative route to the Red Sea Systems.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:08:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Having last month notified the European Commission (EC) regarding provisional new charge controls for a number of wholesale fixed line services provided by BT’s wholesale division Openreach, UK regulator Ofcom has announced that it has now formally set the new pricing structure. The watchdog noted that the proposed charges remain unchanged from those submitted to the EC, with Ofcom reiterating that the charges were being regulated as fixed line incumbent BT is judged to hold significant market power (SMP) in the delivery of the services in question.

Ofcom has confirmed that the charges will take effect from 1 April 2012, and as per the new pricing regime the annual cost of a fully unbundled line will drop to GBP87.41 (USD138.16) per year, down from the current cost of GBP91.50. Looking forward, this fee will then decrease further in the following financial year (from 1 April 2013), with the reduction calculated using the formula of retail price index (RPI) -5.9%. A shared unbundled line, meanwhile, which currently costs GBP14.70 per year, will be reduced to GBP11.92 for FY2012/13, before falling further in the following fiscal year by RPI -15.9%. Rounding out the regulator’s price revisions, Ofcom has also confirmed that the cost of wholesale line rental (WLR) would be reduced to GBP98.81 per annum from its current rate of GBP103.68 from March 2012, with a further reduction due in FY2013/14 using a formula of RPI -7.3%.

On the back of the ratification of the new charges, Ofcom has said that it expects the new prices to ‘lead to real term price reductions for consumers, as communications providers pass on savings to their landline and broadband customers’. In confirming its regulatory decision, Ofcom also highlighted that the number of local loop unbundled (LLU) lines in service had increased from just 123,000 in September 2005 to more than eight million today, while there are now some 6.2 million WLR connections in the UK in addition.

BT, meanwhile, has indicated that it may challenge the ruling, with Techweek Europe citing the telco as saying: ‘As expected, following last month’s draft statement, Ofcom has today published the final charge controls for the Openreach LLU and WLR portfolio … We continue to disagree with some of the underlying assumptions they have used to determine these controls with our primary concern being that we are able to achieve a fair rate of return in order to continue our investment in the future of the UK’s communications infrastructure.’ BT has said it will consider all options open to it, including appealing the new charges.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:05:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mexico's Federal Government has rolled out a programme designed to enable low-income families to purchase computers and subscribe to internet services. The initiative aims to reduce the digital gap and enable Mexicans to use computers and internet services. According to president Felipe Calderon, during the first decade of the century, internet penetration in Mexico tripled from 9 percent of households in 2000 to nearly 30 percent of families in 2010. Mexico currently has over 33 million internet users. The CompuApoyo project is expected to provide over 1.7 million Mexican households with computers and internet connections. During the first stage of the project, the Infonacot credit scheme will be used to enable workers with incomes below five minimum salaries to purchase a computer and contract internet service. Computers will be available for purchase as of next week. The Federal Government will provide direct support of MXN 1,000, while Infonacot will provide complementary loans of up to MXN 3,500. With support from operators, the Federal Government plans to offer a reduced fee of MXN 99 per month for broadband internet access for at least one year. Direct support totaling MXN 300 will also be provided when internet service is contracted.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:03:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of telephone subscribers in India increased to 926.53 million at the end of January, from 936.12 million at the end of December 2011, registering a growth rate of 1.04 percent, according to the Telecom Regularity Authority of India (Trai)'s latest report. With this, the overall teledensity in India reached 77.57, up from 76.86 in the previous month. Subscriptions in urban areas grew from 611.19 million at the end of December to 615.83 million in January and subscriptions in rural areas increased from 315.33 million to 320.29 million. The overall urban teledensity has marginally increased from 167.85 to 168.84 and rural teledensity increased from 37.48 to 38.04 in January. The total mobile subscriber base increased from 893.84 million to 903.73 million, registering growth of 1.11 percent. Private operators held 88.56 percent of the mobile market share while state-owned operators BSNL and MTNL held a 11.44 percent share of the mobile market. The fixed-line subscriber base declined from 32.69 million at the end of December to 32.39 million month later. BSNL and MTNL had a 80.91 percent share of the fixed market. Meanwhile, the broadband subscriber base increased from 13.30 million to 13.42 million, showing monthly growth of 0.90 percent.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 16 March 2012 16:01:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Data just released by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) shows that the country was home to a total of 25.827 million fixed and mobile subscriptions at the end of 2011, up from 21.158 million a year earlier. Of the total subscriptions recorded at end-2011 25.666 million were cellular connections to one of the country’s leading mobile operators. Market leader Vodacom closed out 2011 with a total of 11.625 million mobile users (although around 19% are classed as inactive), while second-placed Airtel (formerly Zain) signed up a net 972,000 new users in the period for a total of 6.993 million. Third place operator Tigo boosted its base by 973,000 to 5.450 million by the end of 2011, and Zantel Mobile — once the nation’s fastest growing cellco — shed roughly 191,000 net customers during the period for a total of 1.524 million. Trailing far behind the big four, the mobile arm of fixed line operator Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) had just 96,000 subscribers and Benson Informatics Limited (BOL) had 1,558 data-only subscribers, down roughly 5,000 since the start of the year.

In the fixed line segment, TCRA reported 161,063 fixed lines in service as at 31 December 2011, down from 174,000 at the start of the year. National PSTN operator TTCL claimed the lion’s share with 159,364 lines at end-2011 (its December 2010 figure was 159,100) with Zanzibar Telecommunications’ (Zantel’s) fixed line division taking the remaining 1,699, down from around 15,000 previously

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 16 March 2012 14:36:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Meteor Ireland has become the first operator to abolish roaming charges in Europe enabling consumers to pay the same charges for calls and texts as when they are at home.

According to the company, the new service applies to both Pay-as-you-go and Bill pay customers. Further, the new policy would enable customers to pay more than 60 per cent less than Vodafone and O2 while roaming.

For users on the operator’s pay-as-you-go service, the call rates will be dropped to US$ 0.38 while texts will be charged at US$ 0.16. While, on the other hand, Bill Pay customers will be charged US$ 0.13 for a text and US$ 0.33 for a call. Also, all incoming calls and texts would be free for the consumer.

Reports reveal that Bill Blake, spokesman for Meteor has classified this decision as a groundbreaking one. He said that their customers will no longer have to worry about paying more for calls and texts while in the EU, with the added benefit of being able to receive calls from family and friends for free, as reported by the Irishtimes.

Talking about mobile data charges while roaming, Blake said that the wholesale rate for data in Europe at the moment is US$ 1.04 per Mb so they will be dropping their charges by 90 per cent. He concluded by saying that as this price continues to drop they will be hoping to pass that on to consumers but they’ve unfortunately not been able to bring it in line with domestic rates just yet.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Friday, 16 March 2012 09:49:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 09 March 2012

The largest U.S. mobile service provider Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) launched an in-home wireless broadband service –– HomeFusion Broadband –– based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

Verizon introduced this service in rural and remote homes, which do not have access to DSL or cables. The service will be available initially in Birmingham, Alabama, Dallas and Nashville, Tennessee later this month.

The company will charge $59.99 per month for 10 gigabytes (GB) of data and an initial fee of $199.99 for installing the antenna device either on an outside wall or at the roof. Home Fusion provides download speed of 5 to 12 megabits per second and 2 to 5 megabits for upload.

Verizon is further seeking the deployment of 4G services to rural areas using tower and backhaul assets and its 700 MHz spectrum. We believe Verizon’s expansion into rural areas will drive subscriber growth and improve the churn rate, leading to higher growth and profitability. In addition, Verizon is ahead of its largest rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE:S) in providing home broadband services.

Verizon continues to lead the wireless industry with the expansion of both its 3G and 4G mobile broadband networks. As of January 23, 2012, Verizon deployed 4G LTE services in 195 markets, covering more than 200 million people.The company expects to expand its 4G network to its entire nationwide 3G footprint by mid-2013, compared with the previous forecast of year-end 2013.

Source: Daily Markets.

Friday, 09 March 2012 13:03:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 28 February 2012

At the end of the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q2011) there were around 16.8 million active mobile stations associated with post-paid, pre-paid and hybrid tariff plans, 1.0 percent higher than in the previous quarter.

Of the stations reported, around 13.42 million mobile stations (79.9 percent) were actually used in the last month of the quarter, 0.5 percent less than in the same period last year. It is the first time since the indicator is collected that the weight of active mobile stations, of all mobile stations, falls below 80 percent.

The number of active mobile stations and user devices in actual use during the 4Q2011 reached around 12.3 million, 0.6 percent higher than in the 3Q2011, not including cards/modems used exclusively for broadband Internet access.

In December 2011, the penetration mobile service was reported at 157.9 per 100 inhabitants.

If only mobile stations with actual use were considered, the penetration rate in Portugal would be 126.1 percent.

At the end of December 2011, there were around 11.2 million users in Portugal eligible to use broadband services.

The number of active users who actually used services which are characteristic of 3rd generation (i.e. video-telephony, broadband data transmission, mobile TV) totalled around 4.2 million, a 4.4 percent increase compared with the previous quarter.

Of all the users of broadband services, which registered traffic in the last reporting month, 27.3 percent are users of the mobile broadband Internet access service using cards/modems. The number of such users continues to decline (less 0.9 percent than the previous quarter) - between the 4Q2010 and 4Q2011, the number decreased by -11.3 percent.

The number of conversation minutes originating on mobile networks totalled this quarter 5.4 million, in line with the previous quarter. The value reported for this period is usually lower compared to the previous quarter. However, the value observed for the 4Q2011 was below the lower limit of the forecast range resulting from the historic trend and seasonal adjustment.

During the 4Q2011, 2.2 billion calls were made, 2 percent less than in the previous quarter. The number of calls received on the mobile network was around 2.2 billion, a value which represents a decrease of 2 percent over the previous quarter and a 3.2 percent decrease compared to 4Q2010.

The number of text messages rose to around 7.1 million, 5.7 percent higher than the previous quarter and an annual growth of 5 percent.

On average, the number of users of the text message service represents around 66 percent of the total mobile stations in actual use, excluding Internet access cards.

Consult the statistical report:

Serviços Móveis - 4º trimestre de 2011

Source: ANACOM.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 13:20:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 24 February 2012

Apps and free messenger services such as BkackBerry Messenger (BBM), WhatsApp and on-line facebook chats have been eating away at mobile operators’ revenues from text messages. As users increasingly adopt free messaging services, mobile operators’ around the world have begun feeling the added pressure of declining SMS revenue. As per industry reports, the mobile industry reported losses of over US$ 10 billion due to declining text messages sent by users. Further, analysts believe that revenues will continue to fall if operators’ do not come up with better strategies and facilities. However, analysts also claim that while SMS revenues have witnessed a decline, they will continue to be used by mobile users. Further, the revenue generated through the increasing mobile data usage is much higher than that lost by text revenues.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:34:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator Orange has reacted to the impact of Free Mobile’s launch stating that in the first 48 hours following 10 January 2012, Orange recorded a substantial increase in RIO requests, (the identity codes required to request mobile number). These peaked at over 150,000 requests in a single day during this initial period but have now decreased tenfold. As at 15 February 2012, the Orange mobile subscriber base had declined by 201,000 subscribers, representing around 0.7 per cent of its total mobile customer base in France, which, at 31 December 2011, had reached just over 27 million subscribers. Orange’s early commercial counter-attack enabled it to respond rapidly by adapting tariffs for its low-cost brand Sosh, launched in September for this purpose, and by adjusting the Orange Open quadruple play offer. The new tariffs for Sosh respond to the new market environment, with three commitment-free SIM only offers from US$ 1.2 (2 hours voice, unlimited SMS / MMS / WiFi) to US$ 33 (100 per cent unlimited). As per the company statement, they helped accelerate the acquisition of new customers and had attracted a total of 90,000 Sosh subscribers as at 15 February 2012. In parallel, the Orange Open range was enriched and reached a total of 1.4 million subscribers as at 15 February 2012. Finally, the Origami range also contributed a significant share of new additions over the period. Lastly, ever pragmatic, Orange signed a 2G and 3G roaming contract with Free mobile last March. This contract will generate additional revenue for the Group linked to the volume of traffic that, at the time of signing, was estimated to represent US$ 1.3 billion over a six-year period. The traffic generated by Free mobile subscribers could be substantially higher than expected without this having a negative impact on the quality of service for Orange customers.

Source: Wireless Federation.


Friday, 24 February 2012 09:28:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The OECD has recommended ways for governments to take action against high costs for international mobile roaming. The recommendation largely follows the measures implemented or under consideration by the European Union. The OECD first recommends that governments promote transparent information on roami­ng prices, to help protect consumers and businesses from high costs. Setting a financial limit for data roaming services would also help, the group said. In addition, international MVNOs should have access to wholesale mobile services under local conditions and on fair and reasonable terms, the OECD said. They should also benefit from regulated wholesale roaming rates between operators. If the above measures are not effective, the OECD recommends that governments consider price regulation for roaming services. Wholesale roaming services could be regulated by means of bilateral or multilateral wholesale agreements with mutually established price caps.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:24:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

UAE’s leading telecom providers Etisalat and du have managed to rope in 187, 000 new GSM subscribers to their clientele by December 2011. UAE’s telecommunication authority (TRA) announced that the telecom providers fetched fairly well in the GSM sector in 2011 than in 2010. Now the total number of GSM users has hit a subscription of 11, 727 in December itself. According to reports, the business expansion strategies of Etisalat and du, in mobile phone and other telecommunication services, played a key role in achieving the targeted figure of subscriptions in UAE. As per TRA, a total of 10.355 million GSM subscribers in UAE are in the pre-pay category and rest of the users fall under the monthly billing arena. Telecom operator du stated that it is expecting to overtake Etisalat in terms of number of mobile phone users in the near future. UAE has one of the biggest segment of mobile phone users when it comes to GSM subscription. According to reports, the boost in GSM subscription has helped UAE in sustaining its status as a country with highest GSM penetration ratio. By 2010 end, the mobile phone penetration ratio in the UAE was around 134 per cent for a population of 8.2 million.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:23:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thailand’s largest cellco by subscribers, Advanced Info Service (AIS), announced that it reached 1.2 million 3G 900MHz network subscribers by the end of December 2011, after launching the commercial HSPA-based service in July. AIS’s closest rival operator DTAC claimed this month that its 850MHz HSPA service had attracted 1.1 million subscribers, following a full commercial network launch in August.

AIS’s 3G announcement came alongside its financial results for the year and fourth quarter, in which it reported that twelve-month revenues excluding interconnection rose 12% to THB97.9 billion (USD3.2 billion), driven by mobile internet growth, as non-voice turnover climbed 31% in comparison to an 8% increase in voice revenue. Annual EBITDA reached THB56.6 billion, up by 10%, and net profit jumped 21% to THB26.6 billion. CAPEX was raised by 18% in 2011, as the company expanded 3G and 2G coverage and capacity, and AIS claimed a total of 33.5 million subscribers at the end of December, up by 2.3 million in twelve months.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:17:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Kenyan government intends to connect all 47 counties in the country to its ‘in-deployment’ fibre-optic cable by the end of June, Business Daily Africa reports. Although a total of 37 counties have been hooked up to the infrastructure to date, the government has reportedly formed a new committee – with members drawn from the Ministry of Information, the e-government Secretariat and the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) – to oversee the remainder of the initiative, and map out a connectivity plan for the unconnected regions. Previously, each of the state departments had been granted a separate budget to roll out infrastructure, leading to a slow rollout pace and a duplication of resources. Following the completion of the inter-county deployment, private sector telcos will be invited to provide last mile connectivity to end-users, using the broadband platform of their choice.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:15:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zambia’s smallest mobile network operator by subscribers, Zamtel Mobile, has reportedly inaugurated a third-generation network, the Zambia Times reports. The cellco, a subsidiary of local fixed line incumbent Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (Zamtel), has used the occasion to reveal that it hopes to increase its market share to at least 16%, up from the 10% it claims to currently hold, by the end of 2012, with Zamtel chief commercial officer Amon Jere claiming that the 3G launch demonstrated the company’s commitment to becoming a market leader in both fixed and mobile services. At launch it is understood that the 3G network comprises some 250 base stations across the country, and Mr Jere said that moving forward, his company would seek to continue innovation in new products, including the introduction of cheaper internet services, with a view to boosting subscriber growth.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:13:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of FTTH/B subscribers worldwide grew 54 percent in the year to June 2011 to almost 67 million. Over the same period the number of homes/buildings passed by fibre networks increased more than 47 percent to almost 179 million, figures from Idate show. When adding other fibre-based technologies such as VDSL, FTTLA and FTTx+LAN, there were 112.7 million subscribers at the end of June 2011 and 361.7 million homes/businesses pass­ed. Japan was the largest FTTH/B market in terms of number of subscribers in June, although Idate expects China will soon take the number one spot. China's three main network operators already make up three of the four largest FTTx providers in the world, alongside Japan's NTT. South Korea came third in FTTH/B subscriber numbers worldwide, followed by the US, Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Sweden and France. Idate estimates that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 68.6 percent of all FTTH/B subscribers at the end of 2011, and this will grow to 72.8 percent by 2015. Over the same period, worldwide subscriber numbers will grow from an estimated 81.77 million to 198.27 million.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 24 February 2012 09:11:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 16 February 2012

In its latest quarterly report, to the end of September 2011, Netherlands regulator Independent Post & Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) says that the number of mobile connections which include mobile broadband-speed internet access (with or without voice services and with any end-user device) reached 7.2 million at the close of the third quarter, up from 5.6 million at the start of the year. According to the watchdog, dedicated (data-only) subscriptions to mobile broadband services stood at a little over one million at end-September, up by around 300,000 in nine months. Other statistics reported by OPTA included the percentage of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) connections amongst the total retail end-user mobile accounts – 13.7% at 30 September 2011, down from 14.3% at the beginning of the year. The number of MVNO customer accounts reported by OPTA has varied very little over the last year and indeed has come down since end-2008 – from 3.1 million to 2.9 million. OPTA also recorded that aside from end-user connections, there were 924,000 machine-to-machine cellular network connections at end-September 2011, up from 736,000 at 1 January.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 16 February 2012 16:28:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Bahrain Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has told the country's mobile operators to reduce roaming charges by up to 75 percent, Trade Arabia reported. This follows the decision of the ministerial committee of the GCC Council to introduce maximum prices. Some regional operators have already implemented the decision. The TRA decision sets the maximum charge for international ca­lls at BHD 0.249 per minute from within Gulf countries made by a Bahraini mobile user. Currently, Bahraini consumers pay as much as BHD 1 per minute for calls to Bahrain while roaming in some Gulf states. The maximum rates will only apply to voice calls made within and between GCC countries and not to data services at this point. The TRA decision also limits the cost of local calls within a GCC country by a Bahraini mobile to BHD 0.104 per minute, whether it is to a fixed or a mobile number.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, 16 February 2012 14:45:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Austrian telecom regulator RTR announced that it has introduced a monthly ceiling of EUR 60 for the use of mobile data services, starting from 01 May. RTR director general Georg Serentschy said that the regulator found an increased need for customer protection in the use of mobile data services in recent months. From 01 May, customers will be protected from high costs they may encounter with expensive downloads. The billing ceiling will also apply to legacy contracts.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, 16 February 2012 14:44:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Uzbekistan national operator Uztelecom reported that­ a more than doubling in revenues for 2011 to UZS 4.518 billion. Income from retail services grew by 15 percent. The broadband subscriber base, based on xDSL and FTTx, jumped by 181 percent to 72,856. The mobile subscriber base of Uzmobile, a subsidiary of Uztelecom, grew by 1.84 times, to 94,110. Uzmobile provides services under the CDMA 450 technology.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 10:21:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |