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 Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ooredoo announced recently that it has reached a milestone in its nationwide roll-out of Qatar's first and only 4G services, with the recent activation of its 500th LTE site in Qatar.

The 500th site that was completed and activated was required for a complete nationwide network, as the company surges ahead with its plan to make Qatar's fastest-ever mobile broadband accessible for everyone. The activation of the 500th site means that the 4G service range now extended to cover the whole country.

The rise of 4G has created a spike in data usage across Qatar, as people download films, educational material and mobile apps faster than before. It has also delivered an improvement to customers using 3G and even 2G networks, as the migration to 4G has freed up space on the legacy networks.

Ooredoo's 4G service is available for both postpaid and prepaid customers with a range of packages, starting from QR15 per week for Hala customers, and including Ooredoo's new Shahry Smart Packs which offer a bundle of minutes, SMS, mobile data and access to 4G Key for QR175 per month.

Ooredoo currently provides the only network in Qatar offering customers access to 4G services. It is seeing particularly strong demand from small businesses looking to use 4G as the backbone for their offices' mobile operations. Using 4G enables companies to teleconference in high-definition, adding sharpness and clarity to international meetings.

Source: Qatar Tribune.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:29:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

EE and Three have confirmed they are working together on bringing better 4G connectivity to rural areas.

The mobile operators have long had a partnership after one part of the EE joint venture, T-Mobile, signed a network-sharing deal with Three in 2007, enabling shared infrastructure and customers to roam on to each other’s networks.

This network share has continued following the T-Mobile and Orange merger to create EE back in 2010.

This latest agreement will not be on such a grand scale, with no sharing of spectrum or antennae, and will not include investment in addition to the companies' pre-existing 4G budgets.

However, it will enable them to share the costs of backhaul and civil engineering for 4G sites in the most rural 20% of the UK where the return on investment is likely to be much lower.

When it comes to the switch on of 4G services, it will be up to each individual company when they do it and which equipment they use – EE deploys Huawei networking gear, while Three has a deal with Samsung.

A spokeswoman from EE said: “The new framework increases cost efficiencies as we continue our roll out of 4G to cover more than 90% of the UK population by the end of the year. This is part of our £1.5bn three-year investment to significantly differentiate the EE network in terms of the people we connect and the experience they receive.”

We contacted Three for a statement but it had not returned our request at the time of publication.

EE was the first to market with 4G services after Ofcom allowed it to repurpose its existing spectrum allocation in 2012 to use it for the faster data offerings. Three, however, was the last of the major mobile operators to begin its roll-out and only started offering 4G in December 2013.

Source: ComputerWeekly.com.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:27:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to "Kazakhtelecom", the digitalization rate was 98.19%. About 1750 km of fiber-optic communication lines have been built in Akmola, East Kazakhstan, West Kazakhstan, Kostanay, Karaganda, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan and South Kazakhstan regions. Further modernization and development of rural communication CDMA / EVDO allowed to cover more than 3700 rural settlements.

In 2013, within the development and modernization of the telecommunications network, the company continued work on the projects: building of FTTH networks, implementation and construction of a network communication standard 4G LTE, the development of highway network, construction of rural communication network WLL CDMA 450, the introduction of IP TV, modernization and development of local networks.

In addition, work has been continued on the implementation of wireless Internet access of  fourth-generation standard LTE. In 2013, the network was deployed in Aktau, Aktobe, Atyrau, Karaganda, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Shymkent, Zhezkazgan, Temirtau, and  expanded in Almaty, Astana and their suburbs. In other regional centers pilot zones were organized. About 110,000 subscribers were registered.

As a result of the completion of III phase of the strategic project "Construction of FTTH networks” included into the Industrialization Map of Kazakhstan, about 15 500 houses and more than 7300 cottages were covered by fiber-optic networks. In the past year, the works on the development of IP TV services were carried out in Astana, Almaty and in all regional centers. The network capacity was more than 246,000 points of connection by year-end.

Source: Kazakhstan 2050.

CIS | FTTH/B | LTE
Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:23:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, February 11, 2014

French telecoms regulator Arcep has opened a public consultation on a draft document concerning the prospective deployment of a fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) network as part of the country’s ongoing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout. FTTdp is a form of next generation network architecture where fibre is terminated very close to the customer’s premises; however, unlike a FTTH configuration, FTTdp reuses existing copper or coaxial cable to connect a customer’s premises to the fibre network.

According to an Arcep press release, the watchdog has set up a new FTTdp working group, comprising of operators, local authority associations and representatives of the relevant government departments, to assess the level of interest in rolling out such a solution. However, Arcep points out that the use of FTTdp architecture raises a number of questions, particularly relating to the maturity of technical solutions and their compatibility with the French regulatory framework. Further, the regulator has stated that additional field trials need to be carried out before a decision is made. Arcep invites all interested parties to submit their comments and recommendations and provide feedback on the published discussion by 28 April 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:06:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Armenian mobile network operator VivaCell-MTS has announced the expansion of high speed dual carrier (DC)-HSPA+ technology on its network. Initially launched in the capital Yerevan last November, coverage is now available in 48 cities and towns plus 567 villages – an area which is home to 86% of the population, Telecompaper reports. Earlier this year smaller rival Orange Armenia expanded its own 42Mbps DC-HSPA+ network to 310 new markets across the country, adding to the five cities where the technology had already been deployed since its initial launch in Yerevan in January 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:05:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange has announced plans to remove roaming charges in its largest post-paid plans across its entire European footprint. The new plans, for customers travelling within Europe are launching across Orange’s key European markets, including France, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Romania, Slovakia and Luxembourg and will be implemented throughout 2014.

The initiative is coupled with the news that Orange will launch 4G roaming from February for customers in France travelling to the UK, Portugal and South Korea. Further to this, technical readiness to deliver 4G roaming has been achieved in a further five markets including the UK (EE), Spain, Romania, Portugal and Moldova. LTE roaming will be fully available across Orange’s European footprint by the end of 2014, including major destinations outside of Europe.
 
Orange is also making improvements to its existing Go Europe roaming tariffs for its remaining pay-monthly customers across Europe. The improved Go Europe offers will be tailored to individual market needs, with offers launched from February onwards.

Group chairman and CEO Stephane Richard commented, “The results of our first Go Europe offers indicate that we are striking a chord with our customers, and we hope that these new improvements will instil further confidence that using your mobile abroad won’t bite.”

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:04:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Over 270,000 households are connected to the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network of Uruguayan national telecoms operator Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel), the state-owned company has revealed. In total, around 717,000 homes are passed by Antel’s fibre-optic infrastructure, which stretches 13,000km, and the firm aims to cover all towns with over 3,500 inhabitants with FTTH in 2015. Last year the company said it will invest USD1.112 billion in its operations by 2017, around USD727 million of which will be spent on its access network, including the rollout and expansion of its FTTH infrastructure.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that China’s ZTE was selected in September 2011 to build Antel’s national FTTH network and the first home was connected to the infrastructure one month later. Services are marketed under the brand ‘Vera’, with plans for residential users ranging in price from UYU690 (USD33.8) per month for the entry-level 20Mbps downstream connection to UYU1,590 for the top-end 120Mbps/12Mbps download/upload plan.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:02:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spain's telecoms regulator CNMC has announced a significant 18 percent reduction in the price payable by rival operators for wholesale access to Telefonica's ADSL network. The measure relates to tariffs for indirect access services, known as GigADSL and ADSL-IP, through which Telefonica's competitors offer a wide range of ADSL services across Spain. According to the CNMC, some 673,323 lines, around 5.5 percent of broadband connections in Spain, are affected by the measure. The regulator justified the decision, which follows a reduction of around 14 percent applied in 2012, on the grounds that technological advances have enabled Telefonica to offer these services at lower rates.

In addition, the CNMC explained that for the first time the new wholesale broadband access service known as NEBA (New Broadband Ethernet Service) was used to evaluate the cost of providing indirect access, and will form the basis of all future calculations.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:01:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BT Group has reported revenue of GBP 4.59 billion for the third quarter ending 31 December 2013, up 2 percent from GBP 4.52 billion a year earlier, with adjusted EBITDA flat at GBP 1.53 billion. Adjusted profit before tax was up 8 percent to GBP 722 million, from GBP 666 million, with adjusted operating profit up 4 percent to GBP 867 million, from GBP 833 million. BT has now passed more than 18 million UK premises with its fibre broadband network. Openreach registered 339,000 net fibre connections in Q3, up 38 percent, with around 2.4 million homes and businesses now connected. BT added a record 228,000 net retail fibre broadband customers in Q3, up 14 percent, and now has around 1.9 million fibre broadband customers. The UK broadband market grew by 252,000 customers in Q3, of which BT's share of net additions was 60 percent or 150,000. BT ended the quarter with more than 2.5 million direct BT Sport customers.
 
BT Global Services saw revenue grow 4 percent in Q3 to GBP 1.79 billion, from GBP 1.74 billion a year earlier, with EBITDA up 22 percent to GBP 263 million, from GBP 215 million, and operating profit up 91 percent to GBP 111 million, from GBP 58 million. Total order intake for BT Global Services was GBP 1.5 billion in Q3, compared to GBP 1.9 billion in the year-earlier quarter, with orders growing 4 percent on a 12-month rolling basis.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:00:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Jordanian government is still studying the impact of the decision to double the tax on mobile subscriptions to 24% and is looking into the consequences for consumers as well as its effect on operator revenues. The Economic Development Committee of the cabinet is currently discussing the effects of the tax hike, which came into force in mid-2013, and is expected to reduce the levy slightly, The Jordan Times cites an unnamed industry insider as saying. The nation’s three wireless providers Zain, Orange and Umniah, as well as lobby group the ICT Association of Jordan (ICT@J) have called on the state to rescind the tax increase. Ihab Hinnawi, the CEO of Umniah claimed that revenues in the telecom sector have fallen by 9% since the tax was introduced, adding that profits for cellcos had fallen by 30%-40% over the same period. ICT Minister Azzam Sleit told press that the committee was considering a solution that would reach a balance that would be acceptable for the public, providers and the state. However, Sleit added that the government was not looking to take any action regarding the doubling of the tax on mobile phones from 8% to 16%, which was introduced at the same time as the increased tax on services.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Jordan’s trio of wireless providers boycotted the recent spectrum auction for 4G-compatible frequencies in protest against the tax increase.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:58:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Venezuela’s planned nationwide fibre-optic transmission network is 70.2% complete, meaning that 6,886km of the high speed backbone infrastructure has so far been lit, according to local regulator reports cited by Capacity Magazine. The national fibre network is designed to interconnect the south of the country with the northern coastal region via 213 nodes in 18 states supporting multi-play voice/data services. The total cost of the project, involving contracts with vendors including Huawei of China and France-based Alcatel-Lucent, is expected to reach USD400 million.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:57:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, confirmed today a new milestone for LTE with 268 LTE networks now commercially launched in 100 countries.

The number of countries where LTE service is commercially available has grown 56% since 2012.

Alan Hadden, President of the GSA, said: “Ghana, Peru, Zambia and most recently Cambodia are the latest nations to commercially launch 4G/LTE. The global appeal and acceptance of LTE technology in emerging markets as well as developed economies is clearly proven. The industry should celebrate this great success story.”

The full list of 268 commercially launched LTE networks is available on the GSA website for registered site users to download. Visit www.gsacom.com and follow the link to the “Interim Evolution to LTE report: 268 LTE networks launched in 100 countries”.

Full details of all LTE market developments including network deployments and service launches worldwide will be included in the next update of the authoritative Evolution to LTE report, which will be published by GSA very shortly. The Evolution to LTE report is the most widely read and referenced source of information about LTE for the industry and is a free download for registered site users.

 

Source: GSA.
LTE
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:44:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 05, 2014

South Africa's second-largest mobile operator, MTN, has launched an own-brand Android smartphone with dual SIM capabilities and a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU.
 
The new phone, which is branded as a Steppa, is sold unlocked for pre-pay customers through local supermarkets and MTN stores for R499, making it one of the first true smartphones available for less than $50.
 
The Steppa is a white label Qualcomm reference design, featuring a 3.5-inch screen, 512MB of RAM, an FM radio and a 1,300mAh battery which is specced to last for up to 627 minutes of talk time. It also features Google Play integration, HSDPA, Bluetooth 3.0 and A-GPS.
  
The sub-$50 price tag, however, is a major milestone for MTN. The Steppa undercuts the cheapest of Nokia's popular Symbian-based Asha phones by around $30 while offering similar access to services such as WhatsApp and Facebook. BlackBerry Messenger support for Gingerbread is due sometime in the next month.

Source: ZDNet.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:31:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bouygues Telecom and SFR have reached an agreement on sharing network infrastructure. The French mobile operators first announced in July 2013 talks on the matter and have now struck a deal. The shared infrastructure will target 57 percent of the population, those living outside the 32 biggest cities in France, providing them with better indoor and outdoor coverage and higher quality of service.

SFR and Bouygues will set up a joint venture company to run the shared infrastructure. The agreement covers the radio sites and equipment for 2G, 3G and 4G services. Each operator will continue run its own commercial and pricing strategy, as well as its own core network and frequencies. The aim is to complete the network integration by the end of 2017.
 
French telecom regulator Arcep said it welcomed the agreement as a way to improve services to customers. Along with the competition regulator, it will examine the SFR-Bouygues deal in the coming weeks.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:28:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, January 31, 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.

LTE
Friday, January 31, 2014 3:59:11 PM (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.

LTE
Friday, January 31, 2014 3:57:58 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:57:00 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:56:09 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:54:49 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:53:16 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:52:09 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:51:10 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:49:49 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:48:46 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:47:31 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:45:54 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:44:59 PM (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 Cnews.ru. 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.

CIS | LTE
Friday, January 31, 2014 3:41:37 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:39:37 PM (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, January 31, 2014 3:36:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 22, 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, January 22, 2014 10:52:01 AM (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, January 22, 2014 10:50:25 AM (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.

3G
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 10:48:57 AM (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, January 22, 2014 10:47:51 AM (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, January 22, 2014 10:46:50 AM (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, January 22, 2014 10:46:05 AM (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.

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

3G
Monday, January 06, 2014 11:22:02 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:21:02 AM (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.

LTE
Monday, January 06, 2014 11:19:32 AM (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.

SIM
Monday, January 06, 2014 11:18:23 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:17:15 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:15:36 AM (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.

LTE
Monday, January 06, 2014 11:14:45 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:13:49 AM (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.

3G
Monday, January 06, 2014 11:12:43 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:11:42 AM (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, January 06, 2014 11:10:31 AM (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, January 06, 2014 10:34:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |