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 Friday, July 19, 2013

Korean operator SK Telecom says that more than 150,000 subscribers have signed up for its LTE-Advanced network just 14 days after its launch, according to a Yonhap News report.

This makes for a take-up rate of more than 10,000 new subscribers a day — an indication of how eager consumers are for a service that is double the speed of SK Telecom’s LTE service and a whopping ten times faster than a standard 3G network.
 
Late last month, SK Telecom unveiled the world’s first LTE-Advanced network which went live in Seoul and a further 42 cities across the Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do districts. The latest Yonhap News report says the network is now available in Seoul and 43 other major cities in South Korea.
 
The service will offer speeds of up to 150 Mbps, with SK Telecom saying that a 800MB movie can be downloaded in less than a minute.
 
In the Yonhap News report, SK Telecom expressed confidence that more customers will sign on to its LTE-Advanced network as smartphone manufacturers step up their game to produce phones compatible with the network. Samsung launched its Galaxy S4 LTE-A smartphone on the same day that SK Telecom took the wraps off the network with an initial batch of 200,000 units.
 
The report noted that LG Electronics and local manufacturer Pantech are planning to release smartphones running on the LTE-Advanced network soon.
 
Other telecom operators are also hopping onto the bandwagon, with LG Uplus also planning to commercialize its LTE-Advanced network this month — which will reportedly be available in Seoul and other major cities during the third quarter of this year, and will roll out to other regions by the end of 2013.

Source: TNW.

Friday, July 19, 2013 7:14:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 15, 2013
The number of mobile phone customers in Botswana reached 3.08 million at the end of December 2012, an increase of 5.5% from 2.92 million at the start of the year, according to a report by Mmegi Online, which cites statistics from the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA). Botswana is home to three mobile network operators, namely: Mascom Wireless, a subsidiary of the South African-based MTN Group; France Telecom-owned Orange Botswana (formerly known as Vista Cellular); and BTC Mobile (beMobile), the wireless arm of fixed line incumbent Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). Meanwhile, total fixed lines in service, provided by BTC, totalled around 160,500 last year, according to the report.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 8:05:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Around 45% of the Brazilian population has never had access to the World Wide Web, a survey published by local ICT study centre Cetic and reproduced by BNAmericas, has found. Cetic’s report claims that a massive 77% of Brazilians living in rural parts of the country have so far been denied internet access, although the figure is a much lower 39% in urban areas. The highest rate of internet penetration was found in the Southeast region, while by contrast the rate jumped to 56% in the Northern region. Additionally, the survey confirmed that whilst only 5% of those in Brazil’s highest social class ‘A’ (i.e. the richest in terms of income) had never had internet access, the figure leaps to 80% for those in the lowest, ‘DE’ class.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 8:03:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Brazil's Telebras and the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) have teamed up with the telecommunications company of Uruguay to set up a joint infrastructure that integrates the telecommunications networks of Brazil and Uruguay. This is the first initiative for the effective implementation of an optical ring between the South American countries. The integration of the networks of the two countries allowed the installation of the first Binational Telecentre of Latin America, located in Santana do Livramento, a city that borders Rivera, in Uruguay. A Wi-Fi system was also set up to meet the needs of the people in the two countries. The network aims to provide a high-speed network, with voice, data and image services.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, July 15, 2013 8:02:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On 10 June 2013 Sweden’s Post and Telecom Agency (PTA) issued two final significant market power (SMP) decisions in telecoms markets ‘6’ (wholesale leased lines) and ‘7’ (wholesale mobile voice call termination). In the mobile termination segment the regulator issued individual SMP obligations for the provision of wholesale services to nine companies: TeliaSonera, Tele2, Telenor Sweden, Hi3G Access Sweden (3), Net 1, Mundio, TDC, Lycamobile and Gotalandsnatet; prices offered by these companies are subject to ex ante regulation.

PTS also decided that TeliaSonera alone remains under obligation to offer wholesale leased lines, at non-discriminative prices (subject to ex ante regulation) after identifying TeliaSonera as a company with SMP in market 6.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 8:00:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

After several missed opportunities, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has finally managed to connect the country’s telecoms infrastructure to the West Africa Cable System (WACS) submarine network, which links South Africa to the UK. According to Agence Ecofin the launch event took place on 14 June, with the submarine cable’s management committee informing telecoms minister Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba that the cable was now ready for service.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that when the WACS cable was initially due to be landed and tested in May 2011, the DRC found itself completely unprepared, with the company hired to build the landing station yet to actually start construction. Despite a recommendation from French-US equipment manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent, which endorsed an Indian company called ‘Creative Electronics’ to build the station and deploy a fibre-optic cable route to the capital, the Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT) intervened and overruled the government and instead gave the job to local company Smart Trading Ideas. Smart had neither experience nor knowledge of the technology they were hired to utilise, and in April 2011, when the boat deploying the WACS arrived, the cable could not be connected at Muanda as there was no infrastructure in place to do so. Further, in May 2012 it was revealed that the problems had been exacerbated by financial irregularities at the SCPT, which saw USD3 million worth of government funds effectively ‘vanish’; the director general was subsequently charged with high treason and jailed for his part in the scandal.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:59:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sector watchdog the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has lowered the price ceiling for national roaming voice and SMS services, to come into effect from 1 July 2013. Price ceilings for outgoing calls were reduced from INR1.4 (local) and INR2.4 (long distance) per minute to INR1 and INR1.5 respectively whilst maximum fees for incoming calls were lowered from INR1.75 to INR0.75 per minute. Charges for outgoing SMS, previously under forbearance, have now been capped at INR1.5 per message, and incoming SMS will be free.

In its press release, the TRAI explained its reasoning for not mandating free roaming immediately: ‘With increased subscribers and usage, the costs associated with national roaming have declined, but not vanished…Mandating a fully free roaming regime is simply not practicable at this juncture. Compelling a transition to a fully free national roaming would result in telecom service providers not being able to recover their costs from roamers. In turn, teleocm service providers would pass these costs on to all consumers (predominantly non-roamers) through higher tariffs.’ Instead of implementing free roaming, the TRAI has ruled that special tariff vouchers (STVs) and combo vouchers can be extended to roaming tariffs.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:58:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Digicel Jamaica, the island nation’s largest cellco by subscribers, has cut tariffs for its pre-paid customers from between JMD14 and JMD8.99 per minute to between JMD2.99 and JMD2.49 per minute, local paper the Jamaica Gleaner reports. The reduction follows the introduction of a new mobile termination rate (MTR) of JMD1.1, which was announced in late May and comes into force on 1 July 2013. Smaller rival LIME Jamaica beat Digicel to the punch on capitalising on the lower MTRs, cutting the price of cross-network calls from JMD6.99 to JMD2.99, level with its pricing for on-net calls. The smaller cellco introduced the changes immediately, with CEO Garfield Sinclair saying: ‘Even before the termination rates take effect, we will make the cut and will take the difference because we want to give customers value right away.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:55:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brazilian owned telecoms group Oi, formed through the restructuring of Telemar Participacoes’ former operating divisions Brasil Telecom, Tele Norte Leste Participacoes, Coari Participacoes and Telemar Norte Leste, says it deployed an additional 65 new antennas for 2G and 3G mobile services in May. BNamericas quotes the carrier as saying that it has also increased the capacity of another 303 previously deployed cell sites, while installing more than 53,000 ‘Oi Velox’ nodes to support the offer of broadband services across the country, excepting Sao Paulo state where it is yet to offer it on a commercial basis.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Oi was the leading player in the domestic fixed broadband segment at 31 March 2013, with a market share of 31.9%, ahead of its closest rival cableco Net Servicos (31.2%) and third-placed Telefonica Brazil (20.6%). Oi plans to invest BRL6 billion (USD2.8 billion) in its networks and services in fiscal 2013 and is forecasting EBITDA of between BRL9.0 billion and BRL9.8 billion for the full year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:53:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

France’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers SFR has announced the launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for residential and business subscribers in Toulouse, the sixth Arrondissement in France to benefit from SFR’s superfast mobile broadband technology. According to the company’s press release, more than 80% of the population in the Arrondissement is now covered by the network, including Toulouse, Colomiers and Tournefeuille communes, though the company plans to extend the 4G coverage to 100% of the population by the end of 2013.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, SFR introduced LTE services offering a theoretical maximum speed of 100Mbps in Lyon at the end of November 2012, and later on expanded its 4G network to include Montpellier and Paris La Defense, while in March 2013, Marseille became the fourth Arrondissement with LTE coverage. Two months later 4G was launched in Lille, though the company announced that it will accelerate the LTE rollout in the second half of 2013 with the total number of cities with 4G network coverage set to reach 55 by the end of the year, including Nantes, Toulon, Grenoble, Rouen, Avignon, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne, Rennes, Metz, Nancy, Orleans, Clermont-Ferrand, Angers, Reims, Caen, Chambery, Amiens and Annecy, to name a few.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, July 15, 2013 7:52:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Slovenije disclosed that its 4G LTE mobile broadband network was expanded to three additional towns last week – Lasko, Trebnje and Vipava – taking its total to 42 towns/cities and more than 40% of the country’s population. Subscribers to the company’s Mobitel network can now choose from 15 LTE devices, including handsets, tablet computers, USB modems and ‘MiFi’ mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, with the latest addition to the 4G range being the BlackBerry Q10 phone.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, July 15, 2013 7:50:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) has invited an open tender for IP transit services with a total capacity of 10Gbps or higher and building a national fibre-optic network, reports Livemint. According to a report by Deloitte, Myanmar currently has just 14,000 kilometres of fibre and approximately 1,800 telecoms masts. ‘There are lots of opportunities in Myanmar’s telecom sector. While we have called for tenders for the two telecom licences, our plan is to invite participation for providing internet services,’ Thaung Tin, deputy minister for communications and information technology, said in an interview. ‘Also, there is a huge requirement of fibre rollout, for which we plan to call the tenders after the award of the telecom licences.’

Meanwhile, the winners of the two concessions currently up for grabs will be announced on 27 June. ‘Awarding these telecom licences is a priority. Since there was limited spectrum, we are currently looking at awarding only two licences,’ Thaung Tin said. ‘However, going forward we plan to award more licences to increase competition.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:49:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Iran’s telecoms watchdog the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has announced that a fibre-to-the-x (FTTx) network, currently being deployed by Iranian Net Communication and Electronic Services Co. (Iranian Net), will go live in Mashhad (Khorasan Razavi province) and Tehran by the end of August 2013. According to the press release, the company was granted an operational licence in June 2012 which stipulates the implementation and operation of FTTx networks within 18 months in seven cities, namely Mashhad (Khorasan Razavi province), Tehran, Shiraz (Fars province), Karaj (Alborz province), Qom, Isfahan and Tabriz (East Azarbaijan province). According to Iranian Net’s CEO Mohammad Ali Rahmandoost, the company is expected to provide services to 400,000 subscribers by end-August 2013, gradually increasing to a total of one million subscribers within the next two years, Zawya reported.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:48:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator turned integrated services provider Digicel Bermuda has thrown down the gauntlet in the domestic broadband market, slashing the cost of some of its services by over 50%. The company has halved the cost of its 2Mbps service to BMD30 (USD30) per month, while also cutting the cost of its entry-level 1Mbps offer. More significantly, the price of the 4Mbps option has been cut by more than 50% to BMD40 from BMD90, while other cuts cover its 6Mbps (BMD50 from BMD109), 8Mbps (BMD60 from BMD119), 10Mbps (BMD70 from BMD129), 15Mbps (BMD90 from BMD149) and 25Mbps (BMD150 from BMD199) packages.

Commenting on the latest initiative, the firm’s CEO Wayne Caines said in a press release: ‘When Digicel first purchased Transact and started offering home internet in November 2011, we told the public that we intended to bring prices down by enhancing competition … Within two months, annual internet rates were up to BMD130 lower for the same speeds … We have continued to knock down internet prices, leading the competition in our goal to make internet more affordable for the average Bermudian. Our new, reduced rates demonstrate this commitment. An 8Mbps plan, which our competitors were selling for BMD129.95 per month in 2011, is now available for just BMD70 per month. There is no denying that Digicel has knocked down Internet prices drastically.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:46:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Centrafrique has announced that it has become the first operator in the Central African Republic to launch a 3G network. The mobile broadband network, which it says offers maximum downlink speeds of 21Mbps – ‘ten times faster than EDGE’ – has launched in Bangui, where the cellco claims to offer ‘maximum coverage’. Although the precise technology deployed by Orange has not been confirmed, the cellco is presumed to have rolled out a Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) platform.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Orange competes with Telecel-RCA, Azur RCA (formerly Nationlink) and Moov Centrafrique in the country’s wireless sector, claiming second place in the market with a 32.4% market share at 31 December 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, July 15, 2013 7:45:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Somalia is developing legislation to oversee the thriving telecommunications sector in a bid to boost growth and encourage investment in the country, Hiiraan Online reports. Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunication Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi and representatives from private sector companies and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have held discussions in Dubai on a proposed telecoms bill, which is to be tabled in parliament. Elmoge said that while existing operators have made significant efforts to expand telecoms services across the country, a lack of regulation has led to the misuse of radio spectrum. ‘Our aim is not to interfere [with] the telecommunications companies but is to put in place regulatory laws that can uphold the interests of customers and suppliers,’ the minister added.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Somalia’s wireless market is currently unregulated, a situation which has enabled firms such as Hormuud Telecom (HorTel) and Nationlink to freely install and operate their own networks as they choose. Before 1991 the country’s communications networks were under government control, but following the onset of the civil war, the entire telecoms infrastructure was all but destroyed. New infrastructure has since sprung up, installed by a number of small local operators, offering mobile and fixed telephony services, including local, long-distance and international calls.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:41:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BNAmericas reports Brazilian telecoms operator TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) as saying that it expects to have deployed a total of 40,000km of fibre-optic networks in the country by the end of this year. Quoting the head of its TIM Fiber division Rogerio Takayanagi, speaking at the Broadband Latin America conference in Sao Paulo, the telco plans to continue rollout over the next two years to more than 50,000km, he said. The operator’s TIM Fiber infrastructure currently serves 21 municipalities in the regions of Greater Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It has so far amassed around 20,000 retail customers for its fibre broadband service, four-fifths of whom enjoy minimum connection speeds of 35Mbps. Mr Takayanagi says that TIM Brasil is currently spending BRL800 (USD358.9) per fibre connection in CAPEX on the deployment – compared to a national average of approximately BRL3,000 – and has cornered a roughly 76% market share in the areas in which its fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) service TIM Fiber is offered.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:40:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chilean regulator Subtel has announced that 1.099 million wireless subscribers and 116,686 fixed line users had ported their numbers to other operators since the introduction of portability in late 2011/early 2012. Mobile number portability (MNP) was launched nationwide in January 2012 and by June 2013 616,686 pre-paid subscribers and 480,571 post-paid customers had taken their numbers to other carriers. Mexican-backed provider Claro has seen the largest gain from MNP, accruing 160,969 net new users (249,453 outgoing, 410,149 incoming), whilst Telefonica’s local subsidiary Movistar lost out the most with net losses of 167,398 users (446,719 outgoing, 279,321 incoming). Newcomer VTR and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin also gained from the portability service, claiming 10,672 (5,331 out, 16,003 in) and 31,623 (7,456 out, 39,079 in) net customer gains respectively. Oddly, whilst Entel booked net losses of 46,063 users, it registered the second highest number of incoming customers (339,362), as well as the second largest number of outgoing subscribers (385,425).

Fixed number portability (FNP), meanwhile, was gradually rolled out nationwide between December 2011 and August 2012. Again, Movistar lost out the most with 61,070 net losses, whilst Claro and VTR came out on top, although the latter claimed the lion’s share of the spoils, booking net gains of 29,632 users compared to Claro’s 21,780 total new subscribers.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:38:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Argentine government is developing new regulations for the telecommunications sector which are designed to improve the quality of fixed and mobile telephony services in the country. Decree 681/2013 directs the Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) and the Ministry of Federal Planning, Public Investments and Services, together with the support of other agencies, to issue within the next 30 days ‘a new regulation establishing quality standards for the provision of telecommunications services.’ In a press release on the ministry’s website, Planning Minister Julio De Vido is quoted as saying that the new rules will set quality of service parameters to help evaluate the performance of telecoms operators and encourage competition in the sector. Last month a new decree published in the Official Gazette empowered SeCom to tighten regulation of telecoms service standards in the country, CommsUpdate reported. The new legislation authorises the body to implement ‘appropriate measures’ aimed at ensuring operators’ compliance with quality of service requirements; such measures include forcing operators to suspend the marketing and activation of new mobile lines. The decree followed the recent appointment of a new SeCom head, Norberto Berner, who has ordered an inspection of the investment plans of the country’s mobile operators, including America Movil-owned Claro, Movistar (a unit of Telefonica of Spain) and Personal, the mobile arm of fixed line incumbent Telecom Argentina.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:37:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has reportedly increased the monthly line rental fee for a number of its residential and business tariffs. According to iTnews, Telstra residential customers signed up to its HomeLine, Plus, Advanced and Together plans, along with BusinessLine subscribers, will see monthly access charges rise by up to AUD2 (USD1.83). Bundled tariffs will, however, be unaffected by the changes, while Telstra’s HomeLine Budget and Telstra’s Pensioner Discount scheme will also remain untouched. Commenting on the decision, a statement from the operator was cited as saying: ‘We understand that there is never a good time to make changes to our prices and we don’t make these decisions lightly … We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year operating and maintaining our phone services so our pricing needs to reflect this ongoing investment, as well as the rising cost of our own business inputs such as labour, petrol and materials.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:36:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In response to growing consumer demand for data services, Argentine fixed line incumbent Telecom Argentina has announced plans to invest ARS1.1 billion (USD201.4 million) in the rollout of a fibre-optic network in major cities. The company said in a press release that it will use the funds to install fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) infrastructure, as well as to introduce new access technologies including VDSL2, to offer its ‘Arnet’ fixed broadband customers maximum download speeds of up to 100Mbps. Telecom Argentina said rollout will begin in the country’s largest cities, including the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, Cordoba and Rosario, potentially reaching around one million customers. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the firm had a total of 1.626 million fixed broadband subscribers at the end of March 2013, placing it second in the market behind Telefonica de Argentina with 1.755 million customers.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:34:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Data published by Peru’s National Office of Statistics and Information (INEI) claims that at the end of March 2013 25.5% of households in the Andean nation had internet access, compared to 17.3% in the corresponding period of 2012. Household penetration increased the most in the Lima metropolitan area, where accesses grew by 12.9 percentage points to 44.1%, whilst other cities saw an increase of 8.6 percentage points to 25.9%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:33:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bloomberg News writes that from today (1 July), the European Union (EU) is cutting the price mobile carriers such as Vodafone Group and Orange can charge customers for checking e-mail and watching videos while traveling by 36%. Under new rules laid down by the EU, European mobile carriers will not be able to charge customers travelling abroad more than EUR0.45 (USD0.59) per 1MB of data, plus tax, down from the previous cap of EUR0.70 (set a year ago). Further, from 1 July 2014 the rate will be cut again to a maximum EUR0.20 per 1MB it said. The move means that data roaming fees are now 91% lower than they were in 2007.

The new rates form a key part of European Commission (EC) vice president Neelie Kroes’s plan to make the European market a level playing field. However, her battle plan has sparked the ire of many mobile carrier which argue that – whilst consumer-friendly – they are too restrictive and will act as a bar to network investment in future. ‘The latest price cuts put more money in your pocket for summer, and are a critical step towards getting rid of these premiums once and for all,’ Ms Kroes said in the statement. ‘This is good for both consumers and companies, because it takes fear out of the market, and it grows the market.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:31:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Irish Independent writes that mobile operator 3 Ireland, which is in the throes of completing an EUR800 million (USD1.04 billion) buyout of rival cellco O2 Ireland from Telefonica of Spain, is preparing to launch a gloves-off price war in the Republic. The Irish operator’s Hong Kong-based parent Hutchison Whampoa is using the buyout plan – dubbed Project Ozone, and currently subject to regulatory clearance – as the platform to launch a challenge to market leader Vodafone. The paper claims that 3 Ireland boss Robert Finnegan is planning to make the Hutch-owned unit ‘the biggest player in the Irish market’. Vodafone Ireland had a 41.3% share of the domestic wireless segment at end-March 2013, compared to 38.4% share for an enlarged 3 Ireland-O2 Ireland, and the latter intends to invest heavily in advanced (4G) technologies and target the lucrative business segment in a bid to trump its rival.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:30:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to data published by the Brazilian telecoms regulator Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacoes (Anatel), the country was home to nearly 266 million ‘active’ mobile connections at 31 May 2013, a net increase of 974,290 new lines from the previous month and a significant increase on the 500,000 or so new lines connected in April. According to the watchdog the cellular penetration rate in the country topped 134.4% by end-May, up from 133.8% in April. Of the total, some 211.5 million connections (79.65%) were pre-paid and the remainder on post-paid contracts, while Anatel also reported a shift in the mix of 2G and 3G users – with the trend moving towards the latter. By 31 May the number of GSM handsets stood at 183.7 million, a roughly 69% share, while 3G W-CDMA users had increased to 66.9 million, or 25.2% of the market. In the same period machine-to-machine (M2M) connections had increased to 7.54 million (or 2.84% of the market), data terminals (3G modems) accounted for 2.66% of the market (7.1 million) and CDMA-based phones had slipped to just 81,722 – just 0.03% of the overall market. Finally, Anatel reported that the number of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) accesses doubled to 105,250, compared to 48,459 at end-April, to account for 0.04% of the Brazilian mobile market.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:27:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

More than half of Costa Rica’s mobile customers use their device for internet services, according to a survey carried out by local newspaper El Financiero. A spokesperson for incumbent Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), which offers telecoms services under the ‘Kolbi’ brand, claimed that more than 60% of the company’s wireless subscribers used mobile internet services, adding that wireless data traffic has increased by 400% over the last three years. Meanwhile, newcomers to the market Movistar and Claro claimed that penetration of internet services was 85% and 55% respectively. Movistar also noted that 50% of its mobile customers had smartphones.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:23:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi Arabia’s incumbent broadband service provider Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has expanded its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to connect over 600,000 new households, the Saudi Gazette reports. According to a press release on the operator’s website, the fibre-optic network, which reached a total length of 6,000km in 2012, will also provide STC’s subscribers with download transmission speeds of up to 125Mbps.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, STC started the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology in August 2010 – a first for the Kingdom – offering internet speeds of up to 100Mbps in many parts of the country. FTTH products were introduced in February 2011 and were marketed under the ‘Verve’ brand. At launch the FTTH service was available in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with plans to expand coverage to most of the Kingdom’s cities by end-2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, July 15, 2013 7:20:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ICE Celular has launched its 2.6GHz LTE network in the west of the Greater Metropolitan Area of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, reports TeleSemana. The service will connect at speeds of between 10Mbps and 20Mbps via a USB modem. A wider commercial launch in major urban centres will take place in July, and the service will gradually expand until it is available to more than four million subscribers, although ICE provided no fixed timeframe for this expansion.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 9:03:50 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Senegal’s Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications and Digital Economy launched a scheme on 20 June to identify all mobile subscribers in the country, Agence Ecofin reports. The project will be managed by the country’s telecoms regulator, the Agence de Regulation des Telecoms et Postes (ARTP), is expected to take about a month to complete and will close on 31 July. ARTP chief executive Abu Lo is quoted as saying that Senegal has decided to adopt recommendations laid out by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – adopted in 2007 – that require domestic cellcos to identify who is using their mobile services in order to provide more reliable statistics on the market, improve security and tackle the grey market for phones. The CEO said that six years after adopting the decree, Senegal’s wireless service providers have failed to complete the mobile identification scheme and that enough is enough. It is understood that Orange Senegal, Tigo Senegal and Sudatel Senegal (Expresso) have deployed teams across the country to complete the process by the July deadline.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 9:02:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Karabakh Telecom (KT), the legacy and monopoly operator serving the Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabah, has announced the launch of its 3G network in Artsakh on 22 June 2013. In a press release, the firm said the announcement was marked by the unveiling of the company’s new corporate logo and branding. Customers in the area of Artsakh will be able to enjoy faster mobile broadband access as a result of the deployment, with the carrier offering a range of pre- and post-paid packages.

KT was founded in 2002 under the guidance of its chairman Pierre Fattouch. It launched commercial services on 1 February and has offered internet services in the capital city Stepanakert since October that year, and in all the regions since 2003. The operator offers a range of fixed, internet and wireless services with a PSTN network covering 95% of major regional centres and almost 100% of Stepanakert and its environs. Its GSM coverage currently stands at over 95% of the population, with a plan to increase that to 100% in the short- to medium-term. The operator claims to provide services to more than 100,000 customers (fixed and mobile) representing more than 70% market penetration.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 9:01:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Omani telecoms operator Nawras has embarked on the second phase of its nationwide network modernisation programme, which will see mobile broadband speeds boosted and network coverage widened. Work will begin in Quriyat and in September will continue along the Batinah coast from Al Suwaiq towards Shinas. At present, all Nawras sites in Salalah are being upgraded as capacity is doubled along with the speed of the Nawras 3.5G network. In addition, 4G LTE technology is being deployed in the city to support residents and visitors attending the annual Salalah Tourism Festival in August. ‘We have already delivered a huge difference in the broadband internet experience of our customers living and working in the area covered by the first phase of Network Turbocharging,’ said Nawras chief executive Ross Cormack, adding: ‘With faster speeds and greater capacity, Nawras is making it easier and more enjoyable to be online with a pre-paid or post-paid broadband internet plan.’ So far, Nawras has invested around OMR60 million (USD155 million) in the first phase of its ‘Network Turbocharging’ programme, which includes upgrading the core network, building new base stations and adding 3.5G technology to every existing 2G site from Al Bustan to beyond Al Musannah. Furthermore, last month a third 3G data carrier was activated on the 900MHz frequency band, increasing the speed, capacity and indoor coverage of Nawras’ mobile broadband services.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | LTE
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 9:00:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Moldova’s telecoms watchdog the National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Information Technology (ANRCETI) has listed a press conference for 25 June 2013 to mark the forthcoming launch of the mobile number portability (MNP) services in Republic of Moldova, scheduled to start on 1 July 2013. According to the regulator’s press announcement, the conference will be attended by the Minister of Information Technology and Communications Pavel Filip, ANRCETI Director Sergiu Sitnic, the administrator of the central database for number portability and mobile operators’ representatives.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, under Administrative Board Decision No.17, mobile network operators working in cooperation with the Centralized Data Base (CDB) administrator, were obliged to ensure the technical launch of MNP by 1 May 2013, and provide the service to commercial customers by 1 July. The date for the service deployment was later postponed by ANRCETI in the wake of a request from cellcos asking for more time to finalise the necessary modifications to their billing systems for calls to ported numbers.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:59:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Korea's SK Telecom has launched the world's first commercial LTE-Advanced network, along with the first phone running the faster network technology, the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A. Customers will have access free based on their existing data plans, and the service will initially be available in central areas of Seoul and 42 cities in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do, as well as 103 university areas. SK plans to expand the service with seven supporting smartphones by the end of this year and reach 84 cities covered.
 
The network offers up to 150 Mbps, double the speed of the existing LTE network. It employs carrier aggregation and coordinated multi point technology to enhance coverage and bandwidth, and SK plans to add enhanced inter-cell interference coordination next year.
 
The first LTE-A phone will be available in red exclusively to SK, and the carrier has ordered an initial 20,000 units. Samsung said LG Uplus also plans to offer the phone in blue, and Qualcomm announced KT will also carry the phone. The device features the new Snapdragon 800, 2.3GHz quad-core processor from Qualcomm, as well as a 2,600 mAh battery, 5.0-inch full HD screen, 13 megapixel camera, Android 4.2 and 32 GB internal storage.
 
The faster speeds on LTE-A are expected to support SK's popular content services. New additions will include a group calling service for up to four users, based on the 3G videoconferencing service but with better video and audio quality, and full HD (1080p resolution) over the Btv mobile video streaming service (550,000 subscribers) from early July. The company will also launch 'T Baseball Multiview,' to enable users to watch two different games on one screen in July. T Baseball is a free baseball broadcast service optimized to the LTE network. Launched in August 2012, the service has 1.1 million users.
 
In addition, SK Telecom plans to launch 'T Freemium 2.0,' an upgrade of its free multimedia content package with TV shows, music videos and sports highlights and introduce in August an HD video-based shopping service with six channels on one screen. Also, SK Telecom's music portal MelOn opened a new service category to allow users to listen to original CD quality music by downloading FLAC files.
 
To further boost content creation, SK Telecom will hold the contest 'LTE-A i.con' to support applications optimized for the LTE-A network.

Source: Telecom Paper.

LTE
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:57:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A study published by the World Bank, and backed by a number of other leading institutions and development agencies, has lambasted Djibouti for failing to liberalise the country’s telecoms market, to the detriment of service quality and access costs there. Djibouti Telecom still holds a monopoly on the national and international market which, in the World Bank’s opinion, is ‘a serious handicap to competition in the sector’.

The Bank cites by way of example the fact that the cost of a basic 1Mbps ADSL service currently costs USD36 per month, or around half the average Djiboutian annual salary, compared to just 5% in Morocco or 3.5% in Tunisia. As such, high speed internet access is prohibitively expensive to all but the richest inhabitants or corporate/international firms.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:56:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tonga’s fibre-optic cable has been connected to Fiji International Telecommunications’ (FINTEL’s) communication systems, FBC News reports. With the capacity of the link between the two countries said to be around 20Gbps, FINTEL’s network and communications manager Laisiasa Nakacea was cited as saying: ‘FINTEL will be the gateway for communication between the two countries. For Tonga they will witness the introduction of high speed broadband … and a lot of other new services that will be introduced to Tonga on the high speed cable that we will be putting in today.’ The completion of the links between the two countries is expected within the next few weeks.

The development follows the signing of a landing party agreement between FINTEL and Tonga Cable Ltd in December 2011, with the cost of the World Bank-funded Tonga-Fiji cable project at that date estimated at USD32 million, according to local press reports.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:54:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The EU has made good progress on its basic broadband goals in the Digital Agenda, but needs to do more to ensure wider access to faster broadband speeds, the European Commission said. The latest score card for the Digital Agenda shows the EU has met 51 of 101 goals ahead of the deadline of 2015, including near universal access to basic broadband.

Over half (54%) of EU residents can access broadband at speeds of over 30Mbps, and over a third (36%) use mobile internet over a phone or portable computer. The latter was helped by a tripling in LTE coverage in the past year to 26 percent of the population. However, only 2 percent of EU households have broadband at over 100 Mbps, versus a target of 50 percent by 2020.
 
Half of EU residents also have little or no computer skills, with no improvement over the past year, the score card shows, and over one in five (22%) have never used the internet. Businesses also face a shortage of qualified ICT staff, with 40 percent reporting recruitment difficulties in this area.
 
Other ares of progress include more people buying online, with 45 percent of EU residents using e-commerce, and more businesses and individuals using e-government, at respectively 87 percent and 44 percent (both up 3 percent points).
 
Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said the results of the score card will be used to help develop the new reform package for the telecom sector, expected to be presented later this year.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:53:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Brazil's Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo announced an earlier release of the 700 MHz frequency band, now being used by analogue TV, with the goal of making it available for mobile broadband. According to the minister, the spectrum initially expected to be released only in 2016 will have a staggered release schedule beginning in March 2015. The frequency band is considered by the telecommunications industry as more suitable for 4G because it needs fewer antennas for coverage than the 2.5 GHz band currently used in Brazil. The government plans to auction the 700 MHz band in early 2014. Bernardo added that the analogue switch-off in the larger cities will be brought forward to 2015, while the ASO in smaller municipalities will be postponed until 2018. The previous timetable had foreseen that the complete ASO would be completed in 2016.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:51:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 08, 2013

People living in certain parts of the UK are being forced to pay up to £170 million a year more for their broadband, due to a 'postcode lottery'.
 
New research from a broadband comparison site has revealed that in some cases, families are paying more than double what their neighbours are, despite living just 50 yards apart.
 
The study, the biggest ever of its kind, looked at more than 1.7 million postcodes covering 97 per cent of British households.

The study from Broadbandchoices.co.uk found speeds and prices often differ from street to street - sometimes within 50 yards - with postcode affecting choice of providers, deals and available speeds.
 
This system means 13 per cent of internet users are being penalised because they don't have access to cheaper deals - adding more than £60 to their yearly broadband connection bills.

Millions of broadband users are also suffering from reduced download speeds and limits.

In some areas customers can choose from 10 providers, while others have just five options.


This means that although some could pay as little as £2.99 per month for their broadband package, others are being forced to spend £8.15 or more.
 
The difference in availability doesn't only vary from county to county, some users in the same towns and even the same street can get better deals than their neighbours.
 
Those living on Bartons Place in Newmarket, Suffolk, for example, could find themselves paying over twice as much for their broadband than other houses less than 50 yards away - but getting just a third of the download speed of their neighbours.


Residents of Scarrowhill Road, Hornsby Gate, Cumbria, pay an extra £5 per month as well as receiving slower download speeds and having two fewer providers to pick from compared to neighbours just half a mile away on the same street.
 
The survey also reveals a north south divide in the number of providers.


Those in the South have an average of 10 while those in the North of England have a pool of 11 to choose from.
 
Herefordshire has the worst overall broadband choice where users have the narrowest choice of providers - at an average of eight.

The county also has the slowest advertised download speeds of just 12.3Mbps and pay the second highest minimum costs in the country of £5.47, second only to Rutland residents who have to pay a minimum of £5.99 a month.
 
Greater Manchester topped the study with the lowest broadband costs at just £2.99 per month, average advertised download speeds of up to 28Mbps and an average choice of 12 providers.

Those in the South can take some solace in the fact they just nudge the North when it comes to average advertised download speeds with 22Mbps compared to 21Mbps.
 
The difference in download speeds between counties ranges from 8.5Mbps to 40Mbps, meaning a two-hour HD film takes as little as 10 minutes (at 40Mbps) to download, whilst for others it will take nearly an hour.

Source: Mail Online.

Monday, July 08, 2013 7:17:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, July 05, 2013
Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange have just signed an agreement to share vertical fibre optic infrastructures in buildings.
 
The agreement details the types of buildings in which vertical infrastructures will be shared and the technical procedures that will make this possible. The operators will gradually specify the cities, areas and building in which they want to roll-out optical fibre and the Building Manager Operator will prepare an infrastructure delivery plan. The agreement also includes the option to transfer existing undertakings or for each company to build its own.
 
The agreement is based on a principle of reciprocity, so that all three operators can use its rivals’ vertical roll-outs wherever they may need them. After signing the agreement, the infrastructure that Telefónica has already rolled out could gradually be used by Vodafone and Orange. In return, when these operators roll-out new infrastructures where Telefónica does not have coverage, Telefónica can also ask to share its rivals’ vertical infrastructures.
 
Vertical infrastructures in buildings will be shared through a single payment for each vertical infrastructure, which will give the operator the right to use it for no less than 20 years. The prices that will govern this use will be set, via resolution, by the Spanish Telecommunications Market Commission.
 
This agreement represents a leap forward in bringing this technology to more households and businesses across Spain.

Source: Telefonica.

Friday, July 05, 2013 1:28:37 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

AT&T announced 35 new LTE markets today, bringing the grand total to 326 and coverage for more than 200 million people.

AT&T said it expects to cover 300 million people with 4G LTE service by the end of 2014, with 90 percent of its planned 300 million POPs by the end of this year.

New locations range from sea to shining sea, including areas of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as well as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Washington, California, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Source: pcmag.com.

Friday, July 05, 2013 1:25:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Verizon Wireless announced that Parkersburg, West Virginia became the 500th market in the US with access to Verizon's LTE network. The Verizon Wireless LTE network now covers over 99 percent of Verizon Wireless' 3G network. The LTE network is available to 298 million people in 49 states, and Alaska will receive the service from next month. First launched in December 2010, the network now carries 57 percent of all data traffic on the operator's network.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, July 05, 2013 1:22:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Europeans consumers are not getting the broadband download speeds they pay for. On average, they receive only 74% of the advertised headline speed they have paid for, according to a new European Commission study on fixed broadband performance.

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes says: "This is the first time the difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds is confirmed by comparable and reliable data from all EU Member States.” There are significant differences in the European national markets, most likely due to advertising practices. Kroes says “Consumers need more of this sort of data to help make informed choices, so we will repeat the exercise. And we take these first results as further proof of the need for a real connected single market."

Key findings in the study include:

  • Cable has the most reliable download speeds: The European average of 74% hides significant variation in the performance of different technologies. xDSL based services achieved only 63.3% of the advertised headline download speed, compared to 91.4% for cable and 84.4% for FTTx. (see annex).

  • In absolute terms, the average download speed across all countries and all technologies was 19.47 Mbps during peak hours. FTTx services achieved the fastest speeds at 41.02Mbps. Cable services achieved 33.10Mbps, whilst xDSL services lagged far behind at 7.2Mbps on average.

  • The upload speeds are closer to their advertised speeds. Across Europe, the average upload speed was 6.20 Mbps, representing 88% of advertised upload speeds. FTTx services achieved the highest speeds by far, at 19.8Mbps. This is because many FTTx services provide an upload speed far closer to the download speed. Cable and xDSL services achieved a modest 3.68Mbps and 0.69Mbps respectively.

Source: European Commission.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:26:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom’s mobile subsidiary Mobitel says that its 4G LTE mobile broadband services are now live in Colombo, Jaffna, Kandy, Hambantota, Galle, Matara and Kalutara, following the announcement at the end of last year that the network was ready for commercial launch. Mobitel’s website says that the areas currently offering LTE coverage are: Colombo (Nugegoda town, Mount Lavania town, Pamankada town, Bambalapitiya, Kollupitiya, Slave Island, Fort, Colombo University, Nugegoda Town Hall and Borella); Jaffna (Jaffna town, Jaffna University and Pallali airport); Kandy (Kandy town, Peradeniya University and Digana); Hambantota town; Galle town; Matara town; and Kalutara town; as well as the university campuses of Kelaniya and Moratuwa; and Katunayake Airport (north of Colombo).

Devices supporting LTE in the 1800MHz band may be used on the new 4G network, whilst all Mobitel users with ‘Mega Internet’ broadband packages can enjoy the service at no additional charge on top of their existing tariffs, using either a dongle or smartphone. Additionally, all other post-paid voice, pre-paid and post-paid broadband package subscribers (with no ‘Mega Internet’ plan) can use LTE free of additional charge with a smartphone only (no modem access).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:24:25 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Wireless code to help Canadians make informed choices and contribute to a dynamic marketplace.

Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a wireless code that will make it easier for Canadians to understand their contracts and sets out their basic rights. The code will apply to new contracts for cellphones and other personal mobile devices starting on December 2, 2013.

The wireless code addresses the main frustrations that Canadians shared with the CRTC, which included the length of wireless contracts, cancellation fees, roaming charges and other industry practices. Among other things, individual and small business consumers will be able to:

  • terminate their wireless contracts after two years without cancellation fees, even if they have signed on for a longer term
  • cap extra data charges at $50/month and international data roaming charges at $100/month to prevent bill shock
  • have their cellphones unlocked after 90 days, or immediately if they paid for the device in full
  • return their cellphones, within 15 days and specific usage limits, if they are unhappy with their service
  • accept or decline changes to the key terms of a fixed-term contract (i.e., 2-year), and
  • receive a contract that is easy to read and understand.

The wireless code will apply to all service providers in Canada. In particular, the code will apply in full to postpaid services (where customers pay a monthly bill after using their services), and where applicable to pre-paid wireless services.

Source: CRTC.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:22:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has announced that it has activated LTE services for customers in parts of Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong. The company claims that speeds on the network will reach 100Mbps, faster than those of its rivals Telstra and Optus in most areas due to it having access to 2×20MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 1800MHz band, unlike its competitors. ‘Vodafone customers in 4G areas with compatible devices will have access to speeds that are among the fastest, not only in the country, but in many parts of the world,’ said VHA CEO Bill Morrow in a statement. The cellco says that for now only existing subscribers who have 4G compatible devices will be able to sign up for the new service, but noted that it will begin signing up new customers in July.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:20:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Kuwait’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) has announced the launch of mobile number portability (MNP) from 15 June 2013, Arab Times reported. Customers of local mobile companies — Zain, Wataniya and Viva — can transfer to a new network provider without changing their phone number after they fill an application and settle their bill with the current operator. The transaction is estimated to take no more than 24 hours. According to the MoC’s PR director Al-Husaini, the MNP project is a ‘qualitative leap’ in telecommunications, and will contribute to better competition and incentivise mobile companies to improve services and reduce prices.

Following the MoC announcement, Zain Kuwait and Viva released statements to inform interested parties that their representatives are ready to accept transfer requests. Commenting on the MOC’s initiative, Zain Kuwait CEO Omar Al Omar, stated: ‘The decision is a step forward in the evolution of the telecom sector in Kuwait. This new regulation will empower the customer with the freedom to choose the mobile service provider of his choice, while at the same time act as a stimulus for all operators to be more dynamic and focused to meet and exceed customer satisfaction.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:17:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi Arabia's telecommunications regulator has awarded three new MVNO licences. Of five applicants, the winners were Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa, which will launch on STC's network, Lebara on Mobily's network and Axiom Telecom on Zain's network, the Saudi Gazette reports. Local companies FastNet and Safari were the losing bidders. Saudi Arabia will become the second of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members after Oman to allow MVNOs.

The CITC did not state when the MVNOs would launch services, only that the winners now had 90 days to provide the necessary documents to move to the next phase of obtaining their licences. The aim of the new licences is to lower prices, improve customer care, increase job opportunities and stimulate competition in the sector, the regulator said.

Source: Telecom Paper.

 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:15:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
SK Telecom announced that it today launched the world's first LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service through smartphones. SK Telecom's LTE-A covers the entire Seoul, central areas of 42 cities in Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheong-do, and 103 university areas. Furthermore, the company will gradually expand its LTE-A coverage to 84 cities across the nation. The company achieved such a milestone in only less than two years after commercializing the nation's first LTE service in July 2011. LTE-A offers ultra-fast network speeds of up to 150 Mbps, which is two times faster than that of LTE, and 10 times faster than 3G network. For instance, LTE-A users can download an 800MB movie in just 43 seconds. With the commercialization of LTE-A, the company expects to further improve customer satisfaction in mobile Internet services, and increase the use of ultra fast video contents and other diverse mobile value added services.

Source: SK Telecom.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 7:12:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 05, 2013

UK-based Vodafone Group is set to boost investment in the network of its domestic subsidiary by more than 50%, the Financial Times reports, with the operator expected to spend almost GBP1 billion (USD1.52 billion) in 2013 as it prepares to launch LTE commercially. Further, a portion of the increased investment is set to go towards the integration of the fixed line network assets which Vodafone Group acquired following its April 2012 purchase of Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW). Commenting on the decision to increase capital expenditures, Vodafone UK chief executive officer Guy Laurence was cited as saying: ‘This investment is further evidence of our commitment to deliver our best ever network. We’re bringing together the best of mobile and fixed communications to help our business customers make their communications work for them.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 9:00:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ethiopia is set to ink deals with Chinese vendors ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies within the next few weeks with a view to expanding the country’s mobile infrastructure, a move which in turn the state hopes will help boost subscriber numbers to 40 million, according to Reuters. Speaking with regards to the development, Debretsion Gebremichael, Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and minister of communications and technology, said: ‘We are now poised to start the expansion. We are almost on the final stage on dealing with … ZTE and Huawei … In a few weeks we will conclude the agreement and we will start the expansion.’ The politician did not, however, reveal a value for the deals with the two vendors, but is understood to have confirmed that ZTE and Huawei will finance the expansion project.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 8:59:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |