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 Friday, November 01, 2013

Having revised the auction rules for its long-running sale of 800MHz frequencies in September 2013 with a view to speeding up the process, Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has now announced the winners.

With the auction having concluded yesterday, following nine months of bidding, the MoTC has confirmed that in total the sale will generate EUR108.1 million (USD146 million) for state coffers, with DNA Finland, Elisa and TeliaSonera Finland named as the three companies to walk away with spectrum. With all three operators laying claim to 2×10MHz in the 800MHz band, TeliaSonera will pay the most for its new frequencies, having agreed to shell out EUR22.20 million for ‘Frequency Pair 3’ and EUR18.90 million for ‘Frequency Pair 4’. DNA meanwhile will pay a total of EUR33.57 million for Frequency Pairs ‘1’ and ‘2’ (EUR16.9 million and EUR16.7 million, respectively), and rounding out the winners, Elisa bid EUR16.7 million apiece for ‘Frequency Pair 5’ and ‘Frequency Pair 6’.

The MoTC has confirmed that the new concessions will be valid for period of 20 years, with the licences covering the whole of Finland, excluding the region of Aland. Operators will be able to utilise the new frequency blocks from 1 January 2014, and each licence holder is required to launch operations within two years of the start of the concession period. Further, as per the requirements of the licences, mobile communications networks must be constructed covering 95% of the population in mainland Finland within three years of the start of the licence period, and between 97% and 99% within five years of the start of the licence period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, November 01, 2013 10:59:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spain's No. 4 operator Yoigo joined its larger rivals by offering bundles of fixed and mobile services as part of ongoing efforts to attract and retain companies in the hard-fought mobile market.
 
Following its recent network-sharing deal with Telefónica, TeliaSonera-owned Yoigo is also now offering the service bundles under the Fusion brand that was originally launched by Telefónica's Movistar. Starting at €34 ($46) per month, Yoigo customers have three plans to choose from, and also have the option of adding extra mobile lines to their plans.
 
Under the network-sharing deal, Telefónica is also using Yoigo's LTE network to enable it to offer LTE services as it builds out its own LTE network.

Source: Fierce Wireless.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:42:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian telecom regulator ARPT has awarded 3G licences to the three candidates, Algerie Telecom Mobile (Mobilis), Wataniya Telecom Algerie (Nedjma) and Orascom Telecom Algerie (Djezzy). The three existing operators met the technical and financial requirements of the licensing regulations, the ARPT said.

Vimpelcom, the controlling shareholder of Djezzy, said the licence will cost DZD 3 billion (USD 40 million) and be valid for 15 years. The ARPT will grant the final licences with the relevant coverage obligations after payment of the fees, satisfaction of the conditions in the tender documents and receipt of clearances and approvals from various government authorities. Djezzy, which has been the subject of government restrictions on its foreign currency transactions, received an exceptional approval from the Bank of Algeria to acquire foreign equipment for the 3G roll-out, Vimpelcom said.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:40:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone Ireland will switch on 4G Mobile Broadband services on Monday 14th October in six cities and 23 towns across the country1. Customers living and working in these areas will be able to avail of high speed 4G mobile broadband for €29.99 per month (ex VAT) which includes a 20GB data allowance. Vodafone will also have a 4G smartphone offer for Christmas, and details will be announced shortly.

Vodafone's 4G rollout is an essential element of an overall nationwide network enhancement programme to make Ireland’s leading network even better for all customers. This programme focuses on delivering 4G while, in tandem, involves broader nationwide network enhancements. Given that approximately 70% of Vodafone's customers already have 3G phones and only smaller numbers of people have 4G phones, Vodafone is delivering data to areas nationwide where there is currently voice coverage which means that customers can immediately benefit from high speed data if they have a 3G phone or modem. In addition, this programme delivers crystal clear calls with High Definition Voice, exclusively to Vodafone customers and also advanced coverage quality so that all customers have an improved indoor and outdoor experience.
4G will deliver a step change in data services with speeds of up to 10 times faster than 3G and 4G devices on the Vodafone network are capable of speeds of up to 75Mbs. Customers will now be able to watch video content online without any buffering and upload pictures to social media in seconds. 4G will enable businesses to be more productive and provide greater flexibility with significantly enhanced connectivity while out of the office.

Source: Vodafone.

Europe | LTE
Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:38:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Lithuanian regulator (RRT) has completed its auction of spectrum in the 800 MHz band.

Three operators have gained 2 x 10 MHz of contiguous spectrum in the Baltic state's digital dividend auction.

BitëLietuva paid LTL 1.01 million (€0.3 million) for its licence for 791–801 MHz paired with 832–842 MHz. This licence mandates the company to roll out coverage to gradually increasing areas of the country, culminating in at least 4 Mb/s for at least 95 per cent of households by 2020.

Omnitel and Tele2 each gained two duplex blocks of 2 x 5 MHz spectrum that have no coverage conditions attached. Omnitel paid LTL 5.1 million (€1.5 million) for 801–811 MHz paired with 842–852 MHz, while Tele2 only paid LTL 2 million (€0.6 million) for its 811–821 MHz paired with 852–862 MHz.

All of the licences are due to expire in July 2030. Lithuania has completed the auction ten months after the deadline of January 2013 set by the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme.

Source: Policy Tracker.

Europe | LTE | Spectrum
Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:36:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Africa operator Telkom has launched HomeOffice LTE, promising twice the speed and three times the quality of standard 3G services. The company is so confident on its ability to offer a great experience, it guarantees the quality promised or money back, no questions asked. Telkom said in a statement it has good reason to be confident about the claim. The company's LTE network was built on allocated 2300 MHz spectrum and therefore did not require refarming of some of its existing mobile technology spectrum. Telkom has a total 60MHz of this spectrum, which it said enables the delivery of far higher capacity per sector than any other local operator. Download speeds of Telkom's HomeOffice LTE typically range from 20Mbps to 50Mbps, although peak speeds can go as high as 90Mbps. Upload speeds range from 5Mps to 10Mbps with peak speeds of 25Mbps. Over 700 currently active LTE sites have been deployed nationally with a focus on the major metros. A further 300 sites are currently being integrated into the network nationally for further support. Many of these are located in areas where that have yet to be serviced by fixed-line options.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Africa | LTE
Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:33:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ipNX Nigeria plans to deploy a fibre-to-the-home network covering three major commercial cities in Nigeria – Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The network roll-out commenced in the last quarter of 2012 and is expected to reach 500,000 households in 2015 and 2 million in 2017, said MD Ejovi Aror. The company already operates on the Nigerian market as a wireless ISP, under the brand iwireless, the Punch reported. Over the past two years, ipNX has been developing new services, including IPTV, video conferencing and video surveillance. ipNX's Head of Strategic Marketing, Kazeem Shitu said services from the FTTH network were currently available in selected areas of Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki. Customers in Ikeja, Apapa and Surulere will be able to access the services from November.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:32:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A consortium of Middle East operators has unveiled plans for a new terrestrial network that would link several Gulf states to Turkey and Europe. UAE operator du, Vodafone Qatar, and Kuwaiti operators Zajil and Zain Group, announced their plans for the Middle East-Europe Terrestrial System (MEETS) in Dubai on 30 September. The first phase, scheduled to launch in Q1 2014, is a terrestrial link between the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. It is comprised of a fibre pair running alongside the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority’s regional power grid. The second phase of MEETS would extend connectivity from Kuwait to Turkey via Iraq.

The new network will help meet rapidly growing demand for international capacity in the region. According to data from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Research Service, the aggregate international bandwidth requirements of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait grew at a compound annual rate of 69% between 2008 and 2012.

‘MEETS will be a welcome addition to the growing number of terrestrial routes in the Middle East,’ said TeleGeography analyst Paul Brodsky. ‘These routes not only offer geographic diversity but avoid the submarine cable bottleneck in Egypt.’

Several other overland routes between the Middle East and Europe already exist. The Europe-Persia Express Gateway (EPEG) was launched in January 2013, and links Germany to Oman via Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. In February, submarine cable operator Gulf Bridge International (GBI) introduced GBI-North, a terrestrial fibre network linking the company’s Iraqi landing station to Turkey. Also in early 2013, Turk Telekom International and Palestine Telecom launched a hybrid route dubbed Paltel. Their alternative to the Europe-Asia route via Egypt spliced together subsea capacity on the MedNautilus system with terrestrial capacity on Palestine Telecom’s network, extending to the Jordanian border. Two other systems, Jeddah Amman Damascus Istanbul (JADI) and the Regional Cable Network (RCN), have been built but remain inactive due to the instability in Syria.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:30:52 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has announced that the long-awaited introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) in the United Arab Emirates will finally take place by the end of the year. ‘An essential element in the health of the UAE’s mobile market is the ability of consumers to choose between competing providers,’ the TRA’s director general Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim said in a statement, adding: ‘MNP will immediately increase competition in the ICT market, expedite the switching process, and do so in a way that directly benefits the consumer.’ Having already made the necessary technical procedural adjustments, the country’s two mobile licensees, Etisalat and Du, have been instructed by the regulator to enable portability by December. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the introduction of MNP in the UAE has encountered numerous delays, the most recent of which saw the TRA suspend the launch of the service indefinitely in September 2011, with the regulator citing technical issues as the reason behind the move.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:01:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (MoCI) in Belarus has published its latest market data for the three months ended 30 September 2013, showing that the total number of mobile phones registered in the country topped 10.94 million at that date. According to the MoCI cellular penetration reached 115.6% at that date, as the number of SIM cards in circulation eclipsed the number of people in the country by close to half a million. In addition, the ministry reports that domestic mobile network operators have rolled out cellular services to 99.8% of the population and 98.4% of the territory of the Republic of Belarus, while the number of base transceiver stations (BTS) now stands at 16,200 – including 5,200 UMTS-enabled BTS. The MoCI says that in the first nine months of this year, mobile subscribers sent more than 1.14 billion short text messages (SMS), or an average of 11.5 million SMS-messages each month, while multimedia messages (MMS) topped 6.3 million in 9M13.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:00:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vietnam’s three largest mobile operators by subscribers, Viettel, MobiFone and Vinaphone, have increased their 3G tariffs for the second time this year, after receiving approval from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). Earlier this year the trio increased the cost of their unlimited 3G mobile data plans by 25% from VND40,000 (USD1.9) to VND50,000 per month, and from today the price for these tariffs will rise by a further 40% to VND70,000, Tuoi Tre News reports. Plans affected by the change include Viettel’s ‘MiMax’ tariff, MobiFone’s ‘MIU’ plan and the ‘MAX’ package offered by Vinaphone. Mobile operators have argued that the 3G price hikes are necessary to enable them to upgrade and expand their networks to meet growing demand for mobile data services, and are also required to offset declining revenues as a result of subscribers using smartphone apps, such as Viber and WhatsApp, to make free calls and send free messages.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:59:35 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

T-Mobile Puerto Rico has announced on its website that it has completed a secondary stage of 4G LTE mobile network expansion, raising its LTE population coverage to 60%. The project, which took three months, encompassed additional municipalities and expansion of the existing 4G footprint and capacity in densely populated urban areas. Additional municipalities receiving LTE services via the second-phase expansion included: Trujillo Alto, Toa Baja, Toa Alta, Rio Grande, Canovanas, Aguas Buenas, Hormigueros and Juana Diaz, while coverage was extended or strengthened in locations such as: the Coliseo (Colosseum) de Puerto Rico, Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), Plaza las Americas, Hato Rey, Universidad (University) Politecnica, Universidad del Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart), UPR Rio Piedras, Mayaguez Mall, Encantada, Minillas, La Guancha and locations around the city of Ponce.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:58:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zimbabwe’s telecoms watchdog the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) has reportedly issued a notice to all mobile operators in Zimbabwe informing them that mobile number portability (MNP) is to be introduced in the country in 2014, TechZim reports. According to the article, the regulator claimed that ‘the inability of subscribers to retain their respective mobile telephone numbers when they change service providers presents an obstacle to competition and an inconvenience to the customers.’ The document also seeks input from the mobile operators on the implementation of MNP; suggestions relating to the technical considerations behind MNP will be taken into account when POTRAZ starts developing the Number Portability Framework and Regulations.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:57:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Moldova’s telecoms watchdog the National Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Information Technology (ANRCETI) has announced that over 16,500 numbers were ported in the three months to 30 September 2013. According to a press release, 15,616 of these were mobile numbers, while the reminder (914) used the fixed number portability (FNP) service, which was launched on 1 August 2013. The Centralized Data Base (CDB) administrator also stated that around 19,600 applications for NP were submitted prior to 10 October 2013. Further, the CDB reported that the average duration of porting a phone number did not exceed the five working days limit set by the ANRCETI.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:56:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China ended August with 1.196 billion mobile subscribers, up 0.88 from July and up 11.51 from August 2012. The total includes 351.29 million 3G users and 827.79 million mobile internet users, the Digitimes writes citing figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The total number of subscribers accounts for 87.1 percent of China's population. The country also ended the month with 271.34 million fixed-line telephone subscribers, accounting for 20.2 percent of the population. The number of internet access users rose 9.40 percent year-on-year to 184.11 million, which includes 5.61 million dial-up users and 111.51 million xDSL users.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:55:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Following on from reports in May 2013, Yonhap News Agency is reporting that approval has now been given for a scheme under which mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) will be allowed to sell their services via the state-run postal service provider. It is understood that the decision is squarely aimed at enhancing the sales network for the country’s MVNOs, with a view to lowering calling rates sector-wide. When the news first broke regarding the proposals earlier this year, South Korea’s virtual operators were said to be offering their services at just 408 outlets, a figure representing just 0.2% of the 20,000 shops in which the incumbent mobile network operators were selling their services at the same date.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:54:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has instructed mobile operators to implement nationwide mobile number portability (MNP) by April 2014, the Economic Times writes. At present, MNP is only available within each of the nation’s 22 operating areas: transferring a number across state boundaries is currently off-limits. Following consultation with the industry, the TRAI has finalised a method to implement pan-India MNP. Under the plans, the entire porting process will be handled by the MNP management firm responsible for the donor circle, thereby eliminating the need to transfer details between MNP providers, which had previously been a sticking point.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:46:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has reported that its fixed broadband subscriber base grew by 19.6% year-on-year to 357,000 at the end of June 2013, whilst it has rolled out 57,000 new high speed lines based on its new fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network of which 20,000 had already been connected to users by that date. SLT says customers can receive bandwidth benefits from the FTTC network within 2km of a fibre distribution point, while it plans to provide 90% of its fixed access customers broadband speeds of 20Mbps.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:43:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spain’s telecoms regulator the Comision del Mercado de las Telecomunicacinoes (CMT) has announced that July 2013 saw the highest number of customers use mobile number portability (MNP) to switch provider since the service was introduced. According to figures produced by the watchdog, in July 2013 a total of 638,948 numbers were ported from one operator to another, beating the previous monthly record of 636,616, which was set in January 2013. Further, the CMT noted that the July 2013 figure represented a 47.9% increase on the number of ports recorded in the same period a year earlier.

Citing strong competition in the sector as one of the drivers behind the increase in customers switching, the CMT also noted that for the third consecutive month mobile accesses had increased, with 169,856 lines added in July 2013. Continued uptake of post-paid subscriptions, which rose by 236,123 in the month under review, more than offset a decline in pre-paid customers (down by 38,304 in the month) and datacards (down by 27,963). Meanwhile, the market’s two largest cellcos by subscribers – Telefonica Espana (Movistar) and Vodafone Spain – both saw user numbers fall in July 2013, down 127,061 and 44,948 respectively, with the regulator noting that mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) saw combined additions of 230,336 mobile customers in the month, with Orange Espana and Yoigo adding 69,264 and 42,265 subscribers, respectively.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:42:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Estonian mobile network operator Elisa has announced that its 4G LTE network now covers 100% of the capital Tallinn. The development comes just over a month after the cellco launched 4G services using 800MHz spectrum, having been granted such frequencies by the Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority (ETSA) in early August 2013; previously it had offered LTE using only the 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies. The operator has highlighted the benefits of its lower-band spectrum when it comes to coverage enhancements, particularly for reaching customers indoors.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in rolling out 4G services using the 800MHz band last month Elisa claimed that it could provide superfast mobile broadband to 95% of the country’s territory via the combination of its 800MHz infrastructure and its existing 4G networks operating over the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands. Meanwhile, having deployed 240 new base stations for its 800MHz 4G network at launch, the operator noted that it had more 820 4G base stations in operation, including those deployed for its existing infrastructure.

 

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:41:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 03, 2013

Ireland's Eircom has launched the country's first LTE service, through its mobile brands, Meteor and eMobile as part of both bundled and standalone offerings.

The service is now live in Dublin, Carlow and Athlone, providing coverage to 1.2 million people, almost 30% of the population.

Over the coming weeks, rollout will continue and by the end of December 2013, 43% of the population will have 4G service.

There will be no price premium charged for LTE services provided by Meteor and eMobile. To encourage customers to test the service, 4G users have access to free unlimited 4G data until March 2014.

During the autumn of 2012, eircom acquired the necessary spectrum to deliver 4G services as part of the Irish Government's spectrum auction, conducted by ComReg.

Source: Cellular News.

 

Thursday, October 03, 2013 8:49:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The smallest of Venezuela’s three cellcos by subscribers, Digitel, announced the official full commercial launch of its 4G LTE mobile broadband network on 9 September, following a limited post-paid-only launch in July in selected areas of Greater Caracas, Maracay and other mainly central and western cities. Over the last few months the cellco has been expanding and optimising the 1800MHz LTE network, whilst also upgrading and expanding its 3G HSDPA+ network to augment its high speed mobile internet coverage. The rollout so far has seen Digitel activate over 230 LTE base stations, or 60% of the projected 385 cell sites planned for this year, initially concentrating on the most densely populated areas in order to capitalise on the demand for data services, with a medium-term goal of installing more than 800 LTE base stations. Meanwhile, it has upgraded more than 500 3G base station sites nationwide with an end-year goal of migrating over 1,000 base stations to IP protocol.

Digitel’s 4G LTE services are already available in parts of Caracas (mainly in eastern sections of the city), La Guaira (in Capital Region), Maracay, Cagua, Valencia, Puerto Cabello, Turmero, La Victoria, Guacara (all in Central Region), Araure, Barquisimeto, Acarigua (all in Central-Western Region), Valle de La Pascua, Calabozo (both in Llanos Region in the centre of the country), Maracaibo, Cabimas, Ciudad Ojeda (all in Zulian Region in the far west), Margarita (in the Insular Region of islands off the north coast), Puerto La Cruz and Lecheria (both in Eastern Region).

Digitel said that LTE will ‘soon’ be available in additional areas, including the remaining uncovered zones of Caracas, Valle de La Pascua and Calabozo, as well as Coro, Punto Fijo (both in Central-Western Region), Anaco, Barcelona, Maturin, Cumana, Carupano, El Tigre (all in Eastern Region), Ciudad Bolivar, Puerto Ordaz (both in Guayana Region in the east of the country), and parts of Andean Region (in the west), thereby spreading the network to all Venezuelan Regions.

Three ‘Smart Plan’ data, voice and text packages are available for 4G users, and the LTE network is open to all pre- and post-paid customers from the official announcement of commercial services. Users with compatible devices – which currently include a Huawei-built Android-based smartphone, a BlackBerry model or alternatively a USB modem – may acquire an LTE U-SIM card to activate 4G-speed data services.

Over 5,000 post-paid customers with suitable 1800MHz-compatible devices were able to use the network in its early launch phase, the company revealed, and while delays have been caused by a shortage of foreign currency in Venezuela with which to buy 4G network equipment and LTE-capable handsets or other devices, a Digitel spokesperson said that it has requested to import one million LTE phones, ‘a figure consistent with the number of users who want this technology’. The target figure represents over 15% of Digitel’s current user base of roughly 6.5 million.

Having previously reported that it had spent USD400 million on the rollout of its HSPA+ network since Q4 2011 (a figure that included fibre-optic/IP backbone expansion/upgrades and 3G/4G mobile broadband spectrum acquisition), the company has now upped that investment, announcing this week that it has spent over USD600 million on the launch of LTE and HSPA+ combined, including the necessary frequencies and fibre/IP build-out to support the radio network deployment. Digitel’s investment budget for full-year 2013 is USD268 million.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, October 03, 2013 8:45:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |