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 Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The number of Cuban mobile telephony users exceeded the three million mark in April, according to figures provided to local newspaper Juventud Rebelde by the island’s state-owned monopoly operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA). Recent subscriber growth has been driven by the launch of the company’s mobile e-mail service in March 2014, as well as the extension of the recharge validity period for pre-paid mobile lines to 330 days. In addition, Cubans have been able to own up to three pre-paid mobile telephony lines since 5 February 2015, in a further move aimed at relaxing the conditions for using telecoms services in the country. ETECSA, which aims to sign up 800,000 new customers in each year up to 2018, has steadily increased the number of base stations across the island from 350 in 2010 to just over 600 today, and will continue to invest in expanding coverage and improving service quality. ETECSA also revealed that the number of locations where Cuban citizens can access the internet, so-called ‘salas de navegacion’, has increased to 261 in 144 municipalities.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:53:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile operator Orange Bissau last week launched an ultra-high speed 3G+ mobile service in the capital Bissau, and the cities of Bafata (central region) and Gabu (east region), according to its marketing director Mauricio Mane. Orange intends to extend its service coverage to other major cities within the next two months, he said. Access costs for the new service are XOF250 (USD0.43) for 30MB of data (valid 24 hours), or XOF29,000 for 8GB of downloads, valid for one month. The cellco began testing its HSPA-based 3G+ services in February 2014, and now aims to extend the live service To help support increased data demand on the new network, Mane said: ‘Orange has invested in a fibre link to Dakar [the capital city of neighbouring Senegal] which has more than enough capacity,’ to support its needs in Guinea-Bissau.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:52:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodacom Lesotho, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has finished rolling out 3G across its entire wireless network, reports Pubic Eye News, citing company executive Johnny Dos Santos. As such, around 94% of the population are now able to access Vodacom’s 3G data services. ‘We firmly believe that access to communication services has been a driving force for development in Lesotho and that it continues to be transformational as we work to make accessible, voice, internet and m-pesa services for Basotho,’ Dos Santos said, adding: ‘We continue to drive this by providing low cost devices and connecting as many Basotho as possible to the network through heavy investment in both 3G and LTE services, as well as affordable tariffs and bundled packages services.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:51:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azerbaijani mobile operator Bakcell has announced the commercial launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, limited initially to locations within the capital, Baku. Available since 5 May under the banner ‘4th Sur@’, subscribers within the coverage area will be able to access speeds up to 150Mbps with promotions such as 3GB of data for AZN10 (USD9.5) per month on a smartphone; for laptop users, 45GB of data at a cost of AZN60 for three months (offered with a free LTE dongle for a limited period); or tablet users can purchase 10GB data (with a free 4G SIM card included), for AZN15 per month. Bakcell CEO Richard Shearer commented on the cellco’s future 4G coverage strategy: ‘It is in our plans to expand the network rapidly, so that it [can] cover all areas where there is strong demand and enough 4G enabled devices.’

Bakcell claims that more than 4,000 subscribers have already been using its LTE network during the ‘last two to three months’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the operator soft-launched 4G services in December 2013 following a network upgrade to Multiprotocol Label Switching – Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) technology using Huawei’s OSN series equipment. It did, however, miss its target launch deadline of 1Q14, informing TeleGeography in February 2015 that at that time it was still testing the network.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:50:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Peru’s cellcos had signed up a total of 1.3 million 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscribers by the end of 2014, according to a new report from the nation’s telecoms regulator Osiptel. Mexican-owned cellco Claro represented 600,000 LTE users at that date, followed closely by Movistar with 500,000, whilst the newly-rebranded Entel Peru claimed some 200,000. In the fixed broadband space, meanwhile, Osiptel reported a total of 1.73 million subscribers, up 9% year-on-year and of which 41% used connections of at least 4Mbps, whilst 32% had 2Mbps connections and 9% 1Mbps.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:48:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Ghana has extended its fibre-optic backbone network to the cities of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, Business Ghana reports, citing marketing director Manu Rajan. In a parallel development the company has doubled the transmission speeds available over its 3.5G cellular networks to 42Mbps. Rajan commented: ‘We continue to offer the very best network, and we will continue to introduce new innovations and expand covered markets to ensure even more coverage across Ghana. Customers can take advantage of the benefits of the increased speed from 21.6Mbps to 42Mbps on compatible devices.’ While the precise platform used by Airtel was unconfirmed, TeleGeography notes that 42Mbps speeds are generally enabled by the deployment of Dual Carrier (DC)-HSPA+ technology.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Airtel’s Ghanaian arm launched 2G and 3G networks in December 2008, before rolling out HSPA+ 3.5G services in January 2012.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:47:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

British mobile network operator Vodafone UK has revealed that Welsh town Pontypridd has become the 500th ‘community’ to gain access to its 4G infrastructure, less than three months after fellow Welsh town Bridgend was named as the 400th location where rollout had taken place. In making the announcement, Vodafone said that the development came hot on the heels of plans unveiled last month to invest in its mobile phone services across Wales with a view to bringing both 3G and 4G connectivity to more than 94% of the Welsh population. The cellco meanwhile confirmed that its LTE-based infrastructure is now available to more than 65% of the UK population.

Commenting on the latest network expansion, Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, was cited as saying: ‘Our network improvements across Pontypridd will ensure users enjoy stronger 3G coverage, whilst the arrival of 4G will also help local businesses react faster to the needs of their customers. We also know that 70% of our customers use their mobile devices most in the home or the office, which is why our investment is particularly focused to improving indoor coverage.’

In total Vodafone UK is planning to spend around GBP1 billion (USD1.48 billion) on its network and services this year, while it is also implementing its Rural Open Sure Signal programme, under which it aims to bring 3G coverage to 100 remote communities for the first time, including Loggersheads Country Park and Brynesglwys in Denbighshire, Moylegrove in Pembrokeshire and Corris in Gwynedd.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:45:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Kazakhstan’s Vice-Minister of Investments and Development, Askar Zhumagaliyev, has said that the government is still working to push through legislation to pave the way for number portability. The official said that the move will not only give consumers greater freedom and choice, it will also help to reduce mobile tariffs, in a country where call costs are already among the lowest in the world. The World Economic Forum’s recent Global Information Technology Report 2014 ranked Kazakhstan 17th out of 130 countries in terms of the cheapest average per-minute cost of mobile calls. quotes Zhumagaliyev as saying: ‘We will not stop at this, we will continue working in this direction.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:44:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Lithuanian mobile operator Omnitel has revealed that the number of its LTE customers has grown from 9,500 to 111,000 in the past year. The TeliaSonera-owned company launched commercial 4G mobile broadband services in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys four years ago – on 28 April 2011. Since then, the network has been steadily expanded to more than 80% of the population, with over 400 4G base stations installed across the country. Omnitel extended 4G services to smartphone users in March 2014 and in December the cellco began offering LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services to customers in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:43:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The French parliament has approved an amendment to the telecoms component of France’s economic reform law ‘Loi Macron’, under which telecoms operators will be required to improve mobile coverage throughout the country, Les Echos reports. Under the new legislation, existing gaps in 2G network coverage in rural areas must be addressed by 2016, while all unserved municipalities in these ‘white areas’ should be covered with 3G/4G networks by 2017. The law will ensure that residents of an estimated 170 municipalities which currently have no access to mobile services will be covered by mobile networks. Further, Loi Macron entrusts telecoms regulator Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) with powers to sanction mobile network operators (MVNOs) who fail to comply with the imposed obligations.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:21:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Coverage of Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks reached 50% of Colombia’s population at the end of 2014, Signals Telecom writes, citing local news outlets. Claro is reportedly in the lead in terms of coverage with 200 towns and 28 capitals served by its network, with the cellco planning to add 100 more municipalities to its footprint by the end of 2015. The Mexican-backed provider invested USD1.2 billion in 4G infrastructure in 2014 and expects spending to rise to between USD1.2 billion and USD1.5 billion in 2015. Movistar, meanwhile, serves five main cities – Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla and Bucaramanga – and 77 municipalities. For its part, Tigo/Une-EPM has extended coverage to Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bucaramanga, Valledupar, Ibague and Cucuta but expects to roll out services to the following cities by year-end: Monteria, Riohacha, Sinceljo, Villavicencio, Neiva, Pasto, Popayan, Tunja, Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:19:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Azercell, Azerbaijan’s largest cellco in terms of subscribers, has extended its network coverage, with the deployment of 72 base transceiver stations (BTS) in the first quarter of 2015. According to AzerNews, the operator added 22 2G towers to its network during the period, as well as 50 3G cell sites. As of 31 March 2015 the total number of Azercell BTS in operation stood at 2,660 (2G), 1,760 (3G) and 257 (4G).

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Azercell’s 2G network offers 99.8% population coverage, while 3G services are available in all major cities. The operator’s 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network is currently limited to Baku, Seaside National Park and Absheron Peninsula.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:19:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

China Mobile, the largest cellco in the world has booked annual turnover of CNY641.45 billion (USD104.51 billion) for the full year ended 31 December 2014, an increase of 1.8% year-on-year, as non-service revenue of CNY59.63 billion (+51.2% y-o-y) offset the impact of a CNY46.73 billion drop in voice service revenue, which fell to CNY308.96 billion. Rising operating expenses saw EBITDA fall by 2.1% to CNY235.26 billion, with an EBITDA margin of 36.7%, compared to 38.2% in 2013. Net profit for the year was CNY109.41 billion, down by 10.2% year-on-year.

China Mobile’s focus throughout 2014 was on the rollout and development of its 4G Time Division Long Term Evoluition (TD-LTE) service and the cellco dedicated CNY80.6 billion of its CAPEX for the year on the deployment, with plans to invest a further CNY72.2 billion in 2015 on the technology. Mobile’s 4G network consisted of more than 720,000 base stations at the end of 2014 and served 90.06 million subscribers, up from 40.95 million in Q3 2014 and 13.94 million in Q2. In addition to the network rollout, the operator has altered its strategy regarding devices, significantly lowering subsidies for handsets. This was combined with an effort to drive down device costs, and the cellco notes that it now offers in excess of 600 models of 4G-compatible handset, with an average price of CNY1,600, although prices start as low as CNY400. Mobile’s heavy marketing of 4G services has seen mobile data traffic increase by 115.1% y-o-y, although turnover from mobile data grew by only 42.9%, to CNY150.57 billion. 4G traffic now represents 44% of the cellco’s mobile data traffic, whilst 3G and 2G make up 22% and 34% respectively.

Somewhat worryingly for China Mobile, voice, SMS and MMS revenues all took a substantial hit in 2014, with voice services generating 13.1% less income than 2013 whilst SMS and MMS turnover dropped by 15.8% to CNY34.78 billion. The cellco notes, however, that the decline in voice service revenue is anticipated by its long term plan, which expects turnover to increasingly come from data traffic before migrating to the cellco’s nascent digital services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:18:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of New Zealand has confirmed plans to extend its Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes to cover 80% of the population rather than the original figure of 75%. The ruling National Party first announced the project expansion last September, and Communications Minister Amy Adams has now revealed that at least NZD250 million (USD184 million) in additional funding is to be pumped into the schemes. The UFB programme involves the deployment of high speed fibre networks in urban areas, while the RBI project is geared towards connecting more rural areas through the use of wireless technologies.

Adams said in a statement: ‘… the government is building on its existing commitments and investing an additional NZD152 million to NZD210 million to lift the UFB program coverage from 75% to 80% of New Zealanders. We are also investing NZD100 million to expand the Rural Broadband program, and NZD50 million to improve mobile coverage in black spot areas along main highways and in popular tourist destinations.’ At the end of 2014 the country had 69,301 signed up under its UFB schemes, up from 55,010 three months before.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:16:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
With more than a month left until the deadline for re-verification, 68.76 million SIMs have been confirmed whilst a further 10.96 million have been disowned by customers, Pro Pakistani writes, citing the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The roughly 80 million SIMs currently accounted for were registered to just 53.07 million Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs). Of the remaining 23 million SIMs, operators are expecting to verify around twelve to 15 million, whilst the rest are understood to be either dormant or to have been illegally registered. Commenting on the programme, the PTA said that it is content with the performance of the nation’s cellular providers and is already calling the campaign a success.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:15:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Just under 10% of Indian villages remain unserved by mobile networks, the Economic Times writes, citing the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT). 55,669 of India’s 597,608 inhabited villages currently have no mobile coverage from any of the nation’s eleven cellcos. Odissha has the highest number of unserved villages with 10,398 (of 47,675 in the state), although Arunachal Pradesh has a higher proportion of uncovered settlements, with 2,886 of its 5,258 villages still outside of cellular coverage areas. Elsewhere, Jharkhand (5,949), Madhya Pradesh (5,926), Maharashtra (4,792) and Chhattisgarh (4,041) also have high numbers of unserved villages.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:14:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Armenian fixed and mobile operator ArmenTel, which trades under the Beeline banner of its Russian parent Vimpelcom, says its cellular subscriber base climbed by 11.9% last year to over 770,000, up from 688,000 at end-2013. Presenting the telco’s financial and operational achievements in 2014, CEO Andrei Pyatakhin said turnover derived from mobile internet services increased by USD900,000 in FY 2014, to USD6 million, although operating revenue from fixed telephony services declined 6% from USD81 million to USD76 million over the twelve-month period. Mr Pyatakhin attributed the decline in fixed line revenue to the global trend of declining demand for fixed telephone services, as people switch to mobile / over-the-top (OTT) applications allowing free communication, such as Viber or Skype.

ArmenTel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vimpelcom, invested USD14 million in the development of its services in FY 2014, USD3 million more than was invested in FY 2013, Pyatakhin said. ‘Thanks to the investment, a high speed fibre-optic internet service based on [fibre-to-the-building] FTTB technology was launched, digitisation was continued in provinces, the number of mobile basic stations was increased and an IPTV service was offered in Armenia,’ he said. Moreover, Pyatakhin noted that CAPEX totalled USD6 million in the fourth quarter alone, while ArmenTel also paid taxes to the government exceeding AMD14 billion (USD29.2 million). In the press conference, Pyatakhin said that 2014 was marked by the implementation of a new client-based strategy to improve customer loyalty.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:13:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telekom Slovenije, which operates cellular services in Slovenia via its Mobitel division, has disclosed that its 4G LTE network now covers more than 80% of the population and 200 towns, after it deployed 100 new 4G base stations in the last six months to take its total to over 400 LTE cell sites. Telekom, which currently claims a peak LTE data speed of 150Mbps, added that it plans to reach a 92% LTE population footprint by the end of this year under an overall EUR107 million (USD118 million) mobile and fixed network expansion and upgrade budget. The operator launched LTE in May 2013 and won additional 800MHz/2600MHz spectrum to augment its existing 1800MHz 4G frequency band in April 2014, TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:12:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has released its latest update on telecoms services in the city-state for the month of December 2014, showing that fixed line household penetration stood at 101.3% at the end of last year, up from 96.8% in November, as total fixed line subscriptions climbed 14,800 to 1.995 million. Of these, some 1.247 million are residential connections (up 16,600) and 747,900 are corporate lines (down 1,900). According to the IDA’s figures, fixed (population) teledensity stood at 36.5% at the start of this year, up 0.3 of a percentage point from November.

In the Singapore mobile market, the total number of mobile subscriptions (2G+3G+4G) reached 8.093 million at end-December, down marginally from 8.108 million the previous month, of which only 89,800 are now 2G/GSM connections. By contrast, the uptake of Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G services continues apace, reaching nearly 3.182 million last year, predominantly post-paid (2.924 million) subscriptions, while 3G accounts for 4.608 million of the total – a figure down from 5.211 million in July 2014 due to the rise of 4G.

Turning to the fixed broadband segment, the IDA reported a total of 1.451 million connections at end-2014, of which 103,400 are corporate wired accounts. Of the total, xDSL accounts for 236,300 users (Nov-14: 243,200), cable for 503,800 (510,600), with fibre supplanting more ‘traditional’ broadband platforms, accounting for 708,000 lines by 31 December, up from 692,000 in November; other platforms accounted for just 2,600 lines. The residential wired broadband penetration rate stood at 106.0% at the end of the period under review, according to the IDA’s data.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:11:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ghana is unlikely to make the previously announced 17 June 2015 deadline for the switchover of analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television (DTT), the National Communications Authority (NCA) has confirmed. Speaking at the opening of an international stakeholders’ meeting, the regulator’s director Henry Kanor commented: ‘We are in March. There’s no way we can beat this deadline.’ Financial constraints have been cited as one of the key reasons behind the delay, and the NCA has yet to reveal a new timeline for the switchover’s completion.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the digital migration process deadline was originally scheduled for completion in November 2011, in line with a Cabinet decision taken in 2007, but was subsequently pushed back to 1 December 2013 and then 17 June 2015 (the International Telecommunication Union’s [ITU’s] deadline for analogue switch-off). As of 17 June, the ITU will no longer protect countries from cross-border radio spectrum interference from those nations that have completed their migration projects on time.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:10:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Senegal’s telecoms industry watchdog, l’Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes (ARTP), has published its quarterly report on the development of fixed and mobile telecoms services in the country for the period October-December 2014. According to its findings, the total number of fixed telephone lines in service continued a downward trend in the three-month period under review, to a total of 311,945 lines at end-2014, compared to 317,653 main lines in service at 30 September 2014. ARTP attributed the fall mainly to an ongoing decline in residential connections (down 6,000 to 241,153 lines) and fewer public phone booths, which resulted in an annual decline of 9.2%, taking fixed teledensity to 2.31% at the year end. The watchdog also noted that the volume of fixed telephony calls fell to an estimated 22.50 million monthly call minutes in October-December, down from 23.94 million minutes in July-September. Incumbent PTO Sonatel (Orange) commanded the lion’s share of the market at that date, with 91.1% of all lines in service, while second national operator Expresso saw its share of the pie fall 0.38% quarter-on-quarter to account for the remainder.

In the mobile segment, ARTP said the country was home to more than 14.379 million mobile connections at the end of 2014, an increase of 0.19% when compared to the third quarter, with the growth by and large attributable to Orange, which saw its user base climb 1.61% q-o-q to 8.097 million. Second-placed Tigo Senegal reported a decline in users in the fourth quarter to 3.377 million from 3.471 million, while number three player Expresso closed out 2014 with 2.904 million mobile lines, down from 2.912 million at end-September. ARTP reported that the total volume of mobile calls in the quarter reached around 44.4 million minutes – down 3.2% from 3Q14 – while the total volume of SMS traffic was estimated at 407.55 million texts sent during the quarter, a 14.3% decrease y-o-y. Based on the regulator’s findings, cellular penetration stood at 106.45% at the year end, down 0.21 percentage points from September, of which 99.35% were pre-paid lines.

Turning finally to the internet sector, ARTP said there were a total of 6.858 million fixed and mobile (i.e. GPRS/3G) connections at the end of 2014, up 60.5% from 2.294 million in December 2013, but noted that in the fourth quarter of last year growth stalled to just 2.7% as the market appeared to reach saturation level. Mobile internet accounted for 93.9%, or 6.441 million, connections at the year end, while ADSL took just 1.5% (103,362) and dial-up an even smaller share – 17,754 users. Although it does not provide a breakdown by technology, ARTP said that Orange controlled 65.08% of the internet market at 31 December, ahead of Tigo (23.79%) and Expresso (11.12%).

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 9:19:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, March 09, 2015

The Israeli government confirmed the start of its broadband policy reform, aimed at reducing the price of internet. Under the reforms from the ministry of communication, connection to the internet will be accomplished without need for a customer to separate ISP and infrastructure services. Alternative operators will be able to purchase internet infrastructure from Bezeq and Hot at wholesale prices, which is expected to lead to improved service and lower prices paid by the public for a basket of telecom services. The average customer is expected to save tens of shekels. The broadband reform will also encourage the entry of new competitors providing television services at a lower cost, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry has set up two teams working to ensure implementation of the reforms and to overcome potential problems. According to the ministry, one team will be handling public queries to ensure unhindered transfer among the telecom operators and a second team to find solutions for dispute resolution between operators. The ministry said the broadband reform will put an end to the duopoly of Bezeq and Hot in the infrastructure industry.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, March 09, 2015 9:48:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

All three existing mobile operators in Serbia - Telenor, Telekom Srbija and Vip Mobile – acquired frequencies allowing them to introduce LTE mobile telephony services. Regulator Ratel determined that all bidders submitted valid financial offers amounting to EUR 3.5 million. Each mobile operator was awarded two radio frequency bands (1710-1785/1805-1880 MHz), meaning that each of them is to pay EUR 7 million to the Serbian state for the use of the spectrum. The regulator issued three individual licences for a period of 10 years, with the possibility of extending this term for an additional two years. 

According to the Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic, LTE services should be available to the population from April. He also announced that a second tender for the distribution of spectrum in the 800 MHz band, vacated by TV channels, will be called after the completion of the process for the introduction of DTT. Also, Serbia will hold another auction in 2016, this time for the sale of frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, March 09, 2015 9:46:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Smartphone Sales Represented Two-Thirds of Global Phone Market in 2014

In Fourth Quarter of 2014 Samsung Lost No. 1 Position to Apple in Global Smartphone Market

Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users had a record fourth quarter of 2014 with an increase of 29.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 to reach 367.5 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. Samsung lost the No. 1 spot to Apple in the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2014 (see Table 1). Samsung had been in the top spot since 2012.

In 2014, sales of smartphones to end users totaled 1.2 billion units, up 28.4 percent from 2013 (see Table 2) and represented two-thirds of global mobile phone sales.

"Samsung's performance in the smartphone market deteriorated further in the fourth quarter of 2014, when it lost nearly 10 percentage points in market share," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. "Samsung continues to struggle to control its falling smartphone share, which was at its highest in the third quarter of 2013. This downward trend shows that Samsung's share of profitable premium smartphone users has come under significant pressure."

"With Apple dominating the premium phone market and the Chinese vendors increasingly offering quality hardware at lower prices, it is through a solid ecosystem of apps, content and services unique to Samsung devices that Samsung can secure more loyalty and longer-term differentiation at the high end of the market," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. 

The availability of smartphones at lower prices accelerated the migration of feature phone users to smartphones pushing the smartphone operating system (OS) market to double-digit growth in most emerging countries, including India, Russia and Mexico. This trend continued to benefit Android, which saw its market share grow 2.2 percentage points in 2014, and 32 percent year on year (see Table 3). Chinese and other smaller players drove Android's performance in 2014, while more established players at the higher end of the market continued to struggle to increase stickiness to their brands and ecosystems. Windows Phone's performance was flat but it recorded strong results in some markets in Europe, and in the business segment.

Source: Gartner.

Monday, March 09, 2015 9:43:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Broadband connections over fibre networks in the Netherlands increased by 6.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2014, taking the Dutch consumer broadband market to quarterly growth of 0.8 percent. This led to a total of 6.916 million consumer broadband connections in the Netherlands on 31 December 2014, according to the latest research by Telecompaper.

Cable still accounted for almost half the connections and grew by 0.2 percent in Q4 to slightly more than 3.2 million broadband subscribers. The number of DSL lines decreased over the same period, by 0.1 percent to slightly less than 2.95 million.

The combined market share of Ziggo and UPC, which recently merged to form a near-national cable broadband network, amounted to 44.1 percent at the end of 2014. Ziggo alone accounted for 28 percent of broadband connections in the country, and UPC contributed a 16.1 percent market share. The merger makes the operator the largest broadband provider in the Netherlands, surpassing incumbent KPN, including its XS4ALL and Telfort brands. The latter saw its market share grow by 0.3 percentage points during the quarter to 40.1 percent at the end of 2014.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 8:28:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 12, 2015

The number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe increased by 60 percent in 2014, new figures have revealed.

The FTTH Council Europe announced there were 12.3 million subscribers as of December 2014 across the European Union’s 28 countries.

Lithuania was the leading country with over 34 percent of homes subscribing to FTTH/B, ahead of Sweden and Latvia.

FTTH is available to 63 percent of subscribers, with Norway the country leading the way, while FTTB is on offer to 37 percent.

Spain made the most progress – the number of subscribers increased 137 percent year-on-year thanks to Telefónica increasing the number of homes passed with FTTH/B by more than six million during 2014.

Despite failing to reach the minimum threshold of one percent of homes subscribing to the two technologies – the benchmark required to merit a ranking – the industry body singled out Germany as having made significant progress in 2014. Europe’s biggest market is expected to reach the one percent mark sometime this year.

After connecting fewer than 20,000 new FTTH customers, the UK remains missing from the ranking, which saw no new countries enter the top 20.

Valerie Chaillou, Director of Telecom Studies at the IDATE, which compiled the data for the FTTH Council, told Europan Communications that incumbents such as BT were too focused on the short term.

The UK operator announced in January that it planned to deploy G.Fast technology next year. But Chaillou warned that it could be a false economy as it would have to “spend again” in a few years to future proof its network.

Despite the absence of two of the continent's biggest markets, Karin Ahl, President of the FTTH Council Europe, said the overall figures demonstrated “phenomenal progress” of FTTH.

She commented: “It proves that FTTH/B is poised to become the mass market broadband product in Europe, even though there is still a long way to go to reach the Digital Agenda target of 100 Mbps for 50 percent of Europe’s households by 2020.”​

Source: European Communications.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:42:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A1 Telekom Austria, in association with Eutelsat, is now offering a satellite broadband solution in a bid to serve remote locations that are otherwise difficult to reach. The service will primarily be used to serve ‘frontier zones and mountain regions’ where the nearest A1 switching centre or mobile base station is too far away to enable a satisfactory broadband connection. The new package supports transmission speeds of up to 22Mbps/6Mbps (down/uplink). Around 1% of buildings in Austria currently lack access to DSL services, according to company estimates.

Previously, in September 2013 Telekom Austria Group and Eutelsat signed an accord signalling their intention to enable the delivery of TV services via satellite in central and south-eastern Europe. Further satellite rollouts are planned across the group’s operating markets later in 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:39:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

We may have only just covered the UK declaring some 1.9 million homes as able to access superfast broadband from the BDUK programme and now the DCMS has added up the figures for January 2015 and declared that over two million premises can now order a superfast broadband service via the gap funding scheme.

Breaking the two million figure also means that coverage is now at 80% of UK premises at superfast speeds when combined with the commercial coverage. Of course people need to order the upgrade to benefit from the extra speeds made available and this is one of the bones of contention from the vocal complainers, which leads to a complain complaint that some believe take-up would be higher if the project has concentrated on the slowest parts of the UK first.

Number of premises with access to fibre based broadband via the BDUK projects

NOTE: This is the total of fibre premises passed, the headline 2 million figure is based on DCMS calculation of how many can get superfast speeeds

North East England 85,048
Yorkshire and Humber 232,536
North West England 272,894
Midlands 292,985
South East England 265,935
South West England 200,272
East of England 288,729
Scotland 220,000
Wales 299,876
Northern Ireland 17,500

For the previous 1.9 million premises news article we ran an analysis on the speed spread to give people some idea of the number of premises not getting superfast from the largely FTTC based BDUK roll-out, and this calculation was done independently of any DCMS figures and ahead of the release of the two million announcement, the results from that analysis agree very closely with the proportion of superfast versus fibre based in these latest DCMS figures.

Obviously 80% is still a long way short of the overall 90% target for phase 1 of the BDUK project, but the roll-outs are continuing and with phase 2 contracts now being awarded the 95% target for 2017 is getting to closer to becoming reality. It must be highlighted that contrary to a belief in some circles that the 95% target is for every community, the target is a nationwide one, thus some areas that exceed the 95% target will make up for projects that decide to aim for lower but more attainable targets (i.e. need less intervention funding).

The remaining 5% of the UK is dependent now on the outcome of a number of pilots that are exploring how well various technologies can handle the dispersed nature of the last 5% and how much it will cost to deliver. Only once costings and viabilities have been looked at can we expect announcements of the availability of the necessary funding. A major change in the final 5% pilots is that BT is not heavily involved and the pilots feature various technologies that suppliers have been trumpeting as solutions for getting superfast to rural areas.

Source: ThinkBroadband.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:38:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The number of fibre lines in the Netherlands grew to 2.3 million in 2014 from 1.95 million the year before, with penetration rising to 31% from 26%, according to data from the Telecompaper FTTH Monitor.

Reggefiber had by far the largest market share: 85% of all homes passed were covered by Reggefiber, with CIF taking the rest of the FTTH market with 12%.

Penetration was highest in the Flevoland province, while Overijssel recorded the strongest growth in 2014. In absolute numbers, Gelderland had the most lines, while North Brabant added the most lines last year.

Source: Broadband TV News.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:35:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone Italy has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network now covers 80% of the population, equivalent to 3,500 municipalities. Meanwhile, the cellco’s ‘4G+’-branded LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network is now active in more than 150 locations; the upgrade was introduced in November 2014 and offers end-users downlink transmission speeds of up to 225Mbps. Elsewhere, voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) connectivity is available in Milan, Rome and Ivrea. Finally, Vodafone notes that more than 1.2 million customers have signed up to its 4G plans to date.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:31:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 05, 2015

Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market's inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.

"The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. "Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn't enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung's struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren't cut out for today's tablet market."

Apple's lead over other vendors has yet to be truly challenged as it shipped 21.4 million tablets, accounting for over a quarter of the market with 28.1% volume share. Despite Samsung's woes, it managed to hold on to the second place with 11 million units shipped. Lenovo (4.8%), ASUS (4%), and Amazon (2.3%) rounded out the top 5 although only Lenovo managed to grow annually when compared to Q4 2013. Lenovo maintained its tight grip on the Asia/Pacific market thanks to its massive scale in the PC business and the success of its low-cost tablet offerings.

Source: IDC.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:08:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Zimbabwe’s state-owned fixed line operator TelOne has revealed that it is 60% of the way through a project to connect 20,000 households to fibre via its Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) rollout. A report from local news portal The Source says the telco has completed links from Harare to Mutare, Bulawayo and Kariba, while other major towns such as Gwanda and Masvingo have also been connected. Work is underway to connect the border town of Beitbridge. The firm says the work will enable it to diversify its business and shift its focus to the broadband segment as fixed voice revenues continue to decline. Funds for the fibre deployment have come via a loan from Chinese banks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:06:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

T-Mobile Hungary, a wholly owned unit of Magyar Telekom (MTel), has announced that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) subscriber base reached 450,000 at the end of 2014, an increase of 70% from 265,000 one year earlier, and up from 320,000 at the end of October 2014. According to the telco, its 4G data traffic tripled during 2014.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, T-Mobile Hungary launched 4G LTE services in January 2012, initially in the capital, before expanding its coverage to around 80% of the population by December 2014. As at 30 September 2014 T-Mobile was the country’s largest mobile service provider in terms of subscribers, with 48.1% of the market, placing it ahead of the Hungarian units of Telenor (28.6%) and Vodafone (23.4%).

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:04:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

US technology giant Microsoft has launched what it claims is Africa’s first commercial broadband network utilising ‘white space’ broadcast frequencies in Ghana, via its 4Afrika initiative. In partnership with SpectraLink Wireless – and in the wake of successful white space pilot tests at universities in Koforidua, Ghana, from May 2014 – the new network will offer students affordable, high speed internet bundles and zero-interest loans in partnership with UT Bank for the purchase of eligible internet-enabled Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and HP devices. Data packages start from GHS2 (USD0.6) for 24 hours access.

Professor H Nwana, executive director of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, of which Microsoft and Spectra Wireless’ parent company are both members, commented: ‘Having overseen TV white space (TVWS) trials in the UK at Ofcom, I am truly delighted to see Spectra Wireless and Microsoft’s move to make TVWS-based broadband a commercial reality in Ghana, a first in Africa. I applaud the Ghanaian regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), in granting a commercial licence, which allows use of TV frequencies on a secondary basis as long as TV is not interfered with. This would drive up spectrum efficiency of TV bands in Ghana, and I hope other countries learn from NCA’s decision.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 11:02:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A total 20 operators worldwide have launched Category 6 LTE-Advanced networks, according to the latest report from industry group GSA. The networks supporting speeds up to 300 Mbps are available in 15 countries: Australia, Austria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The 3GPP defines a Category 6 system in its Release 10 specifications as having a theoretical speed of 300 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink. According to the GSA, a further 22 Cat 6 networks are being deployed or in a trial phase, for a total 42 operators in 24 countries investing in the technology.

The next stage of LTE-Advanced, Category 9 as defined under 3GPP Release 11, is being tested or deployed in nine countries (Australia, Japan, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and the UK). This will increase the theoretical speed to 450 Mbps downlink.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Thursday, February 05, 2015 10:59:42 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Belarusian national PTO Beltelecom has announced that the number of subscribers connected to its Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) has reached 300,000. The technology supports ultra-high speed connections of up to 1Gbps and is capable of delivering triple-play services of television, broadband access and voice telephony on a single cable. Work on the rollout of GPON infrastructure began in the capital Minsk in 2011 and the fibre-optic technology is now being deployed in regional and district centres where Beltelecom is upgrading its networks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:41:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Monaco Telecom has launched an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network in the Principality under the ‘4G+’ banner, adding 800MHz frequencies to its existing 2600MHz network to deliver peak (theoretical) speeds of 223Mbps using carrier aggregation (CA) technology. The Xavier Niel-controlled operator says that at launch the service is available in the port area of Port Hercule, and that it will cover the whole of the Principality with 4G+ services this year. Although it stopped short of providing a date when this will happen, Monaco Telecom says that its nearly 35,000-strong user base will be able to benefit from LTE-A automatically – i.e. they will not be charged an additional fee to sign up and can access it via packages that start from EUR34 (USD38.1) per month for two hours of voice calls and 1GB of data. The cellular arm is selling four smartphones initially that support LTE-A, namely: Samsung Galaxy Alpha, Note and Note Edge and the Huawei Mate 7.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:40:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cellco Airtel Ghana has entered into a venture with social networking giant Facebook to launch, an initiative aimed at making the internet more accessible in under-connected parts of the world; the service has been extended to Airtel’s pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. Via, users will have free access to basic internet services for education, health, employment and communications, promoting the spread of knowledge and information across the country. Upon its launch, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commented: ‘By connecting everyone, we hope to unlock even more opportunities for Ghana.’ Spearheaded by Zuckerberg, is a collaboration between Facebook, Nokia, Ericsson and Qualcomm, alongside a number of other technology companies.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:38:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

State-owned fixed line incumbent Uzbektelecom has added 390 premises in Tashkent to its fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) network, UzDaily writes. The telco’s fibre network, the deployment of which has been financed by the China Development Bank, has so far passed 3,287 premises, including 915 connected in 2014.

In a related development, the telco has cut tariffs for international bandwidth for internet service providers (ISPs) for the fourth time this year, dropping prices to USD251.94 per Mbps from USD253.74. Earlier this month, Uzbektelecom cut the price to USD259.29, before lowering the cost to USD257.42 and USD253.74. Prices for international bandwidth have been steadily falling in recent years; TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the price fell from USD1,510 per Mbps in March 2010 to USD529 by the end of 2011.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:36:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Vodafone Malta has announced that its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data network now offers coverage to 70% of the country’s population, 14 months after its commercial launch in November 2013. Vodafone is so far the only Maltese cellular operator to have implemented LTE technology, with rivals GO and Melita still to reveal their 4G rollout plans. Vodafone accounted for around 46% of Malta’s 560,000 mobile users at the end of September 2014, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while GO took 39% and Melita had a 15% share.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:35:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telkom Kenya (operating under the Orange brand) has expanded its 3G network to a further 14 urban areas across the country, as it seeks to grow its data services business. Following the rollout of 3G services to Eldoret and Nakuru last year, the firm has now launched its 3G network in Isiolo, Othaya, Keruguya, Kenol, Mwingi, Loitokitok, Namanga, Mai Mahiu, Gilgil, Bomet, Eldama Ravine, Siaya, Webuye and Kilgoris. Orange has also revealed that its data business grew by 50% in the fourth quarter of 2014, driven by the provision of high speed broadband to 35 county governments and through the improvement of its network across the country. ‘Part of our KES2.5 billion (USD27.3 million) investment last year was dedicated to the rolling out of 3G network across the country, and the transformation of our operations to enhance service delivery,’ commented Orange Kenya CEO Vincent Lobry. He added that the business is strengthening its national broadband reach with the laying of transport cables across the country. By the end of Q1 2015 an additional 27 urban areas will be connected to the Orange 3G network.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | Africa | Mobile
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:34:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu), the Maldives’ incumbent telecoms operator, has expanded its 4G LTE service to the island of Fuvahmulah (Gn) and Addu City, the country’s second largest city. In addition to these two new locations, coverage of the firm’s 1800MHz network is also available in Male’ City, Villingili, Hulhumale’, Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, Villingilli (GA), Thinadhoo, Kulhudhufushi (Hdh), Naifaru (Lh). Dhiraagu’s LTE network supports maximum downstream speeds of 100Mbps, with customers experiencing average data rates of between 15Mbps and 20Mbps.

At the official 4G unveiling ceremony in Fuvahmulah, Dhiraagu’s managing director and CEO Ismail Waheed said: ‘We continue to make constant investments nationally to ensure our customers can take full advantage of the latest services on their smart devices. One of our key objectives is to give the fastest and reliable internet connectivity in the country to enhance both quality of life and economic growth of the country and the current investments on the enhancement of our mobile network is a testament to this.’ Dhiraagu currently provides 4G LTE coverage to 50% of the population, while its 3G network reaches 95% of Maldivians.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:33:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Movistar Argentina has activated a total of 50 LTE-4G base stations in the centre of Buenos Aires, reports local daily Clarin. Company sources said the network is already operational and that they accelerated the deployment to improve the service and decongest 3G networks. They also announced that 200,000 customers who already have 4G-enabled devices will shortly be sent the new chips that are needed to use the service.

Movistar is the first Argentine operator to launch 4G services and is expected to be followed shortly by the operators Personal and Claro. Movistar last week revealed that it had sold 100,000 4G-enabled since announcing the service in December and that the company had already installed 160 LTE base stations covering several cities in the Buenos Aires province, including Buenos Aires itself, as well as the nearby conurbations of Mar del Plata, Pinamar and Carilo.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:30:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |