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 Monday, March 04, 2013

Vodafone New Zealand has commercially launched LTE services. The service is live now in parts of Auckland, and Vodafone will expand it to more suburbs every week. LTE services will go live in parts of Christchurch in May, and parts of Wellington in August or September. To get the LTE service, customers pay an extra NZD 10 on top of their existing plan while on higher value plans the upgrade is included.

The LTE network uses equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks in the 1800MHz band. NSN supplied its Single RAN and Flexi Multiradio Base Station, as well as upgraded 2G, 3G and 4G networks with its Mobile Switching Center Server and Multimedia Gateway. In addition, the company provided its Circuit Switched FallBack voice system that enables the LTE network to transfer customers to 2G and 3G networks in order to make and receive voice calls on 4G smartphones.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, March 04, 2013 10:59:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 28, 2013

Facebook announces discounting data access to messaging on mobile.

"Today we’re announcing partnerships with mobile operators to provide free or discounted data access to Facebook messaging for their subscribers.

Through this promotion, free or discounted data access will be available in the coming months on Messenger for Android, Messenger for iOS and Facebook for Every Phone, which is now optimized for chat.

This promotion will be available from more than 18 operators in 14 countries. Operators committed to special pricing for Facebook messaging include TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Airtel and Reliance in India, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaydzhan, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART in Philippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand, Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Oi in Brazil, Etisalat in Egypt, and Tre in Italy.

Messaging on Facebook lets people connect with friends and contacts on the go, regardless of what device they are using. Three out of every four people on Facebook send a message on the platform each month, making messaging one of the most popular activities on Facebook. Today, Facebook messaging and chat can be accessed from more than 6,000 mobile phones via Facebook Messenger, Facebook for iOS and Android, Facebook for Every Phone, m.facebook.com and across other devices with Facebook integration."

Source: Facebook Mobile.

Thursday, February 28, 2013 8:46:50 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, February 22, 2013
  • Five winning bidders to deliver future mobile competition in the UK
  • 4G services from a range of operators expected within six months
  • Research measuring 4G speeds to be conducted at the end of 2013

Ofcom has today announced the winners of the 4G mobile spectrum auction.

After more than 50 rounds of bidding, Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd, Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc), Telefónica UK Ltd and Vodafone Ltd have all won spectrum. This is suitable for rolling out new superfast mobile broadband services to consumers and to small and large businesses across the UK1.

The auction has achieved Ofcom’s purpose of promoting strong competition in the 4G mobile market. This is expected to lead to faster mobile broadband speeds, lower prices, greater innovation, new investment and better coverage. Almost the whole UK population will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest.

A total of 250 MHz of spectrum was auctioned in two separate bands – 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. This is equivalent to two-thirds of the radio frequencies currently used by wireless devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.

The lower-frequency 800 MHz band is part of the ‘digital dividend’ freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, and is ideal for widespread mobile coverage. The higher-frequency 2.6 GHz band is ideal for delivering the capacity needed for faster speeds. The availability of the two will allow 4G networks to achieve widespread coverage as well as offering capacity to cope with significant demand in urban centres.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “This is a positive outcome for competition in the UK, which will lead to faster and more widespread mobile broadband, and substantial benefits for consumers and businesses across the country. We are confident that the UK will be among the most competitive markets in the world for 4G services.

“4G coverage will extend far beyond that of existing 3G services, covering 98% of the UK population indoors – and even more when outdoors – which is good news for parts of the country currently underserved by mobile broadband.

“We also want consumers to be well informed about 4G, so we will be conducting research at the end of this year to show who is deploying services, in which areas and at what speeds. This will help consumers and businesses to choose their most suitable provider.”

Widespread 4G coverage

Ofcom has attached a coverage obligation to one of the 800 MHz lots of spectrum. The winner of this lot is Telefónica UK Ltd. This operator is obliged to provide a mobile broadband service for indoor reception to at least 98% of the UK population (expected to cover at least 99% when outdoors) and at least 95% of the population of each of the UK nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – by the end of 2017 at the latest.

Source: Ofcom.

Europe | LTE | Mobile
Friday, February 22, 2013 8:28:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, February 18, 2013

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) is inviting proposals from domestic companies or partnerships between domestic and foreign companies for a 3G licence in the country. The regulator will auction off four 2.1 GHZ licences and assign one licence to state-owned mobile operator Teletalk. One licence in the auction will be awarded to a new entrant but it will not be reserved for them. A total of 40 MHz is available in blocks of 5 MHz with bidders limited to two blocks, or 10 MHz, and one licensee will be eligible for three blocks if any block is left over after the auction. The base price for the auction has been set at USD 20 million per MHz. Licensees will also be allowed to use the spectrum for 4G/LTE services. Applications must be in before 12 May and the BTRC is planning to hold the auction on 24 June this year.

Source: Telecom Paper.

LTE
Monday, February 18, 2013 11:20:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Global mobile data traffic is forecast to increase by 66 percent CAGR or 13-fold by 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes (1 quintillion bytes) per month, or 134 exabytes a year, according to Cisco. The company expects 46 percent of all cellular traffic to be off-loaded from fixed or Wi-Fi by 2017 (9.6 exabytes a month), compared with 33 percent (428 petabytes a month) in 2012. LTE is likely to support nearly 10 percent of all mobile connections by 2017.
 
Continued strong growth in mobile internet connections through both personal devices and M2M applications will exceed the UN’s world population estimated of 7.6 billion in 2017. Cisco explains that 134 exabytes is the equivalent of 3 trillion video clips, or one clip daily from each person on Earth over one year.

Mobile data is being driven by an increase in mobile users (5.2 bln by 2017 vs 4.3 bln in 2012), rise in mobile connections (10 bln, including 1.7 bln M2M by 2017 vs 7 bln in total in 2012), faster mobile speeds (3.9 Mbps vs 0.5Mbps), and more mobile video, expected to account for 66 percent of all mobile data traffic by 2017, versus 51 percent in 2012. Cisco expects M2M traffic, including car GPS, asset tracking, medical applications, etc, to account for 5 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2017.

The MEA region is expected to 77 percent CAGR mobile data growth between 2012-2017, Asia-Pacific 76 percent, Latin America 67 percent, Central and Eastern Europe 66 percent, North America 56 percent and Western Europe 50 percent.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, February 18, 2013 11:19:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BT has introduced Totally Unlimited Broadband on all but its entry level broadband offering. It is now offering broadband without any usage limits and free from traffic management from GBP 16 per month for 16 Mbps copper broadband, GBP 23 for 38 Mbps Infinity or GBP 26 for 76 Mbps Infinity. Previously, the cheapest unlimited broadband option was GBP 26 per month. New customers are being offered the first six months free. This offers end on 06 June and applies to new BT Broadband customers signing a minimum 18-month contract and paying line rental.

BT is also announcing a new online storage service called BT Cloud, offering a free allowance for all consumer broadband customers. Infinity 76 Mbps and top tier copper customers receive a 50 GB allowance. The service allows BT’s consumer broadband customers to safely and securely back up and share their photographs, documents and videos wherever they are. All backed up documents can be accessed from smartphones, tablets and computers. Customers can stream their content direct to their mobile device and share it friends via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

BT will continue to sell its basic broadband, which costs GBP 13 a month, although this product will not be unlimited, along with Infinity 1, which costs GBP 18. Totally Unlimited Broadband will be available from 01 February. The 16 Mbps copper broadband options both come with the first six months free, while customers can get Infinity for GBP 9 per month for the first three months. Existing customers will be able to switch to Totally Unlimited Broadband by signing a new contract.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, February 18, 2013 11:17:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Microsoft, in collaboration with Kenya's ICT ministry and Indigo Telecom, announced the launch of a pilot project to deliver low-cost wireless broadband to previously unserved locations near Nanyuki and Kalema, Kenya. The network uses TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations to deliver broadband access.

This pilot is part of Microsoft's broader 4Afrika Initiative to help improve the continent's global competitiveness. A core goal of the 4Afrika Initiative is to facilitate access to technology for the masses and to empower African students, entrepreneurs, developers and others to become active global citizens. The project is the first deployment of TV white space technology in Africa targeted at communities without access to broadband or electricity and is a result of a memorandum of understanding on a framework of cooperation between Microsoft, the Kenyan ICT ministry and Indigo Telecom. 

The initial installation near Nanyuki includes five customer locations: the Burguret Dispensary (healthcare clinic), Male Primary School, Male Secondary School, Gakawa Secondary School and Laikipia District Community Library. The installation in Kalema will begin with a base station that connects to a government of Kenya agricultural extension office. Fourteen more locations on the network will be added in the coming months. The network will also feature white space radios manufactured by Adaptrum.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, February 18, 2013 11:15:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to data published by Brazil’s telecoms regulator Asociacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Anatel), the country’s pay-TV sector totalled 16.2 million subscribers at 31 December 2012, thanks to net additions of 3.44 million new users in the year. Brazil’s enthusiasm for pay-TV continues unabated: the total for end-August 2012 was 15.1 million subscribers – up 319,500 in a month, and 30% higher than at the same point in 2011.

In terms of access platforms, the most popular technology being used is DTH, which accounted for 60.80% of the total subscriber base, while cable-based connections were taken by 38.29% of customers (a small decrease compared to November 2012). Meanwhile, multichannel multipoint distribution service (MMDS), or wireless cable as it is also known, is rapidly declining as a preferred technology option, and by end-December 2012 had only 142,113 subscribers nationwide. At the same date, Anatel reports that Net Servicos/Embratel had a total of 8.495 million pay-TV customers, up 1.497 million year-on-year, ahead of Sky (DirecTV) in second place with 5.039 million (+1.242 million). Oi SA took third spot with 748,758 subscribers – a net gain of 397,575 in one year – while Telefonica (Vivo) and Global Village Telecom (GVT) took the minor rankings with 594,907 and 425,635 pay-TV subscribers respectively.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, February 18, 2013 11:14:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the latest figures from the Communications Authority of Maldives, the island nation ended December 2012 with a total of 560,547 mobile subscribers, the majority of which (87.3%, or 489,084) were pre-paid customers. The regulator said that fixed broadband subscribers reached 18,059 at the end of 2012, while mobile broadband customers totalled 69,641. The number of fixed telephony lines (including payphones) stood at 24,153.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, February 18, 2013 11:13:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 07, 2013

Kenya's largest mobile operator Safaricom on Friday increased the cost of moving funds through M-Pesa following a new tax on transaction fee earned from mobile money transfer.

Safaricom said customers transferring more than Ksh101 ($1.2) will have to pay 10 per cent more on account of a government decision to introduce a similar tax on earnings from the service.

The telco is opposed to the new tax arguing that it would add more costs to customers and therefore negatively affect the sector.

“As Kenya’s largest taxpayer, we appreciate the need to support government as it seeks to reach its financial obligations. However, we maintain our position that a tax on mobile money is at that this time premature and is likely to have a negative impact on the country’s financial deepening agenda by creating an unnecessary barrier for wananchi who are most in need of basic financial services, “Bob Collymore, the company CEO said.

The government on Friday gazetted amendments to the Finance Act of 2012, introducing a 10 per cent excise duty tax on transaction fees for financial as well money transfer services as it seeks to raise cash to fund its growing recurrent expenditure.

Analysts say the new tax law could have an even bigger impact on banks given the size of their transactions.

“Banks will even be worse because the 10 per cent duty is a huge portion of their revenues. Most players will pass on costs within the next few weeks,” explained Eric Musau an analyst with the Standard Investment Bank.

Source: The East African.

Thursday, February 07, 2013 12:13:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ukrainian cellular market leader Kyivstar has made increases to a wide range of its tariffs. Effective from the first week of February, 16 post-paid tariff plans will increase their monthly fee by 15%-30% while certain prices for services under 29 pre-paid tariff plans will be affected, writes newspaper Kommersant. For example, for tariff plans without a regular fee, such as ‘One price’ and ‘Better with us’, February will see a 15%-25% increase in the cost of on-net calls, while in a number of tariff plans the minimum cost of purchasing a block of SMS messages will increase by 50% (although the number of SMS included will increase accordingly). Kyivstar’s director of corporate communications, Jeanne Parkhomenko, pointed out that price rises applied only to ‘old’ tariff plans, while users on newer tariffs were experiencing price reductions. She went on to say that from the first week of February the cellco was also reducing the cost of sending SMS and MMS by 50% for ‘80% of the subscriber base’, and claimed that ‘around three million customers’ will be transferred to the company’s ‘economic’ tariff plan and incur charges only for services used. Mrs Parkhomenko also indicated that the selected price increases were part of a company strategy to offset losses stemming from certain tariff reductions implemented following sustained pressure from Ukraine’s anti-monopoly agency. The LigaBusinessInform news agency adds that Mrs Parkhomenko will be leaving next week to take up a post in Kazakhstan.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:52:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Online news portal Tut.by reports MTS Belarus as saying that the total number of people subscribing to its mobile internet services increased by 27% in 2012, to reach 1.5 million by the year end. In December 2012 alone, MTS Belarus said that mobile internet users generated 950,000 gigabytes of traffic, double the figure reported in December 2011, while for the year as a whole, 3G traffic totalled 9.3 million gigabytes. The cellco’s 3G network currently comprises 1,760 base stations and is available in 100% of the country’s cities and towns.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:51:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Nigeria has reportedly made the necessary preparations ahead of the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC’s) long-delayed introduction of mobile number portability (MNP), which is expected to take place in the next few months. Business Day Online cites MTN’s CEO Brett Goschen as saying that a series of tests have already been carried out on the operator’s systems and infrastructure, with further testing to take place in the immediate run-up to the launch of MNP. ‘We have made necessary investment in infrastructure and manpower and we are now finalising the process of making this project a reality,’ the executive stated, adding: ‘We are confident that when the NCC is ready to blow the whistle for the kick off of this project, we will be ready.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the introduction of MNP was first considered by the NCC in the third quarter of 2007, but the commission has been waiting for the conclusion of SIM registration before it officially launches the service. The NCC announced in October 2011 that it had selected a consortium of three companies – Interconnect Clearinghouse Nigeria, Saab Grintek and Telcordia – to set up and implement number portability for the first five years, and having already pushed back the expected launch date on various occasions, in December 2012 the regulator said it was set to begin testing the system in order to address any problems ahead of a planned launch in the first quarter of this year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:50:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to data from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), the country’s wireless subscriber base at the end of 2012 was just under 5.7 million, up from 4.7 million just six months previously. MTN remains the market leader with a market share of 60.3%, followed by Millicom-owned Tigo with 32.8%. New entrant Airtel, which launched in June 2012 and is backed by India’s Bharti Airtel, grew its subscriber base from 144,044 in July to 391,072 by the end of the year. MTN and Tigo’s networks each reach more than 98% of the population, whereas Airtel’s population coverage currently stands at 15%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:49:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a statement published in Cuban newspaper Granma, state-owned telecoms operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) has confirmed that internet traffic is being carried by the island’s first submarine fibre-optic cable. The telecoms monopoly stated that the Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra America (ALBA-1) cable, which connects Cuba to Venezuela, has been carrying international voice traffic since August 2012, while data traffic tests have been carried out on the cable since 10 January 2013. When the testing process is completed, however, ETECSA noted that the launch of the cable ‘will not automatically mean that the possibility of access will increase,’ adding that investment in the domestic telecoms infrastructure is required and that even then the goal is ‘gradual growth of a service that we offer mostly for free and with social aims in mind.’ Historically, Cuba has had to access the internet via expensive and slow satellite connections, but earlier this month internet monitoring firm Renesys observed that the ALBA-1 cable had finally been activated, almost two years after the system first landed on the island.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:48:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chilean telecoms watchdog Subtel has set new standards for wireless Quality of Service (QoS), increasing the minimum percentage of successful call attempts and completed calls to 97% in urban areas and 90% in rural areas, splitting a previous national total into regional values. The decision follows a study conducted by the regulator in H1 2012 investigating the service standards of the nation’s cellcos. The report found that in Q1 Entel had 94.8% successful calls, Claro 93.0% and Movistar 92.5%, which improved to 97.6%, 96.0% and 96.0% in Q2. Newcomers to the market Nextel and VTR had successful call rates of 97.6% and 96.5% respectively. In terms of completed calls Entel had success rates of 93.4% (Q1) and 96.1%, Claro had 91.7% and 94.8% whilst Movistar fell behind with 90.9% and 94.2%. Nextel and VTR customers completed 96.8% and 95.3% of calls.

Commenting on the changes, the secretary of state commented: ‘The decision to upgrade the standard of quality of service for mobile phones, from a national average to a regional standard, aims to improve the performance of networks in each city and guarantees users good service where they live. This regulatory change will increase the demands for companies that will even out the quality of their networks throughout the country.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:47:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Costa Rica’s telecoms watchdog Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Sutel) expects a management company for the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP) to be selected by early February, with the system to be in place within the following three months, La Nacion quotes Eduardo Castellon, a spokesperson for the regulator, as saying. Four companies are competing for the project, Telcordia Technologies, Informatica El Corte Ingles, Teletech and CESA-Porting Consortium. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that a committee representing the nation’s trio of cellcos – ICE Celular, Claro Costa Rica and Movistar Costa Rica – is to make the selection but if no decision is reached, Sutel will intervene and select a company. Such an eventuality is expected, as incumbent ICE has sought to hold up the project and had filed 20 appeals to halt or delay the introduction of MNP by end-December 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:46:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile network operator Airtel Tanzania has cut the cost of its on-net calls to TZS0.10 (USD0.00006) per second after the first two minutes of the call – equivalent to a reduction of 70%. The new lower rate will take effect from 24 January, allowing Airtel pay-as-you-go users to pay far less to make on-net calls.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:44:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set a new price cap of NGN4 (USD0.025) for domestic off-net text messages, to be introduced from 5 February 2013, according to local newspaper The Guardian. The new rate is a 60% reduction from the previous cap of up to NGN10 per off-net SMS. Commenting on the move, Josephine Amuwa, the NCC’s director of Legal and Regulatory Services, said that having evaluated and analysed SMS traffic information provided by the operators, the regulator noted that ‘there was a general recognition that the cost of SMS is too high, especially in view of the interconnection rate of NGN1.02 for SMS as determined by the Commission in 2009.’ She added that at present, the NCC has no plans to place a price cap on international SMS, but said the regulator would encourage operators to work towards lowering the cost of international messages.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:43:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel reports that the country was home to a total of 261.78 million mobile connections at the end of 2012, up 8.07% (or 19.5 million new lines), from the 242.20 million reported at the end of 2011. Cellular penetration increased to 132.78 mobile lines per 100 of population over the same period, it added. Of the total, 80.53% of lines (210.82 million) were pre-paid, down from 81.8% a year earlier, while GSM continued to be the most popular access platform, accounting for 74.8% of connections, compared to 82.4% in 2011.

In terms of mobile market share, Anatel said that Vivo (owned by Spain’s Telefonica) controlled 29.08% of the segment at end-2012, ahead of TIM Brasil (26.87%), America Movil-backed Telecom Americas (Claro) with 24.95%, Oi SA in fourth with 18.81%, CTBC or Agar Telecom (0.18%), regional operator Sercomtel (0.03%) and fledgling MVNO Porto Seguro (with 8,300 accesses). For the first time NII Holdings’ Nextel Brasil unit was also ranked, having launched 3G data plans without fanfare at the end of the fourth quarter.

Alongside Anatel’s mobile market update, Brazil’s Telebrasil association released its estimate of the broadband market, reporting a total of 86 million high speed internet accesses (fixed and mobile) at end-December, up 45% year-on-year – with the strongest growth coming from mobile broadband (up 60% y-o-y). The association said that around 27 million new mobile connections were activated last year, lifting the total to 52.5 million 3G cellular accesses and 13.5 million via data terminals (including modems and M2M connections).

Finally, Brazil’s incumbent cellcos continued to roll out their 3G coverage last year, collectively reaching 3,285 municipalities, or 88% of the population, at the year’s end, up 24% (or 635 new municipalities) compared to end-2011. The deployments helped boost the total cities covered figure beyond the government’s own target dramatically; the state had set a goal of 928 cities covered with 3G networks by April 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:41:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Rene Meza, the managing director of Vodacom’s Tanzanian mobile operation has expressed concerns over a plan by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to slash interconnection fees, saying such a move would hurt infrastructure investment in the East African nation.

As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 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 TCRA, was 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. The TCRA will decide on the precise magnitude of the cut this month, but in an e-mailed statement Rene Meza said: ‘We have raised concerns with the significant reduction proposed in March 2013 and the basis by which the reduction has been proposed … It is important that interconnect charges are designed to reflect the actual costs of mobile operators and the impact that the reduction will have on investment plans by Vodacom and other national operators.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:40:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of South Sudan is looking to deploy a fibre-optic network connecting the capital Juba with submarine cables in east Africa, in a bid to reduce the high cost of internet services in the landlocked country. ‘We are targeting this year, within this year, that we will be connected to the submarine cable,’ Juma Stephen, undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunication and Postal Services, told news agency Reuters, adding: ‘Construction of fibre-optic cables will more than halve internet prices and make it twice as fast.’ South Sudan, which officially gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, currently relies on slow and expensive satellite links for international bandwidth. Stephen said the government is carrying out a feasibility study on whether to connect with submarine cables (such as The East African Marine System [TEAMS], Eastern Africa Submarine System [EASSy] and SEACOM) in Djibouti or Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:39:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) has announced its results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2012. Consolidated net profits fell to BHD60.3 million (USD160.0 million) from BHD80.0 million the previous year, and group EBITDA also fell to BHD101.8 million versus BHD126.0 million posted in 2011. The company attributed the decline to aggressive competition in Bahrain, restructuring costs for 2012 and 2013 and a number of one-off adjustments including expenses associated with an extensive restructuring and cost rationalisation programme at the domestic division. Consolidated total annual revenues stood at BHD304.7 million in 2012, down by 6.8% from BHD327.0 million a year earlier, while fourth-quarter total group revenue was BHD77.2 million, down by 5.3% from BHD81.5 million in the same period of 2011. At year-end 2012, 41% of revenues and 39% of EBITDA were sourced from overseas markets – up from 37% and 31% respectively in 2011 according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database – helping to partially offset the effects of intense competitive pressures in Bahrain.

The group’s total subscriber base grew to more than 7.8 million across six markets, representing 18% growth year-on-year, driven by strong results in Jordan and Yemen during the year and in the fourth quarter in particular. Mobile subscriber numbers grew 17% year-on-year and 5% quarter-on-quarter. Broadband customers increased by 52% year-on-year and by 18% in October-December 2012, with results supported by progress in Bahrain and Jordan. Figures excluded results from operations in India, where Batelco’s agreed sale of its 43% stake in S Tel is pending completion, and the Bahraini telco is suing its Indian partner for non-payment.

The Bahraini group’s domestic division achieved a 3% increase in mobile subscriber numbers during the fourth quarter of 2012, although year-on-year the mobile base saw a 5% decline as a result of ongoing and aggressive competition and a ‘challenging’ regulatory environment, Batelco said. Bahraini mobile broadband subscribers increased by 56% y-o-y and 8% q-o-q, but fixed broadband and fixed line customers reduced by 8% and 5%, respectively y-o-y, whilst remaining ‘stable’ over Q4 2012.

Umniah in Jordan delivered 3% growth in its mobile subscriber base to 2.4 million, following the launch of 3.5G services (adding 122,000 3G subscribers during 2012). Umniah reported fixed and wireless broadband subscriber growth of 521% y-o-y and 62% q-o-q.

In Kuwait, Batelco claimed that Qualitynet remained the market leader in the data communications and internet sector, maintaining market share and ending the year with 39,000 customers.

Sabafon (Yemen) returned to growth in 2012 following stabilisation of the country’s political situation and the rationalisation of the customer base, which was completed in the first quarter, excluding non-active SIM cards. Sabafon ended 2012 with a subscriber base of more than 4.1 million users, up by 33% y-o-y and 9% q-o-q.

Atheeb (Saudi Arabia) made a shift in its business model during 2012, focusing on the high margin business segment, resulting in an annual decline of 11% in total voice and data services customers, while the company was successful in adding a ‘significant’ number of new business customers to keep numbers steady on a quarter-on-quarter basis, and in terms of growing revenues.

Batelco recently announced a deal to enlarge its footprint by acquiring equity interests in Cable & Wireless Communications’ Monaco & Islands division across eleven new markets, which was approved by the shareholders of both companies in early January 2013, and which remains on track to close during the first quarter.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:37:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Malik Shaban, the deputy CEO of ZTE in Libya, has revealed to the Libya Herald that a nationwide WiMAX network could be in place as early as August this year, confirming that work has now commenced on the second phase of deployment. The rollout, which is being carried out on behalf of the country’s dominant internet service provider (ISP), state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT), will see around 300 WiMAX base stations deployed across the country, with a particular focus on rural areas in the south. The rollout will supplement LTT’s current footprint of 346 towers, which cover 18 locations. However, the undertaking may not end there; LTT’s managing director, Saad Ksheer, told the paper that the company is planning a total of 588 new WiMAX towers to ease network congestion. ZTE has been active within Libya since September when it was drafted in to repair infrastructure damaged during the revolution. However, it is thought that ‘phase two’ of the rollout dates back to the period prior to the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:36:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Now that the government has decided to allow the RM200 rebate for all types of smartphones, local phone distributors and telecommunication providers are now experiencing a big jump in sales.
 
For some, problems have even cropped up: they do not have enough phones to sell because of the surge in demand.
 
The government’s move to remove the limit to smartphones costing RM500 each or less is expected to benefit about one million youths between 21 and 30 years earning less than RM3,000 a month.

Jason Lo, Chief Executive Officer of Tune Talk Sdn Bhd, said since the announcement, demand for its smartphones has risen by over 50 per cent.
 
Tune Talk is one the service providers for the package under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
 
“The announcement was a good move by the government. We receive around 10 to 15 new applications for the rebate daily and the number is rising,” Lo told Bernama.
 
The government’s pro-active move also benefited Tune Talk’s 800 dealers nationwide, he said.
 
“We do not have a problem in terms of smartphones stocks as our policy is to order only when there is a demand. Currently, demand is still under control,” Lo said.
 
Eddy Tay, Head of Sales at NineTology Malaysia Sdn Bhd, said youths were benefiting from the government effort to equip them with smartphones as they have more models now to choose from.
 
“Youths these days not only purchase smartphones to communicate but also for Internet data,” he said.
 
With the latest announcement, Tay said demand from his distributors had increased.
 
Meanwhile, ZTE Malaysia Director of Terminal Division, Jeremy Zhao, hoped that the government could extend the campaign to not only smartphones but also to the entire list of mobile broadband products to help enrich end-user options and increase mobile broadband penetration in Malaysia.
 
“Initially, 23 models were shortlisted, but now all smartphone vendors stand to benefit,” he said, adding that his company was also experiencing an increase in sales.

Source: The Malaysian Times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 8:06:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |