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 Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Multimedia Polska has extended its fibre-optic network to pass an additional 1,000 homes in Kutno and hopes to add a further 600 before the end of the month. The cableco said that the expansion work would bring the number of homes connected to its network to nearly 5,000, estimating that it had spent around PLN1 million (USD286,786) on network expansion in the city over the last two years.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 1:00:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zimbabwe’s largest cellco Econet has relaunched its mobile WiMAX broadband services, having slashed its prices and made available once again its mobile WiMAX USB modems which were previously taken off the shelves whilst it concentrated on marketing its 3G cellular mobile broadband services instead. As TechZim reports, Econet is now offering a ZTE TU25 mobile WiMAX dongle modem for a one-off price of USD45 and internet access for USD0.025 per MB, compared to a previous pricetag for the same modem of USD175 two years ago (with a cost per MB of USD0.15). The mobile WiMAX service was launched commercially in April 2010 by Econet’s Ecoweb ISP unit, but its high prices made it unattainable to the average internet user, and marketing of the service to new customers was suspended after five months as Econet focused on its 3G network development, and repositioned WiMAX as a fixed-wireless service, offering indoor modems as part of its ‘@Home’ and ‘@Work’ WiMAX packages. The relaunch of mobile WiMAX packages appears to be timed to fight the challenge from rival ISPs launching the technology, including Utande, by undercutting their prices.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:59:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has launched a multimillion-dollar Government-Assisted Technology Endeavour (GATE) project in partnership with regional telecoms operator Digicel Group, in a bid to drive the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the country. The Caribbean Journal writes that the project will focus on improving the nation’s broadband internet connectivity, along with a focus on ‘stimulating growth in innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation and sustainability’. As part of the plan, the government and Digicel hope to deploy fourth-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile technology, with Antiguan minister Dr Edmond Mansoor calling GATE a ‘bold step forward’ in preparing the country for the next two decades.

The journal notes that the GATE project has four primary components: an ICT Cadet Programme, which has already launched (in June this year), aimed at targeting school leavers to prepare them for the work environment; plans to improve internet connectivity and technology in the classroom, including using 4G LTE broadband connectivity; a plan to LTE connectivity for Antigua’s government; and the creation of a multi-purpose ICT training facility and special needs resource centre in the Michael’s Mount area of Antigua. The ICT facility will be built by Digicel on state-owned lands, according to the government.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:57:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Hungarian telecoms operator Magyar Telekom (MTel) yesterday announced a decision to implement a gradual increase in some of its tariffs from September, citing ‘unfavourable economic and market processes’ as the reason. Budapest Business Journal reports that the tariff changes are deemed ‘unavoidable’ by the incumbent, due to the lack of economic recovery in the central European nation, as well as higher than expected inflation and the adverse impact of ‘certain economic policy measures of the past period’. Further, the operator says it will not be passing on a new tax on voice calls and SMS to its customers: the government tax, introduced from July, is expected to cost MTel up to HUF8 billion (USD33.8 million) in 1H12 and HUF20 billion per annum from 2013.

In a statement, the telco said that the tariff changes ‘will match the varying characteristics of mobile and fixed line as well as post-paid and pre-paid tariff packages and will retain the benefits and discounts favoured by customers’. It added that ‘For post-paid mobile packages the change in monthly tariff will be mitigated by unchanged minute and text message rates and conditions; while for pre-paid mobile packages, there is no monthly charge but minute charges will change. For enterprise customers, there will be no change to either the monthly fee for tariff packages included in dedicated framework contracts, nor the national minute and text message rates’.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:50:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has announced the implementation of the first phase of its ‘ultra-high speed’ NGN/FTTx broadband network, under its nationwide network modernisation project ‘i-Sri Lanka’, which has driven an increase of 40,000 new broadband connections so far. The i-Sri Lanka project is scheduled for completion within 18 months, by which time it will provide 20Mbps broadband and triple-play services to more than 90% of customers and add capacity for 600,000 new broadband customers to the network. SLT plans to double its existing customer base of around 300,000 over the next couple of years.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:48:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Uruguayan state-owned telecoms operator Antel connected 75,000 households to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network in the first half of 2012, with 15,000 homes already signing up to services from the company, reports Prensa Latina citing official sources. The project aims to connect 240,000 households to the fibre-optic network by the end of 2012, with 75% of the population planned to be covered within three years. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Antel selected Chinese equipment vendor ZTE in September 2011 to build a national gigabit passive optical network (GPON) capable of delivering headline speeds of up to 100Mbps to households across the country. The following month Antel announced that it had connected the first home to the direct fibre network and said it planned to connect around 30,000 by year-end.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:46:15 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) I-Mobile Plus, a subsidiary of Samart Corporation, has been awarded a five-year contract by state telco TOT for exclusive rights to 40% of 3G network capacity to be resold to end-users under TOT’s new business model. As reported by the Bangkok Post, TOT board chairman Panthep Chamrasromran announced that I-Mobile Plus must pay TOT a guaranteed minimum revenue of THB156 million (USD4.9 million) for the first year and THB476 million for the second, and the MVNO is targeting 860,000 3G subscribers in the first year of operations and 1.81 million in the second year. Previously, Samart I-Mobile (I-Mobile 3GX’) was amongst a group of five MVNOs reselling 3G services over TOT’s HSPA network under one-year contracts, alongside Loxley (i-kool), IEC Technology (IEC 3G), 365 Communication (365 3G) and M Consult Asia (Mojo 3G).

Mr Panthep confirmed TOT is also in talks with Loxley to retail 20% of 3G network capacity, while for the remaining 40% of capacity, he said that TOT would not require a guaranteed minimum revenue; prospective MVNOs for this portion include IEC Technology, 365 Communication, M Consult Asia, Acumen and Jasmine Telecom Systems.

Panthep also said TOT aims to increase its number of 3G base stations from a current 2,300 to 5,320 in October. TOT has site sharing agreements with Advanced Info Service (AIS) covering 800 base stations, and an additional 300 shared sites agreed with True Move. TOT’s board will discuss a second phase of 3G network expansion on 26 July.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:45:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The use of mobile number portability (MNP) in Colombia still remains limited, almost a year after its introduction, according to the most recent results published by telecoms regulator the Communication Regulation Commission (CRC). Since introduction in August 2011, a total of 441,163 customers have switched provider and kept their number in a market of more than 45 million wireless subscribers. The greatest concentration of ports was in Q1 2012 when 167,914 people moved operators, with the number dropping to 132,344 in Q2 2012. Telefonica Moviles Colombia, which uses the Movistar brand of its Spanish parent, has suffered the worst from MNP, with net losses of 159,760. Comcel, recently rebranded under the preferred Claro moniker of its parent company America Movil, reaped the greatest reward from the scheme, with net additions of 85,426 from MNP, whilst Tigo was close behind with 65,058 net additions. Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Uff Movil also added 8,866 new customers thanks to MNP.

However, the use of MNP is still fairly marginal and the flow of customers is not representative of the majority of users. Whilst Claro saw the greatest number of customers moving to its network and keeping their numbers, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Claro has in fact seen a reduction in its market share since the introduction of MNP, whilst its two main rivals have increased their shares of the market. At June 2011, Claro reigned over the wireless sector with a 67.8% share of segment, compared to 22.0% and 10.2% attributed to Movistar and Tigo respectively. By end-March 2012, Claro had seen its lead eroded somewhat, dropping to 63.1% of the market against 26.0% and 10.9%.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:35:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azeri mobile operator Bakcell has chosen to deploy PT’s SEGway Number Portability Solution for its network in Baku, in line with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s (MCIT’s) requirement for service providers to make mobile number portability (MNP) available to subscribers this year. SEGway’s carrier-grade IP backbone provides a platform for seamless growth and the addition of revenue-generating features as networks evolve to next generation. ‘We faced an enormous challenge of selecting a vendor, testing, and turning up MNP within a very short window of time, and without impact to our network,’ commented Jordan Rashev, Bakcell’s head of Network Management Centre, adding: ‘We were confident that PT would deliver the quality we are accustomed to and meet our deadline. We are extremely pleased with their product and service.’

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:32:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Slovenian cellco Si.Mobil has launched the country’s first commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G mobile broadband service over a network covering parts of Ljubljana, Brnik and Bled. At launch, LTE users are being offered the Huawei E392 USB modem for use on Si.Mobil’s 4G network in conjunction with the operator’s new ‘Mobilni’ 4G internet plan, and are promised data rates of between 30Mbps and 80Mbps, with a theoretical peak of 100Mbps. Last year Telekom Austria subsidiary Si.Mobil conducted a comprehensive modernisation of its network, which offers 3G mobile broadband to over 90% of the population, and is designed to be easily upgraded with LTE technology across Slovenia, with many of its base stations already ‘LTE ready’.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:31:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mexican president Felipe Calderon has announced that Mexico expects to launch auctions within the next two months that aim to boost coverage of telecommunications services offered over fibre, BNamerica reports.

The development dovetails with an earlier announcement that the Mexican government is aiming to promote high speed internet adoption in part by the sale of concessions that would allow the winning bidders to utilise state-owned fibre-optic lines and to build networks in those areas that currently do not have access to broadband services. As reported by CommsUpdate in January 2012, the initiative was expected to see the government conduct auctions that will include contracts to use two fibre-optic lines from state-owned powerco Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), while bids will also be taken on the use of fibre links running on along the federal highway network. Commenting on the latest plans, President Calderon was cited as saying: ‘We’re going to launch 1,000 new access points of CFE’s fibre-optic network and I’ve instructed the CFE’s director to increase the 20,000km of fibre to 30,000km.’

The head of state has also confirmed that an auction will be conducted to extend fibre-optic connectivity to Mexico’s south-west coast, to Ometepec, in the state of Guerrero, with the government expected to subsidise the rollout using money from its infrastructure fund, with the winning bidder to be that which requests the smallest subsidy. Further, looking ahead the head of state has confirmed that all new highways constructed in Mexico will have fibre-optic cable laid at the time of building.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:29:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China Unicom has revealed that it expects to see a larger revenue contribution from its 3G subscriber base this year than from its 2G customers. Lower cost smartphones from domestic suppliers such as ZTE have helped boost Unicom’s subscriber base by 20% year-on-year to the end of April. ‘We are not as focused on the number of new users, we want to make sure we are adding good quality customers,’ company president Lu Yimin said, before reiterating an outlook previously given in March that the company’s 3G business will be profitable this year. Unicom’s 3G subscriber base stood at 51.8 million at the end of April, behind China Mobile’s 61.9 million. However, 3G subscribers make up 24.3% of Unicom’s total subscriber base, compared with 9.2% for China Mobile.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:28:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam, has called for expressions of interest for the country’s third mobile operator licence, which includes frequencies for the operation of a 3G network. Cameroon Tribune reports that applicants must not already be active in Cameroon and must have equity of at least USD200 million as of 31 December 2011, among other requirements. A shortlist of applications will be drawn up by 20 July 2012, according to a source at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. The winning bidder will join two established companies in the mobile market – South Africa-based MTN Cameroon and France’s Orange Cameroon – which between them claimed around 11.37 million wireless customers at the end of March 2012, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. At the same date, penetration of cellular services stood at around 50% of the population.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:26:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

British fixed line incumbent BT has revealed a further 98 exchange areas in which its network arm Openreach will make fibre-based broadband services available. With the new areas expected to come online by late-2013, BT claims that the deployment will add nearly 800,000 homes and businesses to the company’s previously announced fibre plans; the development forms part of its GBP2.5 billion (USD3.9 billion) fibre rollout. Mike Galvin, Openreach’s managing director of network investment, said of the plans: ‘This is great news for 98 communities across the UK. Our rollout of fibre continues apace, with over ten million homes now having access to the many benefits this technology can deliver … Today’s announcement brings us another important step closer towards our goal of providing this service to two-thirds of the UK by the end of 2014.’

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:23:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Andorra Telecom has completed the rollout of its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network, utilising Aurora Networks’ Trident7 platform. The network is reportedly available to all of Andorra Telecom’s 52,000 broadband subscribers and will allow the telco to provide high speed broadband and IPTV – including high definition (HD) content – services. Further, the infrastructure is expected to meet the market’s current needs, as well as being ready for increasing service demand over the next seven to ten years.

Commenting on the deployment, director of Andorra Telecom Jaume Salvat said: ‘Aurora Networks’ Trident7 platform has provided us with the opportunity to deliver today’s advanced services with the quality of service and experience our subscribers have come to demand.’

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:22:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecom provider by subscribers, has announced plans to expand the reach of its fibre network by rolling out fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC, dubbed fibre-to-the-street [FTTS] by the telco) to towns and cities where it is not currently deploying fibre-to-the-home. The expansion is due to begin from the end of 2013 and will see fibre rolled out to a distance of 200m from homes, much closer than its existing fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) infrastructure. Swisscom will begin trialling FTTC later this year in three municipalities, Charrat, Grandfontaine and Flerden. Customers in these areas are expected to gain access to the technology by November this year. The telco claims that the platform will allow it to deliver broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps (downlink).

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:20:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Landlocked Botswana has inaugurated its link to the West African Cable System (WACS), which was launched last month and stretches 14,900km along the west coast of Africa, reports AFP. Botswana partnered with neighbouring Namibia in each raising USD37.5 million to invest in a 9.2% stake in the cable consortium. Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) will co-locate services within the Swakopmund landing station operated by Telecom Namibia, under the WACS open access policy. The USD750 million WACS submarine cable has a capacity of 5.12Tbps and links South Africa to the UK with landings in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and Portugal.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:16:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Guardian newspaper reports that Vodacom’s Tanzanian operating subsidiary intends to expand coverage of its popular money transfer service M-PESA to even the most remote parts of the country, by dint of the TZS130 billion (USD83.8 million) network upgrade it is currently undertaking. Rene Meza, managing director of Vodacom Tanzania, says that the M-PESA service – launched in 2008 – is now taken by almost three million subscribers, helping to drive overall customer growth. Speaking in February this year, Meza said the sharp increase in subscribers was largely driven by people signing up to M-PESA, which has a claimed 85% share of total e-mobile commerce transactions in the country. It is clear that the money transfer service has made a significant contribution to the socio economic development of the country and ‘revolutionised’ the way many people do business there.

Meza is now confident that, with the planned network upgrade, Vodacom will be able to open up some otherwise ‘uncovered’ areas to its products and services. As reported by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Tanzanian operator’s South Africa-based parent, Vodacom Group, earlier reported that its unit in Tanzania increased its active subscriber base in the twelve months ended 31 March 2012, closing out the period with 9.665 million users, a market share of 40.5%.

Source: Telegeography.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:14:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Bangladesh ended May with 92.12 million mobile subscribers, up from 90.64 million in April. Grameenphone led with 38.41 million, up from 37.75 million a month earlier, followed by Banglalink with 25.25 million customers, up from 25.00 million, according to data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Robi Axiata raised its subscriber base to 18.73 million from 18.24 million and Airtel Bangladesh ended May with 6.67 million subscribers, versus 6.54 million in April. Citycell saw its subscriber base slip to 1.71 million from 1.80 million and Teletalk ended May with 1.34 million customers, up from 1.30 million in the previous month.


Source: Telecompaper.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:11:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Indian GSM operator Tata Docomo has launched new offers for its Photon Plus Postpay and Prepay customers across India, claiming price reductions of up to 60 percent. Tata Docomo Photon Plus postpay customers can select from unlimited 6GB usage for INR 950 rental or unlimited 11 GB for INR 1200. These two unlimited plans also offer cash back of INR 100 per month for twelve months from date of purchase. Tata Docomo entry-level packs cost INR 250 for 1GB of data download and INR 450 for 2GB. Tata Docomo also introduced Reload packs for Photon Plus Postpay customers with 1GB for INR 200 and 2GB for INR 350. Tata Docomo Photon offers usage-based data plans. Prepay customers can get unlimited 2GB usage on a recharge of INR 700.


Source: Telecompaper.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 12:09:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MTN Nigeria has introduced a range of new services for business customers based on the recently launched West African Cable System (WACS). IT News Africa reports that the services are managed by MTN Business and will provide high quality, low latency internet access to wholesalers such as internet service providers (ISPs), internet bandwidth resellers and carriers, as well as mobile users across the country. ‘MTN has the unique advantage of a pre-existing extensive terrestrial Internet Protocol (IP) and broadband backbone infrastructure, enabling us to deliver high grade and highly available internet capacity to anywhere and everywhere in Nigeria,’ said MTN’s chief enterprise solutions officer, Babatunde Osho. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the USD650 million WACS cable system went live in May 2012, linking Europe, West Africa and South Africa with landings in the UK, Portugal, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia and South Africa. In Nigeria the cable is managed by MTN from its landing point to the last mile operated service. The total capacity of the system is 5.12Tbps.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:41:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s second largest cellular operator, has announced that it passed the milestone of two million active mobile subscribers on its network by the end of June 2012, up from 1.83 million users it reported three months earlier, and an increase of 700,000 from 1.30 million customers recorded at mid-2011.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:39:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Honduras’ ailing state-owned national PTO Hondutel (Empresa Hondurena de Telecomunicaciones) has announced plans to establish a joint venture (JV) to offer a dedicated mobile broadband service in the country. CentralAmericaData writes that the PTO will be the majority shareholder in the new venture, and quotes Hondutel director Romeo Vasquez Velasquez as saying that the new business model will help the firm out of its current financial crisis, made worse by a lack of investment. ‘The only alternative we have is to open [Hondutel’s] doors to any [business or individual] in the country [or abroad] wanting to invest in our mobile broadband service to develop and improve the company’s future income streams. And we are working on it,’ Romero Velasquez said. It is believed that setting up such a venture in Honduras would require investment of around USD500 million.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:38:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tanzania’s telecoms watchdog the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) reports that the African country was home to a total of 26.978 million fixed and mobile subscriptions at the end of March 2012, up from 25.827 million at the start of the year. Of the total subscriptions recorded at 31 March 2012, 26.805 million were cellular connections to one of the country’s leading mobile operators. Market leader Vodacom closed out 1Q12 with a total of 12.633 million mobile users (although around 19% are classed as inactive), while second-placed Airtel (formerly Zain) signed up a net 112,232 new users in the three-month period for a total of 7.106 million. Third place operator Tigo boosted its base by 47,067 to almost 5.498 million by end-March 2012, and Zantel Mobile — once the nation’s fastest growing cellco — shed roughly 12,000 net customers during the period for a total of 1.511 million. Trailing far behind the big four, the mobile arm of fixed line operator Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) had an estimated 96,000 subscribers and Benson Informatics Limited (BOL) had 1,221 data-only subscribers, down roughly 5,300 since the start of the 2011.

In the fixed line segment, TCRA reported 173,075 fixed lines in service as at 31 March 2012, up from 161,063 at the start of the year. National PSTN operator TTCL claimed the lion’s share with 158,348 lines at 1Q12 (its December 2011 figure was 159,364) with Zanzibar Telecommunications’ (Zantel’s) fixed line division taking the remaining 14,727, up from 1,699 previously.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:36:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brazil’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Vivo Participacoes, says it has reached its goal of 3G coverage of 85% of the population, well ahead of its target date of April 2016. In a statement, the cellco said it achieved the magic figure last Thursday, at which date its third-generation network served 2,832 municipalities out of a total of 5,566. Launched in 2010, Vivo’s ambitious rollout plan envisaged covering more than four-fifths of Brazil’s people with mobile internet access of up to 10Mbps within six years, in line with the regulator Anatel’s licensing terms – although even then, it said it was confident it could reach that goal by 2012. Local online news site Globo reports that Vivo is in the throes of connecting the last antenna as part of the project, serving the town of Rancho Alegre in Parana state, where 4,000 people live.

Although Vivo has hit its 3G target in terms of population coverage, it is still short of achieving its goals when it comes to towns and cities served. Currently, the cellco’s coverage is in less than half of all Brazil’s municipalities – and is especially weak in those with less than 30,000 inhabitants. Nonetheless, Vivo says it will continue with its aggressive plans for mobile network rollout to meet its coverage obligations.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:34:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Korean regulators have decided to let mobile operators charge users extra fees for VOIP applications or block their use entirely, according to a report by Networks Asia.
 
As per the report, Korea’s top mVoIP app, KakaoTalk, has gained rapid popularity among smartphone users. Other players in the mVoIP market include Microsoft’s Skype, Google Voice, Fring, Line 2 as well as other independent and operator-driven services.
 
 With widespread use of these mobile applications adding data traffic and cutting into their text and voice profits, the major Korean operators – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus – have decided to raise prices for data usage, as revealed in the report. As the country’s regulator is allowing the telcos to charge for use of apps such as KakaoTalk, some are claiming that this is a violation of net neutrality rules.
 
 The report claims that Jiho Park, an activist with the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, said that this will set a precedent for coming apps such as FaceTime, where SKT and KT already said they will apply the same pricing policy as with local apps, and this can clash with global players like Apple and Google.
 
Apple’s FaceTime is only available on Wi-Fi networks now but with iOS6 this fall, people will be able to use it over 3G or 4G LTE, too. SK Telecom and KT currently offer unlimited data plans, which allow users to freely download apps on their networks, whereas LG U+ used to block over-the-top programs entirely. The companies have not yet released specific information on their new rates, says the report.
 
KakaoTalk has 36 million Korean users and 9.2 million international users. More than half of 50 million Korean cell phone owners use smartphones, according to the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).
 
The Korean government released its open Internet guidelines last year, designed after the U.S. network neutrality rules released by the Federal Communications Commission last year. Under these principles, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and what content they want to access, create or share with others.
 
Unofficially, the KCC has already permitted operators to enact policies of their choice regarding third-party apps, as per the report.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:33:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Verzion has revamped their prices by raising fee for data services with an intention to increase its data revenue. These hikes will largely effect smartphone users who are not availing the unlimited text and calling facility will be charged $10 extra for services they are not using increasing their expenditure to $100 per month. The lightest data plan will now come for $50. Families using unlimited text, talk and 1GB data will be on the beneficial side by saving $60 per month. They will now just have to spend $150 a month.
 
Text messaging and calls are the major source of revenue and due to increase data services the users have been drifting apart from these services which are doing no good to the companies.
 
Scott Sloat, a spokesman for Sprint, which offers unlimited data usage for a flat fee, said that sharing data across devices significantly increases the potential for upsetting customers with surprise monthly bills due to data overage charges.
 
The users will be able to share multiple devices like Tablets and Laptops with its Share Everything Plan.  Users will be able to pay a flat monthly fee for each device they want to connect: $40 for smartphones, $20 for portable hotspots or notebooks, $10 for tablets, and $30 for standard cellphones. The dedicated plan offers additional charge of $50 for 1GB and $100 for 10GB.
 
As told in an interview to Reuters by the Chief Marketing Officer Tami Erwin that Customer who will use multiple devices will quickly identify the value in the plans. Many customers have to pay extra for going over their data allowance on their tablet even though they may not have used their full smartphone data allowance. With a shared plan that would not be an issue, Erwin said.
 
The new plan requires a monthly access fee of $40 that includes unlimited calls and texts for a single smartphone, and another fee of $60 for two gigabytes of data, which could be shared with up to 10 devices. Each additional device requires another access tariff such as a $10 fee for a tablet or a $20 fee for a laptop.
 
Verizon Wireless customers will have a choice to stick with the existing service plans, but any new customers will be required to sign up for the shared plans from June 28 onward, even if they do not intend to connect a second device.

Source: Wireless Federation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:31:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A West African fibre-optic broadband deployment has been completed, with 120km of fibre rolled out to link Ghana, Togo and Burkina Faso, Ghana Business news reports. Work on the Bolgatanga–Cinkasse International Fibre Connectivity Project started in November last year and was run by Vodafone Ghana and the Ministry of Communications in Ghana.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 1:27:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced that it has supplied Turk Telekom (TT) with a loan worth EUR100 million (USD126.2 million) with a view to expanding the company’s broadband services in the eastern regions of Turkey. The EBRD’s financing will support the carrier’s plans to extend fixed broadband connectivity to all Turkish provinces by 2016. The loan will be used to finance the company’s network expansion in the regions of Adana, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Kayseri, Samsun and Trabzon. The EBRD notes that there are currently ‘considerable discrepancies between the Istanbul area and the eastern regions’.

Mustafa Uysal, TT’s chief financial officer, commented: ‘Turk Telekom believes in the future of the country and that the Turkish economy will be ranked among the world’s top ten economies by 2023. Technology and innovation will be the main instruments to achieve this ambitious vision. Therefore, Turk Telekom, by carrying out its investment programme all throughout Turkey, assumes an important role in shaping Turkey’s future and makes it clear that it will be a leading contributor to and part of that future … We see the EBRD as a partner in this journey rather than just a lending institution and our investment has a value above a monetary contribution. EBRD vision overlaps with TT’s and we hope to continue this partnership in the long term’. Since the start of its involvement in Turkey, the EBRD says that it has committed close to EUR2 billion to various sectors of the country’s economy, mobilising additional investment of over EUR5 billion.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:51:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Reliance Globalcom, the submarine cable subsidiary of Reliance Communications, has announced that it has connected Iraq to its FALCON cable network at the Al-Faw landing station, which was built in partnership with Iraqi Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC). Reuters cites a company statement from the Indian firm as saying that the launch of the landing station will connect Iraq directly to countries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America. Reliance Globalcom said the station has a design capacity of 680Gbps with two diverse routes, which are integrated into the firm’s FALCON network. It will initially provide 50Gbps on each route to cater to existing market demand. ‘This is an extremely important strategic initiative that will facilitate the connectivity of all countries in the Middle East region to Iraq and also significantly improve the quality and speed as well as the reliability of Iraq’s connectivity to the rest of the world,’ Iraq’s Minister of Communications, Mohammed Allawi, was quoted as saying in the statement. Reliance Globalcom owns an undersea cable system spanning 65,000km, making it one of the world’s largest independent operators of submarine cables.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:50:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spain’s Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicacinoes (CMT) has revealed proposals in which it plans to deregulate the pricing of Telefonica de Espana’s monthly access fee, which is currently set at EUR13.97 (USD17.15) per month, excluding tax. The move, the regulator noted, comes after an analysis of the country’s fixed voice sector, which it said had shown that competition ‘had improved substantially, in particular by the pressure of bundled services’. Traditionally the CMT has been responsible for setting Telefonica’s access fee on an annual basis, and as noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the regulator’s most recent decision regarding the charge came in September 2011, at which date it confirmed that it would remain at its EUR13.97 level until at least the end of 2012.

In outlining its plans, the CMT has noted that its original decision for the current pricing structure will remain valid, after which, from end-2012 Telefonica will be permitted to increase the rate, although by no more than the rate of inflation, until 2016. Further, in the retail market analysis of access to fixed telephone networks, the watchdog has said that it will keep a number of other obligations related to the fixed voice sector, including: that Telefonica should notify the CMT of fares and promotions prior to their introduction; that the incumbent’s prices will be examined to ensure it is not acting in an anti-competitive manner; and that carrier pre-selection services continue to be offered.

A public consultation on the proposals will now be conducted, and interested parties have been given one month to submit their views. Once the consultation has been completed the CMT said it will forward the draft measures to the European Commission (EC).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:49:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

PSTN operator Angola Telecom has introduced a national single rate tariff to standardise the cost of making calls to all areas of the country within its network, news agency ANGOP reports. The wireline and CDMA network operator has set off-peak and peak tariffs for destinations countrywide between its subscribers, at KWZ7.20 (USD0.075) and KWZ8.93 per minute respectively. To promote the move Angola Telecom is offering customers free calls at the weekend this month.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:47:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Paraguayan telecoms operator Copaco launched its long-delayed IPTV service in Asuncion this week, after experiencing myriad technical problems. According to local press reports, the USD25 million product launch was initially expected to materialise on 15 December 2011, only to run into unspecified problems. A second date, 2 March 2012, also passed without fanfare, although this delay was blamed on premium US TV provider HBO, which deemed Copaco’s IPTV system vulnerable to piracy.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Copaco’s new triple-play service will be priced at PYG299,200 (USD64.8) per month, with free installation for all customers. Alongside 54 IPTV channels, the telco will also offer a video-on-demand (VoD) service, with movies priced at roughly USD3 apiece. The official product launch is expected to take place at the Mariano Roque Alonso Trade Show, which is being held between 7 July and 22 July. Copaco director Nilton Amarilla has revealed that the company has purchased 11,000 decoders which it expects to sell within three months of launch.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:44:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telco by subscribers, has inked a deal with Lausanne Industrial Services (SiL) to roll out a fibre-optic network in Laussane. The pair intends to deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure connected to all buildings in the city by 2017. Swisscom will carry out the majority of the work, whilst SiL will conduct the rollout in the Chailly district. The city of Lausanne will create a Lausanne-owned company that will handle the new network and 50% of the infrastructure constructed by Swisscom will be transferred to this new company by 2017. This new company will own the network built in the Chailly, Ouchy, St. Francois and Vernand districts, whilst Swisscom will retain ownership of the fibre in the Bergieres, Chalet-a-Gobet, Maladiere and Sallaz districts. Under the terms of the agreement, the partners will grant each other indefeasible right of use of the fibre-optic cables in the districts in which they do not own the network for a minimum period of 70 years.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:43:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Amid concerns that it is not competitive, the UK’s rural broadband rollout strategy has reportedly been placed on hold while European regulators examine it, British broadsheet The Guardian reports. The development comes after confirmation that just two companies – fixed line incumbent BT and Japanese technology firm Fujitsu – had been selected to receive funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a team within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) set up to deliver the government’s broadband strategy. BDUK’s main role is to allocate and distribute GBP530 million (USD829 million) in funding with a view to bringing superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses which are not expected to be provided for by commercial rollouts.

The state had originally aimed for an open process in which community groups and private firms would be commissioned to build Europe’s ‘best superfast broadband network’, with BDUK having published a framework covering 35 local authority areas, under which contractors competed to win equipment supply deals. However, with claims that the selection criteria had proved insurmountable, a number of companies, including Geo and Cable & Wireless withdrew from the process last year.

With both BT and Fujitstu having reportedly signed contracts last Friday for their respective portions of funding, it has been confirmed that no work will move forward until the European Commission is satisfied with the plans. It has been suggested that one of the main concerns with the setup is that BT is unprepared to offer access on a sufficiently open basis to the infrastructure it will roll out, with Brussels thought to want the incumbent to allow rival operators to be able to rent its dark fibre. A BT spokesman was cited as saying of the development: ‘Discussions between the UK government and the commission continue on the issue of state aid. This is an EU issue as the commission is developing rules that need to work across Europe as well as taking the different conditions in the UK into consideration … We are working with the UK authorities for an outcome that both incentivises further investment in fibre broadband and delivers vibrant competition in broadband services … We believe there needs to be consistency with the wider regulatory framework which has given the UK the most competitive broadband environment in the world.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:42:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) announced yesterday that it has decided to reduce the maximum wholesale termination fees an operators can charge each other for making calls on their networks. Reuters notes that the watchdog has been gradually trimming termination rates in the country in line with EU regulatory norms, and between 2005 and 2011 has cut them by 65.3%. Under the latest cut, the wholesale termination price will reduce to CZK0.55 (USD0.027) per minute from CZK1.08 from 15 July 2012, for all new contracts (and from 15 September will be extended to include all existing contracts).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:41:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Movistar Venezuela has expanded its HSPA-based mobile broadband services in the central region of the country with the deployment of six new cell sites costing VEF7.1 million (USD1.7 million), reports BNamericas citing Entorno Inteligente. The spending forms a small fraction (0.33%) of the Telefonica subsidiary’s VEF2.16 billion, or around USD500 million, annual investment budget for projects including doubling its 3G+ capacity. The cellco’s CAPEX in the first quarter of 2012 represented 16% of the total investment figure, and was largely spent on 3G coverage and capacity, to meet data services demand in Venezuela that Movistar corporate communications VP, Douglas Ochoa, said expanded by 400% last year. Movistar Venezuela’s revenues reached USD831 million in Q1 2012, up 23.5% year-on-year, as data turnover climbed 33.4%; non-SMS data accounted for 51% of total data revenues during the quarter.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:39:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The recently launched Rwandan mobile operator Airtel has announced the launch of its new high speed HSPA+ platform, which will offer subscribers mobile data download speeds of up to 21Mbps. The equipment for the deployment was supplied by Ericsson. Airtel launched its first 2G networks in Rwanda in March this year and had promised that its mobile broadband service would follow shortly. Initially only available in the capital Kigali, the HSPA+ service will be deployed in other cities in the coming weeks. The Indian-owned cellco is competing with Rwanda’s two established players, MTN and Millicom/Tigo.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 12:38:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012 3:46:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |