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 Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brazilian mobile network operators TIM Brasil and Oi SA have announced plans to share 4G networks in the country, to allow them to offer ultra-high speed cellular services in the host cities for the FIFA Confederations Cup (Copa das Confederacoes) – Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. In a joint statement on 18 January, the two carriers said the decision to share the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) network infrastructure will yield savings of between 40%-60%, enabling them to be more competitive against other mobile carriers. The new services are expected to be ready in April, in time for testing ahead of the football tournament which kicks off in June 2013. The partnership agreement is still to be approved by the national watchdog Anatel.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:08:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Macedonia’s industry regulator the Agency for Electronic Communications (AEC) has published its latest observatory of the country’s telecoms markets for the period ended 30 September 2012. At that date the watchdog counted a total of 2.299 million active mobile subscribers, up 1.9% from 2.257 million in September 2011. Of these, the number of mobile broadband (2G/3G) users stood at 446,288, up 15.9% from 384,988 a year earlier; 2G narrowband users topped 172,787 (+63.8%). The Macedonian regulator also said that mobile phone users generated voice traffic of over 1.020 billion minutes in Q3 2012, up 17.3% y-o-y and 3.7% higher than in Q2 2012.

The total number of main lines in service (PSTN and ISDN) reached 407.896 at end-September 2012, down 1.4% year-on-year, of which business lines accounted for 43,615 (-0.02%). Meanwhile the number of residential fixed line subscribers dropped by 1.5% in the year under review to 364,281. The total number of internet connections was 302,257, compared to 271,773 at end-September 2011. IPTV subscriptions stood at 58,385, up 64.9% on an annualised basis.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:07:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A fibre-optic undersea cable that links Cuba with the global internet via Venezuela appears to have finally been activated, almost two years after the system first landed on the island. In the past week, internet monitoring firm Renesys has observed much lower latencies in Cuba, while noting that Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica has begun service to the island’s state-owned telecoms monopoly, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA). The 1,600km cable, known as Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra America (ALBA-1), landed on Siboney beach in Cuba in February 2011, but no further developments on the cable’s progress have been reported until now. In an online blog, Renesys noted that traffic via the cable seems only to be flowing into the country, not out of it: ‘Telefonica’s service to ETECSA is, either by design or misconfiguration, using its new cable asymmetrically (i.e. for traffic in only one direction)… In such a configuration, ETECSA enjoys greater bandwidth and lower latencies (along the submarine cable) when receiving internet traffic but continues to use satellite services for sending traffic.’ Cuba accesses the internet via expensive and slow satellite connections, and while the activation of the undersea cable system is a first steps towards providing ETECSA with a better link to the internet, Renesys noted that it is unlikely to lead to widespread public access to the World Wide Web, in the short term at least.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:06:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bloomberg News writes that the government of Tanzania is considering slashing the rates that mobile network operators charge each other for terminating calls on each others’ networks by up to 69% from March 2013, in an effort to drive competition. Innocent Mungy, a spokesman for the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), is quoted as saying that under the proposal, the mobile interconnection rate could be cut to TZS34.92 (USD0.022) a minute, from the current TZS112.00. He added that the TCRA has also acquiesced to a request from domestic operators to start charging fees in the local currency, the shilling, rather than in USD dollars, as has been the case until now.

‘We are doing this to encourage competition in the sector, and to ensure calling is affordable to consumers,’ the TCRA official said. ‘We held consultations with stakeholders including consumers and telecom operators on the matter yesterday and the board will have to make a decision in a week or so but before the end of this month. The rates however have to go down.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:04:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cuba’s state-owned telecoms monopoly, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), has reduced the cost of making a national mobile phone call to CUC0.35 (USD0.35) per minute from CUC0.45, reports Telesemana. The move comes almost one year after the rate of a domestic mobile voice call was reduced from CUC0.60. Earlier this month the operator also introduced a calling-party-pays (CPP) system, meaning that the island’s mobile subscribers no longer have to pay to receive calls and text messages.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:03:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China’s wireless market expanded to 1.11 billion users by the end of 2012, including 233.4 million 3G subscribers according to data released by the nation’s three mobile providers, increasing from 975.7 million total and 127.5 million 3G customers at end-December 2011. China Mobile recorded 710.3 million active wireless users at the end of December 2012, of which 87.9 million were 3G users, up by 9.3% and 71.7% year-on-year respectively. China Unicom meanwhile, claimed a total of 239.3 million users (+19.6%) including 76.5 million 3G customers (+91.0%) whilst China Telecom had 69.1 million 3G customers (+90.3%) out of its 160.6 million-strong customer base (+27.0%).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:02:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Con el avance y puesta en marcha del Proyecto Nacional de Fibra Óptica, 226 municipios adicionales se conectarán con servicios de Internet de alta calidad.

El anuncio lo hizo el Presidente de la República, Juan Manuel Santos, durante el Acuerdo para la Prosperidad realizado en Coyaima (Tolima), en donde resaltó que gracias a este proyecto el 100% de los municipios del Tolima ya están conectados con fibra óptica.
 
Los 266 municipios beneficiados hacen parte del primer grupo del Proyecto Nacional de Fibra Óptica, que lidera el MinTIC, y gracias a la cual se conectarán a la autopista de la información el 96% los municipios del país.
 
 Las poblaciones del primer grupo están ubicados en 9 departamentos: Antioquia (29), Caldas (17), Cundinamarca (32), La Guajira (1), Meta (13), Nariño (38), Norte de Santander (24), Risaralda (9), Santander (31) y Tolima (32).
 
El Proyecto Nacional de Fibra Óptica consta de una gran red que se despliega por todo el país interconectando las cabeceras municipales. Con este proyecto Colombia pasó de tener 200 municipios conectados en el 2011 a 551 a comienzos del 2013, y la meta es llegar a 1.078 en el año 2014. 
 
El despliegue de la infraestructura óptica inició en noviembre de 2012 y durante el proceso que culminará en el 2014 se construirá una red de 15.000 kilómetros a lo largo de todo el país. 
 
El Ministro TIC, Diego Molano Vega, precisó:” Este proyecto, que hace parte de los objetivos del Plan Vive Digital, permitirá que el país se ubique a la vanguardia de conectividad en América Latina, haciendo parte del grupo de líderes que actualmente implementan proyectos nacionales de banda ancha, soportados en redes de fibra óptica”.
 
¿Por qué Fibra Óptica?
 
A través de esta red se transmiten voz, imágenes, videos y datos a grandes velocidades y menor costo en comparación a otras tecnologías, convirtiendo la fibra óptica en una verdadera autopista de la información para los colombianos.
 
Las señales que son transportadas no se ven afectadas por cambios climáticos o radiaciones electromagnéticas.
 
¿Para qué Fibra Óptica?
 
 · Ofrecer servicios como Internet, televisión digital y telefonía en municipios pequeños.
 · Generar oportunidades de Educación a través de Internet.
 · Mejorar los sistemas de información de las entidades públicas, privadas e instituciones de atención en caso de emergencia.
 · Incentivar a entidades de salud a desarrollar proyectos de telemedicina.
 · Promover el desarrollo de contenidos y de aplicaciones.
 · Consolidar una herramienta para las miles de MiPymes colombianas.
 · Generar más oportunidades de negocio en temas como la Educación Virtual y los Contact Center.

Source: Dinero.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:01:25 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Zambia government announced that five firms, including South Africa-based Vodacom, have expressed interest in the country's fourth mobile licence. Communication, transport, works and supply Minister Chris Yaluma said no decision had been made yet regarding the successful bidder and that other interested companies can still bid, ITweb reported. Zambia's telecommunication market is currently dominated by Airtel and MTN, which together have over 8.5 million subscribers. The government still needs to revoke regulations that have been blocking the introduction of a fourth mobile service provider. Yaluma said once the paperwork is done, a tender would be launched for the interested companies. He said the country could see the setting up of the fourth mobile company before the end of 2013.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:56:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Indonesia’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, PT Indosat, is forecasting that data users will swell rapidly in 2013 to account for the majority of its total user base by the year end, driven by strong demand for smartphones and internet access. The Jakarta Post quotes Indosat director and chief commercial office Erik Meijer as saying: ‘We expect data subscribers to increase from 49% to 60% [of the total],’ in fiscal 2013.

The cellco experienced fluctuating fortunes in terms of its subscriber base last year, which fell by 2.3% to 50.914 million in Q2 2012, before rallying to 55.451 million by end-September. Although fourth-quarter financial and operational data is not yet available, Indosat earned IDR1.6 trillion (USD165.6 million) in net profits for the first nine months of 2012, up 55.4% when compared to the same period in the previous year. Revenues for 9M12 reached IDR16.5 trillion, up 7.6% year-on-year, with Mr Meijer saying that in 2013, the company is aiming to grow its business ‘at least in accordance with industry growth’ – estimated at between 7% and 8%. Further, data subscribers contributed about 20% to the group’s total revenues last year, he added noting that each data subscriber could generate ‘as much as 30 times more traffic than three years ago’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:54:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of telephone subscribers in India fell to 921.47 in November, down by 13.70 million from October, according to figures from the Telecom Regularity Authority of India (Trai). The overall teledensity slipped to 75.55 from 76.75 a month earlier. The mobile subscriber base fell to 890.60 million from 904.23 million in the previous month, down by 1.51 percent, due to large scale disconnections of inactive subscribers by some operators. Private operators hold 88.19 percent of the mobile market share (based on subscriber base) whereas state-owned operators BSNL and MTNL hold a 11.81 percent share of the market. Meanwhile, the fixed-line subscriber base declined from 30.95 million in October to 30.87 million in November. BSNL and MTNL hold a share of 79.66 percent of the fixed-line market and private operators have a 20.34 percent share. Furthermore, the broadband subscriber base increased to 14.88 million from 14.81 million a month earlier. The top five ISPs in terms of market share (based on subscriber base) are BSNL with 9.79 million broadband customers, Bharti Airtel with 1.39 million subscribers, MTNL with 1.08 million, Hathway with 370,00, and You Broadband with 290,000 broadband customers.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:53:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is proposing to conduct a two-year trial to allow MVNOs. The new proposal is an attempt to increase competition on the Chinese telecommunications market which is dominated by three firms. Companies wanting to operate an MVNO must have telecommunications experience and a team of over fifty people, the Shanghai Daily reports. Telecommunications carriers Chine Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom are required to provide bandwidth at fair prices. Interested parties can lodge feedback on the proposal until 6 February.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:50:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
About 35.3 percent of TV homes in Sub-Saharan Africa took digital signals by end-2012, according to a study by Digital TV Research. The digital TV penetration will grow to 95.5 percent by 2018, with household numbers quadrupling to 49 million. Full digital transition will have been completed in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia by end-2015. Two-thirds of the region's TV households still received analogue terrestrial signals by end-2012, though this proportion will drop to 4.5 percent in 2018. Two-thirds of television homes will take DTT (pay and free-to-air combined) in 2018, up from only 11.7 percent at end-2012. Sub-Saharan Africa will have 33.8 million DTT homes by 2018, 25.7 million FTA and 8 million pay, up from 4.6 million in total at end-2012.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:49:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Israeli Minister of Communications director-general Eden Bar-Tal says tenders for 4G frequencies will be completed soon, Globes reported. Bar-Tal said the 2013 work plan, which the ministry is currently discussing, includes the allocation of 4G frequencies. Bar-Tal said that he not only intends to hold the tender, but to complete the allocation of frequencies so that mobile carriers will be able to prepare, and even begin the planning and establishment of the new network this year.
 
Bar-Tal plans to allocate 1,800 megahertz frequencies, which are available for use to Pelephone, HOT Mobile and Golan Telecom for LTE networks. He said Cellcom and Partner Communications, which already have frequencies in the range, will have to use them and will not be eligible to acquire additional frequencies.
 
The director-general said the tenders committee is due to convene and decide on the structure for the allocation and the number of frequencies. The committee is also due to decide on the allocation terms, since if it turns out that one of the carriers is not establishing a mobile network, it will not be able to receive an allocation of frequencies.
 
Another question that the committee, or the ministry, will also have to decide is what will happen if Cellcom or Partner decides to use their frequencies and rush to set up 4G networks, while the other carriers have no such option because they lack frequencies.  The ministry of communications' position is that it will prevent such a situation from developing, but it has yet to explicitly clarify the matter, said Globes.

Source: Telecom Paper.

LTE
Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:48:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bulgaria's telecoms regulator on Friday granted the country's fourth GSM mobile phone licence to local satellite operator Bulsatcom.

Bulsatcom will now compete with three other groups - M-Tel, controlled by Telekom Austria ; Globul, the Bulgarian unit of Greek OTE and Vivacom.

"Bulsatcom won a 10-year licence to use the frequencies in the 1800 Mhz range for 19 million levs ($12.96 million) and we already received a confirmation that the amount was paid," a spokeswoman for the regulator told Reuters.

Bulsatcom, which said its GSM services would be available for customers by the end of the year, said it would not seek a big market share at this stage.

Mobile phone market penetration in Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member, for 2011 was 147 percent. ($1 = 1.4656 Bulgarian levs) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Source: Reuters.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 1:20:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Telecommunications operator K2 Telecom has launched its operations in Uganda, the Daily Monitor reported. K2 Telecom is already positioning itself as the choice of the masses, the paper said, although the existing players seem to think that its entry is ill-timed and unnecessary.  K2 telecom is the seventh player in the telecommunication industry after Airtel, MTN, Warid, UTL, Smiles Telecom, and Orange Uganda.

The network has a national coverage. However, Warid Telecom chief commercial officer Shailendra Naidu said everything had already been done by the existing service providers, and there was nothing a new player could add. MTN said there could be as many service providers as possible because Uganda is a liberalised economy. MTN general manager for corporate service and chief legal counsel, Anthony Katamba, said whoever was able to offer quality services, would carry the day.

Currently, there about 15 million telecommunication subscribers. The first industry player was Celtel, now Airtel, before MTN, UTL and others ventured into the market. K2 Telecom's calling code is 0730.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9:40:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Maxis yesterday shooed in the new year with the launch of Malaysia's first commercial LTE services in parts of the nation's Klang Valley.

The incumbent operator announced the commencement of services in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Damansara Utama, Desa Sri Hartamas, Bandar Puchong Jaya, Bandar Sunway and Cyberjaya.

Maxis, which was one of eight operators to receive a 2,600-MHz 4G license in early December, has committed to invest 500 million ringgit ($164 million) towards rolling out its LTE network over the next few years.

The company will initially be offering modem based wireless broadband services over the network. The plans come with between 3GB and 48GB of data, split evenly into peak and non-peak periods, for prices ranging from 48 ringgit ($16) to 158 ringgit.

Maxis said in a statement that service offerings will be extended to smartphones and tablets “very soon,” but did not provide further details.

CEO Sandip Das said the company will also soon be ready to provide value-added 4G enabled services to its subscribers, thanks to its “robust partnerships” with device makers and content providers.

He said Maxis' 4G subscribers can expect real-world average speeds of between 10-Mbps and 30-Mbps.

Source: Telecom Asia.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9:38:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) launched the world’s first converged Long Term Evolution (LTE) FDD/TDD network on 18 December as scheduled. At the official launch one of its two network technology suppliers Ericsson demonstrated the world’s first live seamless bi-directional LTE FDD/TDD interworking on the converged 4G network. Ericsson was the sole supplier for CMHK’s LTE FDD network – which launched in April 2012 – while in July CMHK awarded ZTE and Ericsson contracts to expand the capacity and coverage of its 4G network by deploying LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) technology, aiming for dual-mode coverage of over 70% of the territory. According to CMHK both vendor companies have an equal share of the network construction project, with ZTE supplying equipment for the network in primary commercial areas of Hong Kong while Ericsson is responsible for the remaining areas. In its own press release Ericsson says it has delivered TD-LTE radio access infrastructure as well as network management using Ericsson OSS-RC (Operation Support System for Radio and Core) and an Evolved Packet Core network expansion and upgrade.

As part of the launch Ericsson also assisted CMHK and parent China Mobile with the first TD-LTE roaming services between Hong Kong and mainland China. The launch event showcased a series of applications based on TD-LTE data roaming between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China’s Guangdong Province. The demonstration was supported by the LTE FDD/TDD converged commercial network in Hong Kong, as well as the TD-LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC), In-Building Solution (IBS) site and universal SIM (USIM) deployed by Ericsson in Shenzhen. The demonstration showcased real-time high-definition video interaction between the two cities on TD-LTE networks for the first time, involving the LTE FDD/TDD dual-mode terminal in Hong Kong providing roaming to Shenzhen, as well as the TD-LTE terminal in Shenzhen providing roaming to Hong Kong.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9:35:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mexico Congress votes for cell phone charges by the second MEXICO CITY, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Mexico's lower house of Congress voted unanimously on Tuesday to change the country's telecom law to make cell phone operators charge customers per second of call, instead of rounding in minutes, as they had been doing for years.

The move had previously been approved by the Mexican Senate. The modification, which now only requires the final signature of president Enrique Pena Nieto, will become official 90 days after being published in the country's official gazette.

Source: Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9:34:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Claro, the Brazilian unit of América Móvil, became the first carrier to launch LTE services in the country. Claro announced that LTE services are now available in the cities of Recife, Campos do Jordão (SP), Paraty and Buzios (RJ). Commercially branded as 4GMax, the service will be offered as part of phone and modem chip packages.

Although Claro was granted 40 megahertz of spectrum in Brazil’s June spectrum auction, the carrier started services in Recife using just 10 megahertz. Claro said it will gradually ramp up the service. In the cities of Campos do Jordão, Buzios and Paraty, Claro is using all 40 megahertz of spectrum.

Claro stated that it will meet Anatel’s requirement to provide LTE coverage for all the FIFA Confederations Cup host cities by April 2013. Coverage in the remaining cities will follow Anatel’s schedule.

Located in the northeast, Recife is the capital of the state of Pernambuco. According to Claro, Recife’s entire population is covered with 3G networks, and 93% of the state of Pernambuco’s urban population is covered by the carrier.

Claro is offering packages and plans above 5 gigabytes. The devices compatible with Brazil’s LTE technology are Motorola’s Razr HD, which costs about $314 (R$649), and Samsung’s Galaxy SIII, which costs about $479 (R$999); however, these prices are attached to the company’s contract plan: Claro Unlimited 200 4G. As for modems, Claro offers the Huawei E392 for about $153.50 (R$320) when attached to the contract plan dubbed Claro Internet 5GB. The pricing plans may vary according to region.

Source: RCR Wireless.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 9:30:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 08, 2013

China's internet user base will reach 800 mln in 2015, reports People's Daily citing China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). As explained by MIIT minister Miao Wei, as the MIIT accelerates its 'Broadband China' project and expands broadband construction in the country, the number of internet users will continue to increase rapidly. Miao said it will continue to expand the development of mobile internet, e-commerce, cloud computing and M2M information services in China with the goal of reaching yearly e-commerce transactions of CNY 18 trillion, 2.3 million new internet sector jobs, and yearly software and information service revenue of CNY 4 trillion by 2015. The MIIT has also set a goal of domestically producing 80 percent of the country's LCD display panels used in television production.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:06:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Lanka Business Online reports that Mobitel Sri Lanka is expanding its number of base stations from 1,800 to 3,500 in a move that will result in 100% population coverage. This year the company marks its 20th anniversary since launching an AMPS network in 1993. On 31 December 2012 Mobitel revealed that it had launched LTE services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Mobitel is the wireless arm of fixed line telco Sri Lanka Telecom, and claimed a 23.3% share of the Sri Lankan mobile market at the end of September 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:04:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of the Union of Comoros has launched the privatisation of its national PTO Comores Telecom (Comtel) via an international auction, Agence Ecofin reports. Under the plan the Ministry of Economy and Finance is looking to divest a 51% stake in the incumbent operator to private investors. The remaining 49% equity will be retained by the government (34%), and 15% will be held by Comtel employees. TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported in November 2012 that the government had published expressions of interest for the majority stake on offer, requesting that interested parties submit applications, including information on their business and their reasons for wishing to participate in the tender process. As a precursor to the sale, the Ministry confirmed its intention to restructure Comtel, which has 230,000 mobile and around 23,600 fixed line subscribers, transferring its primary assets to a new legal entity (Newco). The privatisation of the operator was one of the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund, as part of the country’s plan to reach the completion point of its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme, the external debt relief for which amounted to EUR133 million (USD174.7 million).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:03:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s five principle mobile operators – Africell, Airtel, Orange, Oasis (Tigo) and Vodacom – along with fixed line operator Standard Telecom, have come under fire from telecoms minister Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba over their poor network quality. Agence Ecofin reports that Mulumba is pressing for financial penalties to be applied to the companies as censure for their lack of network improvements. His grievances also include the ‘chaotic’ distribution of SIM cards by street vendors, which in his opinion conspires to ‘distort’ the satisfactory identification of mobile users.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:02:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Israeli Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon has told the cabinet that the public has saved ILS 5.7 billion in the past two years from the mobile market reform. According to Globes, Kahlon said an average household with three mobile phones saved ILS 1,900 a year, and that a household with four phones saved ILS 2,500 a year. Kahlon also said that the average mobile phone user pays ILS 93 a month, 36 percent less than the ILS 145 a month spent in 2010, even though average minutes of use per user rose from 347 per month to 426.

Kahlon said that the average cost of minutes of use on a mobile phone has fallen 75 percent in the past two years from ILS 0.42 to ILS 0.10. The minister said that the mobile devices import reform has cut prices by 60 percent. He also reported that one million subscribers switched carriers in January-September 2012.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:00:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vietnam's mobile phone exports grew 97.7 percent during 2012 to reach USD 12.6 billion. According to the country's customs department, Vietnam exported 11.901 million phones and phone parts in the first half of December, which is up 84.7 percent year-on-year, Viet Nam News reports. The main importers of Vietnamese phones are the European Union, with USD 5.08 billion, accounting for nearly 45 percent, followed by the United Arab Emirates, which imported USD 1.31 billion, Russia at USD 690 million, and Hong Kong with USD 460 million. Phone exports are expected to reach USD 12.9 billion this year.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:59:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

India ended November with 663.77 million GSM customers, as operators jointly shed 9.02 million subscribers in the month, according to figures from the industry association Coai. Bharti Airtel lost 2.80 million subscribers in November to bring its total to 183.61 million, and the company had a market share of 27.66 percent. Vodafone India shed 2.38 million customers and ended the month with 150.76 million subscribers. Vodafone's market share stood at 22.71 percent. Idea Cellular shed 1.56 million subscribers to bring its total to 114.14 million and the operator had a market share of 17.20 percent. Meanwhile, BSNL maintained its customer base at 97.17 million and its market share totalled 14.64 percent. Aircel ended the month with a total subscriber base of 65.32 million and a market share of 9.84 percent, as the company lost 1.46 million customers. Uninor shed 437,915 subscribers to end November with 40.60 million subscribers and a market share of 6.12 percent. Videocon shed 379,787 subscribers to bring its customer base to 4.01 million and its market share stood at 0.60 percent, while MTNL lost 741 subscribers to end the month with 5.12 million subscribers. MTNL had a market share of 0.77 percent. Loop Mobile maintained its customer base at 3 million with 0.46 market share.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:57:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lankan mobile network operator Mobitel has announced the launch of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on a commercial basis, having conducted trials of the 4G technology as far back as May 2011. At that date the cellco said it achieved mobile data speeds of up to 96Mbps (downstream) and 49Mbps (uplink). In this latest development, Mobitel claimed that the opening of the new infrastructure to the public would ‘enable it to provide an enhanced and diversified service to its customer base’. Looking ahead the cellco has also noted that it expects to ‘yield the best out of the mobile 4G/LTE services’ by taking advantage of the fibre network operated by its parent company, Sri Lanka Telecom.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, Dialog Axiata, has announced its own launch of LTE technology in Colombo. According to LteWorld.org, the operator has introduced Time Division Duplex LTE (TD-LTE) services in the capital, with coverage expected to be extended to all of the country’s major cities and towns in ‘the immediate future’. Prices for the market leader’s LTE services start at LKR1,400 (USD10.95) per month for a connection offering downlink speeds of 4Mbps and 25GB data usage allowance.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:55:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
GSM operator Cellcom Liberia has announced plans to deploy a new ultra-high speed fibre-optic network in the country. AllAfrica.com quotes the cellco’s CEO Avishia Marziano, as making the announcement at the end of 2012. ‘We are delighted with this feat achieved by our organisation especially at this time. Cellcom continues to prove itself as an innovative and technology market leader as we have again demonstrated this latest position as we go live with the ACE fibre-optic cable,’ Marziano said. Echoing his words, corporate communications spokesperson Dr Kimmie Weeks noted: ‘Cellcom has invested over USD2.5 million into the ACE fibre-optic cable … creat[ing] the road to the super highway so that our customers will be able to access and enjoy the benefits of fibre.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:54:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, December 20, 2012
Moldova’s National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Information Technology (ANRCETI) has reported that the total number of fixed broadband internet subscribers reached 396,500 at 30 September 2012, an increase of 20.4% from 329,100 at the same date a year earlier. xDSL connections accounted for the majority of fixed broadband connections in Q3 2012 (52.3%, down from 57.8% twelve months previously), followed by FTTx accesses which made up 41.9% of the total (37.5%) and cable subscriptions with 5.5% (4.1%). Fixed line incumbent Moldtelecom remains the market leader in the fixed broadband market, holding a share of 69.1% at the end of September 2012, followed by StarNet (16.9%), Sun Communications (5.6%) and other operators (8.4%). The number of 3G mobile internet customers (using USB modems and data cards) totalled 167,600 at the end of September 2012, an increase of 8.9% year-on-year. Orange Moldova accounted for highest number of mobile broadband customers (80,500) according to ANRCETI, followed by Moldcell with 56,600 and Moldtelecom with 30,400.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:47:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile number portability (MNP) is now available in Paraguay, TeleSemana reports. The service is priced at PYG21,864 (USD4.82) and includes an eight-day processing time, which is scheduled to decrease to five working days by the end of the year.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2012 Spanish firm El Corte Ingles won the contract to administer Paraguay’s MNP database, after being selected by the Comision Tecnica de Portabilidad Numerica (CTPN), which comprises representatives of the country’s four mobile operators – Tigo, Nucleo (Telecom Personal Paraguay), Hola Paraguay (Vox) and Claro Paraguay – and telecoms regulator Consejo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Conatel). El Corte Ingles reportedly beat off stiff competition from Ericsson del Paraguay, a local offshoot of US firm Telecordia. El Corte Ingles has administered Spain’s number portability database since 1999, with a monthly average of over 140,000 ported lines. It has already won numerous contracts to administer MNP across Latin America, including markets such as Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Mexico, although it lost out to chief rival Telcordia in both Argentina and Chile.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:46:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

French watchdog the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) has announced a new maximum termination rate for voice calls in French overseas territories. The rate, which is effective from 1 January 2013, has been set at EUR0.01 (USD0.01) per minute and applies to operators in the Antilles-Guyane region (incorporating Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana) as well as Reunion and Mayotte.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:44:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telenor Norge claims it has become the country’s first operator to enable access to Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) services via mobile phone. With access having previously been restricted to those connecting via USB dongle, the operator has confirmed that from yesterday customers with 4G-compatible mobile handsets will be able to utilise its LTE network. It notes that it has put in place an ‘automatic solution’ which provides voice access over Telenor’s 3G network, while customers are transferred to the LTE infrastructure – where it is available – for web surfing and internet access.

Alongside this development, Telenor has also named a number of new locations which it plans to extend 4G coverage to by Christmas, with those being: Drammen, Fredrikstad, Sarpsborg, Skien, Porsgrunn and Kristiansand. Looking further ahead, the 4G footprint is expected to expand further in the New Year, with Telenor naming Tromso as another location where the network will be switched on at that date. In addition to expanding 4G across the country, Telenor’s managing director Berit Svednsen reiterated that the operator is also continuing to develop its third-generation infrastructure, noting: ‘90% of Telenor’s mobile customers have 3G coverage where they live, and the continuing expansion will ensure as much as 95% coverage. By the end of 2015 nine out of 10 Norwegians will also be able to use 4G from Telenor.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Telenor Norge unveiled commercial LTE services in eleven cities and towns across the country in October 2012. At launch the 4G network was available in Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Lorenskog, Sandnes, Lillestrom, Asker, Baerum, Lofthus in Hardanger and Longyearbyen.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:39:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecom Namibia achieved an 8.7% year-on-year increase in turnover to NAD1.2 billion (USD135 million) in its financial year ended 30 September 2012, its managing director Frans Ndorama announced, adding that FY 2012 operating profit rose by 29% to NAD133 million. As reported by Namibia Press Agency, the growth was attributed to increased uptake of the telco’s broadband services, supported by capital expenditure (CAPEX) since 2009 of NAD746 million, covering investment in services/networks including ADSL, WiMAX, MPLS, submarine and terrestrial fibre-optic cables.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:38:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), the country’s incumbent fixed line operator, has reported revenues of BWP1.17 billion (USD145.9 million) for the twelve months ended 31 March 2012, an increase of 10.2% year-on-year, on higher data-related sales of BWP450 million. Local newspaper Mmegi Online reports that comprehensive income totalled BWP375.6 million for the 2011/12 fiscal year, compared to BWP227.4 million in the year-ago period, boosted by higher sales and a BWP138.7 million gain on property revaluation. State-owned BTC’s operating costs for the twelve-month period stood at BWP992 million, up from BWP881.6 million in the year ended 31 March 2011. Commenting on the results, BTC’s CEO Paul Taylor said: ‘We have been very vigilant in cutting costs, nonetheless we will continue to be prudent and make sure that we spend on those activities which yield the most value to our customers and other stakeholders.’ BTC offers fixed telephony services, as well as wireless telephony via its wholly owned mobile subsidiary beMOBILE and internet and data services through its Botsnet unit.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:36:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian operators will launch 3G and m-payment services in the first quarter of next year, postal and ICT minister Mouusa Benhamadi announced to the local press. He said that the 3G licensing process would begin at the start of the year and services would begin before the end of March. The minister explained that 4G licensing was rejected due to the elevated cost of handsets, greater investment by operators, the requirement for a specific frequency band and the need for more base stations, authorisations to build them and the availability of necessary locations. Algeria launched a tender for 3G licences in September 2011, but suspended the process and delayed it several times due to a legal dispute between the government and Orascom Telecom Algeria, which operates under the Djezzy brand. In his latest statement to the press Benhamadi recognised that Algeria was behind in some services, such as m-payment, adding that Algerie Telecom, Mobilis and the postal service would introduce an m-payment service by the end of January

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:35:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cameroon's ministry of posts and telecommunications has chosen Vietnam's Viettel as the winner of the country's third mobile operator's licence. The new operator, expected to provide 2G and 3G services, will cover 81 percent of the country when it begins operations, the minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean-Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, said in a statement. Currently, Cameroon has some 11 million subscribers, representing a population penetration of around 50 percent. The existing operators are South Africa's MTN and France Telecom's Orange Cameroon. Three other operators - India's Bharti Airtel, Maroc Telecom and Korea Telecom - were also in the running for the licence.

Source: Telecom Paper.

3G | Africa | Mobile | Operators
Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:33:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Equatorial Guinea is set to expand broadband connectivity next year, when it connects its national telecoms infrastructure to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable, Biztech Africa reports. The ACE cable will be landed at Bata, Equatorial Guinea’s largest city and economic hub, where a control centre for the cable will be installed and is due to be operational by 6 December 2013. Management of the cable will fall to the newly established Management and Maintenance of Telecommunication Infrastructures Organisation in Equatorial Guinea (GITGE), which was set up in July this year. Carmelo Martin Modu, secretary of state for technology and telecommunications commented: ‘Equatorial Guinea is working to expand its broadband connectivity. We believe that through our participation in the ACE project, we will continue to reduce the digital divide that exists in our country and improve our communications’ quality and reach.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:31:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Korean communications provider SK Telecom has seen its LTE subscriber base exceed 7 million on 12 December, achieving its 2012 target for LTE subscribers. The company launched LTE services in July 2011. The LTE subscribers make up 26 percent of SK Telecom's total mobile subscriber base, the Korea IT Times reports. The company said that LTE uptake was boosted by the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 and that it signs up 60,000 customers per day on average. The company expects to end the year with 7.4 million LTE subscribers and expects to double the base to 14 million before the end of next year.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:29:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Japanese-owned NTT Com Asia has landed the Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) fibre cable in Hong Kong, where it has set a target commercial launch date by the end of the first quarter of 2013. ASE connects Hong Kong to Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, and launched services on this four-country route in August 2012. The 7,800km fibre system (including the 300km section to Hong Kong), cost USD430 million to build.

As shown on TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable map site (based on the research firm’s Global Bandwidth Research Service), ASE is the eighth high speed undersea cable system landed in Hong Kong, with two others pending. The other seven existing cables are: APCN-2; Asia-America Gateway (AAG); EAC-C2C; FLAG North Asia Loop/REACH North Asia Loop; FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA); SeaMeWe-3; and Tata TGN-Intra Asia (TGN-IA). Two other planned systems are: Southeast Asia Japan Cable (SJC) and Asia Pacific Gateway (APG).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:27:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chinese CDMA-based wireless provider China Telecom has introduced pre-paid vouchers for 3G services, offering customers a cheap, flexible alternative to its existing data plans, China Daily reports. The vouchers are available in denominations of 60MB, 150MB or 300MB, the smallest of which costs CNY10 (USD1.59). A spokesperson for the operator noted that data use per subscriber in October 2012 was 130% higher than twelve months earlier, adding: ‘Data traffic management is a very important task for telecom carriers, especially when they enter the mobile internet age.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that whilst China Telecom has the fewest 3G subscribers of the three cellcos – with 59.72 million at the end of September 2012, compared to 66.86 million and 75.60 million held by China Unicom and China Mobile respectively at that date – it has the greatest level of 3G penetration in its customer base, with more than a third of its users on 3G plans in mid-2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Mobile | Tariffs
Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:26:59 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodacom South Africa’s 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network has been rolled out to Cape Town, several weeks ahead of schedule the company said in a statement yesterday. Vodacom launched LTE in October this year with 70 LTE-enabled base stations and has since increased that total to more than 500. CTO Andries Delport commented: ‘On average we’ve lit up another seven LTE sites every single day for the past two months and hit our target of 500 LTE base stations a month early.’ Vodacom’s 4G network is now available in the central business district, Stellenbosch, Atlantic Seaboard, Waterfront and Century City areas of Cape Town, as well as throughout Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:25:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The popularity of mobile money services in the African nation of Tanzania exploded between 2010 and 2012, according to figures from the Bank of Tanzania published in East Africa Business Week. The bank reports that monthly transactions have increased from 1.9 million in 2010 to 48 million in September this year, in turn driving the total value of mobile transactions up to TZS1.7 trillion (USD668.3 million) from TZS1.8 billion. The banks’ governor Benno Ndulu told delegates at the opening of a financial institutions’ conference in Arusha that millions of Tanzanians without bank accounts are benefiting from mobile money services to make payments, send remittances and store funds for short periods conveniently and at low cost.

Last month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that Vodacom Tanzania has signed up 4.4 million users to its mobile money service M-PESA, representing around 48% of its total subscriber base in the country. The service, which allows users with a recognised ID card to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money easily through a mobile device, is seeing sustained, strong growth. In February this year Vodacom confirmed that the number of M-PESA users stood at 2.7 million users – or 23.4% of the base. The cellco’s CEO Rene Meza says: ‘about TZS35 billion is transacted daily through M-PESA and attributed this to the fact that the service is safe and reliable and is available throughout the country.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:24:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Romania has inaugurated commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the capital Bucharest, with the cellco noting that at launch customers in areas including the central and northern area of the city, and the tourist regions of Prahova Valley, Bran-Moieciu and Poiana Brasov could access the superfast mobile broadband service. With the cellco noting that its new network offers downlink speeds of up to 75Mbps and upload speeds of up to 37.5Mbps, it has also revealed that customers signing up for any of its new 4G tariffs on a two-year contract will have no data usage caps for the first six months. Initially, those customers looking to take up the cellco’s 4G offering will only be offered a USB modem or tablet, although Orange Romania noted that it expects to introduce a smartphone option soon. For now, the two devices on offer are the Orange Huawei E392 modem, which is offered free with any LTE tariff, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 4G tablet price starts at EUR309 (USD403), dependent on the plan taken.

With the operator’s LTE coverage initially available in only a limited area, Orange Romania has confirmed that those on its 4G tariffs will be able to connect to its 3.5G network in those regions where the new infrastructure has yet to be rolled out. The cellco has highlighted the fact that its customers currently have access to downlink speeds of 14.4Mbps nationwide, while 21.1Mbps speeds are available in ‘over 13,000 locations’.

Further, it also noted that it has now deployed DC-HSPA technology, offering theoretical downlink rates of 43.2Mbps, in 331 locations, including 18 of the country’s larger cities, those being: Arad, Baia Mare, Brasov, Bucharest, Campia Turzii, Cluj, Codlea, Constanta, Iasi, Mangalia, Oradea, Satu Mare, Sacele, Sibiu, Targu Mures, Timisoara, Tulcea and Zalau.

Source: TeleGeography.

Europe | LTE
Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:20:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ARCEP and the Committee for industry, energy and technologies, CGIET (Conseil général de l'industrie, de l'énergie et des technologies) have released the findings of the 10th annual survey on the use of information and communication technologies (fixed and mobile calling, internet and microcomputers) in France. This survey was conducted in June 2012 through face-to-face interviews with a sample of 2,206 people who are representative of the French population, 12 years of age and over.

What follows are some of the survey's main findings.

More and more people equipped with wireline and mobile phones, computers and internet access.

- Seventy eight percent of the population now have both a landline telephone in the home and their own mobile phone (+4 points compared to last year): telephony equipment levels stand at 89% for fixed (+1 point) and 85% for mobile (+3 points);

- four out of five people have a computer at home - most of which are laptops (70%) and 97% of which are connected to the internet;

- portable devices are increasingly popular: 64% of the population ages 12 and up own a laptop computer, a mobile phone or a tablet (+11 points);

- most people (55%) still access the internet using a landline connection at home, but this is followed closely by the use of a Wi-Fi connection at home (49%, +7 points). We are also seeing a swift increase in the use of mobile devices - i.e. tablets and phones - to access the web at home, either via Wi-Fi (23%, +10 points) or a mobile network (20%, +6 points). Ultimately, consumers are using a variety of connection modes, with 45% of them employing two or more to access the internet when at home.

Growing adoption of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) one of the main reasons for increased traffic:

- Twenty nine percent of the population surf the web using a smartphone, which marks an 8-point increase over the year before. And usage has skyrocketed over the past two years: accessing e-mail and downloading paid applications rose by a further 7 points, after having increased by 8 points in 2011 (adopted by 23% and 21% of users, respectively);

- twenty percent of individuals use a laptop computer or a tablet to connect to the internet when away from home;

- smartphone owners are twice as likely to use the mobile internet: 79% of them use their phone to surf the web, compared to only 29% of mobile phone owners as a whole. Sixty five percent use their smartphone to send e-mail, 63% to download applications and 24% to watch TV. These are nevertheless the same percentages as in 2011.

Source: ARCEP.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:19:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­Switzerland's Swisscom has launched its LTE network, with coverage in 26 locations today. The new network will cover 70 percent of the population by the end of 2013.

The launch follows a LTE pilot project in seven tourist regions and the cities of Berne and Zurich. Frequencies of 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz are used to transmit the LTE signal.

The company said that it will invest around CHF 1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) in the expansion of its mobile network by 2016.

The Swisscom 4G/LTE network will be able to provide theoretical peak rate speeds of up to 150 Mbps during phase one and reach up to 300 Mbps at a later date.

Source: Cellular News.

Europe | LTE
Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:17:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

DUBAI: Oman has granted a fixed-line telecommunications license for the greater Muscat area to a consortium of Awaser Oman Co. and Hong Kong's PCCW International, the regulator said yesterday, a decision that may squeeze earnings at Oman's existing operators.

The license is valid for the Governorate of Muscat — home to about a quarter of Oman's estimated 2.8 million people — and will enable the consortium to provide fixed-line data and voice services for 25 years. PCCW International is a subsidiary of PCCW Ltd.

The consortium will compete against Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) and Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom (Qtel).

As the former monopoly, Omantel has an extensive fixed-line network and this provided just over half of its revenue for the nine months to Sept. 30, according to Reuters calculations. Fixed-line accounted for 18.5 percent of Nawras's third-quarter revenue.

The Awaser-PCCW license was awarded as fixed-line services lag mobile, which had penetration of 180 percent — or 1.8 mobile subscriptions per person — at the end of June, according to Oman's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Many people hold multiple mobile SIM cards and switch provider depending on which has the best offers for local and international services, with Omantel also hosting two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). MVNOs lease network capacity and usually target a particular economic or ethnic group.

Fixed-line take-up has been sluggish in comparison — penetration was only 10.7 percent at the end of June, up 0.6 percentage point since mid-2011, with just over a quarter of households using the Internet on a fixed connection.

Yet fixed-line Internet services are lucrative, with a monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) of 32.071 rials ($83.30) in the second quarter, up 1.3 percent from the previous quarter. Mobile broadband penetration was 51 percent at the end of June.

Source: Arab News.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:06:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has reduced the amount of money mobile companies pay each other for calls that terminate in a rival’s network.

The charge — referred to as Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) — was slashed from the current Sh2.21 to Sh1.44, and charges backdated to July 1 this year, effectively ending a war in the mobile industry pitting Airtel and yu who wanted the charges lowered against Safaricom and Telkom Kenya, which wanted the charges to remain as is.

The interconnection fees was set at Sh2.21 after it was slashed in July 2010 from Sh4.42. The rates were set to come further down in July last year to Shl.44, and follow a glide path that would have seen them settle at less than a shilling by July next year. But President Kibaki halted progress through a directive in June last year following intense lobbying from Safaricom and Telkom Kenya.

“Considering that the Commission suspended the glide path in order to evaluate these issues as presented by the industry, the CCK board has, in its sitting today, resolved to re-instate the glide path and implement the second phase of the mobile and fixed termination rates with effect from July 1,” stated the CCK in a statement to the media.

Source: Standard Digital.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:00:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Moscow, Russia – November 22, 2012 – Rostelecom OJSC (the “Group”) (MICEX - RTS: RTKM, RTKMP; OTCQX: ROSYY), Russia’s national telecommunications operator, announces that the Group has fully launched its first commercial 3G+ network in the Irkutsk region, through the Group’s subsidiary, Baikalwestcom CJS (BWC). Rostelecom is planning to launch 3G networks in 26 Russian regions in 2013.

Pavel Zaitsev, Senior Vice President of Rostelecom, commented: "Our subsidiary, Baikalwestcom, has historically been a regional mobile market leader, and the launch of this next-generation network will further strengthen its position. All of our mobile subscribers in the Irkutsk region will now benefit from a significantly enhanced user experience using our 3G+ infrastructure and our high-speed Internet access when surfing the web, browsing social networks, and viewing video content. Customers can now access these services anywhere using their smartphones, tablets or USB modems on their laptops. Since the network’s test launch mobile data traffic has almost doubled and we are confident that demand for mobile Internet will continue growing rapidly thanks to our competitive tariff plans for this service.”

The HSPA+ technology that we used to build our first network in the Irkutsk region, supports transmission speeds of up to 21 MB/s. The network is therefore 3G+, as the first 3G networks in Russia only supported transmission speeds of up to 3.6 MB/s. The Group has completed the installation of over 300 base stations. Rostelecom’s 3G+ network is now available across several of the Irkutsk region’s cities and towns, providing access to 70% of the region’s population. The network will be further expanded in the first quarter of 2013.

Source: Rostelecom.

3G | CIS
Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:58:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a €2 billion support scheme aimed at promoting the development of next generation access (NGA) broadband networks in currently underserved areas of the German region of Bavaria. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules, in particular because it ensures that support is granted only in areas where no commercial NGA network rollout is foreseen in the near future. This will avoid the crowding out of private investments.

Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia, in charge of competition policy, said: "The Bavarian broadband support scheme contributes to the objectives of the EU Digital Agenda while limiting distortions of competition by supporting only networks that are open to all operators on a non-discriminatory basis. This should enable healthy competition on the subsidised networks, allowing local businesses and users to benefit from significantly enhanced broadband services at competitive prices".

In June 2012, Germany notified plans for supporting an NGA broadband scheme providing for download speeds of at least 50 Mbps in commercial and accumulation areas of Bavaria.

The Commission found the scheme to be in line with its guidelines on state aid for broadband (see IP/09/1332 and MEMO/09/396). In particular, no support may be granted in areas where a commercial NGA network roll-out is foreseen in the near future. Moreover, the scheme has a high degree of transparency, as all key information on projects will be systematically posted on a central website. This should allow stakeholders to be continuously informed on any project under the scheme. Also, the German telecommunications regulator (the Bundesnetzagentur) will be consulted on key aspects of projects, such as wholesale access prices and conditions. This will further contribute to compliance with the competition rules. Finally, Germany will conduct a detailed monitoring of all cases supported under the scheme.

Source: European Commission.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 2:55:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, December 14, 2012

The UK’s rural broadband rollout strategy, which had been placed on hold in July 2012 in order for European regulators examine to it, looks set to get underway again with the European Commission (EC) confirming that Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the umbrella support scheme for investments in next generation access (NGA) broadband networks, does comply with European Union (EU) state aid rules.

BDUK, a team within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was set up to deliver the government’s broadband strategy, with its main role being to allocate and distribute funding to bring superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses which are not expected to be provided for by commercial rollouts. The British government 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 fixed line incumbent BT and Fujitstu emerging as the only two companies to ink contracts for a rural broadband rollout, the EC said that no work would move forward until it was satisfied with the plans. One of the main concerns with the setup was reportedly that BT was 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.

With the EC suggesting that the total value of aid to be delivered by the scheme would be around GBP1.5 billion (USD1.8 billion), it claimed this would likely enable the UK to achieve the objective of the EU Digital Agenda of coverage of 30Mbps networks for all European citizens. Further, noting that the design of the BDUK scheme contained several ‘best practices’ which it claimed would ‘help to ensure more effective, better targeted and less distortive public interventions’, the EC also pointed out that UK telecoms regulator Ofcom will have a crucial role in designing wholesale access prices and conditions. The UK meanwhile is understood to have committed to submitting an evaluation of the scheme to the Commission before 31 March 2015, while it will also ensure that any forthcoming scheme will take this evaluation into account.

Commenting on the decision, Joaquin Almunia, EC vice president, noted: ‘BDUK, as a national competence centre, will assist local granting authorities in designing and implementing successful broadband support measures in line with EU competition rules. The umbrella scheme will be a big step towards the achievement of the EU Digital Agenda targets and a strong impetus for growth in the UK.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, December 14, 2012 11:10:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |