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 Monday, March 25, 2013

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain (TRA) has released the latest update of the retail price benchmarking study of telecommunications services in Arab countries. The study was commissioned by the TRA on behalf of AREGNET (the Arab Regulators Group). It was undertaken by Teligen, an independent consulting firm specializing in tariff comparisons. The main insights of the study are:

  • Mobile tariffs: Mobile prices in Bahrain have fallen by up to 30% between 2011 and 2012, and by up to 41% since 2008 when TRA decided to allow a third mobile operator to enter Bahrain. Mobile prices in Bahrain have been deregulated since 2010. They compare well with GCC and Arab averages but mobile prices in Bahrain remain consistently above the OECD average.
  • Fixed broadband: The entry of Wimax-based operators following TRA’s award of new fixed-wireless licences in 2007 has significantly enhanced the competitiveness of fixed broadband services in Bahrain. Fixed broadband prices in Bahrain have fallen by up to 53% between 2011 and 2012, and by up to 71% since 2008. For the low speed and mid speed baskets, Bahrain is now one of the cheapest GCC and Arabcountries. The picture is somewhat different for the high speed basket (>15 Mb/s), where despite price reductions in 2012, fixed broadband in Bahrain remains relatively expensive compared to other GCC countries (particularly residential prices). The OECD average is significantly lower than the fixed broadband prices in Bahrain, the GCC averages and Arab averages, particularly for the high speed basket.
  • Mobile broadband: Mobile broadband pricesare set freely by each of the three mobile operators since 2010. They have also come down significantly as a result of an increasingly competitive market. Mobile broadband prices in Bahrain declined by up to 63% between 2011 and 2012, and Bahrain has amongst the lowest prices for mobile broadband in GCC and Arab countries. Bahrain also compared well with the OECD. TRA expects faster and new services from the auction of additional spectrum planned in April 2013.
  • Fixed voice tariffs: Bahrain is one of the cheapest Arab countries. Although Bahrain compares well with other Arab and OECD countries (low baskets) in terms of the cost of a basket of fixed voice services, calling revenues still represents a significant portion of the fixed line cost, suggesting that retail rates are not rebalanced. Fixed voice tariffs in Bahrain have been static in nominal terms for all users in the last five updates.
  • Leased line tariffs: As is the case in most of the GCC countries, the prices for leased lines in Bahrain have not changed in nominal terms since the first Arab Price Benchmarking Study in 2008. Leased line prices in Bahrain are similar to prices in the Arab region, although by OECD standards, leased lines tariffs in Bahrain remain high. The finding that prices have not changed over the last four years indicates that competitive pressures in the leased line market have been less intense than in other telecommunications markets within Bahrain. TRA has sought to address this during 2012 through the introduction of better retail prices for a new type of leased lines and through the introduction a new regulated wholesale local access service, which should enable other operators to compete more effectively in the supply of retail leased line services to end users.

Source: Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain (TRA).

Monday, March 25, 2013 2:12:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

­Two thirds of Hungary's smartphone owners state that applications constitute an organic part of their smartphone according to the research carried out by Magyar Telekom among smartphone and internet users.

As partially known already from earlier researches, 38% of Hungarian internet users aged 14-69 have smartphones, equaling about 1.7 million people. 80% of them also use smartphones to access the internet. The current research underlines that 80% of Hungarian internet users realize that smartphones are differentiated from traditional phones by running an operation system, and 70% are also right about seeing the difference in the availability of applications.

1.3 million users state that they already downloaded applications, on average 16 - the most popular apps are music players, followed by calendars, email and community apps, and naturally games. Top ten apps include weather, photo and video recorder and player, as well as map and navigation apps. The research outlines that smartphone owners mostly look up information about applications in the AppStore or on the internet - however many enquire with friends and acquaintances. Women and those aged 14-18 are less active in checking individual applications.

Majority of those paying for applications only purchased 1-2 apps, 25% of them bought 3-5 apps and 6% of them purchased more than 10 apps. iPhone owners are clearly on top of the statistics, men and those with higher education background, as well as the more affluent are somewhat more active in this domain. Smartphone owners using apps on their phones clearly found prefer payment methods where against paying a smaller amount the given app can be tested and further payment is only needed for further functions.

Mobile phone applications are also ever more popular among small and medium entrepreneurs: shop owners, those working in catering trade and real estate agencies start to realize possibilities inherent in this new communication channel.

Source: Cellular News.

Monday, March 25, 2013 9:20:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the long-delayed launch of mobile number portability (MNP) will take place on 25 March 2013, writes PM News. The regulator’s head of Media and Public Relations, Reuben Muoka, reportedly told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that during the initial phase, only subscribers of the country’s GSM mobile networks will be able to transfer their numbers to another operator. ‘As soon as the GSM takes off, it will not be long before CDMA also begins its operation on MNP,’ the NCC official was quoted as saying. He added that the introduction of MNP in Nigeria is expected to increase competition in the mobile market, in which South Africa-owned MTN is the largest operator by subscribers by far, with a market share of 42.1% at the end of 2012 (corresponding to 47.44 million customers).

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 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, March 25, 2013 9:19:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 21, 2013

Uruguay's telecoms regulator Ursec has awarded spectrum to mobile operators Claro and Movistar for a total of USD 64.2 million, El Pais reports. The licenses cover the next 20 years. Claro and Movistar will use the spectrum to provide 4G services across Uruguay.
 
Movistar won four spectrum blocks in the 1900MHz frequency band, and Claro received two blocks in the 1900MHz band and two blocks in the 1700/2100MHz band.

State-owned operator Antel did not participate in the bidding process but will have to pay USD 38 million for reserved spectrum. Antel will receive one spectrum block in the 900MHz frequency band and four blocks in the 1700/2100MHz band.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:48:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, March 08, 2013

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL) is said to have finalized Samsung as a partner to source the Korean conglomerate's long-term evolution (LTE) technology platform for its much-talked about bundled data & voice services over high speed 4G networks across the country.

The game-changer deal that is set to shake up the Indian telecommunications market is not just restricted to Samsung's technology but goes far beyond as Samsung has agreed to offer entry-level 4G smartphones at a little over $100 (about Rs 5,500) for use with RIL's voice and high-speed internet services, said a source close to the deal. A 3G-enabled Samsung phone can be bought for around the same price today. The entry-level smartphones are likely to be sold with data packages starting at as low as Rs 100, said the source, adding that even high-end smartphones will be made available at minimum down-payments and the equated monthly installments (EMIs) will be incorporated in subsequent bills at a 0% interest rate.

Source: The Time of India.

Friday, March 08, 2013 11:18:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, March 05, 2013

(04/03/2013) Commission President José Manuel Barroso today called on Europe's digital businesses, governments, training and education sectors to join a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to address up to 900 000 job vacancies expected to exist in Europe in Information and Communication technologies (ICT) by 2015. Despite the current levels of unemployment, the number of digital jobs is growing by more than 100 000 per year. Yet the number of fresh ICT graduates and skilled ICT workers is not keeping up.

Source: European Commission.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 10:27:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |