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 Friday, 31 January 2014

Vodafone Hutchison Australia has announced that it now has more than one million devices connected to its 4G network. Having commercially inaugurated its LTE-based infrastructure back in June 2013, the operator claimed that the strong uptake for its 4G services had been made possible by the fact that it operates its network on ‘high-quality spectrum that can handle a lot of customers, huge volumes of traffic and still offer fast data speeds’.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, at launch Vodafone claimed that speeds on its 4G infrastructure would reach 100Mbps, faster than those of its rivals Telstra and Optus in most areas due to it having access to 2×20MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 1800MHz band, unlike its competitors. ‘Vodafone customers in 4G areas with compatible devices will have access to speeds that are among the fastest, not only in the country, but in many parts of the world,’ said the then VHA CEO Bill Morrow at the time.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:59:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Russian mobile giant MegaFon confirmed that it has switched on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Chelyabinsk, the 50th such location to be covered by the 4G technology. Michael Dubin, MegaFon’s executive director of mass market business development, commented: ‘In less than two years, MegaFon’s [LTE network] already covers 50 regions of the country. Today, approximately 37% of Russia’s population could potentially use the mobile internet access at speeds up to 150Mbps. MegaFon has the largest federal 4G network. The pace of development – given the vast Russian territory – could qualify for a world record.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:57:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South African telecoms watchdog ICASA’s decision to introduce aggressive asymmetry in wholesale call termination rates has provoked a backlash from market leader Vodacom, which quickly voiced its dissatisfaction with the move, local news agency TechCentral reports. Vodacom said in a statement: ‘We feel that the level of asymmetry is unjustified and that there is no clear basis for the differential. This asymmetry is clearly a subsidy for the smaller operators.’ The network operator added: ‘We believe that the outcome today has been reached without following due process. A cost-based study, which is a prerequisite before reaching this type of decision, has not been conducted and shared with us.’ Although Vodacom stated that it is ‘supportive’ of lower termination rates, the cellco urged ICASA to take into account the adverse effect on customers, partners and suppliers. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said: ‘I wish I could say this is a victory for the consumer, but it is far from it. This is a subsidy which in effect means that Vodacom will be charged more to call Cell C and Telkom Mobile than the latter will be charged to call Vodacom. This prejudices Vodacom’s customers, and rewards those who have not invested in their networks at the expense of those who have.’ Further, the executive revealed that the company is currently in the process of ‘considering its options’ in order to protect its customers and ensure that ‘South Africa gets the network investment that it needs’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this week ICASA announced its decision to introduce aggressive asymmetry in wholesale call termination rates, effective 1 March 2014. The new rules favour smaller network operators Cell C and Telkom Mobile, with Robert Pasley, Cell C’s chief financial officer, saying: ‘As far as I am concerned, the draft regulations gave us a reasonable shot at becoming a sustainable competitor. This only increases our chances of being successful’. Pasley also stated that market leaders Vodacom and MTN South Africa would not succeed in challenging the final decision in court, ‘because the underlying costs of termination are broadly in line with where ICASA is going. There are many pro-competitive and pro-public interest reasons that ICASA has come out with this regulation.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:57:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Myanmar Mobile Money in partnership with Mobilemate Telecommunication has launched Myamar’s first mobile financial services using a solution provided by Oberthur Technologies (OT), the French vendor announced in a press release. The banking service is based on OT’s ‘MoreMagic m:Wallet’ product and enables person-to-person transfer, withdrawals and deposits as well as salary disbursement and merchant payments. Available in both Myanmar and English, the new service is supported by state-backed cellco Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) and Myanmar military-owned virtual provider MECTel. Myanmar Mobile Money is looking to target the more than 80% of the Myanmar population currently without access to banking services. The new offering falls in line with government initiatives to leverage telecommunications infrastructure to increase the availability of financial services and, as such, has received the support of the Central Bank of Myanmar.

Pankaj Gulati, CEO of MoreMagic, a division of OT commented on the development: ‘We are really proud to enable our customer to close the gap that the majority of the population faces thanks to our end-to-end mobile money solution. The ability to pay and transfer money with their mobile phone already transforms the everyday life of the less privileged, as they can conduct transactions anytime and anywhere and now have access to economic activities in which they formerly did not participate.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:56:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Dominican Republic’s telecoms watchdog, Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones (Indotel), has unveiled details of its ‘National Fiber Optic Network’ project, which is included in the government’s 2014-2015 Biennial Plan. The network, which will require investment of DOP2.675 billion (USD61.72 million), is expected to be co-funded by the World Bank, which could contribute as much as USD30 million.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in October 2008 the regulator announced that it expected a national fibre-optic backbone network to be complete before the end of 2010, providing broadband services to at least 90% of the country, and ensuring that all households have access at least a 128kbps minimum speed. However, Indotel has revised its timetable on several occasions, with little in the way of concrete progress reported.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:54:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

UK-Qatari joint venture Vodafone Qatar, part of the Vodafone Group, narrowed its net losses by 39% to QAR53.2 million (USD14.6 million) in its fiscal third quarter ended December 2013, compared to QAR87.1 million in the same period of 2012, driven by a 27% year-on-year increase in its mobile customer base to 1.27 million, according to Reuters calculations based on nine-month figures reported by the operator. Revenue for the nine-month period April-December 2013 grew by 31% year-on-year to QAR1.43 billion, while monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) climbed by 3.6% to QAR125. Nine-month net loss narrowed by 34% to QAR213 million, down from QAR325 million in the year-ago period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:53:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile number portability (MNP) will be fully introduced by Azerbaijan’s mobile network operators on 1 February, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies (MCIT) has announced on its website. The Ministry noted that the launch of MNP, which enables subscribers to retain their phone number if they switch provider, will strengthen competition in the market and lead to improved service quality. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Azerbaijan’s mobile market is home to three GSM network operators: market leader Azercell, which had around 4.405 million subscribers at the end of 30 September 2013 (a market share of 46.4%), followed by Bakcell with around 30.2% of the market and Azerfon (Nar Mobile), which accounted for the remaining 23.3% of mobile customers.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:52:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bolivian state-owned operator Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel) will reportedly reduce its pre-paid mobile tariffs by 20% in April this year, BNamericas reports citing local new source La Razon. It is understood that the launch of Bolivia’s first satellite at the end of last year has allowed the telco to lower its prices, according to Bolivian president Evo Morales, and the move is said to have been made with a view to shoring up the operator’s leading market share. Entel meanwhile expects that the increase in its client base that may arise as a result of the tariff reduction will offset any impact on its revenues.

In the wake of the news, private operators Tigo and Viva are said to be considering their strategies, with the former’s head of communications and corporate responsibility, Nadia Eid, said to have argued that Entel’s price modification represents a change in market dynamics, and noting that Tigo is examining alternatives that would allow it to maintain its competitiveness.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:51:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Fixed line telephony subscribers in Bangladesh increased modestly in 2013, according to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which reports that the total PSTN lines stood at 1,158,296 at the end of December – the regulator’s first report on the fixed line market in a couple of years. The watchdog’s figures show that incumbent national telco Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd (BTCL) had 961,589 fixed voice subscribers at 31 December 2013 – which TeleGeography notes is apparently an increase from BTCL’s reported total of ‘0.9 million’ at the end of its financial year (30 June 2013) – and certainly shows net growth from BTCL’s 935,760 lines it reported at end-June 2012.

BTCL has only one remaining effective competitor in the fixed line market, wireless in the local loop (WiLL)-based Ranks Telecom (RanksTel), which the BTRC said had 187,557 active subscriber lines at end-December 2013. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that RanksTel was one of five WiLL operators closed down in March 2010 for alleged involvement in illegal international VoIP call termination, at which date it had around 300,000 subscribers, and it was not until June 2012 that RanksTel finally relaunched its services after re-registering 20,000 former customers.

The third surviving fixed line provider, Banglaphone, has a small-scale local telephony base, reported by the BTRC at 5,450 at end-December 2013.

WorldTel is the fourth and final PSTN local telephony operator included on the BTRC’s list. TeleGeography notes that WorldTel was shut down by the regulator alongside RanksTel in March 2010 but had its licence returned in September 2011. Recently, local reports said WorldTel was either defunct or near-to-closing, but it reported a tiny fixed line user base of 3,700 at end-December 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:49:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi Arabia’s mobile subscriber base has shrunk by around 10% in two years, in the wake of a widespread immigrant crackdown. CommsMEA reports that a number of stricter rules, including a reduction in quotas for pilgrims, and a more stringent pursuit of illegal workers, alongside tightened regulations on phone registration, have seen the number of mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom shrink to 51.0 million at the end of September 2013, down from 56.1 million reported in 3Q11.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2013 the CITC increased the penalty for companies and shops illegally distributing mobile SIM cards to SAR25 million from the SAR5 million previously charged for the felony, with the notion that the fine could be doubled if there was a recurrence of the offence. CITC spokesman Sultan Al-Malik said that individuals purchasing such SIM cards would be guilty of identity theft. Under the royal decree, local municipalities will be given the authority to impose the penalties on companies and shops, while expatriates accused of violating the ban will be referred to the police, the Labour Office and the Passport Department.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:48:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Virgin Mobile plans to launch operations in Mexico and Brazil this year. According to a Telefonica Mexico statement, Virgin Mobile has already started to expand its business structure in Mexico with a focus on sales, marketing and customer service. Virgin will start to commercially provide its mobile services in Mexico over the next few months, once it receives approval from telecoms regulator Ifetel, said Virgin Group founder and CEO Richard Branson.
Virgin Mobile will provide its MVNO service in Mexico using the Telefonica network. Back in November 2013, Virgin Mobile signed an agreement to purchase network capacity from Telefonica Mexico.

On 23 January, Virgin Mobile Brazil requested an MVNO licence from telecoms regulator Anatel and is awaiting regulatory approval for its services launch in the South American country. Virgin has already signed a partnership agreement with Vivo, and will provide its MVNO services using the Telefonica/Vivo network.

Across Latin America, Virgin provides MVNO services in Chile, Colombia.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:47:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nepal Telecom (NT) has revealed that it will be demonstrating its nascent fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services in early February, with a commercial launch planned for ten areas in mid-April. Five of the launches will come in suburbs of the capital Kathmandu, while the remainder will be in outlying towns. A report from local news site Republica quotes NT spokesperson Shyam Sundar Yadav as saying: ‘We are planning to launch the fibre cable service in the areas under Sundhara, Chhauni, Naxal, Patan and Chabahil exchanges inside the Valley [Kathmandu], and areas under Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bharatpur, Butwal and Pokhara exchange outside the valley in the first phase.’ As part of the FTTH project, NT has already completed the installation of optical fibre links to the exchanges, with successful pilot schemes of the 100Mbps offering having been run last year in three areas of Kathmandu: Durbar Marg, Kamaladi and Thamel.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:45:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ukraine’s dominant national fixed network operator Ukrtelecom has reported on recent efforts to expand its coverage of rural fixed broadband internet access services, with an additional 4,000 connections in 28 small towns/villages in twelve regions deployed in the last month. Ukrtelecom’s ‘OGO’ branded market-leading DSL broadband service currently has nearly 1.65 million subscribers, the company claims (up from 1.626 million at 30 September 2013), while Ukrtelecom says it also serves approximately nine million subscribers of fixed telephony, although according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database this figure is down from 9.4 million just over a year ago.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:44:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Russian mobile operator MTS has started providing its LTE services in the city of Obninsk in the Kaluga region, reports The operator launched its network using LTE FDD. Most of the city has already been covered, and the whole area should be covered by the end of the year. MTS currently runs LTE networks in the city of Moscow and Moscow region, as well as in Tambov, Amur, Trans-Baykal and Pskov regions and in North Ossetia republic. The operator plans to launch its LTE services in around 600 agglomerations across the country by the end of 2014.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:41:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telenor Group today announced that it has signed an agreement with the Union Government of Myanmar for a nationwide telecommunications license. The license includes spectrum in the 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands and is valid for 15 years.  Telenor aims to provide accessible and affordable mobile communications to people across Myanmar, and will launch services within eight months after the license is awarded.

"The people of Myanmar are ready for world-class mobile services and Telenor is ready to deliver it," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO of Telenor Group.
"A major milestone has been passed with the signing of the nationwide telecommunications license agreement with the Myanmar government. This is the start of an exciting journey in Myanmar`s development, which Telenor will support through the delivery of world-class mobile services, responsible business practices and high standards that we live by in all of our markets," added Baksaas.
With a population of around 60 million, of which less than 10 percent have access to mobile services, Myanmar represents a strong business opportunity for Telenor in Asia. Telenor Group will build on its global and regional experience to establish Telenor Myanmar as a successful mass market operator.
There was record interest for the license award process in Myanmar with more than 91 companies expressing interest to participate. Following announcement on June 27 last year of the successful applicants, Telenor entered into consultation with the authorities to finalise details of the policy framework.
"The license is a product of an extensive consultation process with the Government of Myanmar and international organisations. It now represents an acceptable framework that we believe will go a long way to provide the necessary long-term predictability that Telenor requires when it formally starts operations in Myanmar," said Sigve Brekke, Executive Vice President of Telenor Group and Head of Telenor`s Operations in Asia.

To secure a rapid roll-out, Telenor has already appointed a management team and has initiated ongoing recruitment of employees on all levels. Currently, the company has a workforce of 150, and is expected to hire 1,000 full-time employees by the end of 2014.
"We are fully focused on a rapid roll-out of our network and establishing an extensive distribution system to make services easily available to the population. By offering high-quality products and excellent customer experience, we aim to create loyalty and trust with our customers in Myanmar," said Petter Furberg, CEO of Telenor Myanmar.
Telenor will build a state-of-the-art mobile network using HSPA and LTE-ready technologies, and plans to provide network coverage for 90% of the population in Myanmar within five years. Voice and data services over 2G and 3G will be commercially launched as Telenor`s initial offering, ensuring that consumers get excellent voice quality and high-speed data connectivity.
Telenor targets EBITDA break-even in Myanmar within three years after the license award. The total peak funding, defined as the license fee plus accumulated losses until operating cash flow break-even is expected to be around USD 1 billion. The license fee is USD 500 million.

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Friday, 31 January 2014 15:39:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone CR has issued a press release on its web site announcing that it has extended the service coverage of its ‘Turbo Internet’ branded 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the 900MHz band to the area of Litomerice, part of the Liberec region north of Pilsen. The move forms part of an ongoing 4G rollout programme that will see services available over 300 base transceiver stations (BTS) by the end of this year, and across the whole country by end-December 2014. With additional rollouts expected during the rest of this month, Vodafone says coverage will include central Bohemia, south Pilsen region and northern Bohemia by the year end. To stimulate take-up, the carrier is offering residential and business users a CZK2,000 (USD100.5) discount on smartphones/tablets compatible with its 900MHz network. The discount, however, is limited to packages costing a minimum CZK690 per month on a 24-month contract.

Source: TeleGeography.

Europe | LTE
Friday, 31 January 2014 15:36:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Palau-based wireless broadband provider Palau Telecoms has signed a letter of intent with equipment vendor Xtera Communications for the supply and installation of a submarine cable system to connect Palau to Guam. According to a report from Telecompaper, the system will provide high-capacity, fibre-optic connection to Guam, with onward connectivity to the US mainland, the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and New Zealand via interconnects with existing and planned submarine cable systems. The optical communication infrastructure will supplement the satellite links that currently serve Palau, allowing Palau Telecoms to increase the capacity, enhance the availability and reduce the latency of its services. The cable system is planned for completion in mid-2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:52:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China Mobile ended December 2013 with 767.21 million mobile subscribers as it added 3.91 million new customers in the month. The total base includes 191.62 million 3G subscribers. China Unicom, meanwhile, reported 2.40 million net adds for December, bringing its customer base to 280.98 million, including 122.60 million 3G subscribers. China Unicom also added 45,000 fixed-line broadband customers to end the year with 64.65 million broadband customers, while the fixed-line local access base fell by 420,000 to 87.64 million.

China Telecom's net adds slowed during December to 110,000. The company attributed the slowdown to China Mobile's launch of LTE services and increased marketing. China Telecom said it planned to strengthen its marketing to drive its subscriber growth upon the launch of its own LTE services in the first quarter of this year. The company ended December 2013 with 185.58 million mobile subscribers, including 103.11 million 3G subscribers. China Telecom's broadband base rose by 670,000 to 100.10 million while the fixed local access customer base fell by 710,000 to 155.80 million.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:50:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian telecoms watchdog the Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT) has published its Decision No.1/SP/PC/ANRT/2014, dated 8 January 2014, which outlines the terms and conditions of deployment of 3G commercial services in optional wilayas. According to the document, the launch of 3G services in additional towns and areas is subject to authorisation by the regulator. The concession will be issued at the request of the operator and the application must be accompanied by a deployment map outlining the coverage level in the municipalities, with list of 3G-enabled base transceiver stations (BTS) in the specified mandatory provinces. Further, the regulator will carry out verification checks on a sample of sites at the end of each year. Deployment of 3G services in the optional municipalities will be allowed when an operator has met its coverage and quality of service (QoS) obligations for its obligatory provinces.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the watchdog issued the final licences for the provision of 3G services in the country to all three applicants—Mobilis, Ooredoo Algeria (Nedjma) and Djezzy – on 3 December 2013. Mobilis was granted exclusivity in the towns of Batna and Laghouat and must also cover Algiers, Constantine, Ouargla, Oran, Annaba, Tipaza, Biskra, Sidi Bel Abbes, Setif, Tlemcen, Blida, Tizi-Ouzou, Djelfa, El Oued, Tiaret Tebessa and Ain Defla by the end of its first year of operation. For its part, Nedjma has exclusivity in the town of Bejaia Ghardaia; by end-December 2014 the operator must also provide 3G coverage in the towns of Algiers, Constantine, Ouargla, Setif, Chlef, Blida, Tlemcen, Boumerdes, Tipaza, Biskra, El Oued Sidi Bel Abbes, Medea, Ain Defla and Djelfa. Meanwhile, in the first year Djezzy was granted exclusive coverage of Bechar Skikda, in addition to coverage of Algiers, Constantine, Ouargla, Oran, Blida, Mostaganem, El Oued and Ain Defla. All three operators must achieve coverage of 80% of the population by the end of the seventh year of operation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:48:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ukraine’s National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR or NKRZI) has confirmed that its decision to delay the commercial introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) to 1 July 2014 has been adopted under law, after it was published in the Official Journal of Ukraine No. 99 of 30 December 2013. The NCCIR had issued the decision (No. 826) on 17 December 2013 to amend the existing plan for MNP implementation contained in its previous decision (No. 248) of 25 April 2013, before registering the amendment with the Ministry of Justice on 19 December 2013. The regulator explained that it has moved the starting deadline for MNP in order to resolve technical issues and create the appropriate conditions for the realisation of a high-quality telephone number transfer service backed up by a reliable and efficient processing system, after previously observing that the necessary shared database management system was not yet in place. As reported by CommsUpdate in November, the regulator reported that month that there was no working centralised database (CDB) for phone numbers or the software needed for communication between network operators and the CDB administrator. A new timetable was drawn up at a meeting of the MNP working group, stipulating that the instructions for using the CDB should be approved by 30 January 2014, followed by the signing of the agreement between operators and the CDB administrator by 15 February. As such, the test-mode launch of number porting should follow by 30 May at the latest (with 30 April suggested). The launch of MNP for consumers should take place by 1 July 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:47:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South African president Jacob Zuma has announced that the government will endeavour to provide the country with better broadband connectivity and free Wi-Fi in designated areas throughout 2014, IT News Africa reports. The article quotes President Zuma as saying: ‘We will invest in a comprehensive plan to expand broadband access throughout the country and substantially reduce the cost of communication … We aim to connect all schools, public health and other government facilities by 2020, and at least 90% of our communities should have substantial and super-fast broadband capacity by 2020.’ In addition to enhancing broadband access, the ruling party has promised to provide a free national Wi-Fi network covering cities, towns and rural areas.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:46:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

All three of Zambia’s mobile network operators – Airtel Zambia, MTN Zambia and Zamtel Mobile – have reportedly enforced a 15% excise duty on airtime that had been proposed in the 2014 national budget. According to the Zambia Daily Mail, the levy has been increased from its previous rate of 10%, with Abdul Ismail, chairman of the GSM Operators Association of Zambia (GSMOAZ) which represent cellcos interest, confirming the upward adjustment in a press statement. The executive noted that the tariff adjustments had become effective from 1 January 2014, though he confirmed that all three wireless providers would maintain their existing recharge voucher prices. ‘As service providers in the country, we are required to collect excise duty as required and on behalf of the Zambian Government. The adjustment came into effect on 1 January 2014,’ Mr Ismail said.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:46:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Peruvian unit of Spanish telecoms group Telefonica has launched commercial LTE services in seven districts of the capital Lima. According to a report by Peru21, Movistar has activated its 4G network in downtown Lima, La Molina, Miraflores, San Borja, San Isidro, San Miguel and Santiago de Surco. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Movistar was awarded one of two 40MHz (2×20MHz) spectrum licences in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz paired bands (also known as Advanced Wireless Services [AWS] spectrum) for 4G services last year. The cellco paid for USD152.23 million for the concession, which has a duration of 20 years.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:45:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 06 January 2014

Qatar’s Ooredoo Group has announced what it claims to be the launch of the first commercial 3G network in Algeria by its local subsidiary. In confirming the development, the company said that the opening of the infrastructure to the public came within just hours of receiving the regulatory green light to do so. At launch Ooredoo Algeria’s (formerly Nedjma) third-generation network covers ten major cities across the country, namely: Algiers, Constantine, Oran, Ouargla, Setif, Djelfa and exclusively in Bejaia, Chlef, Bouira and Ghardaia. Customers looking to take advantage of the higher speeds available over the 3G network will not face any additional charges compared to connecting to the 2G infrastructure, though they are required to contact the cellco to request a second 3G number and adding it to their existing SIM card. The decision to enable customers to use their original SIM card to access 3G services at the existing rates for 2G services would, Ooredoo said, ensure that the new network was widely available to as many people as possible, supporting the operator’s vision of broadband access for all in Algeria.

Speaking in the wake of the network launch, Joseph Ged, Ooredoo Algeria CEO, said: ‘We’re proud to say that our 3G network went live within ten days of finalising the licensing process and within twelve hours of receiving final approval from the regulator. Ooredoo has launched the first commercial 3G service in Algeria, delivering a historic moment of technological benefit for the people of our country and contributing to the development of a knowledge-based economy for all.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:22:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has decided to adjust the mobile network interconnection settlement charges. From 1 January 2014, calls from China Mobile's network (excluding the TD-SCDMA network) to China Telecom or China Unicom will continue to incur a settlement charge of CNY 0.06 per minute. However, the settlement charge for calls from China Telecom or Unicom to a China Mobile number will be lowered to CNY 0.04 from the current rate of CNY 0.06 per minute. The charge for calls between China Telecom and China Unicom will also remain at CNY 0.06 per minute. Interconnection charges for calls to TD-SCDMA users will remain unchanged at CNY 0.06 per minute and the charge for calls from China' Mobile's 3G network to the other two operators will remain at CNY 0.012 per minute. The SMS interconnection fee will also be adjusted from CNY 0.03 to CNY 0.01 per SMS and MMS interconnection fees have been lowered to CNY 0.05 from CNY 0.10 per MMS. The MIIT will assess the interconnection settlement policy every two years.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:21:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Malaysian mobile network operator U Mobile has begun offering Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based services in Subang Jaya, Sunway, Puchong, Berjaya Times Square and Taman Molek Johor Baru, the Sun Daily reports. The aforementioned locations have been chosen for the initial phase of the cellco’s 4G rollout due to them being areas where there is already a high level of data usage. Looking ahead, U Mobile has said it aims to extend its network reach ‘within the next few quarters’, with it aiming to upgrade its existing infrastructure with LTE technology.

In terms of uptake, meanwhile, Wong Heang Tuck, the wireless operator’s COO and acting CEO was cited as saying: ‘We are targeting the current 3G data users. Currently, the 3G adoption is very healthy and in terms of growth of subscribers of 3G, U Mobile is the fastest growing in terms of data adoption.’ With a view to enticing customers to upgrade, U Mobile is offering a promotional LTE device bundle plan until 31 January 2014 as part of which customers can benefit from a MYR100 (USD31) discount on a range of 4G-compatible devices. Further, existing customers that already own an LTE-enabled handset or device can take advantage of the increased speeds on offer immediately, simply by sending an SMS to U Mobile to opt-in for 4G access; the cellco has confirmed that its existing 3G data plans will allow access to the LTE network at no additional charge.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:19:32 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zambia’s minister of communications Yamfwa Mukanga has reiterated that SIM cards which remain unregistered as at 31 December 2013 will be deactivated, Biztech Africa reports. With the country having begun a SIM registration programme back in July 2013, in the following month the authorities set the date by which registrations must be complete; further, it was confirmed that from 15 November anyone found to have bought, sold or activated a SIM card without valid identification documents will be liable for prosecution. Speaking on the plans to stick to the deadline, Mr Mukanga was cited as saying: ‘I wish to request all those that have not registered their SIM cards to do so promptly and avoid being inconvenienced, come 1 January 2014.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:18:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

French telecoms company Iliad, operating in the country under the Free Mobile banner, has dealt another blow to its competitors by including high-end smartphone lease deals in its Free Mobile package, currently priced at EUR19.99 (USD27.10) per month. According to a company press release, subscribers to the Free Mobile plan can lease some of the latest handset models, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy Note 3, for EUR12 per month (over a 24 month-period), in addition to an upfront fee starting at EUR49. The offer represents an average discount of 40% on the original price of a smartphone handset. New subscribers can sign up to the deal from 17 December 2013, while current Free Mobile users will be able to access the offer by the end of the month.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Free Mobile sparked a price war in the French wireless market in December 2013, when it revealed that subscribers to its Free Mobile Plan would now benefit from download speeds of up to 150Mbps, at no additional cost. By way of comparison, rival Bouygues Telecom’s cheapest 4G plan costs EUR29.99 (for 3GB of data), while Orange provides 4G services for EUR39.99 per month (including 4GB of data) and SFR charges EUR42.99 for 3GB of data over its 4G network. Subsequently, Bouygues Telecom and Orange France hit back at Iliad by offering free 4G LTE services with their respective low-cost packages. Meanwhile, Orange France CEO Stephane Richard addressed the escalating price battle by threatening to end its roaming agreement with Free Mobile, by stating: ‘Orange may very well do without the roaming agreement, but is the [opposite] certain?’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:17:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A new government task force in Kenya is to study the possibility of spectrum sharing among operators to help spur the development of 4G mobile services in the country. Joseph Tiampati of the ICT ministry told local news paper the Daily Nation: ‘Spectrum is a national resource that must be managed and used openly to benefit the whole country.’ Total Telecom reports that the latest moves to promote spectrum sharing – probably in the 700MHz-800MHz band – are a tacit admission by the government that an earlier plan to deploy a nationwide 4G network under a public-private partnership agreement has been shelved. Kenya was home to some 31.3 million mobile subscribers at the end of September, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, with the market contested by four operators: Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom/Orange and Essar Telecom (yu).

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:15:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Slovenije, which offers mobile services under the Mobitel brand, has announced that its 4G LTE network has reached 86 Slovenian towns and cities and 55% of the population, up from 50% two months ago, while its users can now choose from 32 LTE devices including tablet computers, mobile phones, and USB or MiFi modems. Furthermore, a new service, ‘Hitri Internet LTE/4G 20’ offers any users with LTE-capable devices and USIM cards free access to the LTE network, with data usage simply charged according to the user’s existing data plan or deducted from their data allowance. The service, activated via a user text message, does, however, cap maximum mobile data throughput at 21.6Mbps download/5.76Mbps upload – i.e. the same theoretical limits as a HSPA+ service, although the LTE-based network promises higher actual speeds. From 1 January 2014 Mobitel users can also choose the new ‘Hitri Internet LTE/4G 100’ service which allows LTE speeds of up to 100Mbps/50Mbps (download/upload) for EUR6 (USD8.25) per month.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:14:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spanish cableco Grupo Corporativo ONO has confirmed that more than one million people have now signed up for its mobile voice services, which it offers as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) over the infrastructure owned by Telefonica Espana (Movistar).

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, ONO launched full mobile voice services as a virtual operator in September 2009, though it is arguably within the last twelve months that it has seen success; in announcing this latest subscriber milestone, the cableco confirmed that in the last twelve months it had added more than 600,000 mobile voice accesses. Meanwhile, as previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2013 ONO renewed its MVNO contract with Movistar, with it claiming at that date that the updated deal between the two companies will last for two and a half years; financial details were not disclosed, however.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:13:49 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian mobile operator Ooredoo Algeria (formerly Nedjma) anticipates that around two million subscribers will migrate to its 3G network once the technology has been commercially launched in the country. Agence Ecofin quotes Ooredoo Algeria’s CEO Joseph Ged as saying that the company has been preparing for the 3G upgrade since 2011, and has invested more than USD1 billion on equipment for the modernisation of its system. Further, the executive revealed that the upgrade project has accelerated in recent months, adding that ‘the service disruptions that have occurred on the network and that many consumers have complained about’ are due to the ongoing network overhaul.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Algerian telecoms watchdog the Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT) issued the final licences for the provision of 3G services in the country to all three applicants—Mobilis, Ooredoo Algeria (Nedjma) and Djezzy – on 3 December 2013. Not long after, ARPT published the 3G network coverage obligations for all three licensees, with Ooredoo granted exclusivity in the town of Bejaia Ghardaia; by end-December 2014 the operator must also provide 3G coverage in the towns of Algiers, Constantine, Ouargla, Setif, Chlef, Blida, Tlemcen, Boumerdes, Tipaza, Biskra, El Oued Sidi Bel Abbes, Medea, Ain Defla and Djelfa.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:12:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Level 3 Communications has expanded and upgraded its Latin American network in four of the region’s largest countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela – to support what it says is a growing desire from carrier and business customers for higher speed integrated IP solutions. Focusing on Buenos Aires, the service provider expanded its Argentina metro Ethernet network, including upgrades to a number of its optical rings in the Macro/Microcenter. In Brazil, Level 3 expanded its national backbone network by deploying a new metro network route in Porto Alegre and enhancing the capacity in Rio de Janeiro to meet increasing demands in the Botafogo and Barra neighbourhoods. Finally, in Colombia and Venezuela the service provider extended network coverage, adding Chuao and La Salle to its Metro plan in Venezuela by deploying new fibre solutions and expanding the capacity of Gateway La Urbina, the main site in Caracas.

TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) has announced the completion of a major North American network expansion, with the addition of 18,400km of fibre to its global backbone. By doing so, the company will extend its reach to 44 US cities by 31 December 2014. Going forward, the network expansion will enable TSIC to provide diverse connectivity into South America, where it is experiencing rapid growth.

China Unicom Americas (CUA), the North American subsidiary of China Unicom, has established a new point of presence (PoP) in Seattle in order to extend its data services to customers in the US and Canada. With this new PoP, CUA said it will be able to extend its product and service lines closer to its customers, including access to low latency routes to major financial hubs such as New York and Chicago.

Deutsche Telekom’s International Carrier Sales & Solutions (ICSS) unit and Beeline Russia, the domestic subsidiary of international player Vimpelcom Group, have jointly announced the establishment of seamless interconnection between their IPX networks. Vimpelcom said that it selected ICSS because of its ‘high expertise in this field and the large number of partner contracts and mobile operators’ interconnections including, but not limited to, T-Mobile’.

A new partnership between Telecom Namibia, NewTelco SA and Germany’s Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX) has confirmed that it will establish international access points in South Africa and Namibia connecting to the German internet exchange. Last year Telecom Namibia and NewTelco SA worked together to establish points of presence (PoP) in South Africa and various European communication hubs.

Optical transport equipment vendor Coriant says it has partnered with Polish alternative service provider Netia to trial 400Gbps DWDM technology. The contract represents Coriant’s second reported trial of 400Gbps technology, following a similar endeavour with A1 Telekom Austria.

Hawaiki Cable Limited, the New Zealand-based owner and developer of the Hawaiki submarine cable system, has announced that it will land its proposed 14,000km trans-Pacific cable in Oregon, in the United States. As such, the company has signed turnkey contracts with US providers Tillamook Lightwave and CoastCom for key infrastructure and connectivity, including a cable landing station, terrestrial infrastructure and a new fibre backhaul network that will connect the cable landing station to the city of Hillsboro, near Portland.

South African IT services provider Dimension Data has confirmed that it will launch four new global datacentres in the coming months, in order to address demand for enterprise-class cloud facilities. Services will become available at the following managed cloud platform (MCP) locations: Ashburn, Virginia, US; Melbourne, Australia (November 2013); London, UK and Sao Paulo, Brazil (both January 2014). The new facilities bring the company’s total number of MCP locations to eleven.

Colonel Le Dang Dzung, deputy general director of Viettel Group, has confirmed that the military-backed telco will invest around USD200 million next year to build what it claims will be ‘the biggest telecom network infrastructure’ in the landlocked west African country of Burkina Faso. The deal will also see Viettel overseeing a project designed to extend broadband connectivity to schools. The deal was agreed on 5 November.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:11:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Swedish regulator the PTS has reported that during the first half of 2013 total revenues in the retail market for mobile voice and data services rose by 3% year-on-year to over SEK14 billion (USD2.1 billion), with 59% of mobile revenue still accounted for by voice services, but with the share of mobile data (internet) services on the rise, reaching 28%. The watchdog calculated that the number of ‘active’ users of 4G LTE data services reached 811,000 by the end of June 2013, helping to drive up mobile data traffic in the first half of the year to 124,700 Terabytes, or 68% more than during the first half of 2012. The number of mobile broadband subscriptions with download speeds of 30Mbps or higher increased by more than two million in a year to nearly 2.7 million at 30 June 2013, while the number of subscriptions to smartphones increased by 30% y-o-y to 5.4 million. Meanwhile, the number of text messages sent declined by 8% while the number of MMS increased by 22%. Outgoing call minutes from mobile networks increased by 4% to 12.6 billion minutes in H1 2013, compared to the number of outgoing traffic minutes from fixed networks which declined by 17%, resulting in the total number of outgoing traffic minutes decreasing by nearly 5%.

Sweden’s number of subscriptions for fixed broadband via direct fibre connections amounted to 1.1 million at the end of June 2013, up by 16% y-o-y, which offset a decline in accesses via other fixed technologies, meaning that the total number of fixed broadband subscriptions increased by almost 2%. In June 2013 there were 840,000 subscriptions for fixed broadband with download speeds of 100Mbps or higher, representing 27% of all fixed broadband subscriptions.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 11:10:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Fiji’s attorney general and minister for communications, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has told delegates at the ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok that the interim government plans to roll out two new initiatives next year designed to provide mobile and internet access for all Fijians – including those living on remote islands. Khaiyum confirmed that the dual projects are designed to foster the rollout of telecoms infrastructure in remote areas currently unserved by any local operator, by subsidising the build costs at designated locations. In addition, the minister said that the government is looking to implement new laws to enable network sharing between service providers to augment this plan, noting that given the small economies of scale in countries such as Fiji, governments have to be more innovative in how they seek to attract private sector investment, while simultaneously having to bear a larger responsibility where it comes to investment in ICT systems.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 06 January 2014 10:34:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 01 November 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, 01 November 2013 10:59:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 31 October 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, 31 October 2013 09:42:48 (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, 31 October 2013 09:40:45 (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, 31 October 2013 09:38:21 (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, 31 October 2013 09:36:10 (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, 31 October 2013 09:33:22 (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, 31 October 2013 09:32:23 (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, 31 October 2013 09:30:52 (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, 31 October 2013 09:01:41 (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, 31 October 2013 09:00:34 (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, 31 October 2013 08:59:35 (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, 31 October 2013 08:58:53 (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, 31 October 2013 08:57:55 (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, 31 October 2013 08:56:56 (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, 31 October 2013 08:55:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |