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 Thursday, 05 April 2012

MTN Liberia (formerly Lonestar Communications) has announced the signing of its one-millionth mobile customer, based on the audited reports of its parent group MTN’s full year 2011 results. Monrovia-based newspaper The New Dawn also notes that the MTN Group highlighted the Liberian operator as one of its strongest growth performers. South Africa-registered MTN had a total of 164 million customers in 22 countries at the end of December 2011, of which MTN Liberia had over one million. The cellco’s milestone comes at the end of more than ten years of activity in a country that it striving to overcome the devastating impact of civil war.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 05 April 2012 08:51:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 30 March 2012

Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) has introduced a new offer known as Nduki Broadband, which will enable broadband users to pay from Tanzanian shillings 30,000/- (around USD20) to 200,000/- (around USD130) per month for unlimited access.

The offer allows customers to download as much data as they like without any limitations. The offer will give them for first package speed of 256 Kbs, and is known as Nduki Bronze which will be paid Tanzanian shillings 30,000/- (around 20 USD) per month.

The second package is known as Nduki Silver, with speeds of 512 Kbs, which will cost a Tanzanian shilling 60,000/- (around USD40 USD).

Nduki Gold is the third package, giving customers high speed access of 1Mbps which per month at Tanzanian shillings 100,000 (around USD65). The highest-speed package, Nduki Diamond, offers speeds of 2Mbps at a cost of Tanzanian shillings 200,000/- (around 130 USD) per month.

All the packages give TTCL subscribers unlimited download services.

The state-owned company is seeking to grow its broadband subscriber numbers in order to compete with private telecom companies which currently lead the market in Tanzania.

According to TCRA quarterly report December 2011, TTCL has only 1% of the market shares while Vodacom is leading the market with 45%, Airtel with 27%, Tigo with 21%, Zantel 6%, Sasatel 0.02% and Benson 0.01%.

Source: Biztech Africa.

Friday, 30 March 2012 11:04:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
New entrants to Costa Rica’s wireless market, Claro Costa Rica and Movistar Costa Rica (subsidiaries of Mexico’s America Movil and Spain’s Telefonica respectively) have appealed to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAE) to extend their network rollout deadline, following further difficulties in acquiring permissions to erect infrastructure. The cellcos require permission from municipalities to build towers, though the process has been slowed by the fact that most areas have no regulations in place regarding the construction of telecoms infrastructure. Under the licences issued to Claro and Movistar in January last year, the pair are obliged to roll out networks in three stages within five years, with the first phase due to be completed by mid-July. The two cellcos launched services over GSM and W-CDMA networks in late November 2011

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:48:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has announced the passing of the last major piece of legislation underpinning the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the recent structural reforms to the country’s telecommunications sector. With the universal service reform legislation package having finally been passed, Mr Conroy noted: ‘This legislation safeguards key telecommunications services for all Australians, particularly those in rural, regional and remote Australia, during and after the transition to the NBN.’ The relevant bills – the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency Bill 2011; the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Universal Service Reform) Bill 2011; and the Telecommunications (Industry Levy) Bill 2011 – were introduced to parliament in November 2011.

One of the key aspects of the new legislation is the establishment of a new agency, the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency (TUSMA). As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, from 1 July 2012 the new body is to be tasked with ensuring that: all Australians have reasonable access to a standard telephone service (the Universal Service Obligation [USO] for voice telephony services); payphones are reasonably accessible to all Australians (the USO for payphones); the ongoing delivery of the Emergency Call Service by Telstra (calls to Triple Zero ‘000’ and ‘112’); the ongoing delivery of the National Relay Service; that appropriate safety net arrangements are in place that will assist the migration of voice-only customers to an NBN fibre service as Telstra’s copper customer access network is decommissioned; and that technological solutions will be developed as necessary to support continuity of public interest services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:47:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Kosovar fixed line and mobile operator IPKO has announced revenues of EUR70.363 million (USD93.160 million) for 2011 in a press conference, reports Kosova Press. The telco claimed to have signed up 450,000 mobile customers, as well as 72,000 internet, 67,000 cable TV and 5,000 fixed voice subscriptions. IPKO executive director Robert Erzin attributed the success of the telco, a subsidiary of Telekom Slovenije, to the company’s competitive rates and the quality of its services.

Source: TeleGeograpy.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:46:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Privately owned telecoms operator Bharat Telecom Ltd (BTL) has announced that it is launching a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service in Mauritius. The telco, which was incorporated in August 2010, hopes to deliver a range of services to Mauritian households over the new platform, including broadband internet and IPTV. Further, the operator says it intends to use digital infrastructure based on Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GEPON) technology, to act as a carrier backbone for other service providers in the country operating in the gaming and WebTV business spheres. Commenting on the launch BTL managing director Baljinder said: ‘BTL has the vision to connect every home and office in the country with a fibre network’.

The telco’s chief operating officer Anil Gujjalu says that network rollout has been ongoing since 2011 and that it has now reached the point where it will shortly begin to connect homes and businesses to its 100Mbps fibre-optic cables. BTL promises to deliver ‘high speed internet and other value added services at very affordable prices’. Industry watchers note though, that contrary to an earlier announcement from the minister of ICT touting its new fast broadband speeds, BTL will not be offering a 10Mbps connection for MUR280 (USD10) a month, but rather a much slower 2Mbps connection. It will however be bundling internet connectivity with IPTV comprising around 40 TV channels. The start-up package is expected to be marketed on a commercial basis within the next six to eight weeks, subject to BTL obtaining the necessary tariff approvals from the regulator.

Source: TeleGeograpy.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:44:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
National Communications Commission (NCC) chairperson Su Herng has outlined targets deemed necessary for ensuring that Taiwan’s internet infrastructure catches up with those of other countries such as South Korea. According to Focus Taiwan, with the executive claiming that specific targets will assist in pushing forward infrastructure development, the government is reportedly aiming to ensure that cable broadband services offering downlink speeds of 100Mbps are accessible by 80% of the Taiwanese population by 2015. Further, by that date the NCC expects there to be some six million fibre-based broadband accesses, in addition to roughly two million wireless broadband subscribers. Kuomintang (Nationalist Party — KMT) legislator Lo Shu-lei criticised such targets for being too optimistic, however, prompting Su to respond that the improvement of services nationwide would require a degree of support from the government.

Source: TeleGoegraphy.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:43:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mahanagar Telephone (Mauritius) Ltd (MTML), the Mauritian mobile unit of India’s Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) says it will launch 3G mobile services this year, after securing the necessary frequencies from the government. The Economic Times says final plans for the launch will be confirmed after the cellco’s board meeting next month. China’s ZTE has been selected to supply the hardware and software upgrades. MTML will be the third operator to offer 3G in Mauritius: Orange and Emtel have already deployed UMTS networks and between them have signed up an estimated 230,000 users. MTML has garnered approximately 20,000 GSM customers within its first three months of operation, the Indian parent said. Moreover, MTNL says it plans to roll out 3G services in other African markets if it is successful in efforts to secure UMTS concessions where it operates.

In other Mauritius news, Bloomberg reports that the government of Mauritius may consider listing shares of national PTO Mauritius Telecom (MT), although no concrete plans have yet been finalised. The African nation’s prime minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam is quoted as saying the he has ‘no problem’ with listing MT shares on the country’s local bourse, provided the state keeps a majority stake in the venture. He added that the country also has to ‘live with’ its earlier decision to sell a 40% stake in the telco to France Telecom-Orange.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:42:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The French cellco Bouygues Telecom is lowering the price of some of its mid-range price plans in the face of stiff competition from the market’s newest operator, low-cost provider Free Mobile. Telecompaper reports that the price of Bouygues’ Eden Smartphone 1GB plan, for example, which offers unlimited voice calls and 1GB of data usage per month, will be slashed from EUR79.90 (USD105.23) a month to EUR49.90. The firm says most customers opt for calling plans with limited monthly minutes in the EUR35-EUR45 bracket, and this new offer is an attempt to entice these users onto unlimited packages rather than seeing them migrate to low-cost alternatives such as Free Mobile.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:40:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

French mobile and broadband operator Bouygues Telecom will cut the price of its mid-range mobile subscriptions with subsdised handsets on 19 March. Since the market entry of Free Mobile, MNOs have cut the price of their low-cost brands and quad-play plans with unlimited mobile, but other than commercial gestures by customer services, the announced price of mid-tier services has not changed. Les Echos reports that  Bouygues will halve its number of Eden subscriptions. Two-hour call package prices will come down by only around 10 percent, but packages with unlimited calls, such as the Eden Smartphone 1GB plan, will come down to EUR 49.90 from EUR 79.90 a month.

Bouygues currently sells few unlimited voice plans, with most customers opting for plans costing EUR 35-45 a month.  The new pricing is likely to motivate customers to opt for unlimited call plans, according to Bouygues’ deputy director for consumer, Frederic Ruciak. Only 10-15 percent of Bouygues’ customers are now choosing Sim-only subscriptions and fewer than 5 percent choose Sim-only plans with mobile data. Bouygues Telecom announced that it expects a 10 percent fall in revenues in 2012, a year in which it aims to save EUR 300 million a year. The company said that fixed broadband is continuing to grow, but that growth in Sim-only offers and the arrival of Free Mobile would have a negative impact on revenue.

Source: Telecompaper.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:39:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Japan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, NTT DoCoMo, has announced that its customer base passed the 60 million milestone on 11 March. The figure includes customers on 2G, 3G and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. After launching its first cellular services towards the end of 1979, it took DoCoMo until February 1993 to sign its first one million customers. Four years later it had reached ten million subscribers, and by April 2000 it had signed up 30 million users. It then reached 50 million in November 2005, but as the market has become more saturated growth has slowed, and it has taken over six years to reach the latest milestone. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, DoCoMo commands a 47.5% share of the Japanese mobile market, with KDDI, Softbank and eAccess also competing for users.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:37:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Armenian fixed and mobile operator reported strong subscriber gains in both mobile and fixed broadband users, helping drive full year operating revenues up to USD190 million from USD184 million in FY2010. EBITDA reached USD73 million in the period under review, down from USD78 million in 2010, although the EBITDA margin improved to 40.7% in 4Q11, compared to 36.4% in 4Q10. The telco closed out last year with a total of 765,000 mobile customers, up from 672,000 a year earlier, helping to generate net operating revenue of USD82 million, compared to USD74 million previously. Fourth-quarter blended monthly ARPU of USD7.6 however, was lower than the USD10 reported in 4Q10, although ArmenTel reports solid take-up of higher spending mobile broadband subscribers, which stood at 24,000 by the year end, from 7,000 at end-2010.

The operator, which offers services under the Beeline banner, had 134000 fixed broadband customers as at 31 December 2011, up from 115,000 in the third quarter and 68,000 at end-2010. Fixed line (net) revenue reached USD108 million last year – marginally down (by USD2 million) year-on-year – although within this, broadband revenue increased to USD19.2 million, from USD9.8 million in full-year 2010. Monthly fixed broadband ARPU was USD14.8 in 4Q11, down from USD17.1 a year earlier.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:35:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Etisalat Afghanistan announced the launch of its 3G services, claiming a first in the country. Etisalat is yet to reveal the coverage of the network, or specific plans or packages for 3G services. Started in 2007, Etisalat Afghanistan is a 100 percent subsidiary of UAE-based operator Etisalat. The launch was marked at a ceremony at with government officials at the communications ministry.

Source: Telecompaper.

Friday, 30 March 2012 10:33:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hrvatski Telekom launched commercial LTE-based 4G network in Croatia. The first LTE base stations are located in Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek and Split. The plan is to expand the LTE network coverage to other urban areas in Croatia in the upcoming period as well. The LTE-based services as well as the coverage maps will be presented and available to the customers in a couple of days.

In 2010, HT had a live presentation of the implemented 4G test network, and in 2011, it's customers in Zagreb, Rijeka and Split tested all the advantages this technology offers to the users. Furthermore, in March 2011, HT presented in Rijeka the highest download data rates in the mobile network in Croatia. On that occasion, operator arranged a video conference call between Zagreb and Rijeka using the LTE technology.

"By implementing the mobile network LTE in combination with the improvements in the fixed line data rates, we have confirmed one more time our leading position on the market," said Božidar Poldrugaè, HT Management Board Member and Chief Technical and Chief Information Officer.

Source: LteWorld.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:58:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 26 March 2012

UAE’s leading mobile operator Etisalat has launched third-generation (3G) network services in Aghanistan, as per a statement made by the company. The operator claims that it is the first operator in the nation to provide 3G services.

However, the operator is yet to provide details regarding which areas of Afghanistan will receive 3G services, Currently, the operator’s network covers 30 provinces in the country.

As per reports, Etisalat has invested over $300 million in Afghanistan since 2007 and accounts for 3.5 million customers in the country.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Monday, 26 March 2012 09:19:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |