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 Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Zain Bahrain has announced the launch of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, following in the footsteps of rival cellco Batelco which launched its 4G network in February. Zain Bahrain’s general manager, Mohammed Zainalabedin, told reporters that the company has invested USD100 million in network deployments, part of which has been spent on the rollout of LTE. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, at the end of 2012 Zain’s share of Bahrain’s wireless subscriber market stood at 31.5%, just behind second placed operator Viva (32.5%) and Batelco (35.9%).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:36:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is set to finally launch mobile number portability (MNP) for the country’s GSM subscribers today, writes local newspaper THISDAY. The NCC’s director of public affairs Tony Ojobo says that MNP will lead to improved quality service and increased competition among operators. MNP is free for subscribers, who are permitted to port their numbers once in a 90-day period. The regulator will now work towards implementing the service for Nigeria’s roughly three million CDMA mobile customers. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the introduction of MNP in Nigeria has encountered numerous delays since it was first announced by the NCC in 2006. Further deadlines of 2009, December 2012, 25 March 2013 and 1 April 2013 came and went, and at the start of the month operators told the NCC that they required three additional weeks to enable them to complete their preparations.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:35:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The National Communications Authority (NCA) has announced that the total number of subscribers in Ghana reached 26.33 million at the end of February 2013, a growth of 1.1% over the previous month. Mobile market leader MTN Ghana maintained its dominant position at that date, as its subscriber database reached 11.94 million, corresponding to 45.30% of the wireless sector. Meanwhile, number two operator Vodafone had signed up 5.55 million users by 1 March, an increase of 130,000 month-on-month, and a 21.09% market share. Millicom Ghana Company Limited (Tigo) reported a total of 3.71 million subscribers for a market share of 14.10%, and Airtel had 3.34 million connections (12.69%). Glo, the last to launch its commercial services in April 2012, and Expresso also increased their market shares to 6.13% and 0.62% respectively.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:34:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodafone Germany has confirmed that it now covers all 81 major cities (100,000+ residents) in Germany with its LTE network. It is also expanding coverage to smaller cities with over 50,000 residents, to reach more than 160 LTE cities. Vodafone Germany's LTE network now covers more than two-thirds of the country, serving around 50 million people.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:32:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Algerian government wants to complete its acquisition of Djezzy before launching 3G and 3G+ services, said ICT minister Moussa Benhamadi. Agence Ecofin reports that the government is ensuring that no operator is favoured by launching 3G before Djezzy. Under Algerian law, no company under receivership or undergoing a change in shareholder stucture is allowed to bid for a licence. The minister expects the government to close its purchase of 51 percent of Djezzy from Vimpelcom in around 2 weeks. Algeria originally called for 3G licence bidders in October 2011, hoping to launch services in the middle of 2012. It has announced the imminent launch of 3G several times since.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:31:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Espana has announced the launch of commercial fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services in the area around the La Vaguada shopping centre, at the same time unveiling a new portfolio of tariffs for its fibre-based services. In terms of its new offering, customers can sign up for a connection providing 100Mbps downlink speeds, unlimited national fixed line voice calls, 1,000 minutes per month for calls to national mobile numbers and 300 minutes for calls to 60 international destinations; the package will cost EUR25.95 (USD33.94) per month. In addition, Orange has confirmed it will offer a tariff offering the same call allowances, though with a lower downlink speed of 25Mbps, for EUR15.95 per month. Following the expansion of its FTTH network to La Vaguada, Orange has said that around 40,000 homes in Madrid now have access to its fibre services, while noting that a further 58,000 premises in Catalonia and Asturias are also within its fibre footprint.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Orange Espana and Vodafone Spain unveiled plans to invest up to EUR1 billion on the construction of a joint fibre-optic network. Under the terms of the agreement, the two operators will each deploy street-level fibre in complementary geographies, and while the fibre will be owned independently it will share the same technical specifications to ensure compatibility as a single network, with each partner having guaranteed access to the whole infrastructure. Commercial services over the new infrastructure are expected to be introduced from January 2014, and some 800,000 premises are expected to be able to connect to the network by March 2014, with that figure rising to three million and six million by September 2015 and 2017, respectively. In total, the fibre-optic network will cover 50 of Spain’s major cities when complete.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:30:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Venezuela’s dominant broadband operator CANTV has announced that starting Monday 15 April it will upgrade its DSL internet access speeds, doubling its standard 512kbps (download) package limit to 1Mbps, while a faster premium speed of 4Mbps will be offered in a new consumer/small business plan, ‘Aba Mega Productivo’, twice the speed of the existing 2Mbps ‘Aba Super Productivo’. The 4Mbps package is priced at VEF500 (USD79) a month including VAT compared to VEF400 for the 2Mbps connection. The move comes seven months after CANTV doubled its entry-level DSL package speed from 256kbps to 512kbps, as reported by CommsUpdate in September 2012. Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo reports that CANTV’s latest DSL upgrade programme will take around three months to complete, while the company has also announced a current investment budget of VEF514 million for fixed broadband infrastructure; the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation says that in the past six years CANTV’s internet infrastructure investment totals VEF1.9 billion.

CANTV reportedly has a total of 1.9 million fixed internet subscribers, up from 1.8 million at the end of December 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The state-owned telco is focused on expanding broadband coverage to the farthest corners of the country, and backs up this claim with the statistics that in 2012 the number of subscribers grew by more than 500% in remote areas such as the Amazon region, while the user bases in more populous regions Miranda and Distrito Capital increased by 80% and 90%, respectively.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:29:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Armenian operator ArmenTel, which offers fixed telephony, broadband internet and mobile services under the banner Beeline, has trimmed the cost for connection to its fixed telecoms network and for other one-off charges. In a press release, ArmenTel says it is cutting the costs of a fixed line installation from AMD12,000 to AMD2,400 (USD33.09 to USD6.62), while the charge for a temporary installation of a core line (i.e. for less than one month) has been cut to AMD1,800 from AMD9,600. The new rates for residential and business users took effect from 1 April 2013, with ArmenTel acting CEO Karen Shahnazaryan, saying that the telco is able to cut the prices thanks to its investment in ‘innovative technologies’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:28:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to Tuoi Tre News, Vietnamese cellcos MobiFone and Vinaphone have increased the cost of their respective unlimited 3G data plans to VND50,000 (USD2.4) per month, up from VND40,000. The operators say that the higher price is necessary to offset declining revenues as a result of subscribers using smartphone apps to make free calls and send free messages. The cellcos also say that they are forced to strictly adhere to government regulations, whereas apps such as Viber, Wala, Zalo, Line, WeChat and WhatsApp are managed by foreign companies and are not subject to the same conditions.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:27:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Myanmar authorities will begin selling low-cost Sim cards from 24 April. Some 350,000 Sim cards will be allocated monthly across Myanmar and sold by regional governments, not by Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), Eleven Media reports citing MPT chief engineer mobile Htay Win. The CDMA 800 MHz Sim cards will be sold for MMK 1,500 each, and customers have to use at least MMK 2,500 per month to keep the account active. If customers do not recharge within fifteen days of running the balance down to zero, the service may be terminated. The fees for outgoing calls remains the same at MMK 50 per minute. MPT has been selling CDMA Sim cards for MMK 500,000 in recent years.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:26:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The head of Ukrainian competition watchdog AMKU, Rafael Kuzmin, has stated that cellcos Kyivstar and MTS Ukraine have agreed to reduce intra-national and roaming rates by 20%-25%, according to a report by BizLigaNet, cited by Telecompaper. The news follows pressure from AMKU, which has asked the operators to fulfil rate obligations within the next ten days, and to implement the recommendations on roaming rates within 30 days, having threatened them with a maximum fine of 10% of annual revenues.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:24:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spain’s antitrust authority has reportedly fined the country’s three largest mobile network operators a total of EUR120 million (USD159 million) for charging too much for SMS messages. The Comision Nacional de la Competencia (CNC) levied the penalty after ruling that Movistar, Vodafone Spain and Orange Espana abused their dominant position in the wholesale markets for access and origination and for termination of short messages in their respective networks. With all three operators cited as having ‘a monopoly position in SMS and MMS termination services in their respective networks’, the CNC noted that the market for SMS termination services was unregulated between 2000 and 2009 (the period investigated by the watchdog). As such, the CNC claims, the trio were freely able to price the termination of SMS at very high levels, which in turn allowed them to pass these costs to consumers in the shape of higher retail prices for SMS and MMS services.

No new regulatory measures are to be introduced however, with the CNC noting that it did not consider such action appropriate as there was only evidence of overpricing in the period to 2009 and not more recently. Further, it argued that telecoms regulator the Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicacinoes (CMT) ‘is better positioned to design the ex-ante regulation of these markets’.

As per the antitrust agency’s ruling, Movistar faces the largest fine – EUR46.490 million – while Vodafone Spain and Orange Espana will be required to pay EUR43.525 million and EUR29.950 million respectively. All three operators are expected to appeal the ruling.

Source: TeleGeography.

SMS | Tariffs
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:23:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 18 April 2013

Over half of UK homes and businesses can now access fibre broadband as the Openreach rollout has passed more than 15 million premises. That means we’re on target to reach 19 million by the end of spring 2014, about 18 months ahead of the original rollout schedule.

Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: “This is a significant milestone and one that our engineers can be proud of. They have worked through many months of appalling weather to bring the benefits of fibre to cities, towns and villages and this is making a genuine difference to how people live their lives.

“Fibre broadband can play an important part in stimulating and supporting an economic recovery. Our investment, together with that of our partners, is helping to generate thousands of jobs and give small businesses the speeds that were previously the preserve of larger ones based in cities.”
The run-up to Easter saw the project team working flat-out as we hit our biggest ever week; a whopping 324,000 premises passed. By the end of spring 2014, we’ll have completed one of the most ambitious programmes we’ve ever taken on, with two-thirds of the UK enjoying one of the most extensive fibre networks in the world. 
But we won’t stop there. As well as deploying fibre as part of a £2.5bn investment, we’re working with councils and devolved authorities to take fibre even further afield. We’ve signed 18 BDUK contracts so far, from Hampshire to Cumbria, and Rutland to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and there are plenty more to come.

Source: Openreach.

Thursday, 18 April 2013 08:54:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 25 March 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, 25 March 2013 14:12:01 (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, 25 March 2013 09:20:33 (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, 25 March 2013 09:19:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 March 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, 21 March 2013 09:48:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 08 March 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, 08 March 2013 11:18:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 05 March 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, 05 March 2013 10:27:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 04 March 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, 04 March 2013 10:59:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |