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 Monday, January 26, 2015

Elephant Talk Communications has announced that Vodafone Spain’s low-cost MVNO brand, Lowi, has been launched on Elephant Talk's full services mobile platform in Spain, joining other MVNOs such as Lebara, BT and Eroski. The low-cost Lowi brand began providing services on 18 December, offering a single postpay tariff, called “Tu mismo”, which includes 1GB of mobile data and unlimited calls to all Spanish mobile and fixed numbers (EUR 0.19 call set up fee payable) for EUR 6 per month.

Vodafone and Elephant worked together to complete the platform in three months, with Elephant Talk changing the complete core network, the systems architecture and the billing engine, while developing all the functionality required and integrating with third parties for the website and distribution. "In only three months, we were able to deploy a fully redundant installation including new HLR\HSSs, new upgraded IP systems, new GGSNs, new provisioning, a new postpaid billing system and backup systems in two co-location data centres in Barcelona and Madrid,” said Elephant Talk CTO Martin Zuurbier.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Europe | Mobile | MVNO
Monday, January 26, 2015 9:15:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The World Bank has given an update on the expected timetable for the Republic of Benin to be connected to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) high speed international submarine cable, which is currently in its second-phase rollout of connectivity to additional countries on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The Bank stated that a technical team from Alcatel-Lucent – the consortium cable’s main technology partner – deployed equipment in the transmission room of the Cotonou (Benin) cable landing station in late-December 2014, while the cable laying ship is scheduled to reach Cotonou on 24 February 2015, and Benin will be connected to ACE on 3 March 2015, quoting Alcatel-Lucent projections. In parallel, the architecture of the system allowing the switching and routing of international traffic between ACE and Benin’s sole existing submarine cable link (to the SAT-3/WASC system), is currently being designed by an international consultant financed by the project, the World Bank’s report disclosed. Moreover, building works to house a new Beninese internet exchange point (IXP) ‘should be completed in January 2015,’ although noting that ‘the crossing of the site by the power line feeding the landing station is nevertheless a major obstacle that could delay the works. The Bank and project teams are monitoring this issue and working with the utility company to avoid any further delays.’

Benin’s involvement in the ACE consortium (led by France’s Orange) is being managed via a local special purpose vehicle (SPV) named Benin ACE GIE, a joint venture which includes local mobile operators and internet service providers (ISPs). The World Bank’s latest report says that the operating team at BENIN ACE GIE now has three appointed permanent staff and eight cable landing station technicians. It adds that the draft licence for operating access to the ACE cable via BENIN ACE GIE is currently under review within the various legal departments of the SPV members, as questions have been raised about legal status: the current legal framework for the SPV remains ‘vague’, and this status may be ‘difficult to reconcile with the conditions for open and non-discriminatory access [to ACE cable bandwidth], as capacity allocation to new entrants could pose problems.’ The report continued that once the cable is operational, the legal issues will be further examined to identify the ‘most adequate legal status for the SPV’. Referencing the relatively recent launch of ACE connectivity in another western African country, Guinea, the World Bank added that: ‘In order to build on the Guinean experience, the project team will travel to Conakry in the second quarter of 2015 to meet and exchange with their Guinean counterparts.’

The latest timetable was given in a report dated 25 December 2014 as part of an assessment of World Bank-supported project ‘WARCIP 1-C’ which aims to help increase the geographical reach of broadband networks and to reduce the costs of communications services in Benin

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:10:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tele2 Lithuania has announced in a press release that its 4G LTE network now covers 65% of the country’s territory and over 66% of the population, providing mobile data speeds of between 20Mbp and 100Mbps for LTE handset, tablet and modem users at no additional cost. Tele2 Lithuania added that its 4G network currently consists of more than 200 LTE base stations, using the 800MHz frequency band for wide coverage across urban and rural/highway zones, alongside the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands to meet coverage and capacity demands in cities. By the end of 2015 the cellco intends to expand the LTE footprint to 75% of Lithuanian territory and 90% of the population. The release also stated that 4G devices now represent around 10% of Tele2’s Lithuanian mobile user base, whilst total data service revenue accounted for 12% of all turnover in Lithuania by the end of 2014, a statistic which is lagging behind its Baltic sister companies, Tele2 Estonia (where data represented 24% of 2014 revenue) and Tele2 Latvia (22%).

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:05:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ugandan cellular operators MTN and Airtel have confirmed that they have implemented the One Network Area arrangement which has removed international roaming costs for calls between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. MTN has gone one step further, adding South Sudan to the scheme. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate last week, cellcos in Rwanda and Kenya had implemented the scheme last year, acting on a decision by the Northern Corridor Summit Heads of State.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:04:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to new data from telecom market research firm TeleGeography, international telephone traffic continues to grow, despite formidable challenges. International traffic grew 6% in 2013 to 542 billion minutes and is projected to reach 569 billion minutes in 2014.

While growth is slowing, international call traffic has quadrupled since 2000, driven by a fundamental shift in international calling patterns. In 2000, two-thirds of all international calls were made to people in high-income advanced economies, and fixed line phones in advanced economies received just over half of all traffic. Today, those positions have been almost completely reversed. Between 2000 and 2013, traffic to mobiles in emerging markets grew at an annualised rate of 32%, to 245 billion minutes, while traffic to fixed lines in advanced economies grew a paltry 4% annually, to 109 billion minutes. Mobile phones in emerging markets now receive 45% of all international traffic and emerging markets account for 63% of all terminated international telephone traffic.

The proliferation of mobile phones in emerging market countries, which have enabled immigrants to call their families at home, and relentless price declines, which have made calling home increasingly affordable, fuelled the rapid growth of emerging-market traffic. However, this engine of growth is starting to sputter: in 2013, traffic to mobiles grew just 9%.

‘The long boom in traffic to emerging markets was driven by rapidly increasing mobile phone penetration and declining call prices,’ stated TeleGeography analyst Cody Williams. ‘However, phone penetration is nearing 100% in many emerging market countries and, after years of price declines, the incremental effects of further price reductions are also diminishing.’

The abating pace of growth to emerging markets suggests that challenging times lie ahead for carriers, which must also contend with relentless price declines and growing competition from over-the-top (OTT) communications services. However, with 8.3 billion fixed and mobile subscribers at year-end 2014, the PSTN will not fade away anytime soon.

The TeleGeography Report has been a vital source of statistics and analysis for the international long-distance market for over 20 years. To find out more and to download a copy of the executive summary, please visit www.telegeography.com/research-services/telegeography-report-database.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 10:00:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile number portability (MNP) is finally expected to be implemented in Kazakhstan by the middle of this year, with legislation to pave the way for the scheme currently proceeding through parliament. Local website Profit.kz quotes a spokesperson from Tele2 Kazakhstan as saying that the country’s larger operators ‘will be forced to engage in a real fight for the customer by reducing tariffs and improving the quality of service’. Tele2 sits in third place in the Kazakh mobile sector behind TeliaSonera-backed K’cell and Vimpelcom subsidiary KaR-Tel (Beeline), while the market is rounded out by number four provider Altel, which is owned by Kazakhtelecom.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:57:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications Technology (MCT) is reportedly planning to connect half of the country’s population to 3G mobile broadband services in 2015, All Africa reports. In order to achieve its ambitious goal, the government is aiming to complete Phase 1 of a wireless broadband infrastructure upgrade and expansion project, which is part of the National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), by year-end.

According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the National Broadband Plan was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in June 2013. The main aim of the plan is to increase penetration of fixed broadband services to 20% and mobile broadband to 80% of the population by the end of 2017. It outlines a number of ways to achieve this, including the release of more spectrum for broadband services, facilitating rapid rollout of wireless and wireline infrastructure and providing incentives to encourage a national 3G wireless coverage to at least 80% of the population by 2018.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:55:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vodafone UK’s chief executive Jeroen Hoencamp has been cited as saying that his company is focused on ensuring its 4G network is strong and reliable, rather than it looking to compete with the likes of market leader EE in terms of coverage. According to TechWeek Europe, Vodafone UK’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure is now available to around 50% of the country’s population – compared to the more than 80% EE announced earlier this week – while it has signed up around 1.4 million subscribers, far fewer than its rival’s 7.7 million customer base. However, Mr Hoencamp has highlighted the fact that Vodafone UK’s use of low level 800MHz spectrum will allow it to offer superior indoor coverage, while pointing out that it will only ever declare a location as ‘4G ready’ once it can serve the entire population, and not just a town or city centre. ‘It’s not about who’s got the most coverage,’ the executive said, adding: ‘It’s more about having the strongest signal. We’d love to expand the network faster, but it’s about doing it right first time; I’d rather do it at the pace we’re doing and get it right, than try to go faster and build a thin and flimsy network. You can have a few sites here and there, but that would give you really patchy signal. We only turn 4G on when we have built or updated enough sites.’

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:51:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Thailand’s cabinet last week approved a draft Cyber Stability & Security Act stipulating sweeping changes to data privacy and surveillance rules relating to communications providers, which will now be presented to the national legislative assembly for passage into law, Telecomasia reports. Under the act, a Cyber Security Commission chaired by the Prime Minister would have powers to directly order communications providers to supply any requested information, logs or documents to the commission, which could also summon individuals for questioning, while the act removes the existing requirement for a court order to carry out surveillance of communications or gain access to information. The report adds that under the draft wording, any officer appointed by the Cyber Security Commission would have the legal power to read e-mails, instant messages and other text communications plus listen to any voice conversations on any network in Thailand, while also having the power to demand access to information on ‘any computer system’.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:50:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Digicel Jamaica has announced that it now has one million smartphone users on its mobile network, accounting for more than 45% of its overall subscriber base in the country. The firm says it has focussed on providing low-cost smartphones under its ‘DL’ range, while it has also expanded its 3.5G HSPA+ network to reach 92% of the island’s population, and has been increasing the amount of free online content for local users. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digicel claimed 77% of the Jamaican mobile market at the end of September 2014, with LIME accounting for the remainder.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:48:53 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ooredoo Qatar intends to complete a national LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network coverage footprint this year whilst aiming for a target of ‘100%’ fibre penetration among its fixed broadband customers, the company told the Gulf Times at a press conference. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Ooredoo Qatar reached the milestone of 200,000 customers connected to its fibre broadband network in December 2014, around three years after launching the high speed triple-play connectivity service, with the lion’s share of its existing fixed broadband customers having been transferred from lower-bandwidth ADSL connections. Also that month, Ooredoo launched the country’s first commercial LTE-A service under the ‘4G+’ banner, boosting its mobile network’s peak mobile downlink data speeds to 225Mbps from its previous limit of 150Mbps, and covering parts of Doha – including Corniche, West Bay lagoon, Katara, Souq Waqif, Al Rayyan, Shahaniya and Sealine – for devices supporting LTE-A on either 800MHz or 2600MHz frequency bands. Ooredoo’s new chief business officer Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Thani told Gulf Times yesterday that 4G+ services were now available in additional major areas such as Al Wakrah, Al Gharafa and Education City, but the LTE-A technology was ‘still pending in some highways along the northern and southern parts of Qatar’ while the goal was to ‘provide the entire country with 4G+ services’. Sheikh Nasser also said Ooredoo was in ‘constant talks’ with Samsung, Huawei and Apple for the manufacture of LTE-A-capable smart devices, noting: ‘Our challenge to mobile phone manufacturers is to keep up with the technology that is now available in the market because not many smart devices are capable of using 4G+.’ To address the compatibility demand, Ooredoo has launched the Samsung Alpha, Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and Huawei (Mi-Fi) E5786 devices.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:47:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Central Bank of Ecuador anticipates that during 2015 at least 500,000 people will join its Electronic Money System which it launched in late-December 2014, according to manager Mateo Villalba, quoted by TeleSemana. Users of the mobile money service are forecast to make transactions worth approximately USD12.5 million in the year based on an average of USD25 per account. In mid-February a wider range of transaction functions (such as paying, depositing, withdrawing, transferring etc) will be implemented for the bank’s virtual account users, while paying utility/tax bills will be enabled over the platform during the second half of the year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:46:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Ecuador’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society (Mintel) reported that the country currently has 35,111km of optical fibre transmission infrastructure installed and expects to reach 45,000km by the end of 2017, supported by a state initiative to reduce the digital divide. As reported by TeleSemana, in 2006 Ecuador had a domestic fibre backbone spanning 3,500km which rose to 15,000km in 2012, whilst for its part state-owned incumbent telco Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) said its fibre-optic infrastructure reached 12,410km in mid-2014.

According to other end-of-year statistics from Mintel, ‘eight out of every 100 people’ in Ecuador use fixed broadband services, while by November 2014, 7,105 public educational institutions were connected to broadband in a programme benefitting more than 2.6 million students and 123,558 teachers. At the end of 2014 Ecuador had 490 operational community telecentres (infocentro) benefiting nearly 2.8 million people.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:44:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Mozambique is considering a number of projects to encourage broadband internet usage. One scheme will see citizens offered free internet access on Saturdays via a number of Digital Resource Centres (CPRDs) around the country; a report from Star Africa quotes the Ministry of Science and Technology as saying that the centres will be established in all provinces of the country except Maputo and Manica. The government is also thought to be in the process of setting up an ICT Universal Access Fund to complement the existing fund for universal access to basic telecoms services. Meanwhile, authorities are also promoting the idea of shared infrastructure among the country’s operators to help spread the cost of expanding coverage to more rural areas. Figures from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database highlight the fact that household broadband internet penetration in Mozambique stood at just 0.7% as of end-September 2014, well below the average regional penetration level of 4.5%.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:43:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to the annual report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) for 2013/14, the country’s four privately owned mobile operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel – collectively invested BDT98 billion (USD1.24 billion) in the development of their networks and services. The telecoms regulator told local paper the Daily Star that another private operator, CityCell, and state-backed Teletalk ‘did not invest during the year’ although this has been disputed by Teletalk with its MD Giasuddin Ahmed saying that his firm had committed CAPEX in the period under review, but that ‘BTRC did not seek any information from us on our investment’. However, he declined to say how much the firm had actually spent.

TeleGeography notes that in September 2013 the four cellcos each acquired 2×5MHz of bandwidth in the 2100MHz band for the rollout of 3G/4G services, agreeing to pay a total of BDT40 billion in instalments. Teletalk also bought a 2×10MHz block of spectrum but it is yet to clear the payment — around BDT16 billion. The state-run operator has been using the spectrum since 2012. CityCell, meanwhile, did not buy any 3G spectrum and is struggling to pay off its 2G licence renewal fees and the portion of its revenue it is required to share with the government.

The BTRC’s annual report goes on to say that the six mobile network operators generated total (gross) revenue of BDT207.65 billion through voice, data and other value added services (VAS). Additionally, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh notes that between 1997 and 2013, the cellcos invested more than BDT718.7 billion in their networks.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:42:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Senegal’s industry regulator L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes (ARTP) says that it now plans to launch a mobile number portability (MNP) regime in the country in February 2015 – despite previous assurances that MNP would go live in October 2014. It was June 2014 when Abou Lo, former director general of ARTP, said that the country was on course to launch MNP by October. In an interview at the time, the former ARTP official said he had signed an edict on MNP guidelines in Senegal, including the process of selecting the firm to manage the running of the single platform for it. Lo’s statement followed a similar announcement in October 2013 in which the watchdog confirmed it was conducting a public consultation on a number portability regime, to help achieve an October 2014 launch.

However, Biztechafrica quotes ARTP boss Abdou Karim Sall as saying that following a long consultation process with mobile operators, starting July 2014, to agree matters such as the terms of pricing and assessing customer experience, the testing phase of MNP will now begin this month before moving swiftly to the commercialisation phase. In other words, ARTP now has just two months to meet its latest deadline for finally introducing mobile portability in the West African nation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:41:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) aims to expand mobile phone services to all of the roughly 10% of villages in the country which remain unconnected to cellular networks by December 2016 as part of the Digital India programme, Telecompaper reports, quoting The Economic Times. Of some 600,000 villages across India, around 55,000 are still not connected to mobile services. The coverage gaps are particularly noticeable in certain zones: according to regulatory data, in the Arunachal Pradesh region nearly 56% of villages are not yet within the mobile footprint, while the figure is 38% in the Meghalaya area, 32% in Mizoram and 24% in Manipur. In a related move, in September 2014 the government approved a state-backed plan to deploy 6,673 cellular towers across 8,621 villages, mainly in the north-east.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:40:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Oman Broadband Company (OBC) has launched in cooperation with Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) a pilot project to provide high speed internet services using the fibre-optic cable infrastructure of electricity companies. Oman Tribune quotes Said bin Abdullah Al Mantheri, CEO of OBC, as saying that the project is being carried out in Hamam Al Sunub in the wilayat of Bausher, and involves the extension of fibre-optic cables between an Omantel mobile phone tower and an electricity transmission station. The network provides an internet connection of up to 40Mbps, compared to the previous speed of 3Mbps. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that state-owned OBC has been licensed by the TRA to provide the infrastructure in accordance with the plans and objectives of a new National Broadband Strategy (NBS), which was formally approved by the government in September 2013.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:39:22 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobile service provider Vodacom Congo has reportedly funded the installation of a USD83,000 digital centre in the Congolese University of Kinshasa, according to Biztech Afirca. The centre will include 100 computers providing internet access, and will help transform the university from its current state – it lacks landline phones, adequate electricity and tap water – into a modern functioning study centre. Vodacom Congo managing director Murielle Lorilloux said: ‘We remain convinced that access to new information technologies and communication is a powerful means of development … access to the internet should not be a privilege.’ The operator has previously reached out to underserved Congolese communities, having conversed with local residents in November with regards to increasing 3G network coverage in rural areas of Kasai.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:38:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, head of telecoms watchdog the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), has revealed that the watchdog is currently discussing a mobile number portability (MNP) report with policy makers and industry stakeholders, AllAfrica reports. Last year RURA hired a consultant to study the feasibility of the potential implementation of a MNP project and associated costs, with the final report being submitted in November 2014. The official pointed out that a cost benefit analysis of the service will be conducted prior to its introduction in order to determine if the project will be profitable, adding: ‘There is infrastructure investment involved in a centralised system which will allow people to port…’.

TeleGeography notes that the launch of MNP services, which allows subscribers to retain their phone number when they switch service provider, was originally slated for 2011. RURA said in February that year that it had postponed the implementation of the service to 2012 to allow the country’s three mobile operators to fully establish themselves in the market. ‘We have decided to postpone the introduction of the service to 2012 because the market is not yet ready for it; we also want the market to have a 60% [mobile] penetration.’ The country passed the 60% mobile penetration mark in January 2014.

Source: TeleGeography.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:37:14 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Canada’s government has announced plans to release an ‘unprecedented amount of mobile spectrum’ in 2015, with Industry Canada claiming that by May 2015 the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have increased by almost 60% against early 2014.

As part of its plans, the state has confirmed it will launch an auction of ‘Advanced Wireless Spectrum-3’ (‘AWS-3’) frequencies (1755MHz-1780MHz, 2155MHz-2180MHz) on 3 March 2015, with it saying these will ‘enable the delivery of fast, reliable service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to encourage sustained competition’. In addition, the government said it will seek views on plans to make spectrum in the 600MHz band available for mobile use, and plans to provide a path for mobile use in the 3500MHz frequency band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless internet services in rural areas. Further, the state intends to develop a plan to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum band (2000MHz-2020MHz and 2180MHz-2200MHz) in order to enable the launch of a new operator, with a view to increasing ‘[the] choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas’. Rounding out the plans, Industry Canada said an additional 2100MHz of spectrum will be made available, while it intends to establish a ‘more efficient and consistent process’ for new concessions in the 24GHz, 28GHz and 38GHz bands.

Commenting on the plans, James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, said: ‘Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:18:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Canada’s government has announced plans to release an ‘unprecedented amount of mobile spectrum’ in 2015, with Industry Canada claiming that by May 2015 the amount of spectrum available to provide mobile services to consumers will have increased by almost 60% against early 2014.

As part of its plans, the state has confirmed it will launch an auction of ‘Advanced Wireless Spectrum-3’ (‘AWS-3’) frequencies (1755MHz-1780MHz, 2155MHz-2180MHz) on 3 March 2015, with it saying these will ‘enable the delivery of fast, reliable service on the latest smartphones, tablets and mobile devices and to encourage sustained competition’. In addition, the government said it will seek views on plans to make spectrum in the 600MHz band available for mobile use, and plans to provide a path for mobile use in the 3500MHz frequency band, while maintaining existing fixed-wireless internet services in rural areas. Further, the state intends to develop a plan to enable use of the AWS-4 spectrum band (2000MHz-2020MHz and 2180MHz-2200MHz) in order to enable the launch of a new operator, with a view to increasing ‘[the] choice to Canadians, especially those in rural and remote areas’. Rounding out the plans, Industry Canada said an additional 2100MHz of spectrum will be made available, while it intends to establish a ‘more efficient and consistent process’ for new concessions in the 24GHz, 28GHz and 38GHz bands.

Commenting on the plans, James Moore, Canada’s Minister of Industry, said: ‘Spectrum is essential to power our wireless devices, and our government is making it more available than ever before. The end result is that Canadians will benefit from more competition, lower prices and better service in our wireless sector. The Harper Government is committed to delivering competitively priced wireless services on the latest technologies.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:18:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ooredoo Qatar reached the milestone of 200,000 customers connected to its fibre broadband network on 13 December, it announced in a press release yesterday, having launched the high speed triple-play connectivity service nearly three years ago. Ooredoo added that around 9,000 homes a month are currently being connected to Ooredoo Fibre, supporting 100Mbps broadband speeds, voice telephony and IPTV (‘Mozaic TV’), while the lion’s share of its existing fixed broadband customers have now been transferred from ADSL connections. Sheikh Saud bin Nasser al-Thani, CEO, Ooredoo Qatar, said: ‘As our community prepares to celebrate Qatar National Day together, I am proud that Ooredoo has lived up to its promise to connect people to the fastest-available fibre network.’ Ooredoo’s fibre investment will continue throughout 2015, while the full-service operator is also planning a significant infrastructure investment and capacity-building programme in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:17:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Mobile penetration reached 147% in Jordan at the end of September, compared to 146% three months earlier and 143% at end-March 2014, according to the most recent statistics published by sector regulator the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC). The number of mobile users expanded to 11.00 million from 10.69 million in the previous quarter, with pre-paid users increasing from 9.90 million to 10.17 million over that period. Mobile broadband subscriptions meanwhile reached 1.3 million from 1.21 million and 1.13 million in the preceding two quarters. Elsewhere, the TRC notes that there were some 5.6 million Jordanians, or 74% of the population, using internet services in Q3 compared to 5.4 million (73%) in Q2 2014. Broadband subscriptions totaled 344,738 at end-September, including 211,732 ADSL (207,713 in Q2), 125,481 WiMAX (125,909) and 6,000 cable (6,069).

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:16:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Guatemalan operators Claro, Movistar and Tigo have returned some six million mobile numbers to the government in order to minimise the burden of a new tax approved for the 2015 budget which will cost the operators GTQ5 (USD0.64) per number. El Periodico quotes the president of Guatemala’s Telecommunications Union, Acisclo Valladares, as saying that the numbers to be returned belonged to inactive users whose lines will be deactivated, adding that each of the trio still had sufficient resources to cope with national demand. Each of the three cellcos returned around two million numbers. According to the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SIT), ahead of this move there were 21.474 million registered mobile subscribers in Guatemala, of which 20.474 million were on pre-paid plans, with 70% of these users (14.302 million) topping up less than GTQ10 per month. Valldares warned that those customers that used less than GTQ10 per month might be affected by the deactivation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:14:16 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Uruguay’s national telecoms operator Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Antel) has achieved its target of connecting 500,000 households to its high speed fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network by year-end, the company’s president Carolina Cosse is quoted by Subrayado as saying. 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. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that China’s ZTE was selected in September 2011 to build Antel’s national FTTH network and the first home was connected to the infrastructure one month later. Services are marketed under the brand ‘Vera en tu Hogar’, with plans for residential users ranging in price from UYU690 (USD33.8) per month for the entry-level 20Mbps downstream connection to UYU1,590 per month for the top-end 120Mbps/12Mbps download/upload plan.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:13:10 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

World wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for internet access to be recognised as a human right. Presenting his World Wide Web Foundation's latest report tracking the internet's global impact, Berners-Lee said the internet could help tackle inequality as long as rights such as freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality were "hardwired" into the basic rules of net use. "It's time to recognise the internet as a basic human right," he said. "That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of web users regardless of where they live."

However, the 2014-15 edition of the Web Foundation’s annual Web Index found that the web is becoming less free and more unequal. Almost 60 percent of the world’s people – 4.3 billion – cannot get online, while over half of those who can access the internet live in countries that severely restrict their rights online. In fact, laws preventing mass online surveillance are weak or nonexistent in more than 84 percent of countries, said the report, and 38 percent of surveyed countries are blocking sensitive online content to a "moderate or extreme degree", an increase of 6 percent from 2013.

The report ranked Denmark, Finland and Norway as three countries that gained the most social and economic benefit from the internet in terms of universal access, relevant content and use, freedom and openness, and empowerment. The UK and Sweden were ranked fourth and fifth, while Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia came in at the bottom of the list of 86 countries.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:12:02 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Saudi telco Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has announced that it has achieved its objective to cover 60% of the population in 31 provinces in the central and western regions of the country ahead of schedule; the obligations were set out by the Communications and IT Commission’s (CITC’s) Universal Service Fund (USF). Under Project No. VII, which aims to increase connectivity in twelve provinces in Riyadh and 13 provinces in Qaseem, Mobily has constructed 216 new towers, while 197 existing base transceiver stations (BTS) in the two regions were upgraded, thus increasing coverage in 1,147 communities. Meanwhile, Project No. VIII, which aims to improve telecoms services in six provinces in the Mecca region, saw Mobily build 137 new towers, while 80 BTS were upgraded; 80% of the targeted population in 759 communities gained access to telecoms services following the expansion.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the CITC awarded the two USF projects to Mobily in December 2013: the first project encompasses 1,868 communities in the provinces of Qaseem and Riyadh, while the second seeks to increase connectivity for nearly 330,000 residents of Mecca province. The regulator has also received approval for its Fifth Operational Plan, which will see three projects funded by the USF: Project No. IX covers 1,130 communities in Madinah and Hail; Project No. X will improve connection to almost 1.2 million people in Aseer Province; while Project No. XI will encompass 457 communities in Tabuk. All three contracts were expected to be awarded in 2014, although no further details have emerged.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:09:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mobilink, Pakistan’s largest cellco by subscribers, has extended 3G coverage to Muzaffargarh, Muridke, Okara and Kharian, increasing the number of cities within its 3G footprint to 24, Pro Pakistani writes. Users in these four cities will have free access to 3G services for two weeks, after which customers will have to subscribe to one of the operator’s plans to continue using the service.

In a related development, Warid Telecom has started trialling 4G services for pre-paid customers. The cellco has already begun serving Long Term Evolution (LTE) corporate and contract users on a trial basis in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Peshawar.

Source: TeleGeography.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:07:30 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Orange Luxembourg has announced its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage has reached 85% of the population, while 3G and 2G coverage is 98% and 99% respectively. Speaking at a press conference, the operator revealed that this year it has invested nearly 10% of annual revenue into improving its networks, saying that its subscribers’ 4G consumption has increased eight-fold in less than a year to reach the same level as 3G consumption. TeleGeography notes that at 30 September 2014 Orange Luxembourg had 128,000 wireless subscribers, around 15% of the country total, behind Tango (32.6%) and Post Luxembourg (52.5%), both of which also offer 4G LTE services.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 9:06:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, November 10, 2014
GrameenPhone, the Bangladeshi mobile market leader, last week announced reaching the milestone of 50 million network users, and declared that its number of internet users alone will match this figure within the next five years. GrameenPhone CEO Vivek Sood said that the company has maintained an annual average investment budget of USD154 million over the past few years to upgrade and expand its network, adding that the level of investment will be significantly increased. Internet speeds of its existing 3G data plans are being doubled at no added cost as part of a new promotion.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:41:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) attracted 300,000 new wireless customers in the first nine months of the year. According to local newspaper Granma, around 40,000 of that total were signed up in August and September, while the telecoms operator has recently carried out work to modernise and expand its mobile network to cope with increasing demand for cellular services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, ETECSA had a wireless customer base of 1.996 million at the end of 2013, up from 1.681 million twelve months earlier. On 3 March 2014 the company introduced a mobile e-mail service known as @nauta.cu.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:40:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Data from TeleGeography’s new Business Broadband Research Service reveal that business broadband prices vary widely, not just by country, but also within countries.

Western European markets are among the most competitive in the world. The median monthly price of a fixed broadband plan with between 10Mbps and 16Mbps of downstream bandwidth is USD47 in Germany, while comparable plans cost USD28 in Spain and USD34 in the Netherlands.

Business broadband service is also relatively inexpensive in many East Asian economies, such as Taiwan, where the median price of 10-16Mbps service is USD37 per month; Japan, where it’s USD39 per month; and Vietnam, at USD29 per month. However, due to the diverse levels of broadband infrastructure availability and competition in the region, prices can be far higher in other countries. In Malaysia for example, the median price of a 10-16Mbps plan is USD140 per month. Business broadband service can be particularly expensive in Africa, where 10-16Mbps median prices are USD93 in South Africa, USD161 in Nigeria, and USD352 in Kenya.

Broadband prices can also vary widely within countries. In Chile, where the median price of a 10-16Mbps plan is USD41 per month, the highest price is two times the lowest price. In the United States, where the median price is USD90 per month, the high price is seven times the low. Similarly, the high price in Germany is three times the low price, while the high price in South Africa is an astonishing 24 times the low.

Business broadband services are priced for the local market. ‘Price differences between countries reflect competition, geography, population density, and the local cost of wholesale IP transit,’ said TeleGeography analyst Rob Schult. ‘Price differences within countries reflect similar characteristics, with the greatest differences coming between urban and rural markets. For a single geography and downstream speed, product features such as upstream bandwidth, multiple static IP addresses, data limits, and domain hosting have the greatest impact on price.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:39:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Airtel Zambia disclosed in a press release that it is upgrading its base stations across the country with a view to improving internet access for its customers. To date, 58 3G cell sites have been upgraded with faster technology since July 2014 while a further 242 site upgrades are expected to be completed by end of the year, according to the statement issued by the cellco’s head of corporate communications, Yuyo Kambikambi. So far 14 sites have been upgraded in Central Province, twelve in Copperbelt, eight in Southern province, seven each in Eastern, Lusaka and Northern provinces, plus three in Western province.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in July 2014 Airtel Zambia announced plans to invest around USD80 million in its network this year, on top of the almost USD270 million that had already been spent by India’s Bharti Airtel since it acquired the cellco back in 2010. As part of these plans the cellco was said to be planning to roll out 147 4G-enabled cell sites in Lusaka and Copperbelt this year. At that date the operator also issued an update on the current status of its infrastructure, with it claiming to have one of widest geographical network footprints in the country, with a total of 1,096 base stations up and running.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:34:02 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Gevorg Gevorgyan, the head of telecoms within Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), says that the country’s three mobile network operators – VivaCell-MTS, ArmenTel (Beeline) and Orange Armenia – have now deployed 3G services covering 97.7% of the territory, while 2G coverage stands at 100%. In a statement to the Commission yesterday, Mr Gevorgyan confirmed that as a result of the efforts of the incumbents, 3G now reaches all but 23 of the nation’s 1,001 towns and settlements.

VivaCell-MTS, majority-owned by Russian powerhouse Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), has the best 3G coverage, he says, with a live signal in 957 residential areas, and only 44 unserved. Second spot is taken by Orange Armenia with coverage of 773 settlements and 228 still to be upgraded, while Beeline can lay claim to just 346 areas served, and a sizeable 655 that are without 3G.

VivaCell-MTS also claimed the top spot in terms of GSM 2G coverage according to the PSRC, with coverage of 984 settlements (i.e. a deficit of 17), ahead of Beeline with 2G in 853 residential areas (148), and Orange Armenia with 803 (198).

As a result of the operators’ service expansions, all residential areas in the country were served by at least one cellco at 1 January 2014, where it says 8.5% of settlements are served by a single network, 23.0% from two operators and 68.5% from all three.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, November 10, 2014 3:32:55 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Having launched LTE-based services on a limited basis in Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city, in January 2014, Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) is reportedly planning to expand its 4G network nationwide next year, according to ITWeb Africa.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, hot on the heels of rival MTN Zambia launching LTE earlier in the January 2014, Zamtel was swift in announcing the launch of its own 4G mobile services in Kitwe, with the operator revealing it had set up a walk-in 4G Live Experiential Centre at its offices in the city so that customers could see the technology in action. The network development was carried out in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei, and Zamtel noted that the deployment of LTE meant that it would be able to offer theoretical downlink speeds of more than 50Mbps to customers.

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:30:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Zanzibar Telecommunication (Zantel), which is majority owned by UAE-based Etisalat, has launched its 3G network in mainland Tanzania, strengthening its telecoms portfolio in the country. At the launch ceremony in Dar es Salaam, its chief executive Pratap Ghose, said the new high speed network would ‘revolutionise’ the company’s service offering, with its director of enterprise solutions, Mohamed Ahmed Seif, confirming that from launch the 3G network is currently operational in Dar es Salaam and the islands of Zanzibar (since May 2012). Going forward, Zantel intends to extend its 3G coverage into other regions.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, November 10, 2014 3:28:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, June 16, 2014

The number of fixed broadband connections worldwide will see an annual growth rate of 5.7 percent during the period between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a report from Quantum-Web. The number of fixed broadband connections will jump by 78 million over this period to 749 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The report also forecast that the dominant technology will remain xDSL accounting for 55 percent of total fixed broadband connections by Q4 2015. Cable modem would come second (21%), followed by FTTx (20%) and other fixed broadband technologies (4%). The fastest growing region in terms of connections are North and Latin America with over 24.5 million new connections while the Middle East has the highest CAGR growth clocking up 16.9 percent over the same period.

The number of broadband net additions is expected to reach 78 million by the end of 2015. The number of broadband connections in China would reach 182 million, adding more than 11 million subscribers by the end of 2015. The five countries leading the net additions in fixed broadband connections – China, USA, Japan, Germany and Russia – would account for more than 42 percent of the global new connections.

In the Asia Pacific region, the largest global market, the growth is fuelled by emerging markets such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesia with 41 percent CAGR would be the fastest growing market among the top three. In North and Latin America, USA, Brazil and Mexico with over 17 million net additions represent over 71 percent of the whole regional growth. Uruguay with 49 percent CAGR has the highest growth rate in the region.

In the Middle East, Iran is expected to see over 2 million net additions and 66 percent growth over the next two years. Iran will become the biggest market in the region overtaking its southern neighbours: Saudi Arabia and UAE and the region’s current leader Israel. In Africa with over 2.5 million net additions, Egypt would be the largest fixed broadband market standing at 49 percent CAGR followed by Algeria and South Africa.

In Europe and central Asia region, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine would maintain their positions as the top three markets. These three countries enjoying a net addition of over 8.6 million or 68 percent of the growth in the whole region over the next two years. In the EU 27 market, a net addition of 16.5 million new connections is expected over the next two years. Germany, France and the UK are the top countries in terms of net additions at nearly 46 percent of the European Union.

The number of xDSL connections expected to grow at a CAGR of around 1.8 percent between 2013 and 2015. Cable Modem the second largest fixed broadband technology after xDSL and would maintain this runner up position during the forecast period. The growth of cable modem connections is expected to rise to over 150 million by the end of 2015. North and Latin America with over 88 million connections represents 56 percent of total Cable Modem connections in 2015. FTTx the fastest growing fixed broadband technology is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 24 percent, taking the total number of fibre optic connections from 57 million to over 151 million in 2015. A significant portion of FTTx growth is primarily generated in Asia Pacific. According to our forecasts around 70 percent of fibre optic connections would be in that region. 

There are around 1,600 network operators that currently provide fixed broadband to over 670 million subscribers or 9.46 percent of the global population. China Telecom, with 88.8 million fixed broadband connections, is the largest operator in the world followed by China Unicom and Comcast. The number of China Telecom connections is forecast to rise by 5 percent CAGR to 98.6 million connections between 2013 and 2015. The fastest growing operator, among the top ten operators in the world, is Russia Rostelecom with 11 percent CAGR during the same period.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:51:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algerian fixed line incumbent Algerie Telecom (AT) has introduced fixed-wireless Long Term Evolution (LTE) services to business subscribers, ahead of a planned consumer launch in the second half of 2014. According to a company press release, AT has deployed 200 ‘eNodeB’ sites across the country’s 48 wilayas (provinces), with plans to install 2,000 LTE-enabled base transceiver stations (BTS) by end-2015. From 1 May 2014 business users can subscribe to one of two LTE plans, both of which include a CPE LTE-compatible router and SIM card: the introductory offer, including a 5GB data allowance, is priced at DZD3,500 (USD44.54), while the premium plan, which includes 10GB of data, costs DZD6,500.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2013 AT Group CEO Azouaou Mehmel said that business customers would be the initial target group of the company’s commercial LTE network because of the high costs involved. Mr Mehmel added that the tender for the acquisition of LTE equipment was worth an estimated EUR40 million (USD53.42 million).

Source: TeleGeography.

LTE
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:49:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Around 19,000 families and businesses in 15 communities across Australia are set to complete the transition to the National Broadband Network (NBN), the company tasking with overseeing the project, NBN Co, has announced. With existing fixed line services provided over infrastructure owned by incumbent PTO Telstra to be switched off today, the locations have been named as: Armidale, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs in New South Wales; South Morang and Brunswick in Victoria; Townsville, Aitkenvale and Mundingburra in Queensland; Willunga in South Australia; and Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Sorell, St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania.

NBN Co has, however, been keen to stress that the move to the NBN is not automatic, and has urged home and business owners to ensure they have taken the necessary steps to connect to the new fibre infrastructure. To that end, John Simon, NBN Co’s chief customer officer, noted: ‘The overwhelming majority of people in the affected areas have made the switch to the NBN over the 18 months since the countdown began and are enjoying the benefits of fast broadband … Any family or business that is yet to make the switch can choose to place an order with their preferred phone company or internet service provider or they can stick with a mobile or other wireless solution. The choice is up to them. But we are working hard with the industry to ensure that no-one in these areas who wants the NBN is left behind.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:48:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is preparing for the arrival of competition in the wireless sector, drafting in help from its sister company in Panama, and former Digicel executives, Tribune 242 writes. Phil Bentley the chief executive of parent company Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) said that the Bahamian unit was the second largest contributor to the group’s annual income in the year to end-March 2014, adding that CWC was ‘cognisant’ of the threat posed by cellular liberalisation. The official confirmed that ex Digicel executive Niall Merry, now CWC’s chief commercial officer, has been called in to assist BTC with its preparations, helping assess what his former employer may attempt if it is successful in securing the second mobile licence. BTC is also to draw on the expertise of CWC’s Panama subsidiary, which has experience as an incumbent battling new market entrants. Speaking to shareholders and analysts in a conference call on CWC’s annual results, Bentley explained: ‘We’ve had the team in, and certainly Niall [Merry] has been helping in war gaming what we think Digicel might do if they come in. We’ve had the Panama team helping us, because they’ve gone through pretty intensive new entrance strategies in how to fight those off.’

CWC highlighted the fact that it likely to have an advantage over newcomers in its broadband network, adding that the telco will explore converged offerings: ‘It’s all part of this fixed-mobile convergence play, so we’ll be able to move to that Wi-Fi offload for products that a mobile-only entrant will be unable to support.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:47:28 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

FPT Telecom, a unit of Vietnam’s largest listed telecoms, and technology software company FPT Corporation, has announced that it has upgraded the downstream speed of three of its broadband plans at no additional cost to the customer. Under the changes, the speed of the firm’s ‘Mega Save’ package has increased from 3Mbps to 5Mbps, while ‘Mega You’ has been upgraded to 8Mbps from 6Mbps and ‘Mega Me’ to 10Mbps from 8Mbps. FPT Telecom, which operates in 57 provinces and cities across the country, will implement the upgrades in three phases, with customers in 15 provinces and major cities (including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) the first to benefit, followed by a further 25-30 provinces, ending with the remaining locations during the third rollout phase.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:44:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has unveiled plans to reduce mobile termination rates (MTRs) further, despite saying that the rate had fallen ‘significantly’ in recent years on the back of its previous intervention. With the rate currently standing at GBP0.0815 (USD0.017) per minute as of 1 April 2014, under the watchdog’s latest proposals it has set out reductions for each of the next three years. As such, from 1 April 2015 Ofcom has said that the MTR will be reduced to GBP0.0515 per minute, before falling to GBP0.0498 per minute and GBP0.0476 per minute at 1 April 2016 and 1 April 2017, respectively. The new rates will apply to all operators.

Having concluded its previous review of MTRs on 15 March 2011, Ofcom has said that in reaching its latest decision there were a number of relevant factors that it had considered. Among those was the fact that between 2011 and 2013 the availability of spectrum to provide mobile services had increased significantly following the regulator’s work on spectrum liberalisation and the 4G auction. Further, it has argued that mobile networks and technologies are also becoming more efficient, leading to lower costs, and has claimed that the new charge controls are designed to ensure that the charges levied by operators reflect these lower costs.

Brian Potterill, Ofcom’s Competition Policy Director, said of the plans: ‘Consumers in the UK benefit from a thriving competitive market, and mobile calls have never been cheaper. The average cost of a call bundle has fallen from GBP40 to around GBP13 in real terms over the last ten years … We want to ensure mobile users continue to benefit from competition, which will deliver affordable services in the years ahead.’

Ofcom’s consultation on the proposals closes on 13 August 2014, and the regulator has said it expects to publish its final decision by March next year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:43:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Cuba’s state-owned monopoly fixed line and wireless operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) has revealed that it is in the process of deploying 80 new cell sites to improve capacity and relieve network congestion. A report from local news portal Cuba Si says that the firm has carried out traffic management work in Havana and other areas due to an increase in traffic caused by the introduction of new services. New offerings include mobile e-mail, which was launched on 3 March this year under the brand name @nauta.cu. ETECSA operates a nationwide 900MHz GSM network and is expected to launch further mobile internet services in the coming months.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:42:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Iraqi government has reportedly granted the country’s three national mobile operators – Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait’s Zain Group, Ooredoo subsidiary Asiacell and Orange affiliate Korek – permission to utilise 3G frequencies, effectively bringing an end to a lengthy stalemate. Reuters quotes a statement by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers as saying that the trio now have ‘the right to use third-generation frequencies’, without providing specific details. The assertion was backed up by Hayder Ahmed, head of corporate communications for Zain Iraq, who told Reuters that the Council’s decision was ‘a positive step for the development of the telecom industry in Iraq’, even if his company had yet to be made aware of the government’s launch conditions.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as recently as March 2014 Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) was determined to preside over a two-step process, which would see a quick, closed 3G auction, followed by the introduction of a fourth mobile player further down the line. Meanwhile, the government said it remained keen to combine the two processes, potentially delaying the country’s introduction of 3G technology even further. Based on previous statements by the regulator, the 3G licences are expected to comprise 15MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:41:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Chinese state news agency Xinhua has announced the launch of China’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), T.Mobile, on Sunday. The provider piggybacks on the network of China Telecom but is currently limited to Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, although the operator plans to expand to other areas of the province. T.Mobile is a unit of Chinese firm Telephone World Digital Group (TWDH), not to be confused with the preferred T-Mobile moniker of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (DT). TWDG is one of 19 companies granted MVNO licences, with others including a subsidiary of e-commerce giant Alibaba and retailers Suning, JD.com and D.Phone. The other MVNOs are due to launch shortly, and Suning and D.Phone began taking pre-orders for their service on 1 May.

The potential impact of MVNOs on China’s telecoms market is widely disputed, with many commentators expecting the high prices levied on virtual providers by network operators to limit their effect on competition. Xinhua cited several unnamed industry insiders as saying that the poor prospects for profitability would hamstring the MVNOs ability to drive competition, with one executive from China Telling Communication noting that each MVNO would require one million active subscribers to reach break-even. Nevertheless, some areas of the sector remain optimistic about the introduction of privately-owned MVNOs into a market previously controlled by three state-backed entities, namely China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. Zou Xueyong, the secretary general of China’s Industry Association of Mobile Virtual Network Operators, remained adamant that: ‘Virtual operators will help push forward reforms in the telecom industry and drive down prices of telecom services.’

Source: TeleGeography.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:40:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Belgian mobile operator Mobistar said it has completed initial network tests of LTE Advanced, achieving speeds of over 200 Mbps. The company is using a combination of 1,800 MHz band (20 MHz) and 800 MHz band (10 MHz) frequencies for the tests, which it said provides for more efficient spectrum use, higher speeds and improved indoor coverage. The tests were conducted in Mechelen from January to April, using a prototype Cat 6 device from Huawei. With the aggregation of 1,800 and 800 MHz band spectrum, the operator achieved speeds of 213 Mbps download and 41 Mbps upload. Mobistar said it plans to launch the 4G+ services once commercial devices are available.  

Source: Telecom Paper.

LTE
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:39:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iraq has granted its three mobile operators the right to provide 3G services, reversing an earlier decision to hold a multimillion dollar auction and ending years of stalemate. The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers announced the approval of granting mobile companies operating in Iraq the right to use the 3G frequencies, Reuters reported. The statement did not provide further details and it was unclear when the operators - Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek - will receive the frequencies required for 3G. Hayder Ahmed, head of corporate communications for Zain Iraq, the country's top mobile operator by subscribers, told Reuters that the Council's decision was "a positive step for the development of the telecom industry in Iraq", but added his company had yet to be told the government's conditions for launching 3G.

Source: Telecom Paper.

3G
Monday, June 16, 2014 7:37:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Deutsche Telekom has announced the launch of the MyWallet app and MyWallet Card to let customers in Germany make purchases with their smartphones. All customers who sign up for mobile payments with the MyWallet Card now will get an introductory bonus of up to EUR 40. MyWallet can be downloaded as a free app from the Google Play Store. Thomas Kiessling, Chief Product & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said that it planned to launch mobile payment products internationally later in 2014, including Slovakia in mid-May and Hungary later in the year. In addition to the app and a MyWallet-capable Android smartphone from Deutsche Telekom, customers need an NFC-enabled SIM card to use the digital wallet. Deutsche Telekom customers who already use a suitable smartphone can order the NFC SIM card free of charge.

The first MyWallet service is a payment card. The MyWallet Card is a prepaid MasterCard. Users can pay at more than 35,000 PayPass merchants throughout Germany and more than 1.6 million merchants worldwide. Partner chains in Germany include Starbucks, Aral, Douglas, Kaufhof, Thalia, Vapiano and the Telekom Shops. The card is issued by ClickandBuy International, a Deutsche Telekom subsidiary. Additional MyWallet products will be launched in summer 2014. These will include a partnership with Tank und Rest to enable  MyWallet and other contactless payment systems at 400 motorway rest stops across Germany. From June, customers will be able to store digital coupons from supermarket chains Hit and Edeka using MyWallet.

Bonn has been selected as the flagship city for supplying mobile payment terminals, with around 1,000 acceptance points in restaurants, shops and filling stations. Wirecard, German provider of electronic payment and risk management services, is the technical service provider for the MyWallet scheme.

Source: Telecom Paper.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:36:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Group has earmarked investment of over USD3 billion for the upgrade and expansion of its Nigerian business over the next three years, in a bid to improve the quality of its services amid rapid subscriber growth, Business Day reports. The Nigerian market is South Africa-based MTN’s largest by revenues and subscribers, but the company has been penalised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to meet minimum standards of service quality, while it also faces attacks on its infrastructure in the north by militant Islamist group Boko Haram. MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa acknowledged that the firm has challenges with quality of service driven by the ‘high demand’ in Nigeria, adding that the company will ‘continue to invest at this rate in the medium term, and make sure the overall quality of service is acceptable’. At 31 March 2014 MTN Nigeria’s subscriber total stood at 57.2 million, up 12% from 51.3 million twelve months earlier and making it the market leader by some margin. The cellco expects its customer base to exceed 60 million by the end of the year.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, June 16, 2014 7:34:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |