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 Thursday, May 01, 2014
According to the latest data published by Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel, the country was home to a total of 273.58 million mobile phone subscriptions at 31 March 2014, up a net 860,210 connections on the previous month and compared to the 370,020 new connections added in the month of February. Mobile market leader Telefonica (Vivo) increased its slice of the pie in the month of March, from 28.62% to 28.68%, while second-placed TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) saw its market share rise from 27.00% to 27.02%. However, number three player – America Movil (AM)-owned Claro (Brasil) reported a drop in market share to 25.13% from 25.28% in February. Finally, fourth-placed Oi SA closed out the period with an 18.49% share, down from 18.47%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:27:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Gabon has announced details of its 3G mobile network expansion plans, following the official launch of its commercial W-CDMA/HSPA+ services in the Gabonese capital Libreville. At the launch event, Airtel Gabon officials including CEO Antoine Pamboro said that the cellco will gradually cover the whole country, following the first-phase commercial launch which currently covers only the northern part of Libreville, Agence Ecofin reported. The area covered by the W-CDMA/HSPA+ network runs from Downtown to Agondje Stadium, the CEO clarified, adding that the second phase will take place in the next quarter and will focus on covering southern Libreville, an area defined as extending ‘from downtown to PK12, including Owendo’, the executive elaborated. He continued that by the end of the third quarter of 2014 a third-phase rollout will introduce 3G services to Gabon’s second largest city, Port Gentil. Pamboro stated that a fourth-phase 3G deployment scheduled to be completed by the end of the year will see 3G coverage reach all provincial capitals.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:26:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT, including cellco Mobitel) has agreed with the country’s Board of Investment (BoI) a commitment of USD415.44 million to be spent within the next two years on expanding and upgrading broadband, telephony, information technology and converged network infrastructure. According to the partly state-owned telco’s press release, the BoI agreement signing on 23 April 2014 covers ‘the expansion of multi-faceted national ICT infrastructures’, including: internet data centres, voice telephony, enterprise and wholesale services, fixed broadband access including fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), IPTV (‘Peo TV’), fibre-optic transmission networks, 4G LTE mobile broadband, international connectivity and Wi-Fi wireless broadband.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:25:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), through its mobile divisions Smart Communications and Digitel (Sun Cellular), is on course to achieve 100% coverage of the country by the third quarter of this year, having already completed the rollout of a 650km submarine fibre cable linking Palawan province to the rest of its national backbone. The PHP861 million (USD19.3 million) Palawan link formed part of a wider fibre-optic rollout programme, which now spans more than 78,000km. Speaking to reporters in November 2013, PLDT/Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno said that the group’s 3G coverage would stand at ‘75% to 80% by first quarter’ of 2014. The 3G network provides more capacity, faster data rates and richer data and video applications than a second-generation network.

PLDT has allotted PHP32 billion for capital investments this year. The amount will be spent largely on expanding and improving the group’s network coverage including the ultra-fast 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Backbone
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:23:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Orange Group has announced the milestone of ten million customers of its Africa-Middle East mobile money service ‘Orange Money’, which is now available in 13 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt (under the name Mobicash), Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal and Uganda. In 2013, Orange says more than EUR2.2 billion (USD3.04 billion) in transactions were conducted through Orange Money. The French group added that in some countries, such as Cote d’Ivoire, more than 40% of all Orange mobile customers have an Orange Money account. Orange executive Stephane Richard called it ‘proof that we made the right choice when we decided to offer mobile payment services in 2008,’ and added: ‘While making a strong contribution to economic and social development, mobile financial services also represent a major growth engine in Africa and the Middle East as well as in Europe for Orange.’ TeleGeography notes that Orange is just one amongst the multinational mobile groups who are all expanding their mobile banking/payment/money transfer services to meet demand; regional rival group MTN reported this week that its Mobile Money service reached a total of 16.6 million registered users across Africa and the Middle East at the end of March 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:20:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Group, a leading emerging market mobile operator, reported a ‘satisfactory performance’ in the first quarter of 2014, with subscriber growth of 1.1% quarter-on-quarter pushing the group’s total to 210.065 million in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East by the start of April. Data revenues as a proportion of total revenue continue to bolster the carrier’s performance, it said, increasing 43.3% year-on-year and contributing 17.0% of total revenue, while the encouraging progress of its ‘Mobile Money’ service saw total registered users top 16.6 million at the end of the period under review. The operator’s MTN South Africa unit ‘continued to focus on regaining relevance in the pre-paid segment and maintaining its post-paid market share’, despite which, the subsidiary’s subscriber base dipped a net 824,768 to 24.875 million customers at 31 March, marginally below the 24.950 million recorded at end-March 2013. MTN said the fall is mainly due to the disconnection of 973,064 subscribers who had been showing activity but not generating revenue as per its 90-day ‘active user’ definition. Data subscribers increased to 14.5 million by 1Q14, largely due to competitive data packages and the launch of the cellco’s low-cost ‘Steppa’ smartphone. Blended ARPU decreased by 11.3% to ZAR100.47 (USD9.50) per month. Further, MTN South Africa says it remains committed to seeking a permanent resolution to the recent mobile termination rate (MTR) glide path and asymmetry regulations announced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which came into effect on 1 April for a period of six months.

Meanwhile, the group’s MTN Nigeria unit delivered a satisfactory performance during the three months under review, and increased its subscriber base despite the one-month ban on the sale of SIMs imposed by the regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), for three of the four GSM operators active in the market. MTN Nigeria had a total of 57.2224 million subscribers at 31 March, up 0.8% from 56.766 million three months earlier and 51.295 million at the end of 1Q13. In its filing, MTN Group said that: ‘Encouragingly we have seen strong subscriber growth post the lifting of the ban’. MTN’s Nigerian unit has also worked hard to improve its network quality and capacity, with 483 2G and 597 3G sites added during the January-March quarter. Partly as a result, MTN Nigeria reported strong growth in 3G enabled devices on the network, which increased to 7.1 million in the quarter.

The group’s ‘Large opco cluster’, which includes operations in Iran, Ghana, Syria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Uganda and Sudan, ended March with a total of 95.540 million users, up 2.2% q-o-q and up from 89.318 million subscribers at 31 March 2013. Finally, the ‘Small opco cluster’ (comprising units in Yemen, Afghanistan, Benin, Congo [Republic], Zambia, Guinea (Conakry), Rwanda, Cyprus, Liberia, Botswana, Guinea-Bissau, Swaziland and South Sudan) registered 32.426 million connections, up from 31.882 million at the start of the year and 29.825 million at end-March 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:19:31 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mauritian telecoms regulators the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA), are reportedly working on the development of a quality of service (QoS) guide for internet service providers (ISPs) in the country, Agence Ecofin reports. According to the article, the QoS guidance will impose a minimum speed threshold for broadband access, with ISPs likely to be required to indicate all relevant service specifications in a customer’s contract.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:18:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Greenland’s incumbent wireless operator TELE Greenland has announced that it will significantly lower its mobile tariffs from 1 May. According to a company press release, the country’s telecoms watchdog, the Telecom Agency (Telestyrelsen), has approved a number of new tariffs, with the price for mobile data decreasing by DKK0.75 (USD0.14) per 1MB, to DKK1. Further, the cellco will halve the prices for sending SMS/MMS to DKK0.60, while voice calls will be charged at DKK1.23 per minute, regardless of the call time. TELE Greenland will also introduce two new mobile packages on 1 May: ‘Mobile Akulleq’, priced at DKK275 per month, includes 120 minutes of voice calls, 500 SMS/MMS and 500MB of data, while ‘Mobile Angisooq’, which costs DKK350 per month, comprises of 180 minutes of voice calls, 1,000 text or multimedia messages and 1GB of data. Meanwhile, the ‘Mobile Data 300’ plan will be discontinued, and current subscribers will be automatically migrated to Mobile Angisooq from 1 May.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:17:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

National fixed and mobile operator Office des Postes et Telecoms de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC) is to deploy 4G mobile services in New Caledonia, as part of its strategy plan ‘OPT2017’, according to online journal Megazap. The first 4G antennas are expected to be put in place in November/December this year, with the OPT-NC board saying that commercial offers could be in place by February 2015 under the branding ‘THD Mobile’. To support the 4G deployment, the operator intends to capitalise on its extensive 2G/3G+ network, which currently comprises 320 cell sites. In the first phase, OPT-NC intends to invest XPF1 billion (USD11.6 million) on the rollout of 150 4G sites. By 2017, the carrier says it will have extended the new network to more than 50% of the total sites on its network, which at that date will exceed 380 (2G/3G) sites. More than 85% of the population will be covered by 4G by the end of 2017, including all towns and main residential areas.

OPT-NC has seen a sharp rise in internet traffic in the past year or so, with volumes rising by 40% between January 2013 and March 2014. Further, OPT-NC reported a total of 255,522 mobile subscriptions as at the start of this year, a cellular penetration rate of 104%, noting that an extensive wireless coverage rollout in 2008 has significantly reduced the number of uncovered areas. At the same date there were a total of 44,000 mobile broadband internet users, of which more than 21,000 were signed up to its 3G ‘Mobile Internet’ offer.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:16:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Latvian mobile operator Latvijas Mobilais Telefons (LMT) has expanded the coverage of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to 50% of the country’s population, according to Telecompaper which did not cite its sources. It is understood that LMT’s 4G network currently comprises 393 LTE base transceiver stations (BTS) across Latvia. The cellco had a total of 1.079 million cellular subscribers as at 31 March 2014, while quarterly revenue reached EUR41 million (USD56.7 million) and EBITDA stood at EUR12 million, with a ‘stable’ EBITDA margin of 30%.

Source: TeleGeograhy.

LTE
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:15:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Pakistan has completed the long-awaited auction of third- and fourth-generation (3G and 4G) concessions, awarding 3G licences to Mobilink, Telenor Pakistan, China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak/Zong) and Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Ltd (PTML/Ufone), whilst Zong was the only winner of 4G spectrum rights. ProPakistani writes that Zong and Mobilink each won 10MHz in the 2100MHz band whilst Ufone and Telenor were awarded 5MHz apiece in the same range. Zong also walked away with a further 10MHz in the 1800MHz band for 4G services. Under the terms of the auction, providers were only eligible to bid for a 4G authorisation if they had won 10MHz of 3G frequencies, and whilst Ufone had also expressed an interest in bidding for 4G rights, its failure to secure a 10MHz 3G lot made it ineligible to bid for an 1800MHz licence. Ufone will have a second opportunity to acquire the frequencies, however, with sector watchdog Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) revealing that the unsold 4G licence would be sold off at a later date. The sale raised a total of USD1.112 billion for state coffers with the two 5MHz lots and the 4G lot each selling for their reserve prices of USD147.5 million and USD210 million respectively, whilst the 10MHz blocks sold for USD306.92 million and USD300.9 million, the Chinese provider paying the larger sum.

Commercial 3G services are expected to be made available within the next month, the cellcos having already deployed 3G networks in anticipation of the auction date. Capitalising on its 4G win, Zong has launched a new marketing campaign titling itself as Pakistan’s first and only 4G network, accompanying the programme with a change of logo. Whilst currently the smallest of the bidding cellcos in terms of subscribers, Zong’s 4G coup is expected to give the provider the edge needed to close the gap with its larger rivals. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zong represented 18.0% of Pakistan’s wireless market at the end of 2013, compared to 28.2% held by Mobilink and 25.0% and 18.7% claimed by Telenor and Ufone respectively. Backed by China Mobile, the world’s largest cellco by subscribers, Zong is well-positioned to exploit its 4G advantage, benefiting from substantial economies of scale, especially given its parent company’s ongoing Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) network rollout in China, and its imminent re-entry into the Chinese fixed broadband market. Indeed, CommUpdate noted earlier this month that Zong had also purchased licences to enter the fixed market in all 14 of Pakistan’s regions.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | LTE
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:14:06 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Oscar Coca, the general manager of Bolivia’s state-owned telco Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel), has announced that just seven days after launching commercial LTE-based services at the start of this month, some 2,000 residential subscribers had signed up. With coverage initially restricted to the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, the network footprint is expected to be expanded gradually to other departmental capital cities and larger cities in the coming months.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:13:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South African telco MTN has announced plans to commercially launch a 100Mbps fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service in its domestic market on 1 June 2014, TechCentral reports. According to the article, MTN demonstrated its FTTH technology at the Monaghan Farm estate, located 30km north of Johannesburg, on 12 April 2014, and is currently rolling out fibre-optic networks, which utilise Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology, to business parks and residential estates in all major cities. Residents of Monaghan Farm will gain access to the fibre-optic network in mid-May, with around 60% of them already signing up for the service. Speeds on offer will reportedly vary between 10Mbps and 100Mbps, although the company has not provided any pricing details, as costs are to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the amount of infrastructure required for each estate.

Meanwhile, rival Vodacom has also revealed that it is actively deploying fibre cabling in business parks and is preparing to start fibre-optic network rollouts in selected gated communities. ‘We’re currently building the fibre backbone to make this possible’, a company representative told TechCentral, although he added that it was too early to give any ‘concrete details’ at this stage.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:12:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The fledgling market for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the Czech Republic continues to grow apace in 2014, following the setting up of no fewer than 50 MVNOs and other secondary brand offerings in the latter stages of last year, according to a report from the Czech News Agency (CTK). Some of the more notable newcomers to the Czech mobile market – which was only opened up to virtual players in late-2012 – include BLESKmobil, Gorila Mobil, Tesco Mobile, Mobil od CEZ, Lama Mobile, Euro Operator and recent addition, betting firm Sazka.

BLESKmobil was the first to hit the ground running, thanks to a hosting deal with mobile network operator (MNO) Telefonica O2 CR. According to CTK, the MVNO segment accounted for some 700,000 users at 31 December 2013, equivalent to 5% of the total mobile market. Along with BLESKmobil, Telefonica O2 CR also has network hosting agreements in place with the likes of Tesco Mobile, Mobil od CEZ and another newcomer, Bonerix. Meanwhile, Vodafone CR also supports MVNOs and works with mobile virtual network enablers (MVNEs) such as Quadruple, and third player T-Mobile CR utilises an agreement with GTS Czech to allow it to set up wholesale arrangements with smaller companies. Furthermore, keen not to be left behind the three incumbents have established their own ‘no-frills’ secondary brandings to exploit niche market segments. T-Mobile has a successful ‘Kaktus’ brand with 35,000 subscribers, Vodafone has relaunched ‘Oskarta’, and all three MNOs are gearing up their 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) rollouts.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:10:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has opened bidding for 3G concessions and has completed the first four rounds of bidding, ProPakistani writes. Bids have been entered for four blocks of spectrum, two of 2×5MHz and two of 2×10MHz, all in the 2100MHz range. After three rounds of bidding, the two smaller blocks (B and C) have not moved above the reserve price of USD147.5 million, whilst of the two larger blocks, block A had edged up to USD306.92 million from the base price of USD295 million, whilst block D had increased to USD300.9 million. Incumbent cellcos Mobilink, Telenor Pakistan, China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak/Zong) and Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile Ltd (PTML/Ufone) are competing for the spectrum rights, whilst Warid has elected not to participate in the auction. Bidding is due to continue until winners are determined, potentially extending the auction to a second or third day: ProPakistani cites unnamed cellco officials as saying that bidding is expected to carry on to a second day. Bidding for 4G concessions, meanwhile, will take place upon the completion of the 3G sale.

Marring the auction somewhat was an eleventh-hour bid to close down the tender, with a challenge filed with the Supreme Court shortly before the sale was due to begin. The petition, submitted by the Watan political party, claimed that the USD1.3 billion revenue targeted by the auction was far less than anticipated by the government and that the PTA were under-valuing the spectrum. Challenging the legality of the sale, the petition also alleged that the participating cellcos were defaulters on bank liabilities and that the auction had not followed the rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). The apex court dismissed the allegations, however, allowing the tender to go ahead as planned.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | LTE
Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:09:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chilean telco Entel has revealed that it intends to invest USD200 million annually in its Peruvian operations over the next three years, TeleSemana writes. The funds will be used to upgrade and expand the mobile infrastructure of its local wireless unit Nextel, including the deployment of a 4G network in the 1700MHz/2100MHz band. The investment is also expected to fund the rollout of a fibre-optic backbone network to replace existing microwave backhaul. As previously noted by CommUpdate, Entel has selected Huawei to carry out the development work on Nextel’s networks

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:08:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-owned Angola Telecom will launch a new standalone fixed broadband service under the ‘Navegue So’ (‘only browse’) banner next month (May 2014) in the central Huambo province, available for individual, business or public sector users, Angolan news agency Angop reports. Ahead of the launch of Navegue So packages, Angola Telecom is highlighting the service’s Wi-Fi capabilities and the fact that its data-only broadband connections can be used for VoIP telephony. The upcoming standalone internet service augments the telco’s existing ‘Fale & Navegue’ (‘talk and browse’) packages, which offer unlimited fixed line calls to Angola Telecom numbers and ‘unlimited’ monthly volume of ADSL-based internet usage, payable on a pre- or post-paid basis. The Fale & Navegue ADSL service, which was launched officially nearly a year ago in April 2013, requires a user to have a connection to Angola Telecom’s fixed telephony network, and according to the Angola Telecom website is currently available in four regions: Luanda (14 districts), Benguela (seven municipalities/districts), Lobito (five areas) and Kwanza Sul (two areas). Download speeds advertised range from 512kbps to 4Mbps.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:07:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A recent study by the US-based Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) has concluded that Senegal’s telecoms industry generates 10.6% of the African nation’s GDP, Agence Ecofin reports. According to the study, the influence of the communications sector also extends more widely, given its positive influence on the development of other industries, and is estimated to represent 23% of Senegal’s overall economic growth. Dr Raul Katz, director of research at the agency, notes too that the proposed introduction of a fourth mobile operator would be unproductive in a heavily penetrated market dominated by three players – Orange, Tigo and Expresso.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:06:07 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

European Union report released Tuesday has found that the continent’s 400 million Internet users “face a geographic lottery regarding the price, speed, and range of choice of broadband.Furthermore, the options Europeans have are presented in confusing ways, with line rental, router fees, and loads of bundle packages limiting their ability to choose wisely.  Switching providers is just as complicated, the report shows.

The combination of the four studies, shows  66% of people do not know what Internet speed they have purchased, and that, on average, consumers only get 75% of the broadband speed they sign up for.  While there’s a slight drop in speed due to interference, distance from the exchange, and how many devices you’re using at home, getting three quarters of what you pay for seems unfair.

According to the @SamKnows study, actual download speed is 75.6% of the advertised speed—although this varies a lot between copper and fiber.

“There is no single market for internet and that has to change,” EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda @NeelieKroesEU said. “There is no good reason why one person should pay over 4 times more than another in Europe for the same broadband.”

Looking at prices across the EU, the study shows price differences can range up to 400%. While broadband prices are much higher in the U.S., they don’t vary so much between states .

The measurements for the study were taken by 9,467 small white boxes which plug into internet connections, supplied by Sam Knows, who carried out the survey spread across 30 countries. There are 28 countries in the EU but the study included Norway and Iceland.

“These findings mirror our own concerns about the broadband market,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? —the U.K. consumer lobby, which is also campaigning on these issues. “We found millions enduring poor customer service and paying for speeds they don’t get.”

Source: WSJ.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:04:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

New data from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Research Service reveal that demand for international bandwidth grew 39 percent to 138 Tbps in 2013, a 4.5-fold increase from the 30 Tbps of bandwidth used globally in 2009.

Internet backbones remain the primary users of international bandwidth, accounting for 75 percent of demand in 2013. However, the drivers of international bandwidth demand are changing. As private network operators, including large content providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, expand their internal networks, their bandwidth requirements increasingly exceed those of the largest carriers.

International Internet Backbone and Private Network Capacity Growth

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:01:45 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A joint initiative between the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and telecoms operators Omantel and Nawras will see 250 remote villages across Oman provided with mobile telephony services within two years. Times of Oman reports that around 200 base stations will be installed in unserved villages under the programme, including 120 2G and 80 3G cell sites.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:53:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile subscribers in Papua New Guinea could soon be required to register their SIM cards due to what has been described as abuse of telecommunication services, according to Islands Business. Charles Punaha, chief executive of the local telecoms regulator the National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) was cited as saying: ‘When we opened up the market in 2007, there was no control measure in place. You can just walk down the road and buy a SIM card without (producing) any identification … Unfortunately as we all know, that has resulted in us not having some records of what particular numbers are allocated to individuals or to companies. And related to that, we have seen abuse – people abusing the services when they are sending defamatory messages to other people.’

It is understood that proposed regulations which would require the registration of new SIM cards have been sent to the State Solicitor for approval, with the regulator hoping to have a certificate of necessity allowing it to submit the plans to the cabinet by the end of this month. Commenting on the plans, Mr Punaha added: ‘We are going to make it mandatory that if you want to buy a SIM card, you must have some form of identification … We are in discussions with one of the operators who want to take it further and do a full biometrics. So when you go to buy a SIM card, you’ll have your photograph and fingerprint taken as well.’ Further, the executive noted that three months after the regulation is approved the NICTA will look to impose a requirement that all places where SIM cards are sold would be required to have the machines to register customer ID details and bio data. Meanwhile, it has also been said that customers will be required to re-register their details after 18 months, and if they fail to do so their SIM cards could be cancelled.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:52:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

British mobile network operator O2 UK has announced that its 4G network now covers one third of the country’s population indoors and 41% of the population outdoors, with 191 towns and cities now within the infrastructure footprint. Confirming that more than one million customers have signed up for its 4G services since they were launched in August 2013, O2 UK highlighted the fact that its customers had used more data in the 4G network’s first six months than the entire O2 network carried between 2000 and 2008.

Alongside announcing the current coverage levels, O2 UK has also outlined its future plans, revealing an ambitious network modernisation programme which it called ‘one of the largest infrastructure improvement projects taking place in the UK today’. As per the operator’s plans, around 25% of O2’s 2G and 3G masts will be upgraded by the end of 2014 in order to deliver an increase in call quality and ‘all-round network experience’, with both call and data connectivity to be improved at peak times and in high-density areas. With the work to be carried out on an area-by-area basis, the mobile operator has also committed to investing an additional GBP16 million (USD26.8 million) to bring data coverage to unserved locations, with over 200 areas across the UK to get 3G data coverage from O2 by the end of 2014.

Derek McManus, O2 UK’s chief operating officer, noted: ‘Building a great network isn’t just about bringing faster speeds to people that already have coverage. It’s vital that we also bring seamless coverage to people that have never had it before. Investment in all layers of our network is key to ensuring customers receive a great experience, whether that’s in streaming live goals in the pub or receiving critical business information … We continue to invest the equivalent of GBP1.5 million in our network every single day to offer seamless connectivity for our customers across 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi and remain focused on delivering an experience that exceeds our customers’ expectations.’

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:51:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Indian-backed cellco Airtel Chad has received the nation’s first 3G/4G licence, Biztech Africa reports. The concession obliges Airtel to activate 3G services in the capital, N’Djamena, within six months although the cellco expects to achieve that goal in just four months. Airtel expects to extend 3G services to most major cities within a year. Commenting on the development, the CEO of Airtel Africa Christian de Faria noted that mobile services are more readily available to most Africans than many other basic services – such as electricity, sanitation and financial services – and ‘as a result wireless communications services can play a unique role in addressing social, economic and environmental issues.’ No details regarding the price of the licence, or the frequencies included in the concession were available.

Chad’s Minister of Posts and New Information Technologies, Daoussa Deby Itno, added: ‘Chadians in N’Djamena and elsewhere need good quality data services. Students expect broadband internet in universities, traders expect high speed internet for their operations and physicians, amongst others, expect to be connected to the various operations that they have with the outside world. Everyone needs reliable connectivity.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Chad’s broadband and wireless markets are amongst the least developed in the region and the development of these segments has been identified by the government and international aid organisations as a key factor in alleviating a number of social and economic problems afflicting the country. Internet access in Chad has long been hindered by the nation’s landlocked status, and the country is one of only a handful still dependent primarily on satellite links for international connectivity. According to the latest figures from sector watchdog the Office Tchadien de Regulation des Telecommunications (OTRT), at the end of 2012 there were some 1.987 million internet users, 99% of which connected via the 2.5G GPRS/EDGE networks of Airtel and its cellular rival Tigo Chad.

Source: TeleGeograhy.

3G
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:50:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Smart Telecom, which is owned by Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), the Kenyan-based infrastructure and industrial development arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has announced the launch of a mobile network operating subsidiary in Tanzania. The launch coincides with the introduction of a sister company, also called Smart Telecom, in neighbouring Uganda, which was revealed last month. AKFED is also launching the new Smart Telecom brand in Burundi, and has earmarked investment of USD300 million across the three East African markets, offering mobile voice and internet services, with the stated aim to bring ‘improved service, value and coverage’ to all three countries. TeleGeography notes that AKFED’s telecoms investment partner, the Cypriot-based, Russian-owned Timeturns Holdings, is the backer of existing Tanzanian CDMA operator Benson Informatics (BOL), holding a full national mobile licence, while the Ugandan branch of Smart Telecom acquired its licences via start-up Sure Telecom (Uganda), which was previously solely owned by Timeturns. Similarly, the launch of Smart Telecom (Burundi) has been achieved via the AKFED/Timeturns partnership, with a relaunch of Timeturn’s existing mobile subsidiary Lacell (Smart Mobile).

Smart Tanzania has marketed its introductory services with a banner saying ‘pay TZS79 (USD0.0484) for every on-net call’. Its standard call rates are advertised on its website as ‘on-net TZS2.8 per second / off-net TZS4.1 per second’, while it offers choices of daily, weekly and monthly service bundles including voice, SMS and data – including a month’s unlimited mobile internet usage for TZS20,000 (USD12.24). The website also promises mobile money services will be made available on the Smart Tanzania network.

The Tanzanian wireless market is already home to five full fledged cellular mobile operators: Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo, Zantel and Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd (TTCL), while TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Smile Communications operates 4G TD-LTE wireless broadband services in the country, alongside CDMA fixed-wireless voice/data network operators BOL (see above) and Sasatel, and there are four other licensees – MyCell, EGOTEL, 4G Mobile and Telesis – holding technology-neutral network operating concessions via which they intend to provide wireless data-focused services (based on CDMA, W-CDMA, mobile WiMAX and LTE, respectively). Another mobile licensee, Rural Netco, has deployed UMTS-900 infrastructure for wholesale-only services, GlobalComms adds.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:49:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

US Cellular, the fifth-largest mobile network operator in the United States, is reportedly expanding its LTE coverage, and plans to add more than 1,200 new sites this year – in partnership with its long-term affiliate, 700MHz spectrum holder King Street Wireless. According to RCR Wireless, Chicago-based US Cellular is bringing its LTE coverage to Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Carolina and increasing its existing footprint in Iowa, Illinois, Maine, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:47:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Science, technology, energy and mining minister Philip Paulwell has revealed that the government intends to introduce a new broadband provider to the market to increase competition and drive down prices. The Jamaica Observer quotes the minister as saying that: ‘The price for broadband is too high. We want to see more competition…to get those prices down… and [as such], I am going to bring in another [operator].’ Further details were not forthcoming, however, and it remains unclear whether the intended newcomer will operate its own infrastructure. Paulwell also confirmed that he had received assurances from Digicel and LIME that the duo were planning to upgrade their broadband services, claiming that they had committed to rolling out broadband services ‘in a much more vigorous way.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:43:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Taiwanese multi-service operator Chunghwa Telecom is reportedly planning to launch a 300Mbps/100Mbps fibre-optic broadband service next month, according to Digitimes. With the service expected to be offered to consumers for less than TWD2,000 (USD66) per month, Chunghwa will also make changes to the upload speeds offered by its existing fibre broadband packages. To that end, the telco will boost the uplink rate on its current 100Mbps/20Mbps package to 40Mbps, while its 60Mbps/15Mbps plan will see the rate increased to 20Mbps; neither package will see an increase in price.

With Chunghwa’s fixed line broadband subscriber base said to currently stand at 3.76 million, the bulk of these (2.71 million) are connected via fibre, while the remaining 1.05 million are ADSL-based accesses. Looking ahead, the operator has set out its stall to increase the number of customers taking its 100Mbps downlink package, and it aims to increase this from the 480,000 such subscribers it has now, to one million by the end of 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:42:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Uruguay’s national telecoms operator Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel) is aiming to increase the number of households connected to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to 500,000 by the end of this year, the company’s president Carolina Cosse is quoted by El Pais as saying. At present, around 288,000 customers are connected to Antel’s fibre-optic infrastructure, which passes about 740,000 homes in the country. Last year the state-owned 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. Cosse also revealed that Antel’s 4G LTE network, which was launched in December 2011, covers 80% of the capital Montevideo and 99% of Punta del Este.

Source: Uruguay.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:41:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bangladesh’s largest cellco by subscribers GrameenPhone has announced that its 3G W-CDMA/HSPA+ network coverage now covers all 64 of the country’s district headquarter cities, following its commercial launch of the 2100MHz service on 8 October 2013. In a press release, the Telenor subsidiary stated: ‘GrameenPhone is now the largest national broadband service provider. Some 40% of our customers are currently under 3G coverage and approximately 85% of 3G enabled devices can access the 3G network.’ GrameenPhone won the largest-bandwidth (2×10MHz) 3G licence in Bangladesh’s September 2013 auction and covered all seven of the country’s main divisional capital towns plus other densely populated cities by the end of the year, before reaching the 64-city national footprint in less than six months from launch, which it called ‘the fastest 3G rollout in the history of Telenor Group, and a critical part of our ambition to provide internet for all.’

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:39:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spanish cellco Movistar has outlined plans under which it will speed up the deployment of its 4G infrastructure, with a view to achieving coverage of 60% of the population by the end of this year. The mobile operator already provides LTE-based services to 50% of the nation, and its network footprint encompasses a total of 197 municipalities, including 32 provincial capitals; of the capitals, however, ten are covered as a result of a network sharing agreement it struck with rival Yoigo to use the latter’s infrastructure. Looking ahead, having said that it aims to have constructed a total of 4,200 4G-enabled base stations by the end of this year, Movistar expects to cover a total of 443 municipalities by that date, with all cities of more than 70,000 inhabitants able to connect to its LTE network.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:38:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Zambia’s minister of communications and transport, Yamfwa Mukanga, has reconfirmed that the state plans to offer a fourth mobile operator licence following the implementation of the digital migration project, which is expected to conclude next year, AllAfrica reports. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the award of a new mobile concession was put on hold in August 2013, despite reports of interest from five companies in January that year, with South Africa-based Vodacom named as one of the interested parties. In the latest statement on the matter, Mr Mukanga was cited as saying that the eventual licensing of a new operator is seen as a means of boosting competition, noting: ‘The government is concerned with the high cost of communication … We are therefore very hopeful that the fourth mobile operator will come with many advantages including reduced cost of making phone calls and other services.’ While the licence itself is not expected to be awarded until next year – the country’s digital TV migration project is expected to be completed by 2015, in line with a Southern African Development Community (SADC) deadline – it is understood that the government will begin receiving and evaluating bids this year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:37:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) has announced the launch of mobile number portability (MNP) for subscribers of the country’s three cellular operators. Customers can now retain their own phone number when transferring between operators, with the number porting process to take no more than three days. On 15 June 2013 the government passed an amendment to the Republic’s Law on Telecommunications, allowing for the introduction of MNP from that date. The three incumbent operators – VivaCell MTS, Beeline and Orange Armenia – then cooperated on the creation of a joint company and a common database to handle the MNP system.

Separately, the PSRC has revealed that Armenia now has 100% geographic coverage for mobile services. The last 18 areas without a cellular signal were divided among the trio of incumbents and covered earlier this year, the regulator says. According to a report from local news portal Arka which cites PSRC commissioner Samvel Arabjanyan, 68.5% of the territory receives a service from all three networks and a further 23.0% has coverage by two networks, while the remaining 8.5% (mainly villages) is serviced by one operator only.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:36:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Microsoft is considering a plan to utilise unused ‘white space’ spectrum to provide improved broadband internet access in Brazil. Hernan Rincon, the president of Microsoft Latin America told delegates at a conference in Sao Paulo that the firm wants to target the SME market, working with the government to improve broadband coverage using wireless technology. The plan would see Microsoft utilising packets of spectrum between existing TV transmission channels, which have previously been kept free to avoid interference between broadcasts. With the plans still in the early stages, however, more concrete details have not been revealed. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, less than a third of Brazil’s households currently subscribe to fixed broadband services, with 19.37 million subscribers at the end of 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:35:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecom Egypt (TE) expects to sign up around five million mobile subscribers in its first year of offering wireless services, Daily News Egypt reports, citing Mohamed Kamel, the telco’s general manager for investor relations and international reporting.

In addition, the report notes that a conference at which the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) will formally announce plans to award a unified telecoms licence to the fixed line incumbent – as well as to mobile operators Vodafone, Etisalat and MobiNil – will take place on 2 April. The conference had been expected to take place last week, but was postponed in line with a delay to the National Telecoms Regulatory Authority’s (NTRA’s) board of directors meeting which was made due to ‘urgent circumstances’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:34:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, March 27, 2014

According to data published by the Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (Agcom), the number of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) subscribers in Italy reached 5.24 million at the end of 2013, up from 4.50 million a year earlier. The sector continues to be dominated by Poste Mobile, which claimed a 54.2% share of the spoils at year-end, albeit down from 55.2% on an annualised basis. According to Agcom statistics, this gives Poste Mobile a 2.8% share of the overall mobile market.

As at 31 December 2013, the top five MVNOs in terms of user numbers were: Poste Mobile (2.84 million); broadband operator FastWeb (15.6% or 817,440); major retail chain Co-Op Italia (9.3% or 487,320); Erg Petroli (6.8% or 356,320); and Daily Telecom (4.8% or 251,520).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 3:03:04 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China's smartphone market is forecast to reach 422 million units this year, with 278 million units offered by Chinese vendors, according to Digitimes Research. Samsung and Apple are expected to bring their sales to nearly 144 million units, up 4 percent year-on-year. Digitimes Research expects that fewer Chinese brands will remain to compete in the local market as domestic vendors without substantial product differentiation could be eliminated in the short term. Global shipments by Chinese smartphone markers is expected to reach 412 million in 2014, up 30.7 percent from 2013. 

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 3:02:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) has increased the speed of its ‘Home Broadband’ plans across the Sultanate. Customers with a 2Mbps connection will now see their speeds reaching 4Mbps, while 3Mbps-5Mbps plans have been upgraded to 6Mbps and 40Mbps to 60Mbps at no additional cost, while the firm has also launched a new 35Mbps tariff for OMR55 (USD142) per month. ‘Our strategy at Omantel has always been focused on providing our customers with the best overall broadband experience,’ commented Haitham Abdullah Al Kharousi, vice president of Omantel’s Consumer Business Unit, adding: ‘As we have invested massively in expanding our fixed network and bringing its reach closer to more customers throughout the Sultanate, we are now able to pass the benefits to our customers by enhancing speeds. With this change, more than 90% of our customers have benefitted from doubling download speeds. In addition, upload speeds have been upgraded to 1Mbps.’

In other news, the Omani government will begin the second phase of its sale of shares in Omantel on 31 March, following the conclusion of a private placement of 71.25 million shares open to Omani individual and institutional investors based on a book-building approach earlier this month. The second phase involves an initial public offering (IPO) for Omani citizens at a fixed price of OMR1.350 per share. The public offer will close on 13 April 2014. Overall, the divestment will see the state’s ownership in Omantel reduced from 70% to 51%; 30% of the telco is already publicly owned.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 3:00:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecom Namibia has announced the launch of revised, ‘affordable’ data-only fixed broadband packages for residential, small office/home office (SOHO) and small enterprise customers, under a promotion running for a month ending 20 June 2014. New ‘Speedlink Lite’ packages are grouped as ‘Speedlink Data’ (home and business) and ‘Speedlink Data Professional’ with static IP address. Speedlink Data offers speeds of minimum 512kbps and maximum 10Mbps, while Speedlink Data Professional offers 1Mbps up to 10Mbps. The Speedlink Lite packages have eight data-only offerings, all with unlimited usage, at prices starting from NAD245 (USD22.50) a month for a 512kbps package up to NAD4,048 for a 10Mbps package on a 36-month contract. An installation fee of NAD222 is payable in urban locations and NAD333 for rural customers, while the packages do not include a modem – users may purchase their own modem separately for a one-off payment or via instalments, reports Biztechafrica. Telecom Namibia offers a range of Wi-Fi enabled modems allowing customers to connect to the internet via smartphones, tablets and laptops. Isak Ouseb, senior manager for product management, said that the new data-only plans are based on customer demand for more data and faster speeds, adding that Namibian consumers and businesses are increasingly accessing the internet on smartphones or tablets while staying in touch with family, friends or colleagues through e-mails, instant messaging or social networking sites. ‘Our new Speedlink Lite packages will target these specific requirements,’ Ouseb added.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:59:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Jordan’s government has committed USD209 million to complete the National Broadband Network project within the next two years. Tenders for the supply and construction of the network are expected to be completed in May, ICT Minister Azzam Sleit said, adding: ‘All projects under the tenders that the government floated will be completed in two years after which the scheme will be ready. This will greatly boost e-services, e-health and e-education in the Kingdom.’ The project, which aims to connect all public schools and universities, government agencies and hospitals to a nationwide fibre-optic network was launched in 2003 but has stalled several times due to lack of funds.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:58:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Smart Telecom, backed by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has launched commercial services in Uganda, becoming the nation’s seventh wireless provider. The newcomer aims to differentiate itself from its entrenched rivals by offering cheaper calls, providing better customer services and by supporting local communities. AKFED chose the ‘Smart’ brand through its ‘Give us a name’ campaign, which saw citizens across eastern Africa offer suggestions and vote on a moniker for the cellco. Smart now claims to be the cheapest provider in the market, charging customers on a per-call basis rather than per-minute or per-second billing. Commenting on the decision, Smart Telecom East Africa’s CEO Abdellatif Bouziani explained: ‘Like we asked East Africans to give us a name, we also asked them what they wanted from us, and they said they wanted to make calls without being under pressure of time.’ In a bid to tie-up its image, Smart has linked its numbering code ‘074’ to its prices, charging customers UGX74 (USD0.029) for each call. Although the cellco’s network is currently limited to Kampala, Smart plans to expand coverage into rural areas. Smart also plans to use a base in Uganda to launch operations in Tanzania and Burundi.

AKFED, which also holds a majority stake in Roshan, Afghanistan’s largest cellco by subscribers, acquired its licences through the acquisition of Sure Telecom. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Cypriot-backed Sure Telecom received its concessions in July 2007 and planned to offset expectations of low profitability in the crowded mobile segment by investing in fixed line networks. More than a year behind schedule, Sure launched a trial GSM network in December 2012, but failed to make an impression on the market. Smart Telecom will share the market with MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda, which represent a combined total of 77.3% of the sector, whilst Uganda Telecommunications Ltd (UTL),Orange Uganda, Smile Communications, i-Tel and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) K2 make up the remainder. Despite the number of operators, however, there is plenty of room for growth with population penetration of only 56% at the end of 2013 and high levels of multiple SIM ownership.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:57:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Telecom Cook Islands has launched 3G mobile data services. Initially the service is only available on Rarotonga, TeleGeography writes. The launch is supported by increased international bandwidth through satellite operator O3b Networks, which was successfully trialled in December last year. Telecom Cook Islands offers a range of "Anytime" postpaid plans starting at NZD 30 with data inclusions ranging from 100 MB to 1 GB. Prepaid data packs start at NZD 10 for 100 MB and range to NZD 50 for 1 GB.

Source: Telecom Paper.

3G | Tariffs
Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:56:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Danish cellco Hi3G Access is claiming to be ‘the first operator in Denmark’ to scrap roaming charges for several destinations within and outside the European Union (EU). According to a press release, under the initiative ‘3LikeHome’, from 17 March Hi3G’s subscribers travelling to Sweden, England, Ireland , Austria, Italy and Hong Kong will be able to make voice calls, use the web and send text messages at the same price as in Denmark, on any network in those countries. 3LikeHome will be included in every retail subscription that provides unlimited voice calls as well as a number of business subscriptions with inclusive calls.

Morten Christiansen, CEO of Hi3G Access Denmark, said: ‘Our customers are among the most advanced mobile users in Denmark. And according to figures from [Erhvervsstyrelsen] our customers use more than three times as much data as the average American. It is therefore natural for us to take the lead for more mobility with fewer limits.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:55:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Namibia officially launched the Windhoek Internet Exchange Point (WIXP) on 7 March 2014, reports InternetSociety.org. The domestic IXP eliminates dependence on international connectivity for local internet services and internet-based communications, and is expected to serve as a catalyst for innovation and development of internet services and applications in Namibia, by lowering the cost of developing local hosting and application development. Stanley Simataa, Namibia’s deputy minister of ICT, noted that: ‘The Namibian public will hopefully enjoy internet services that are more secure, affordable and faster.’ Dawit Bekele, director of the African Regional Bureau of the Internet Society, said: ‘IXPs bring additional benefits to the local internet environment as they are essential to facilitate a robust domestic ICT sector. They help make online services equally accessible to all local users.’

WIXP will be managed by the IXP Association of Namibia, a non-profit organisation established for the purpose, with five internet service providers (ISPs) connected to the IXP at launch. Remaining ISPs in the country are expected to connect in the coming weeks. WIXP was established with the support of the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS), a project of the African Union implemented by the Internet Society, in collaboration locally with the ICT Ministry of Namibia.

The Internet Society/AXIS project aims to have 80% of African users’ internet traffic exchanged within Africa by 2020.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:54:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of pre-paid mobile telephony customers of state-owned telecoms monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) has exceeded the two million mark, Cubasi reports. ETECSA’s central director of mobile services, Hilda Arias, is also cited as saying at a press conference that around 1,900 customers have used the island’s ‘Nauta.cu’ e-mail service in the seven days since it was launched over the mobile telephony network on 3 March 2014. The service costs CUC1 (USD1) per MB.

TeleGeography notes that the government has recently made a number of moves to increase the availability of telecoms services to Cubans; in early 2013 the calling-party-pays (CPP) system was introduced for mobile phone users, while in November the state enabled individuals to market ETECSA’s products and services from their own home, and since 21 January 2014 family and friends abroad have been able to pay for fixed telephony bills via the internet. Meanwhile, in a step towards broadening availability of the internet, in June last year the government began offering access to the World Wide Web at 118 outlets around the island. Until then, the internet was only available at select state institutions and to tourists at around 200 hotels. This year, ETECSA is also planning to enable balance transfers between pre-paid customers and eliminate the minimum top-up of CUC5.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:52:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Kuwait’s National Assembly has approved the first reading of a bill to establish the country’s first independent telecoms regulator, tentatively called the Telecommunication Regulation Authority (TRA), in a move that could lead to further liberalisation of the sector. According to Reuters, 38 members of parliament (MPs) approved the first reading of the bill, while two MPs abstained. In a second statement, parliament speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim said that he hoped a second and final reading of the bill would be passed at the parliament’s next hearing, which is scheduled for 18 March 2014. The new commission will regulate the mobile, wireline and broadband sectors, although the exact scope of the supervisory powers that it will be given remains unclear. Kuwait is the last country in the Gulf region to establish such a regulatory body, and the draft law has reportedly been the subject of much deliberation by the government and the previous assemblies for the past decade.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in November 2010 the MoC announced that it intended to establish an independent telecoms regulator as part of its ongoing intention to privatise the country’s fixed line telephony market. No date was given for the introduction of a separate regulator, but the MoC claimed that no further internet service provider (ISP) licences would be issued in the interim period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:51:08 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Malaysian mobile network operator DiGi Telecommunications is said to have set aside MYR900 million (USD276 million) in capital expenditure for the expansion and strengthening of its infrastructure, according to the Sun Daily. Commenting on the company’s investment plans, DiGi chief operating officer Albern Murty was cited as saying: ‘This spend will be invested to increase our high-speed packet access (HSPA) and 3G coverage to 86% of population coverage, growing our LTE footprint up to 1,500 sites, as well as expanding our fibre network.’ Claiming that the amount to be spent represented the largest sum in recent years, the executive was also said to have confirmed that DiGi had spent approximately MYR1.5 billion on the modernisation and expansion of its network over the last two years. Under DiGi’s network transformation plan it was said to have swapped every electronic part in more than 5,500 sites with new equipment, expanded its HSPA and 3G network to more than 80% population coverage, as well as increased its own and jointly built fibre network to more than 3,200km nationwide.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:49:45 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Cuban authorities have set the maximum rate that state-owned telecoms monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) can charge for mobile internet access at CUC1 (USD1) per megabyte of data, CafeFuerte reports. The rate, which excludes service set-up charges, was approved with the publication of Ministry of Communications Resolution No. 8/2014 in the Official Gazette last month. The resolution indicates that mobile internet access could be launched on the island in April, initially for post-paid customers only, but with a pre-paid offering set to follow from the third quarter of 2014.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the government has recently made a number of moves to increase the availability of telecoms services to Cubans; in early 2013 the calling-party-pays (CPP) system was introduced for mobile phone users, while in November the state enabled individuals to market ETECSA’s products and services from their own home, and since 21 January 2014 family and friends abroad have been able to pay for fixed telephony bills via the internet. Meanwhile, in a step towards broadening availability of the internet, in June last year the government began offering access to the World Wide Web at 118 outlets around the island. Until then, the internet was only available at select state institutions and to tourists at around 200 hotels. This year, ETECSA is also planning to introduce an email service, as well as enable balance transfers between pre-paid customers and eliminate the minimum top-up of CUC5.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:48:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-backed full service provider Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota (ETB) has rolled out fibre-optic rings in the cities of Medellin and Bucaramanga as part of a regional development programme, TeleSemana reports. Under the project, ETB also intends to install fibre networks in Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Tunja over the course of 2014 and 2015. The new networks will allow ETB to offer additional services such as data transport solutions and dedicated internet connections, which are expected to help the telco meet its goal of generating 30% of its revenue from outside Bogota, its main operating area, by 2020.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:47:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates has revealed that Etisalat and Du have together received 61,000 requests from subscribers to switch provider since mobile number portability (MNP) was introduced in December. ‘So far the MNP has been good. It is a new start and it will take time to gain momentum,’ the TRA’s director general Mohammad Nasser Al Ganem, told Gulf News, adding: ‘This has generated good attraction by operators and consumers. The operators are trying to retain their customers by good offers and customers have a choice.’ According to Al Ganem, out of the total requests more than 23,000 mobile subscribers have transferred their number to a rival network, while many requests were resubmitted in order to obtain the required documents for the switchover.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:46:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |