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 Monday, September 30, 2013

Today, O2 and Vodafone have officially launched their LTE services in the United Kingdom. However, Vodafone's LTE network is available only in London, while O2 offer's its 4G services across three cities - London, Leeds and Bradford at the moment.

The 4G LTE networks across the UK is dominated by EE, which is currently offering 4G in 100 markets in the country. EE also has the government's spectrum license and all the other carriers need to buy the spectrum through an auction from the Ofcom regulator.

Both Vodafone and O2 are currently offering a wide range of usage plans for its potential consumers. Currently, Vodafone's LTE services starts at £26 a month and offers 2 GB of data with unlimited text messages and voice minutes. On the other hand, O2 has a similar offer at the same price tag, but the carrier gives only 1 GB of data with free messages and calling minutes.

Along with the launch of LTE networks, Vodafone and O2 have also announced that they will start selling 4G enabled smartphones. Check out the source links below for more information.

Meanwhile, Three announced its plans to roll out its own 4G network from the December 2013 and the carrier will begin its campaign from London, Manchester and Birmingham. The expansion of Three's LTE network is expected to be quite rapid next year and the carrier is expected to have over 80% of its consumer base on 4G by the end of 2014 and 98% by 2015.

Source: GSMArena.

Europe | LTE
Monday, September 30, 2013 7:34:58 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Wireless operator MTN Guinea (Areeba) has announced that it is now authorised to provide 3G services in the country after signing a Convention de Concession de Licences with telecoms regulator L’Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecommunications (ARPT) on 16 August 2013. According to the company’s press release, the licence will provide MTN Guinea with an ‘opportunity to have a greater number of sites covered by March 2014’.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in December 2011 MTN’s rival Orange Guinea launched the country’s first 3G network based on W-CDMA/HSPA technology in the capital Conakry. In February 2012 Cellcom Guinea followed suit by deploying its own W-CDMA-based network, also in Conakry.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Africa
Monday, September 30, 2013 7:32:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Orange has launched its LTE network in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Orange’s 4G network currently covers 91 percent of the Liechtenstein population. Orange has announced it will offer its 4G speeds to all customers in the country, both existing and new, with no additional costs and regardless of their subscription.
 
Orange’s 4G subscribers will be able to access mobile internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps, which will be gradually increased to 150 Mbps. Orange 4G is available with the Orange Me subscription for CHF 15 per month, or with the Orange Me prepay tariff for CHF 1 per day.
 
Customers will be able to test Orange’s 4G services at the 2013 fair in Vaduz on 4 and 5 October. In addition to the 4G demonstrations at the stand, customers will also be able to win 4G smartphones every day.
 
MVNO Telecom Liechtenstein uses the Orange network, and starting mid-October, all Telecom Liechtenstein customers will also have access to 4G services.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Europe | LTE
Monday, September 30, 2013 7:31:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Bangladesh's four mobile operators have secured 3G spectrum after an auction on 08 September organised by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Grameenphone, the largest mobile operator in the country, acquired 10 MHz in the 2,100 band for USD 210 million. Robi, Banglalink and Airtel each acquired 5 MHz for USD 105 million. Teletalk, the sole state-run mobile operator, will be awarded 10 MHz spectrum for USD 210 million. The BTRC sold in total 35 MHz of spectrum for USD 735 million, the Dhaka Tribune reported. A total 40 MHz was available in the auction. The reserve price was USD 20 million per MHz. Citycell, the oldest operator, sat out the auction after it was unable to raise the necessary financing.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, September 30, 2013 7:29:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Israel’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) is planning to cut fixed line interconnection fees from the current level of ILS0.0104 (USD0.002) per minute to ILS0.0099 per minute, Globes Online reports. While it is understood that the final rate will not be set until after communications minister Gilad Erdan concludes discussions with the country’s telecoms carriers, the decision to update the pricing structure comes after comments by carriers and a correction in the calculation of fixed termination charges.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:21:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ukrainian mobile and fixed broadband operator Kyivstar has reported that its smartphone users grew by 43% in the year ended 30 June 2013 to reach 3.698 million, or 12.7% of its 29 million-plus total mobile subscriber base, while in the same twelve-month period its number of fibre/LAN broadband internet users grew by 38.4% to 693,000 – helping to drive up quarterly fixed broadband revenue 55% year-on-year to UAH101 million (USD12.3 million) in Q2 2013.

Revenues from multimedia content grew by 47% y-o-y in April-June 2013, with demand for content mainly driven by the increasing number of active smartphone users, Kyivstar reported, adding that users of its App Club downloaded more than 5.5 million games while the number of users of its online book library, opened in December 2012, exceeded half a million by mid-2013. Members of the mobile Video Club grew to 60,000 – with the company pointing out that the consumption of such services is currently limited by the restricted access to 3G (as Kyivstar must resell the 3G capacity of Ukraine’s sole W-CDMA/HSPA licensee Ukrtelecom [TriMob], while high speed wireless internet access coverage is also provided via a nationwide public Wi-Fi licence).

Regarding types of smartphone active on Kyivstar’s national EDGE-enabled network, Android devices increased by 215% y-o-y to 1.548 million at end-June 2013, Symbian-based devices increased by 10% to 1.457 million, Apple (iOS) units grew by 73% to 358,000, Bada devices rose 17% to 184,000 and Windows phones climbed 45% to 149,000.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:20:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator Kar-Tel, which offers services under the Beeline Kazakhstan brand, has ‘significantly expanded’ its 3G network in western Kazakhstan region, according to an unconfirmed report by Telecompaper. The new 3G base stations were deployed in the Karatobe, Zhalpaktal, Zhangala and Fyodorovka agglomerations during 1H13, following launches in Bokeyorda, Kaztalovka and Zhanibek.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:19:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator MTS Belarus closed out June 2013 with a total of 5.260 million customers, up from 5.239 million three months earlier, and 4.7% higher than the 5.023 million recorded at 30 June 2012. The cellco attributed the expansion to its efforts to improve its networks and services in the past twelve months. As part of these plans, in February this year it activated its third 3G/3G+ frequency channel in the country, to help increase throughput capacity on its W-CDMA networks. The 5MHz of additional frequencies in the 2100MHz band will be used via 500 base transceiver stations (BTS) around the Republic. The first BTS to use the third frequency channel was switched on at Independence Avenue in the capital, Minsk; the HSPA+ capable mobile sites support maximum download speeds of 21Mbps. Further, the cellco has reportedly switched on dual-carrier (DC)-HSPA+ technology in some parts of the country, offering peak transmission speeds of 42Mbps. MTS director Eugene Bryantsev notes that already more than a million of its customers are using smartphones in Belarus, double the figure reported at the start of the year, and that figure is forecast to grow sharply.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MTS Belarus deployed 58 new BTS in the first six months of this year to improve coverage in a number of settlements. In the capital Minsk, MTS installed 24 new BTS in the April-June period, improving capacity and coverage in a number of areas, including the districts of Aksakovschina, Drazdova, Zhdanovichi and Maryalivo. Further, the cellco deployed coverage to the neighbourhood of Olsshanka in Grodno, as well as improving its signal in other areas of the city, such as Verbovoy Street and in the settlements of Grandichi and Malyschina. Meanwhile, in Brest, Vitebsk and Mogilev, new communications facilities were also installed in several streets, as well as in a number of smaller areas such as Valeykuny (Ostrovetskiy district), Volkova (Gorodksky district), Vygonichi (Volozhin district), Koptsevichi (Petrikovskii District), Granite (Lunietsky district), Obukhov (Orsha district) and Popelovo (Pruzhansky district).

To date MTS Belarus has rolled out a network of around 6,500 2G or 3G BTS, and its 3G services are available to 100% of inhabitants in Belarus’ cities and regional centres via more than 1,000 BTS.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:18:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

All five of Bangladesh’s private sector mobile network operators – GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel and CityCell – filed applications for 3G licences yesterday afternoon, the deadline for submissions, and will now compete for three concessions up for grabs in the auction on 8 September. It had been feared that issues over taxes and other fees would cause the operators to boycott the 3G licensing procedure. State-owned Teletalk – which is currently the sole W-CDMA/HSPA network operator in the country having been permitted to launch services ahead of the competition – will officially receive the fourth national 3G licence following the auction. There have been no reported applications from prospective new mobile market entrants, either foreign or domestic.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:17:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bolivian mobile network operator Telecel, which operates under the Tigo banner, is planning to invest around USD130 million, local news source Los Tiempos reports. Of the total, around USD55 million is said to have been said aside for the acquisition of additional wireless spectrum, while the remainder will be utilised for the deployment of fibre-optic infrastructure across the country, as well as for international submarine connectivity.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:16:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the country’s dominant wireline operator, has reported its consolidated results for the second quarter of 2013, including its cellular division Mobitel and pay-TV operations. Group revenues rose by 4% year-on-year to LKR14.7 billion (USD112 million) in the three months to 30 June 2013, although costs rose by 10% to LKR10.6 billion over the same period, driving down EBITDA by 8% y-o-y to LKR4.1 billion, while operating profit (EBIT) slumped by 32% to LKR1.1 billion. Quarterly net profit dropped 10% to LKR713 million, as the group said it continued to invest in new technology to meet customer needs, while incurring forex losses as the Sri Lankan rupee fell (including LKR421 million in 2Q13). Data, enterprise and wholesale sectors delivered revenue growth but voice and international sales shrank.

During the first six months of 2013 the SLT group invested LKR9.49 billion in expanding and upgrading mobile and fixed/data infrastructure, up from LKR7.92 billion in January-June 2012, while it added that it was near to completing a migration to converged IP next generation network (NGN) backbone infrastructure.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:15:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Rwanda’s telecoms regulator the Rwanda Utilities Authority (RURA) has announced that a total of 485,867 SIM cards were disconnected following the expiration of the deadline for the SIM registration process, All Africa reports. According to the article, 92.6% of all subscribers registered their SIM cards before the closing date of 31 July; 90.1% of MTN Rwanda’s subscribers registered their SIMs, equivalent to 3.29 million users, 96.4% (1.92 million) of Tigo Rwanda’s subscriber base met the deadline, while Airtel Rwanda stated that a total of 94.4% or 900,110 users registered their SIMs by 31 July.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in February 2013 the government of Rwanda, in collaboration with RURA and the National ID Project (NID), initiated the mandatory registration process as an anti-crime measure. One week before the deadline, RURA announced that 87% of the 6,415,443 SIM cards issued by the country’s three network operators had been registered.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:14:05 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of mobile subscribers in Kenya dipped from 30.731 million to 29.849 million between January and March this year, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has announced. The decline was mainly attributed to the de-activation of around 2.4 million unregistered SIM cards during the quarter. Safaricom continues to comfortably dominate the wireless market, with 19.421 million users, placing it well ahead of Airtel Kenya (5.052 million) and Essar Telekom Kenya (3.247 million). Telkom Kenya (Orange) brings up the rear meanwhile, with 2.127 million subscribers, representing a 14.4% decline quarter-on-quarter. Wananchi Telecom, which offers triple-play services under the ‘Zuku’ brand name, leads the fixed broadband market, with 31,955 customers as at 31 March 2013.

Soruce: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:13:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the latest statistics from the Communications Authority of Maldives, the island nation ended June 2013 with a total of 613,598 mobile subscribers, up from 574,211 three months earlier and 549,934 at mid-2012. Pre-paid users made up the majority (541,359) of wireless subscribers at the end of June. The regulator reported that fixed broadband subscribers reached 20,308 at mid-2013 (up from 17,393 a year earlier), while mobile broadband customers totalled 101,963 (68,985). The number of fixed telephony lines (including payphones) fell slightly from 24,645 to 24,136 over the twelve-month period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:10:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Microsoft has launched a pilot project in the rural Limpopo province of South Africa that aims to deliver high-speed and affordable broadband to underserved communities using so-called "white spaces" technology. The focus of the pilot will be to prove that TV white spaces can be used to meet the South African government's goals of providing low-cost access for a majority of South Africans by 2020.

The pilot is a joint effort between Microsoft, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the University of Limpopo and local network builder Multisource. It will use TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations to provide low-cost wireless broadband access to five secondary schools in remote parts of the Limpopo province. The project will use the University of Limpopo as a hub for a white space network deployment that will provide nearby schools in local communities with wireless connectivity. The project will also provide each of the five schools with Windows-based tablets, projectors, teacher laptops and training, education-related content, solar panels for device charging where there is no access to electricity, and other support. 

The project was initiated as part of the Microsoft4Afrika Initiative, which aims to provide access, skills development and innovation opportunities to young people and entrepreneurs across the continent. Microsoft earlier started white space pilots in Kenya and Tanzania, which it said have proven that white spaces technology is a viable solution for high-speed access in rural areas, even for those not attached to the national power grid.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:08:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

SMS is forecast to generate USD 15.3 million per hour for MNOs worldwide (USD 133.8 billion in aggregate), compared to USD 2.6 million per hour from OTT messaging services, mainly in the form of data usage charges, according to Portio Research, which argues that SMS still continues to deliver massive revenues despite the growing popularity of OTT messaging apps. Worldwide SMS revenue has increased every year since the early 1990s and is expected to be above 2010 levels until 2017. MNOs are gaining revenue from increased data usage instead.

Mobile messaging revenues are forecast to grow to USD 230 billion in 2013, compared to USD 218.1 billion in 2012, and to reach USD 236.8 billion in 2014 and USD 239.7 billion in 2015, before decreasing to USD 236.7 billion in 2016 and USD 227.1 billion in 2017. Different regions are expected to peak at different times, starting with North America, peaking in 2014, Europe in 2015, and the Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa in 2016.

The drivers maintaining growth in 2011-2015 are the continuing growth of the mobile base, mainly driven by developing economies. The key driver behind the decline from 2015 to 2017 is the shift away from SMS in more mature markets as smartphone penetration increases and more users shift to OTT messaging apps and social networks.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:07:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zain Group added 3 million new active customers over the past twelve months to serve 44.4 million as of 30 June, reflecting a 7 percent growth rate. For the first six months of 2013, the Middle East mobile operator's revenues reached USD 2.12 billion, EBITDA totaled USD 935 million, and the EBITDA margin was 43.3 percent. Net income reached USD 397 million or USD 0.10 per share.
 The group said adverse currency effects predominantly in Sudan cost the company the equivalent of USD 347 million in revenues, USD 150 million in EBITDA and USD 80 million in net profit for the six-month period. Group data revenues (excluding SMS and VAS) saw healthy 19 percent growth, with data now 13 percent of all Zain's revenues.
 
Mobile number portability was introduced in its home market Kuwait on 15 June and initial indications showed positive net additions for Zain. Year-on-year customer growth in Kuwait was 11 percent, reaching 2.4 million lines at the end of June. After the launch of nationwide LTE there, data represents 28 percent of revenues.
 
Zain Bahrain's customer base grew by 36 percent while in Iraq, the customer base was up 8 percent to 13.9 million as operations expanded the network to North Iraq. It said Jordan's operations maintained customer and value leadership through dynamic marketing campaigns while 4G roll-out and aggressive marketing campaigns in Saudi contributed to12 percent customer growth to reach 8.3 million and revenue growth of 12 percent. In South Sudan, the customer base grew by 27 percent while revenues grew by 36 percent in USD terms.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 8:05:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Peru’s Ministry of Transport and Communication (MTC) has announced that the Agency for Promotion of Private Investment (ProInversion) has successfully completed the sale of two 20-year, 40MHz (2×20MHz) spectrum licences in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz paired bands (also known as Advanced Wireless Services [AWS] spectrum) for 4G services. Movistar was awarded the ‘A’ block of 1700MHz/2100MHz frequencies for USD152.23 million – more than double the USD63.4 million reserve price – whilst Americatel Peru, the Peruvian arm of Chile’s Entel, won the ‘B’ block of AWS spectrum with a bid of USD105.51 million.

Deputy communications minister Raul Perez-Reyes noted that on top of the USD257 million payment for the authorisations, the licensing would also lead to investments totalling around USD800 million over the next ten years. The official added that within the next six years 234 districts would be covered by Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks: ‘We’re going to grant at least four million families access to high speed mobile internet in the following years.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 6:58:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 25, 2013
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCom) unleashed a tariff war in the 3G data segment on Thursday as the company slashed monthly tariff by 50%, offering high-speed mobile internet at half the price of competitors like BhartiAirtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. The move by the country's third-biggest mobile operator comes a few weeks after its rivals lowered 2G and 3G rates, but only for data usage beyond standard package limits.

Data adoption in India has been slow, but is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years as sales of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets boom with users consuming more online content.

RCom has reduced the monthly tariff for 1GB data on 3G to Rs 123 from Rs 250. This is even cheaper than the company's 2G monthly tariff that of Rs 125. "We want a data tsunami and want to liberate customers from high prices and slow speed," RCom president and CEO (wireless) Gurdeep Singh said.

When contacted, most of the other companies refused to comment. However, industry analysts say that a price cut may not be far away as companies are scouting for heavy data users.

3G adoption in India has been slow as high prices and not-so-efficient services have kept users away. Only about 5% of the country's 850 million mobile users have subscribed to 3G services, which are estimated to account for 3% of mobile revenue of telecom carriers. Companies are also fighting hard in the data space as voice tariffs - one of the lowest in the world - have remained more-or-less muted over the last many months and operators have rather done away with freebies and discounts here to shore up revenues.

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had last month cut the prices of their internet data plans, but the lower rates were valid only beyond the stipulated standard package prices. Currently, Vodafone charges Rs 250 monthly for 1GB data package of 3G and Idea and Bharti also offer a near-similar plan. Their reductions had come for data usage beyond the 1GB limit.

RCom has 3G services in 13 circles that include Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and North East. The lower tariffs are for all kind of connections - pre-paid, post-paid, new and old. RCom has also reduced prices for 2GB and 4GB pack on 3G network.

Source: The Times of India.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 7:36:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vodafone Italy has announced that it intends to extend its fibre-optic network to 27 new locations, namely: Ancona, Bari, Bergamo, Bologna, Brescia, Brindisi, Catania, Catanzaro, Como, Florence , Forli, Genoa, Monza, Naples, Padua, Palermo, Pescara, Pisa, Reggio Emilia, Rome, Taranto, Turin, Treviso, Varese, Venezia, Verona and Vicenza. When the rollout has been completed, end-users will benefit from transmission speeds of 30Mbps/3Mbps (down/upstream).

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:14:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Porto Seguro, the first company to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in Brazil, had reportedly signed up 61,811 subscribers by 31 May this year, up from 8,300 accesses at end-2012 and just 2,000 in July 2012. TeleGeography notes that in August 2011 Brazil’s industry regulator Anatel issued MVNO authorisations to insurance group Porto Seguro and niche player Datora Telecom, both of which are using TIM Brasil’s network infrastructure to host a service. Porto Seguro paid BRL27,000 (USD16,900) for three permits to provide services across the country. The operation is led by Safe Harbor Telecommunications, a partnership between Porto Seguro and Chiacomm of Brazil, the holding company that owns Datora Telecom. Datora also acts as a mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) for the service. PrepaidMVNO notes that Datora had 4,250 customers of its own at 31 May 2013, up from 1,000 in February. Datora Mobile (Sermatel) launched its operation in November 2012 for the machine-to-machine (M2M) segment.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:13:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
PalauCel, the mobile branding of Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC) and the country’s first and only nationwide mobile telephone network operator, says it has successfully upgraded its service coverage in the area of Malakal by relocating and upgrading the cellular antenna there. In a press release, PNCC said that the new site at Malakal Old Road Station was fully operational from 28 June, providing an expanded cellular service coverage throughout the area and reaching new locations such as Sam’s Tours, PTC Quarry, PPUC, Franco’s, Icebox Park, Marine Law, and the Marine Resources Office. To date, PalauCel has deployed a nationwide mobile telephone network comprising 21 cell sites providing coverage from Angaur to Kayangel, including four in the Rock Islands. Further, PNCC says that customers with Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, tablets, netbooks and laptops can also access more than 100 PNCC Wi-Fi hotspots with prepaid internet cards or a PalauNet dial-up ID. PNCC Wi-Fi hotspots are located in Koror, Airai, Melekeok, Peleliu, Angaur and Ngeremlengui.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:12:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone India is being threatened with another fine relating to its 3G roaming services. The operator is already appealing against a penalty of INR5.50 billion (USD92.8 million) for offering its customers the ability to roam onto partner networks in parts of the country where Vodafone itself does not hold 3G concessions. The Comptroller and Auditor General is now calling for an additional payment of INR5.49 billion to cover the radio spectrum fees that Vodafone would otherwise have had to pay for the 3G roaming service, Business Line reports. A note from the regulator states: ‘Since Vodafone has been earning revenue using the spectrum allotted through a bidding process to another operator, the company should be made liable to pay a penalty.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in the lead-up to the 2010 3G auction, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had confirmed that inter-circle roaming would be allowed. Aware that pursuing pan-India 3G spectrum would be a risky and certainly costly affair due to the high volume of bidders and limited frequencies available, providers had sought clarification regarding roaming agreements as a potential solution. In December 2011, however, the government performed an apparent volte face and declared such agreements illegal. Legal challenges to the DoT’s policy U-turn rattled through the courts until April 2013, when the Supreme Court ruled that cellcos could continue providing 3G services outside of their licensed areas to existing customers but would not be allowed to sign up new subscribers in those areas.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:11:03 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cell C, South Africa’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers, has confirmed that majority shareholder Oger Telecom has earmarked an equity investment of USD350 million into the company. Further, Nedbank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa have concluded a long-term financing package worth an additional ZAR2.2 billion (USD222.8 million) to Cell C. The company said that the funding will enable it to accelerate its network infrastructure rollout, and provide more competitive products and services to subscribers.

In an interview with TechCentral, CEO Alan Knott-Craig commented: ‘Our traffic has doubled in the past twelve to 15 months. A lot of capacity has already gone in, but we need a lot more, and a lot more coverage’. Cell C’s customer base has grown by more than two million in the past year he added, to 11.5 million by mid-2013. ‘Unless we build sufficient market share, we can’t achieve the scale to make the company completely sustainable,’ he assessed.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:09:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Haiti’s telecoms regulator Conseil National des Telecommunications (Conatel) has announced the launch of a tender for a licence to operate a 3G/4G mobile network in the 1900MHz spectrum band, previously operated by Haitel. No further details regarding the auction have been released.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, authorities in Haiti announced in April 2013 that the struggling wireless operator Haitel has officially gone into receivership with debts of around USD80 million. The government took control of Haitel with the company under real threat of bankruptcy, with employees not being paid and some services having already been suspended. The General Tax Directorate (DGI) in Haiti said around 40% of that sum represented unpaid taxes, while the company was also thought to have not paid its employees for up to five months. Haitel’s CDMA mobile network had been shut down in April 2013, although at the time the government’s outlook was that the operator’s financial difficulties could be overcome and a service could be restarted.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:08:25 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Following the formation of a new board at the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (TATT), the regulator’s chairman Selby Wilson has updated progress on plans for issuing a third mobile licence to introduce more competition to incumbent operators Digicel and TSTT. As quoted by the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, Wilson said that the authority had been working on prerequisite changes to its spectrum plan and had completed consultations on the third licence proposals, adding that ‘the document for the third mobile provider is near completion’. The chairman continued that the Request For Proposal (RFP) for prospective licence applicants should be placed in approximately two months, while indicating that ‘meaningful bids’ could be received by the first quarter of next year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 8:07:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Africell Holding, itself owned by Lebanon’s Lintel Holding, has announced that its three active mobile subsidiaries – Africell Gambia, Africell Sierra Leone and Africell Republique Democratique du Congo – had notched up a consolidated subscriber base of around 5.37 million by 30 June 2013, up from three million at the end of 2012. The bulk of the growth has been driven by Kinshasa-based Africell RDC, which launched commercially in November 2012, and has already secured 2.40 million customers, more than each of its longer-established sister companies; at end-June the Gambian unit claimed 1.07 million customers, while the Sierra Leone operation accounted for 1.90 million users. Going forward, Africell expects to grow its user base to around seven million by end-2013 and ten million by 31 December 2014. Africell Holding also noted that it is ‘actively looking to expand into a minimum of two new markets within the next two years’, although it declined to outline any potential targets.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:55:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has outlined plans to extend its free public Wi-Fi service nationwide, according to the JoongAng Daily. It is understood that that ministry is now aiming to provide the free wireless broadband services in around 12,000 locations by 2017, up significantly from the 2,000 public access points that it currently has in operation. To that end, the ministry has confirmed that it will now begin deploying Wi-Fi infrastructure at 6,000 public health centres, community centres and welfare institutes from now until 2015. Construction will initially get underway in 1,020 remote areas including Ulleung Island and Cheolwon, Gangwon. Meanwhile, around 4,000 locations where private Wi-Fi services are provided by mobile carriers – including places such as public libraries, museums, police stations and hospitals – are to be opened to the public.

In announcing its plans, the ministry is said to have claimed that Wi-Fi usage is increasing, in part as customers look to reduce mobile phone bills. However, it has noted that around 53% of the country’s Wi-Fi hotspots are located in the capital Seoul and other nearby areas. With the government hoping to change this situation with the rollout of new Wi-Fi networks, ministry official Park Yoon-hyun was cited as saying: ‘Expansion of Wi-Fi areas will ease financial burdens on consumers and help narrow the information gap between people in Seoul and other cities.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:45:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 22, 2013
The AEK has confirmed that the countries incumbent mobile operators have won the tender for LTE licences. T-Mobile, VIP, and One all offered to pay a one-off fee of 10.3m for the 20-year licences, slightly in excess of the 10m targeted by the regulator.

Source: screendigest.

Monday, July 22, 2013 9:36:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |