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 Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Crnogorski Telekom, Montengro’s fixed line incumbent, has rolled out its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to 7,700 households, the company announced today. Whilst fibre-based services have so far been limited to the capital, Podgorica, Telekom has begun deploying infrastructure in the coastal town of Budva and Bijelo Polje, near the Serbian border. Subscribers to the telco’s fibre broadband packages have access to download speeds of up to 40Mbps, with options for a triple-play package including voice, broadband and TV. New subscribers to the service are exempt from set-up fees and equipment costs.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:11:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has launched a national project aimed at providing basic telecoms services to over 150 villages in remote and rural areas of the country, Times of Oman reports. Implementation of the project will begin in the third quarter of this year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Work will be carried out in cooperation with the Sultanate’s two licensed telecoms operators, Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) and Nawras, which will build a total of 120 base transceiver stations (BTS) in rural areas. ‘Telecoms companies usually target areas with high population density that have economic returns in order to develop their networks and provide various services,’ noted Dr Hamed Al Rawahi, chief executive of the TRA, adding: ‘Though this initiative will provide telecoms services in many additional areas, there would be areas that will remain without services. This is an issue that the TRA is currently working on through implementing field surveys in the remaining areas, upon specifying such areas the TRA will set the plans to accomplish the coverage of the remaining villages, in coordination with other government authorities.’

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:09:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cambodian wireless operator Smart Mobile has announced that it signed up its three millionth customer in May 2012, five months after crossing the two million subscriber mark at the start of the year. The cellco said that by the end of May, its mobile customer base had increased to 3.24 million, placing it second in the market in terms of users behind Vietnamese-owned Metfone, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. ‘It is another milestone we have achieved and we are very happy to see this growth,’ said Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Mobile, adding: ‘Considering that Smart Mobile is still a comparably young player in this market, launched commercially in February 2009, it is a massive endorsement to us by our subscribers to have reached the number two position within only three years and three months since the commercial launch… We are highly committed to keep investing into the network to cater the constantly growing demand but also to further innovate by introducing new products and services.’ The press release adds that Smart Mobile’s GSM/GPRS/EDGE network currently covers around 87% of the population and is present in all 24 provinces, while coverage of the cellco’s HSPA+ mobile broadband network, which was commercially launched in August 2011, has grown from 14 provinces at the start of 2012 to parts of all 24 provinces six months later.

Smart Mobile (owned by Latelz, a subsidiary of Cyprus-based and Russian-owned Timeturns Holdings) became Cambodia’s eighth mobile operator when it launched commercial GSM services in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep in early 2009. At the start of 2011 Smart Mobile merged its operations with Applifone, the local unit of Swedish telecoms group TeliaSonera, under the Smart Mobile brand. TeliaSonera’s 75.5%-owned unit TeliaSonera Asia Holding owns 25% of the new company, and Latelz the remaining 75%.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:08:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Togo Telecom has announced that it is doubling mobile internet bundles for customers using its HELIM NOMAD tariff plans, without increasing their monthly bills. The move follows the announcement that the telco hoped to reduce prices once the West Africa Cable System (WACS) lands in the country. As reported previously by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, on 11 June Togo Telecom confirmed that it had inaugurated WACS with the central landing of the fibre-optic cable in Afidegnigba. At the time, the telco said it hoped to usher in a ‘new era’ in telecommunications for the Togolese, offering more affordable broadband internet connectivity for the nation.

True to its word, the telco says that from now the cost of a 1GB package bundle will be XOF7,880 (USD15) – it used to cost USD30 per month for a 1GB bundle – a 2GB bundle will now be USD30 a month, and the premium 3GB offer on the same tariff will be USD45. Togo Telecom has however, increased the cost of its fixed line (ADSL) connections – branded HELIM FIXED – but ‘honoured its promise to reduce internet tariffs for mobile subscribers,’ it said.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:05:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

True Corp’s fixed line and broadband division, True Online, says that it will invest around THB8 billion (USD250 million) in the short term in its True Internet broadband operations, with the expenditure going towards projects including expanding high speed infrastructure to serve businesses in provincial areas. Bangkok-based True, which is the broadband market leader in the capital in terms of subscribers, plans to cover 36 provinces by the end of 2012 with high speed fixed network services, and 61 of Thailand’s 77 administrative regions (76 provinces plus Bangkok) by the end of next year, before continuing the rollout nationwide. The expansion plan was announced by Charoen Limkangwanmongkol, chief commercial officer of True Online, and reported by Thai newspaper The Nation. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that True Online’s DOCSIS 3-based HFC cable broadband network passed 1.1 million homes in 20 provinces by February 2012, up from 16 provinces including the Bangkok Metropolitan Area in October 2011, and while the majority of True’s 1.4 million broadband subscribers were on its xDSL networks in Bangkok and other areas as of the end of March 2012, this is changing as the quadruple-play group concentrates on expanding its HFC cable network, which also supports its TrueVisions high-definition pay-TV services.

True Internet expects to grow its internet access revenues by around a third to THB8.5 billion this year, broken down as THB1.5 billion from corporate services and THB7 billion in the consumer segment, with Bangkok expected to contribute 85% of turnover and the provinces 15% over the twelve months. It is also focusing on winning corporate customers in the hotel, hospital, education and real estate sectors, The Nation’s report added. The fixed broadband unit has around 3,000 large corporate clients, or around a third of approximately 9,000 corporations using high speed services nationwide, according to its own reckoning, and it expects the corporate internet market to grow by 12% this year. General manager of True Internet, Vasu Khunvasi, said: ‘We have major competitors, [Triple T Broadband’s] 3BB and [state-owned] TOT, in the upcountry market. However, the upcountry market has high potential, since it is a start-up market. The firm will utilise network infrastructure and one-stop services to expand its customer base upcountry.’

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:03:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

NBN Co, the public private company overseeing the construction and management of Australia’s in-deployment National Broadband Network (NBN), has revealed the first locations where it expects to roll out fixed wireless broadband services. Using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, NBN Co has confirmed that, subject to final radio frequency planning and other approvals, the fixed-wireless broadband service will be made available to around 22,000 premises across 14 local government areas, with those councils expected to lodge planning proposals being: Ararat Rural City Council, Buloke Shire Council, Colac-Otway Shire Council, Corangamite Shire Council, Glenelg Shire Council, Hindmarsh Shire Council, Horsham Rural City Council, Loddon Shire Council, Moyne Shire Council, Northern Grampians Shire Council, Pyrenees Shire Council, Southern Grampians Shire Council, Warrnambool City Council and Yarriambiack Shire Council. The fixed-wireless broadband service, which will be made available to operators on a wholesale basis, will offer downlink speeds of up to 12Mbps, and NBN Co noted that facilities will be switched on in stages from around mid- to late-2014. Ultimately, the fixed-wireless broadband service is expected to be made available to around 4% of Australia’s premises.

Meanwhile, the company has also confirmed the local government areas where planning proposals will be lodged to deliver high-speed fixed wireless broadband in Tasmania, with around 32,000 premises across 28 local government areas to benefit from the service. Switch-on of the network in Tasmania is expected in the second half of 2013. Alongside the announcement of fixed-wireless broadband developments in Tasmania, NBN Co has also named a number of new locations where fibre-based broadband has been made available commercially. With services in Triabunna, Sorell, Deloraine and Kingston Beach having now come online, it is understood that around 12,800 premises in total across Tasmania can now connect to the fibre optic network. Looking ahead, the activation of the network in George Town and St Helens is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, adding a further 4,900 homes and businesses to the NBN footprint in the state.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 4:01:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Europe’s largest pre-pay mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) by subscribers, Lycamobile, has rolled out services in Ireland, claiming to offer affordable, low cost international mobile calls for as little as EUR0.01 (USD0.0125) per minute (with no connection charge), and national calls for EUR0.03 a minute. In a press release Lycamobile says that in the launch phase it will offer a number of introductory ‘Pay As You Go SIM’ offers in Ireland that will be tailored to deliver a range of voice, data and SMS text propositions. In addition to its low cost calls prices, the MVNO says its new business model will offer ‘free unlimited’ 3G internet connection and text messages for just EUR0.09 to national and international numbers. To complete the suite of offers Lycamobile customers will also get unlimited free on-net calls and SMS.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:58:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Costa Rican regulator the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) has announced plans to implement mobile number portability (MNP) by the end of 2012, or early 2013. The watchdog will select a company to manage the service by the end of August and the company will be given three months for infrastructure work, followed by a month of testing. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Sutel originally planned to have MNP available when it ended the monopoly of incumbent operator ICE Celular last year but chose to delay its implementation when the regulator failed to decide how to distribute the costs. MNP is expected to shake up the market further and level the playing field for the market’s two newest entrants, Mexican-backed Claro Costa Rica and Movistar Costa Rica. Even without MNP, the new players – backed by Latam heavyweights America Movil and Telefonica – have begun eating into ICE’s customer base: in the first three months of 2012 alone, ICE lost more than 400,000 subscribers to the new operators, reducing its market share from 93.1% to 87.8%.

In other Costa Rica news, Sutel has invited interested companies to take part in a preliminary hearing to receive comments prior to the watchdog’s launching of a tender for ‘Monitoring and Managing the National Spectrum’. The regulator is inviting comments on the draft tender until 25 June.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:56:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), the United Arab Emirates’ incumbent telecoms operator, has slashed the price of its basic broadband packages in the face of increasing competition from sole rival Du. The National cites Rashid Majid Al Abbar, Etisalat’s vice president of home products marketing, as saying that the company has reduced the price of its 1Mbps internet package, which includes a fixed telephony line, from AED259 (USD70.5) per month to AED189, with the aim of enticing users away from slower 256kbps and 512kbps connections. ‘That is the long-term strategy… We want to have more high speed customers,’ Mr Al Abbar said. Etisalat is also studying the possibility of reducing landline rates by between 10% and 30% for local calls, as well as international calls to ‘specific destinations.’ The move could be implemented in the second half of the year, the Etisalat executive said, but first requires the approval of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). The regulator is currently gearing up for the commercial introduction of bitstream access later this year, following a trial service with selected customers launched in July 2011. The introduction of bitstream access will break the monopolies held by Etisalat and Du within their respective areas by enabling consumers nationwide to choose between the two providers for their fixed line voice and broadband services.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:53:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Malaysia™ has announced that it now has more than two million fixed line broadband subscribers on its books, Bernama reports. TM CEO Datuk Seri Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa said that the reaching of the milestone reflected increased broadband adoption in Malaysia as a whole, adding that his company’s achievements would help the government in reaching the 75% broadband penetration target set out by its National Broadband Initiative (NBI) by end-2015. ‘TM has been in the pivotal role of fulfilling this agenda as the company is currently contributing more than 40% of the national broadband penetration,’ the executive was cited as saying.

Of the two million broadband customers signed up with TM, almost 360,000 of those have opted to take a service offered over TM’s in-deployment High Speed Broadband Network (HSBB). Take up of such services – which are offered under the ‘UniFi’ banner – has continued to gather pace, and as noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, with March 2012 seeing TM confirm that it was planning to roll out the next phase of its HSBB in second-tier industrial areas and state capitals, customer numbers are expected to climb further still.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:52:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), the nation’s largest operator by subscribers and revenues, said yesterday that it passed the three million-mark for broadband subscribers in the first quarter of this year. Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT and Smart president and CEO, said that his company currently leads the broadband segment in the Philippines, with revenues from high speed fixed and mobile internet services increasing 34% year-on-year to PHP5.8 billion (USD134.7 million) – equivalent to 14% of consolidated service revenues. Broken down by technology, PLDT DSL generated PHP2.6 billion in revenue in 1Q12, up 15% y-o-y, while the group’s mobile arm Smart contributed PHP1.7 billion from its wireless broadband services and newly acquired unit, Digitel (Sun Cellular) chipped in with a further PHP800 million. PLDT and its group subsidiaries controlled around 65% of the overall retail broadband market at the end of March 2012, he added.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:50:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Uzbekistan national operator Uztelecom continues to reduce the price for use of its internet gateway by ISPs. The rate was cut from USD 457 to USD 442 per 1 Mbps. It has been the fifth reduction this year, dropping from USD 500 in January.


Source: Telecompaper

CIS | Internet | Tariffs
Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:46:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Azerbaijan mobile operator Azercell has launched its LTE network in Baku, reports Trend. The network is operational in the capital city only, and the operator plans to double the coverage by the end of the year. Azercell offers USB modems supporting LTE for AZN 149, and the monthly subscription for unlimited broadband costs AZN 45. CEO Ali Agan said that the LTE launch should support a reduction in mobile data prices in Azerbaijan.

Source: Telecompaper

CIS | LTE | Tariffs
Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:44:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Angola’s Education Ministry and private sector mobile network operator Unitel have partnered Chinese telecoms equipment company Huawei to launch a project designed to provide free internet access for selected groups of public and private secondary school students, reports ANGOP news agency. According to a note from Unitel, the project, called ‘E-Net’, began last week and will involve all 18 provinces of Angola.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:48:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The World Bank’s board of directors has approved the extension of Nicaragua’s Rural Telecommunications Project, with an additional credit line of USD5 million. The funding will be used to expand telecoms access to more than 200,000 rural inhabitants in Rio San Juan, the Region Autonoma del Atlantico Norte (RAAN), the Region Autonoma del Atlantico Sur (RAAS) and the Alto Wanki Territory. The rural initiative, which was introduced in 2007, with an initial investment of USD7 million, has already installed broadband access points in 101 municipalities, expanded mobile phone coverage to 37 rural communities, and installed almost 600 public phones in rural areas. In these areas, poverty levels reach almost 55%, and the problems are especially prevalent in indigenous communities which lack access to the country’s national communication networks.

Orlando Castillo, executive president of the Instituto Nicaraguense de Telecomunicaciones y Correos (Telcor), commented: ‘With the extension of this project, we will be able to increase regional access to telecommunications services by at least 40%, something that will have a positive effect on the local economy.’

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:39:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ireland’s national telecoms regulator the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) has released its ‘Quarterly Report on the Irish telecommunications market’, covering the period January-March 2012. According to its findings, total quarterly electronic communications revenues fell 2.7% quarter-on-quarter to EUR930.3 million (USD1.17 billion), largely the result of a fall in mobile sector revenues. Total voice traffic declined 1.1% over the same period to around 4.34 billion minutes, with fixed voice traffic reporting a 1.8% q-o-q fall and mobile voice traffic, down 0.7%.

ComReg said that overall broadband subscriptions (including mobile internet) in the Republic rose slightly (0.1%) to 1.666 million, although when including dial-up users, the country total decreased 0.1% in January-March 2012, to 1.687 million. Fixed broadband users totalled 1.083 million at that date (+1.2%), mobile broadband (HSDPA) reached 583,031, down from 593,438 and dial-up accounts fell by 4,000 to 20,654. The watchdog reported that ADSL connections declined by 0.3 of a percentage point in 1Q12 to 726,814, cable modem users rose 6.1% to 275,499, fixed wireless access users slipped 2.6% to 69,566, and other broadband increased 8% to 11,519. As at 31 March 2012 the fixed broadband per capita penetration rate reached 23.6%, with the total broadband per capita penetration rate (including mobile broadband) was 36.3%.

ComReg also notes that consumers are increasingly opting for faster broadband connections, with 19.1% of all broadband subscriptions now in the >10Mbps category compared to 10.7% at end-March 2011. The highest proportion of customers in the >10Mbps category are using cable broadband, it said. Finally, the watchdog estimates that approximately 79% of TV homes in Ireland received a digital TV service by May 2012. Approximately 7% of Irish TV homes had an Irish DTT service at the same date.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:37:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ukraine’s Antimonopoly Committee has ordered the country’s two largest cellcos by subscribers, Kyivstar and MTS Ukraine, to lower their mobile service tariffs to ‘economically justified’ levels, the committee announced in a statement, reported by Ukrainian News Agency. The two companies have 15 days to report their proposed new tariffs back to the anti-trust agency. The committee stated that in 2012, Kyivstar has ‘increased the cost of SMS text messages by 28%, the cost of MMS by 33% and the subscription fee in certain tariff plans by 25%.’ It added that MTS Ukraine has ‘raised the cost of SMS by 22%, the cost of MMS by 20%, the cost of calls within the MTS network by 50%, and the cost of calls to subscribers of other operators in Ukraine by 20%.’ It said that these increases in retail prices occurred at a faster pace than the growth in the consumer price index for goods and services in Ukraine as a whole, and in the communications sector in particular.

Concurrently, the Antimonopoly Committee is conducting an investigation – launched in February – into whether international roaming tariffs charged by Kyivstar and MTS Ukraine are economically justified. The two cellcos have responded to the committee’s scrutiny by saying that they are taking measures to reduce tariffs for subscriber and inter-operator international roaming services.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:35:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zain Sudan, a unit of Kuwaiti telecoms firm Zain Group, aims to sign up an additional one million mobile subscribers in 2012 to boost its total customer base to 14 million by year-end, Reuters cites the company’s chief executive Elfatih Erwa as saying. The company is targeting growth outside of the capital Khartoum, but Erwa said that earnings gains will be offset by weaker operating margins due to higher taxes and a growing economic crisis. In December 2011 the Sudanese government introduced a new tax on telecoms operators to make up for the loss of oil revenue from newly independent South Sudan. Sales and services taxes for telecoms firms were increased from 20% to 30%, while a tax on profits was hiked from 15% to 30%; Erwa said that Zain has added the sales tax to its tariffs, but fierce competition meant it could not offset the profit tax increase with further price rises. Last year Zain Sudan began dividing its operations into two units after the South seceded in July 2011, but has yet to agree a licence fee with the newly independent country.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:34:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-owned telco Une-EPM has begun offering commercial services over its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, the first of its kind in the country. At present the mobile broadband service is available to 80% of the populations of Bogota and Medelin, but will be expanded to Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena and Bucaramanga later this year. Une intends to achieve 90% population coverage by end-December 2012, and sign up 120,000-180,000 subscribers by that date. Une is offering pre- and post-paid plans with maximum download speeds of up to 12Mbps, with download limits of 6GB or 12GB for monthly contract subscribers and 1.2GB, 4GB or 8GB for pay-as-you go users. Post-paid subscriptions start at COP89,900 (USD49.78) per month, plus COP33,400 for the USB modem.

Commenting on the launch, Une president Marc Perret Eichmann said: ‘4G will contribute to the development of the country, putting it at the forefront of telecommunications infrastructure in the region.’

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:32:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Senegalese telecoms watchdog the Agence de Regulation des Telecoms et Postes (ARTP) has published state owned fixed line PTO Societe Nationale des Telecommunications du Senegal (Sonatel’s) new catalogue for interconnection services covering 2011/12. In a website announcement ARTP reports that the new rates were approved on 24 May 2012, in accordance with Decree No.2005-1183 (6 December 2005) on the interconnection made under Article 13 of Law No.2001-15 (27 December 2001) of the Telecommunications Code – as amended by Act No.2011-01 (24 February 2011). Full details can be found at: http://www.sonatel.sn/documents/catalogue_2012.pdf

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:30:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-owned national PTO Vietnam Post and Telecommunications (VNPT) will stop providing dial-up internet access next month, due to falling demand for the service. Tuoitrenews reports that VNPT has obtained approval from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) to end the service from 15 July 2012, and the operator will focus on the provision of its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) ‘FiberVNN’ and ADSL ‘MegaVNN’ broadband internet services.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:28:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone India and Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL, also known as MTS India) have joined the recent trend of slashing rates for 3G-based services. According to the Times of India, Vodafone, following similar action by Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communication (RCOM), cut the price of its pre-paid data plans by 80% to INR0.02 (USD0.0004) per KB whilst lowering its post-paid packages with the new prices ranging from INR25 per month for 25MB of data to INR1,599 per month for 12GB. An unlikely addition to the 3G tariff war was SSTL. Although the operator maintains that data services are the core of its operations, as one of the providers to have its licences revoked by the Supreme Court earlier this year, its future in India is uncertain. SSTL increased the amount of data on its ‘MBlaze’ packages, offering 750MB of usage for INR198 per month, up from 200MB, whilst its 350MB and 512MB offerings were upped to 1GB and 2GB.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:26:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to a report by the Information Society & Media Directorate-General of the European Commission, Slovenia’s mobile broadband service penetration rate (on all devices) reached 29.1% in January 2012. However, the report added that the figure was well below the European Union (EU) average of 43.1%, whilst it saw ‘no significant signs’ of substitution between fixed and mobile broadband. Penetration on large screens, as measured by dedicated data services (via cards, modems or keys), was near-static year-on-year at 2.5% in January 2012, according to the report, which also said that Slovenia’s rate of regular internet use (at least once a week) stood at 66%, below the EU average of 69%, and was virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:25:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telefonica O2 CR has announced the launch of a commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, making it the first carrier to bring 4G services to the Czech population. At launch, the new LTE network covers the municipality of Jesenice (district Prague-West) and its surroundings, serving a total population of around 10,000 people. Further, the operator says its LTE signal is also available in approximately half of the Chodov shopping mall in Prague, where its flagship ‘O2 Experience Centre’ store is based.

Telefonica O2 CR is using so-called ‘network neutral’ spectrum to support its LTE launch and is using equipment supplied by Huawei of China. The cellco’s fledgling 4G system comprises 2×10MHz of bandwidth in the 1800MHz band. From 19 June O2 customers can purchase one of two devices that support LTE with a SIM card, it says. It is offering customers an option of three tariffs for the new service, branded ‘LTE Mobile Internet’, with prices starting at CZK333 (USD16.5) per month for 2GB of downloads, rising to CZK800 for 40GB and a maximum 60Mbps/25Mbps connection.

Source: Telegeography

LTE | Tariffs
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:21:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

New data from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Pay-TV Research Service show that IPTV penetration of telcos’ worldwide broadband subscribers reached 15 percent in Q1 2012, equivalent to 67 million subscribers and 8 percent of the world’s 812 million pay-TV subscribers. However, widely differing IPTV and pay-TV penetration rates by region point to radically different IPTV growth prospects.

North American telcos, led by Verizon and AT&T, have succeeded in selling IPTV service to almost 40 percent of their broadband subscriber base. However, with over 80 percent of households subscribing to some form of pay-TV service, North America’s market is saturated, and subscriber growth is at a standstill. Western Europe’s pay-TV market is also nearing saturation despite having a penetration rate 20 percentage points below that of North America. Market slowdowns here, as well as in Eastern Europe, can be attributed to the continued prevalence of free-to-air service in many countries. In these three regions, telcos will be hard pressed to extend their IPTV subscriber base much further, as success will depend on taking subscribers away from other operators in highly competitive markets.

IPTV and Pay-TV Penetration Rates, Q1 2012

 Pay_TV_6-2012.png

Source: TeleGeography

Three other regions will also see IPTV growth stymied, but for different reasons. IPTV opportunities in Latin America are tightly constrained by market structure and lack of a supportive regulatory regime, while the prevalence of free-to-air services and wide-scale piracy are barriers to growth in Africa and the Middle East.

In contrast to the mature markets, the Asia-Pacific region has a pay-TV household penetration rate of only 46 percent, and telcos have sold IPTV services to just 12 percent of their broadband subscribers thus far. This leaves plenty of room for market growth, while the 987 million households in the region present a huge opportunity for IPTV.

IPTV subscriber growth over the past three years has been impressive. Although the number of IPTV subscribers has grown by 36 percent in the last year alone, some operators are now seeing subscriber declines. Most of the remaining growth in IPTV will come from the Asia-Pacific – the region is expected to account for two thirds of global subscriber growth over the next five years.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:17:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has issued an order to the country’s dominant telecoms operator Batelco, setting new wholesale regulated access and interconnection rates for 2012. Under the order the telco’s bitstream and wholesale DSL charges are decreasing by between 2% and 26% compared to current prices; interconnection links charges are being cut by between 30% and 50%; interconnection services charges remain unchanged; duct access rates are similarly unaltered (although the TRA has introduced a maximum price that Batelco can charge to alternative operators for the field study stage required prior to cabling); domestic leased line wholesale costs are dropping by up to 46%; fees for international leased half circuits to Gulf countries are falling by between 28% and 68%, and for Southeast/East Asia, Europe and the USA, the wholesale tariffs have been cut by between 41% and 45%.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:14:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Zambia is reportedly aiming to have deployed some 200 new mobile towers in rural areas of the country before the end of the year, with a view to enhancing coverage in underserved areas. According to AllAfrica, Airtel managing director Fayaz King noted that the infrastructure rollout forms part of a partnership with Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), with the duo working on a universal access project that will see Airtel Zambia construct more than 350 shareable base stations in rural areas nationwide. It is understood that 171 towers have already been built and are now up and running, with constituencies that have benefited including Chiengi, Senga Hill, Lufwanyama, Kabompo East, and Chifunabuli.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:11:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Chad has launched the nation’s first mobile banking service, dubbed Airtel Money, allowing its customers to carry out financial transactions such as paying utility bills through their mobile phones. It is hoped that the service, which was launched in conjunction with Ecobank, will contribute to job creation and business opportunities. The cellco’s CEO, Salia Gbane commented on the launch: ‘This service allows customers to send money to their relatives, pay essential bills such as electricity and water, tuition fees, bookings and even buy groceries without having to carry cash. The phone essentially becomes an electronic wallet. This partnership clearly demonstrates the revolutionary role that mobile communications can play in improving the living conditions of the communities that we serve.’ As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel’s main rival in Chad, Luxembourg-backed cellco Tigo Chad, has previously announced plans to extend its Tigo Cash service to the country during 2012, but has been beaten to the punch by Airtel.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 3:07:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Macau’s Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation (DSRT) has postponed the country’s planned switch-off of 2G services for Macanese subscribers to 1 January 2013, from the previous deadline of 9 July 2012. Cellcos in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) will provide exclusively 3G services to their subscribers from the start of next year, with their 2G networks to be restricted to offering roaming-only services for tourists from that date. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database shows the penetration of 3G services in Macau reached 95% of all mobile subscribers in the territory at the end of March 2012, when there were 1.35 million 3G customers. The regulator stated that there were 30,000 remaining 2G subscribers at the end of May 2012, and noted that some residents remained concerned about the full transition to 3G service, and therefore decided to allow more time to complete the switchover.

The SAR’s largest cellco, Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM) said that it welcomed the DSRT’s decision to extend local 2G services until the end of this year, giving more time for ‘residents to get acquainted to 3G service while enabling telecom operators and the government to further discuss the service transition in details in accordance with the actual response of the market.’ CTM added it was making efforts to help senior citizens and members of vulnerable groups in society to complete 3G network migration, with special packages offered including ‘CTM Elderly Buddy’.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:36:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to online news portal Agence Ecofin, regional mobile operator Africell is poised to launch commercial services in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), almost two years after receiving rights and spectrum to offer wireless services there. Africell, a subsidiary of Lebanese firm Lintel Holding, already operates mobile networks in Sierra Leone and the Gambia, and has now been authorised to launch in DRC by Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information Technologies and Communication, Tryphon Kin-Kiey, on 18 June. Speaking at Africell’s launch ceremony, Kin-Kiey advised the newcomer to ‘innovate’ by deploying its network infrastructure over a wider footprint than those of its rivals, and by rolling out base transceiver stations (BTS) in less profitable areas, rather than concentrating on major centres and provincial capitals.

The news agency notes however, that the cellco’s commercial launch is not actually expected to take place until next month, with a three-tiered rollout mooted by the firm. The first stage will encompass Kinshasa and the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Katanga, followed by a second phase rollout in the provinces of Kasai Occidental and Kasai Oriental; the third and final batch of deployments will take in the Eastern Province, Ecuador, and north and south Kiwu.

Agence Ecofin’s report describes Africell as the DRC’s ‘sixth mobile operator’, although it remains unclear when a fifth mobile operator actually inaugurated commercial services in the country. Airtel DRC, Vodacom DRC, Tigo DRC and Congo Chine Telecom (CCT) are widely acknowledged as the country’s four established mobile operators, but over the years as many as 16 companies have been granted wireless licences, only to come unstuck due to myriad legal and financial issues, muddying the waters somewhat.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in October 2010 Africell launched a tender process to identify a vendor to roll out a mobile network using 2×9MHz of bandwidth in the 1800MHz band as well as 2×4MHz of 900MHz band spectrum; a provisional launch date of April 2012 was later suggested.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:34:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Malawian mobile operators have criticised an increase in corporate tax on the wireless sector to 33% from the standard rate of 30%, calling the move unfair and unjustified, The Business Times cites senior officials at Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) as saying. The tax rise on the sector was announced by Finance Minister Ken Lipenga earlier this month in his 2012/13 budget statement to parliament. Describing the tax as ‘punitive’, Airtel Malawi’s managing director Saulos Chilima said: ‘It is unfortunate that we [mobile operators] have been singled out [for the tax rise]. There is an element of discrimination here which is of concern to us as a company.’ He added that cellular operators, under the initiative of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), will meet Lipenga to discuss the matter and ask the government to review the tax. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the country’s other operational cellco, TNM, called the tax on the mobile sector unjustified. ‘Our capital investment is huge and this increase will have an impact on some investments that may have gone into the network. The impact may not be apparent now but certainly in the near future, this will be felt,’ Wilma Chalulu commented. Malawi has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. The rate stood at around 24% of the population at the end of March 2012, less than half the average wireless penetration for the region (65%).

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:33:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A European Union-funded twinning project aimed at harmonising Israeli communications regulations with those in Europe has been successfully completed. The project, which was funded to the tune of EUR600,000 (USD753,000) by the EU, saw Israel’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) and a consortium created by the telecommunications regulators from Germany’s Federal Network Agency (FNA), Spain’s Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicacinoes (CMT) and Italy’s Autorita per le Garanzie Comunicazioni (Agcom) work towards fostering competition in the Israeli telecommunications markets and increasing the protection of the Israeli consumers. In the wake of the project’s closure, the head of the EU Delegation to Israel, Ambassador Andrew Standley, underlined the symbolic dimension of the project, including ‘the many tangible contributions and results of the twinning project, which contribute to the reinforcement of the regulator’s role in ensuring a smooth functioning of the communications market that achieves a high level of consumer protection’. The ambassador also suggested that in the wake of the project a national and independent regulator could soon be established by the Israeli Government, in line with the most advanced EU framework.

The project, which was entitled ‘Assist the Israeli Telecommunications regulator to establish greater approximation to the European Union regulatory approach, specifically with wholesale markets’, commenced in February 2011, and during the 16-months that it lasted EU partners sent around 50 experts to Israel. The MoC and EU experts worked on a number of topics as part of the scheme, including: pricing methodologies for technologically neutral wholesale market regulation; differences between regulatory frameworks and roadmap for desired approximation; data collection; enforcement methods and objectives; dispute resolution; consumer protection; and technical aspects of the Israeli wholesale market.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:31:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sweden’s National Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) has launched a secondary consultation on its third generation of competitive decisions for ex-ante regulation of four telecoms sub-markets applying to mobile and fixed call interconnection and fixed telephony access. The regulatory determinations on the sub-markets for fixed access, fixed call origination, fixed call termination and mobile call termination will be aimed at ensuring that end-users can ‘continue to select fixed line rental from multiple operators and be able to call each other no matter which operator you have subscribed to,’ the watchdog stated. Market participants have until 31 August 2012 to comment on the PTS’ proposed market determinations/remedies, and the regulator expects to enter into consultations with the European Commission and other European regulatory authorities by early November. The final decisions are expected to be taken at the beginning of 2013.

As part of its current phase of market analysis, earlier this month the PTS released its proposed mobile termination rate (MTR) of SEK0.15 (USD0.021) per minute, representing a decrease from the current SEK0.21 MTR, with the new rate set to be applicable from 1 July 2012 (applicable retroactively). The figure resulted from using an updated calculation method based on the so-called hybrid model used to determine cost-oriented rates in mobile networks.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:30:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bharat Telecom Limited, a telecoms joint venture between Mauritian and Indian investors, reportedly plans to connect every home and business in Mauritius to fibre, according to BalancingAct quoting the firm’s Baljinder Sharmer as saying. The Bharat official says that tests of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology are already underway in one community and trials are due to ‘launch soon’.

Under the ambitious investment plan, Bharat Telecom is looking to invest up to USD50 million to roll out 2,900km of fibre-optical network, covering Mauritius. It is understood that 200km will comprise a core 10Gbps network in underground ducts, while a further 2,700km of fibre will be deployed on poles belonging to the Central Electricity Board, consisting of ‘single core and 24 core fibre’. The telco intends to cover 70% of the population in phase one of the rollout, with the other 30% being connected under Phase 2 of the build.

Bharat Telecom received its operating licence in November 2011, since when it has moved to get its business operational as soon as possible. To date it has constructed 80km of the core network component, and piloted the FTTH service at sites in Quatres Bornes and Rose Hill. Once fully operational, the newcomer intends to offer high speed broadband at speeds of up to 100Mbps and IPTV services via its Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) network. Setting itself a target of 50,000 business and residential subscribers, Bharat intends to offer a 2Mbps connection with 40 TV channels for USD10 per month, rising to USD200 a month for a premium content package. The average price is expected to be USD20 per month, with Bharat also intent on breaking the tradition of end users being tied to long-term contracts. The newcomer is not planning to offer triple-play (i.e. there are no plans for voice telephony), however. ‘We don’t have telephony licences and we deliberately kept out of voice. We didn’t want to get into a fight with the two local big boys. The set-top box has a telephone port and some of the subscribers might want to call within the network, no problem. That’s up to the subscribers,’ the director said.

Sharmar told BalancingAct: ‘I personally want us to disrupt the whole market. The competition will respond and it will therefore be beneficial to the country. The cheaper it is, the more up-take there will be and therefore there will be more subscribers, which in turn will sustain lower bandwidth prices. So far no-one has really tried this. We will breakeven on the low-cost packages and in some instances make money.’

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:28:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bahrain’s Batelco has announced the commercial availability of enhanced mobile broadband services with theoretical maximum downlink connection speeds of up to 42Mbps on its HSPA+ network. Alongside the upgrade to dual carrier HSPA+ (DC-HSPA+) standard, Batelco has launched new mobile broadband packages with unlimited monthly data usage for smartphones, tablets and laptops, available to new and existing post-paid subscribers. The telco has also introduced a new line-up of devices capable of supporting its new higher data speeds for its ‘O-Net’ mobile broadband users. The three unlimited post-paid packages start from BHD8 (USD21) per month, and all allow access to the 42Mbps network, with each tier allowing a different data threshold before the connection speed is throttled to 512kbps (downlink)/128kbps (uplink). Subscribers to the BHD8 package have a monthly threshold of 4GB, BHD10 packages users get 7GB of unthrottled usage, and the top-tier BHD11 option throttles speeds after 8GB.

Source: Telegeography

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:27:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced it's nearing completion of its HSPA+ network roll-out and plans to launch LTE next year. The mobile operator said that it is on schedule to complete its AUD 1 billion investment and two-year roll-out of its new mobile network by the end of this year. This includes the introduction of dual-carrier HSPA+ in the 850MHz band. The network roll-out is complete in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Canberra. Work in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne started recently, and Vodafone will complete the upgrades to all sites on the Eastern Seaboard later this year. The HSPA+ service should be available from September, and Vodafone plans to start a LTE roll-out next year. The new network agreement with Optus should also expand network coverage, to 96 percent of the Australian population from as early as April 2013. More information on the LTE timing will be released towards the end of this year, pending contract negotiations.


Source: Telecompaper

LTE
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:25:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 22, 2012

France’s telecoms industry regulator Arcep has published its findings on the mobile communications market in France and its overseas territories for the period ended 31 March 2012, showing strong growth since the arrival of Iliad’s Free Mobile start-up in January. The watchdog reported that the total number of mobile service customers in metropolitan France and the overseas territories stood at 69.5 million, thanks to net additions of close to 900,000 SIMs in the quarter, a cellular penetration of 106.5% of the national population. Net growth in Q1 2012 far outstripped the average for the preceding five years (of 300,000 SIMs) it said, as Free Mobile made an instant impact on the mainland. Arcep added that in January-March the total number of gross sales (7.8 million) and account cancellations (6.9 million) both reached ‘exceptionally high levels’ in the past quarter.

Arcep said that the total number of mobile customers in mainland France stood at 66.8 million at the end of March 2012, up 6.1% on the same time in 2011, of which roughly three quarters (74%) were on monthly subscriptions. The increase in the number of flat rate plans was much stronger in the first quarter of 2012 it said – rising by 1.6 million in January-March, compared to 900,000 in 4Q11. Metropolitan France mobile network operators (MNOs) Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange France and SFR collectively reported a total 59.4 million mobile subscribers, up 940,000 quarter-on quarter. Meanwhile, the number of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customers decreased by around 90,000 to 7.5 million by the end of March 2012 – equivalent to 11.15% of the market, down from 11.43% three months earlier. The use of mobile number portability (MNP) also leapt during the first quarter of the year, with 2.6 million numbers being ported, compared to one million in Q4 2011.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:12:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Golan Telecom and HOT Mobile, the wireless unit of Israeli cable operator HOT Telecommunication Systems, have separately announced the commercial launch of mobile services in Israel, reports Haaretz. Both companies are offering services over third-generation networks, having emerged as the two winners of 3G concessions auctioned by Israeli authorities last year. Golan, which was awarded its 3G permit after a number of other would-be players failed to meet the financial obligations of the licence, has struck a deal with existing cellco Cellcom in order to ensure wide network coverage at launch, while HOT Telecommunication Systems, which acquired iDEN wireless trunking operator MIRS Communications in July 2011, is partly utilising Pelephone’s infrastructure. The new network launches come a day after Alon Holdings Blue Square Israel introduced its low-cost mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) YouPhone.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Broadband | MVNO | Operators
Friday, June 22, 2012 3:10:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to a recent report by Nielsen, in March 2012 smartphones as many as by 50.4 percent of consumers in US were using smartphones over basic devices, with Android maintaining its dominant position, accounting for 48.5 percent of all smartphone handsets. Apple follows at 32 percent remaining the single-biggest smartphone handset brand.
 
However, the smartphone growth in US has been slow in the past three months, with a growth of only 3 percent from 47.8 percent in December 2011. The report also highlights that Asian Americans have the highest usage, at 67.3 percent, using a smartphone device.
 
Hispanics were in second place with 57.3 percent of the group using smartphones, with African Americans closely following with 54.4 percent. Whites had the lowest penetration of all, with 44.7 percent. A gender analysis revealed that in the U.S. 50.9 percent of females had smartphones, while among men it was 50.1 percent.

Source: Wireless Federation.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:09:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Jordan, a subsidiary of Jordan Telecom Group, said that its fixed and wireless broadband Internet represents around 55 percent of the kingdom’s total market share.
 
Orange Jordan’s Chief Executive Sami Smeirat told Dow Jones Newswires that they have around 400,000 subscribers in both the wire and wireless broadband.
 
As per the report, Smeirat said Orange, in which France Telecom (FTE) owns a 51 percent stake, has currently over 34 percent market penetration as far as the mobile services are concerned, or around 2.6 million subscribers.
 
Jordan currently has three mobile operators, including Zain Jordan, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Company, Orange Jordan, and Batelco’s unit Umniah.
 
Orange Jordan saw growth in broadband 3G services boosting the 2011 bottom line in a sector which has seen a fierce turf war among the three operators and is hit by sluggish economic growth.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:07:45 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In an attempt to counter the increasing roaming charges for Canadian mobile-phone users, Roam Mobility Inc is offering consumers a better alternative.
 
According to a report by Globe and Mail, the Vancouver-based upstart, marketing itself as a rogue mobile company, is aggressively ramping up its rollout of cellphones, SIM cards and other devices to entice Canadians looking for cheaper alternatives to high roaming rates the major wireless companies charge when customers travel to the United States with their smartphones in tow.
 
Roam Mobility’s chief executive officer Emir Aboulhosn, said that they will not tell users to switch from Rogers, Telus and Bell – they’re just asking users to stop using them when they cross the border. Roam estimates that Canadians spend $800-million a year on international roaming fees, with roughly $450-million spent on U.S. roaming alone.
 
As per the report, Roam Mobility launched its service in January, competing with the major carriers by offering Canadian travellers unlimited talk and text plans from $3 a day, including free calls to Canada. Its data rates start as low as 2 cents a megabyte.
 
With the summer travel season just around the corner, Roam is in expansion mode. It will announce a new partnership with Allegiant Air to sell its products during flights starting June 1. Allegiant is a U.S. airline that services border airports such as Niagara Falls, N.Y., and offers discounted fares to popular U.S. destinations.
 
Roam’s products are already available at a number of Canadian and U.S. airports and at major land border duty-free shops. They will also be sold at Future Shop starting next month. Its product line includes a cellphone for talk and text; SIM cards that can be used in a consumer’s own unlocked phone; and personal “hotspot” devices that provide a high-speed data connection for up to five wireless devices (like smartphones, tablet computers or laptops) at the same time.
 
The report reveals that Roam has already attracted close to 20,000 customers and is on track to hit the 100,000-subscriber mark in the second quarter of 2013. Even though the vast majority of its customers are people who travel to the U.S. in short spurts, Aboulhosn says Roam can afford to be aggressive with its pricing because its capital expenditures and overhead costs are relatively low.

Source: Wireless Federation

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:05:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chilean telecoms regulator the Sub-Secretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel) has announced the completion of its public-private initiative, to deliver broadband services to remote rural communities. The project, which saw Subtel partner with local operator Entel and was launched December 2009, rolled out wireless broadband networks to 1,474 towns and villages allowing around three million Chileans to access the internet more easily. The project cost USD110 million, with Entel providing USD65 million, and USD45 million coming from the Fund for the Development of Telecommunications (FDT) and the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT). As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the first stage of the project was completed in September 2010, having connected 451 communities, consisting of around 1.7 million people.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:02:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Pan-African telecoms service supplier Gateway Communications has announced that it has brought additional capacity from submarine cable SAT-3 to landlocked Botswana via South Africa, under its Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative. Customers can now access high speed, reliable connectivity, which will help to improve Botswana’s economic sectors, including mining, tourism and agriculture. Gateway has also revealed that more routes are being added to the networks already created in Zambia and Malawi during the initial phase of its terrestrial network initiative. A new path, utilising both SAT-3 and SEACOM connectivity, has been developed to provide Zambia with a fully redundant path through Zimbabwe. During the next few months Gateway will be extending its terrestrial network by deploying another link into Malawi through the eastern border town of Mulanji. Under the next step of the project, Gateway aims to bring additional capacity to Mauritius by connecting the island via SAFE to a neutral data centre facility in South Africa and then onward to Europe via EASSy and SAT-3. This will connect Mauritius to Africa and will allow the country to connect internationally using Gateway’s pan-African MPLS network and international peering stations in London, UK. ‘Through this innovative project, we will make sure that the benefits of high speed services are available to everyone using our pan-African network,’ commented Mike van den Bergh, CEO of Gateway Communications, adding: ‘This brings us closer to our goal of ensuring that every country in Africa has access to cost-effective and reliable capacity.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 3:01:12 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azeri telecoms operator AzTelekom, which is wholly owned by the state via the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), is set to expand the availability of broadband services in rural parts of the country through the deployment of a 600km fibre-optic cable. Telecompaper cites a report by news agency Trend as saying that the operator is carrying out the project in partnership with seven private internet service providers (ISPs), five of which have already commenced work, with 200km of fibre deployed to eleven telecoms access nodes. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that AzTelekom operates in the internet market through its subsidiary AzTelekom.NET, which was established in September 2004. It provides a range of connection options, including dial-up, leased lines and ADSL (offering transmission speeds of up to 10Mbps), and also provides voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:59:00 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

British mobile network operator O2 UK has reportedly begun the deployment of Dual Carrier HSPA+ (DC-HSPA+) technology, CNET UK claims. Citing an unnamed O2 UK spokesman as confirming the development, the cellco is understood to be rolling out the technology with a view to increasing theoretical downlink speeds to up to 42Mbps. The increased speeds are expected to be available initially in ‘major cities’, and while no details of launch locations have been formally announced, the report speculates that London, Birmingham and Manchester are likely locations for the initial deployment.

In separate but related news, meanwhile, Chinese vendor Huawei has reportedly bagged a five-year managed services deal with O2 UK for the latter’s core network. According to Cellular News, under the terms of the deal between the two companies 56 employees will be transferred from the Telefonica-owned mobile operator to work for Huawei’s managed services business, with the vendor taking responsibility for planning and managing the core transmission, mobile access and core network build in the multi-vendor core network. Commenting on the deal, Huawei UK CEO Victor Zhang was cited as saying: ‘We are very pleased to announce our first major managed services agreement in the UK. Huawei works with Telefonica in a number of markets around the world and today’s agreement means we are extending our relationship to the UK. Today’s announcement is an important first step in building a world-class managed services capability in the UK.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:57:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Saudi Arabian telco Etihad Etisalat, which trades as Mobily, has awarded India-based software vendor Xius a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) management contract. With the Saudi government preparing to offer its first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences, network owners such as Mobily need to be ready to host resellers. Mobily has therefore contracted Xius to deploy its Mobile Services Platform infrastructure and framework. Mobily is the second largest cellular operator in Saudi Arabia, with 21.3 million subscribers and 37% of the overall wireless market at the end of 2011, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:56:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Polish internet service provider (ISP) Multimedia Polska has announced the extension of its cable network to three more cities; Chojnow, Wolow and Nowa Ruda. The expansion adds a further 7,500 homes with access to Multimedia’s triple play offerings, including standard and high definition (HD) TV, video-on-demand (VoD) services, high speed internet access and telephony. The expansion follows in the wake of Multimedia’s acquisition of rival cableco Stream Communications late last month which, as noted by CommsUpdate, added approximately 100,000 subscribers to its customer base. At the end of March 2012, Multimedia claimed 1.543 million revenue generating units (RGUs) including 410,292 broadband subscriptions, 356,464 of which connected via cable, 49, 981 through ADSL and 3,847 though WiMAX.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:55:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodacom South Africa has announced the launch of its Freedom 99 prepaid tariff, offering calls to all networks at ZAR 0.99 per minute. Marketing head Enzo Scarcella said Freedom 99 customers who recharge by ZAR 12 or more can talk for free every night with Nightshift. This provides 60 minutes of talktime every day for seven days to call Vodacom customers between midnight and 05:00 hrs. Vodacom's Freedom 99 will be available from 20 May.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:54:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile data now accounts for a very significant aspect of a consumer’s life. While demand for wireless data services has been on the rise, users are also on the lookout for the most economical option, adding pressure on mobile operators.

In an attempt to meet consumer demand and reduce churn, mobile operators Verizon Wireless and AT&T are preparing to roll out shared-data pricing plans this year, according to a report by BN. As per the report, the revolutionary new service would enable customers to split one internet data plan between their phones, iPads and other wireless devices, providing an economical option for families, small businesses or people with a lot of Web-connected gadgets.
 
As per the report, while such a move could prove to be highly successful for operators, any would lower the amount of money that subscribers pay, while increasing network traffic and the cost of maintaining networks. Thus both operators are hesitant in being the first one to offer the service.
 
However, mobile operators Sprint and T-Mobile are yet to announce any plans for the same. They claim that such a move may make it tougher for families to keep a track of how the data is being used, and may lead to bill shock.

Source: Wireless Federation.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:52:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

India’s leading telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, has entered into a partnership with Axis Bank, enabling customers to carry out basic transactions such as transfer money as well as deposit and withdraw cash via Airtel Money.
 
As per reports, Bharti Airtel chief executive, India and South Asia, Sanjay Kapoor said that following the recent pan-India launch of Airtel money, they are today excited to collaborate with Axis Bank to further strengthen their m-commerce proposition for customers.
 
He added that the services will first be offered in Delhi and Mumbai on the sending side, and Bihar and East Uttar Pradesh on the receiving side. Thereafter, these services may be extended to other remittance corridors in the country.
 
Kapoor also said that according to estimates, nearly 43 per cent of the country’s population does not have bank accounts-the ‘Airtel money Super Account powered by Axis Bank’ acts as a no-frills bank account that comes with remittance capabilities.
 
Axis Bank MD and CEO Shikha Sharma said that their alliance with Airtel will help the bank to reach out to excluded segments of their population, both in rural and urban centres, with reasonably priced banking and financial services.

Source: Wireless Federation.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012 2:50:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |