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 Thursday, 16 March 2017

Globe Telecom of the Philippines has launched what it claims is the country’s first commercial deployment of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) four component carrier (4CC) spectrum aggregation technology, using the 2600MHz band. 4CC, which uses four distinct and separate blocks of 2600MHz spectrum, aggregated by LTE-A eNode B equipment, effectively doubles LTE capacity to improve mobile broadband speeds in those areas covered to peak rates of up to 400Mbps. According to Globe Senior Vice President for Programme Governance, Network Technical Group, Joel Agustin, the cellco has already deployed 4CC technology in 110 sites – mostly in Metro Manila, and specifically in Makati and certain areas in Quezon City, Marikina, Antipolo and San Mateo. Agustin notes that Globe’s 2600MHz rollout is the result of its joint acquisition of San Miguel Corp (SMC’s) telecommunication assets last year which has boosted its capability to further improve its LTE rollout.

‘This is the first time that a telco operator in the Philippines is making use of this four-component carrier spectrum LTE-Advanced technology and we are maximising the potential of the new spectrum assigned to us for the benefit of our customers. This technology milestone significantly improves customer experience as smartphone penetration in the country continues to increase,’ Agustin said. Going forward, Globe intends to roll out 4CC at more than 500 sites, augmenting its Metro Manila deployment with 2600MHz coverage in North Luzon and South Luzon. The company began using its new allocation of 2600MHz frequencies in June 2016 and to date, claims to have installed no fewer than 2,600 LTE sites – including approximately 1,200 mostly in Visayas and Mindanao.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 16 March 2017 13:42:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 13 February 2017

Vodafone Ghana, the country’s leading fixed broadband operator by subscribers, has announced the launch of its Vodafone Fibre Broadband fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service, Ghana Business News reports. At launch, the FTTH network has been connected to 1,000 homes across 20 communities, and is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 50Mbps. Vodafone Ghana CEO Yolanda Cuba commented: ’The Vodafone Fibre Broadband is positioning Vodafone as a total communications provider for home and businesses. This new technology, which is changing the phase of internet connection to homes across the world, will be delivered using our state-of-the-art fibre-optic infrastructure.’ The telco has partnered with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to monitor faults in over 50,000 homes that are expected to be connected to its fibre infrastructure network over the next two years.

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 13 February 2017 15:27:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 03 February 2017

The Altan consortium has been awarded a grant to construct and operate a wholesale 4G network in Mexico by the country’s regulator, IFT.

Backed by investors from China, the US and Mexico – including TV firm Megacable and Mexican operator Axtel - the consortium was the sole participant in November’s bidding for the long-running wholesale tender. The only other interested party, a consortium consisting of Rivada Networks and Spectrum Frontier, was disqualified after failing to meet a deadline for presenting a $52 billion bid bond.

The introduction of a wholesale network to the Mexican market is aimed at increasing competition and reducing the market dominance of America Movil. The IFT grant will deliver a 20-year shared network concession to the consortium to deploy and maintain the 4G network, which will allow smaller operators to rent capacity and deliver coverage over the new infrastructure.

IFT stated that the grant would enable Altan to “take advantage and exploit frequency bands of radio spectrum for commercial use at the national level” between the 703MHz to 748MHz and 758MHz to 803MHz bands. The consortium can now begin building out the network following the numerous delays that have plagued the tender.

Altan is aiming to extend network coverage to 92% of Mexico’s population over the next seven years. It had raised $750 million at the time that it won the network tender.

Source: Developing Telecoms.


Friday, 03 February 2017 16:09:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iranian ISP MobinNet has launched its first services using time division duplex LTE (TD-LTE) technology. The firm has migrated its 3.5GHz WiMAX networks in four cities – Tehran, Karaj, Mashhad and Kish – to TD-LTE, bringing improved data speeds for both consumer and business customers. A report from The Financial Tribune says that MobinNet plans to have TD-LTE systems live in eleven cities by the end of the Iranian financial year in March. Rival operator MTN Irancell launched its own TD-LTE networks in parts of 25 provinces in August 2016, having followed a similar migration path from 3.5GHz WiMAX.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 03 February 2017 16:02:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 16 January 2017

Togo has become the latest country to join a programme abolishing international mobile voice roaming charges between a group of west African nations. Agence Ecofin reports that the Togolese Authority of Posts & Telecommunications Regulation (ART&P) signed an agreement last week with its Senegalese counterpart to introduce free voice roaming for travellers between the two countries from 31 March 2017. Via the pact signed in Dakar, Togo also abolished mobile roaming costs with Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso, all of which ratified a Protocol on regional roaming alongside Senegal on 28 November 2016. Director General of Senegal’s Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications & Post (ARTP), Abdou Karim Sall, announced upon Togo’s signing: ‘The free roaming will enter into force on 31 March 2017, [which] will enable those travelling within six Protocol countries … to receive and make calls as if they were in their own country.’ Although not mentioned in this statement, several regional publications have reported that a seventh country, Sierra Leone, is joining the west African roaming initiative, which is part of a wider plan to create a more united African continent as promoted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Source: TeleGeography.

Monday, 16 January 2017 08:30:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 15 December 2016

MTN Congo, the largest mobile network operator (MNO) by subscribers in the Republic of the Congo, has become the first cellco to launch commercial 4G services. Confirming the development in a blog post, the country’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Leon Just Ibombo, said that LTE-based services had officially been made available at the tail-end of last week, with a ceremony held in the presence of the country’s prime minister to mark the occasion.

With MTN offering LTE-based plans under the ‘4G Turbo’ banner, it has a number of tariffs available at launch, with residential prices starting at XAF500 (USD0.81) for a 60MB allowance at the maximum speed possible (valid for one day), rising to XAF60,000 for a 45GB data cap (valid for 30 days). In terms of coverage, meanwhile, MTN’s website indicates that at launch the 4G network is available only in selected areas of the capital Brazzaville, as well as parts of the country’s second largest city, Pointe Noire.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 15 December 2016 08:01:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 July 2016

Gabon Telecom has officially launched its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) networks in Libreville. The FTTH network, which supports download speeds of up to 50Mbps, is initially available in the following districts of the capital: Asecna, Sabliere, Tahiti, Narval, Kalikak and Batterie IV. In FTTB-enabled locations, the final connection is delivered in-building via a VDSL copper tail, the telco notes. While no prices are quoted on the company website, Gabon Telecom notes that it charges XAF200,000 (USD335.7) for an FTTH router and XAF80,000 for a VDSL/FTTB router, whilst broadband users also get a fixed voice connection.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:32:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

MTN Cameroon, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has expanded its LTE network to three new cities, namely Kumba, Limbe and Bafoussam. A total of eight major cities are now covered by the South African-owned company’s 4G service, equivalent to 53% of the population. MTN first launched its LTE network in Douala, Yaounde, Buea and Bamenda in December 2015, with the seaside resort town of Kribi following in May, and the firm says that services will be made available in Ngaoundere and Garoua by the end of this month.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March 2015 MTN agreed to pay XAF75 billion (USD130 million) to renew its operating licence in Cameroon for a further 15 years, at the same time receiving permission to roll out 3G and 4G services. The firm pledged to deploy 3G and 4G services at more than 700 sites in 16 towns in the first year of rollout, before gradually expanding high speed mobile data coverage to 75% of the population by 2018.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:30:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

South Korea’s LG Uplus has demonstrated its energy self-sufficient LTE network base stations for mountainous and remote island areas, the Korea Times reports. Showing off the technology at a base station at the Sky Ranch in Daegwallyeong, Gangwon Province, the telco claimed that the system, which integrates LG Electronics’ solar panels and LG Chem’s energy storage system (ESS) batteries, would not only improve network conditions in remote radio shadow zones but also minimise environmental damage. The demo facility in Daegwallyeong is LG Uplus’ fourth solar-powered LTE base station; the cellco established and began testing the same systems at Mount Gyeryong and Mount Oseo in South Chungcheong Province last year.

While South Korean cellcos are said to have mobile coverage of 99.9% of the population, geographic coverage is notably lower, standing at around 80%, in part due to the fact there are some 4,440 mountains and 3,677 islands nationwide. LG Uplus has suggested that the energy self-sufficient base stations will boost connectivity in radio shadow zones and can be used for emergency situations such as rescue operations in natural disasters and accidents, while it also expects the technology to help it obtain government permission to build such facilities in environmental protection zones such as national parks.

Commenting on the technology development, Heo Vitus, Network Strategy Unit Vice President at LG Uplus, was cited as saying: ‘With this base station system, we can now connect LTE networks even in remote areas where cable-based networks are practically impossible to build … This will boost both cost-efficiency and eco-friendliness in expanding LTE networks in radio shadow zones.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:29:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Bangladesh’s mobile market leader GrameenPhone has activated its 10,000th 3G base transceiver station (BTS), announcing that its latest expansion work has brought its 3G network coverage to approximately 90% of the population. As reported by the Daily Star, GrameenPhone officials claimed that theirs is ‘the fastest 3G network rollout’ in the region in terms of population coverage, whilst the company’s next target is ‘to cover the rest of the country within a short time.’ TeleGeography notes that the W-CDMA/HSPA+ network was launched in October 2013 and reached 70% population coverage in January 2016, with GrameenPhone’s latest announcement claiming that it has covered an additional 20% of the population in less than six months, including many rural areas.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:27:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Tele2 Lithuania has expanded the coverage of its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network to around 50% of the population. The ‘4G+’ high speed data service is now available in 33 towns, and subscribers with compatible handsets and data tariffs are able to access the faster rates at no additional cost. The Swedish-owned firm has also revealed that its LTE network footprint has increased to 100 towns, cities and villages, covering more than 98% of the population, up from 95% in March, and 90% at the end of 2015.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that Tele2 Lithuania’s LTE network was launched in March 2013 and utilises the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands. In August 2015 the mobile market leader introduced LTE-A services in twelve cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Panevezys, Jonava, Mazeikiai, Alytus, Marijampole, Nida, Palanga and Sventosios – covering 20% of the population.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:26:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Slovakia’s Office for Regulation of Electronic Communications & Postal Services (RU) says that more than two-thirds of the country’s population used 3G and 4G mobile internet services in 2015. At the end of last year Slovakia was home to 3.69 million mobile internet users, an increase of 250,000 in six months. The figures are for active users who accessed a mobile internet connection at least once in three months. The Slovakian mobile market is home to four players – Orange, Slovak Telekom, O2 and SWAN, which trades as 4ka – which between them served around 7.1 million mobile subscribers in total at the end of March 2016.

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:24:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Australians in more than 130 rural and regional communities will reportedly gain access to 4G connectivity as part of mobile market leader Telstra’s AUD165 million (USD121 million) commitment to regional Australia and the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme. In a press release the operator noted that it will construct 135 4G small cell base stations in rural and regional communities across the nation, with these to be funded solely by Telstra. Such infrastructure is in addition to the 429 communities that have benefited from Telstra expanding 3G and 4G coverage under Round One of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

With Telstra Group Managing Director, Networks, Mike Wright noting that the roll out of small cell technology was part of Telstra’s commitment to expand its 4G coverage to 99% of the Australian population by June 2017, he said: ‘We worked closely with the Federal Government to identify the communities who were eligible for this small cell technology and we are proud to be part of this important initiative which will connect so many more regional communities. We will also continue to work with the Government to identify further opportunities to deploy this innovative technology to more rural areas.’

Source: TeleGeography.

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:23:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 17 June 2016

T-Mobile Netherlands says it now offers near nationwide coverage with its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network which was launched in January this year. The telco says that LTE-A technology has been extended to its entire 4G system, which reaches 96% of the population. The network uses carrier aggregation across the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, providing data download speeds which are double those available via the basic 4G equipment. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, T-Mobile is the third largest cellco in the Netherlands by subscribers, behind KPN and Vodafone but ahead of newest entrant Tele2.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:25:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

French cellcos Orange France and Free Mobile (part of the Iliad Group) have signed an agreement to gradually terminate their national 2G/3G roaming deal (inked in 2011) by the end of 2020, following several months of negotiations. Under the plan, the phasing out of Free’s roaming over the networks of Orange France is scheduled to start from January 2017. The contract will now be forwarded to the Authority of Regulation for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep), which must ‘verify its coherence’ with the outlined recommendations published in May 2016.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2016 Arcep opened a public consultation on its draft guidelines on mobile network sharing by proposing a gradual termination of all roaming agreements in metropolitan France. In regards to the Free/Orange deal, the regulator proposed that the termination process should start before the existing contract expires, with 3G roaming between Orange/Free scheduled to end between 2018 and 2020. For 2G (voice, SMS and data) services the termination date should be between 2020 and 2022.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:24:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The new Madagascan mobile operator ‘bip’ has attracted 10,000 subscribers since its launch on 2 June 2016, reports Agence Ecofin, citing bip’s marketing director Alexis Godinot. The company, which is the wireless subsidiary of ISP Gulfsat Madagascar (Blueline), also announced that it is gradually opening new stores across the country.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Blueline has become the country’s fourth cellco, having launched 3.75G wireless services less than two weeks ago.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:23:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cameroon’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has announced it will deactivate all unregistered SIMs from 30 June 2016, in accordance with Law No. 2010/13 of 21 December 2010 and amendments made via Decree No. 2015/3759 of 03 September 2015. In a press release, the ministry noted that: all operators had been ordered to commence suspension of unidentified SIMs as of 10 June; all operators will have to use a system to detect the MRZ code on identity cards produced by their subscribers; and operators must deploy teams nationally to ensure the registration is implemented.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:21:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Singapore’s telecoms regulator, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), has laid down strict 4G rollout targets for the city-state’s mobile operators, requiring that they provide coverage of more than 95% of outdoor areas from July this year, rising to over 99% in July 2017 and more than 99% of tunnels by July 2018. The IDA has announced its rollout guidelines amid growing calls for strengthened regulation, noting that by January 2019 it expects 4G licensees to have boosted in-building signal coverage to more than 85%. Furthermore, the watchdog says that any new network operators will also have to adhere to the new standards, although they will be given more time to deploy their networks. TeleGeography notes that as at 31 March 2016, between them the country’s three incumbent cellcos – Singtel, StarHub and M1 – had a total of 4.242 million 4G subscribers, of which 3.771 million were on post-paid contracts.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:20:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Iran’s Deputy ICT Minister has said that the government is looking to boost internet connections in the country to a minimum 20Mbps within the next five years. Barat Ghanbari says that the scheme will be backed by an investment of USD15 billion, half of which will go to the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI). A report from Mehr News Agency quotes Ghanbari as saying that internet services in rural areas will be expanded via the deployment of 4G LTE mobile technology. For many years most residential internet connections in Iran were limited to a maximum speed of 128kbps, with the cap only lifted in September 2014.

Meanwhile, TCI is to forge stronger ties with Kazakhtelecom, with the two telcos signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering the development of new services and the opening of new international traffic routes between the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The two countries intend to link their respective networks either via a direct trans-Caspian cable or overland through a neighbouring country.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:19:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Eritrea Telecommunication Services Corporation (EriTel), the country’s monopoly telecoms operator, has installed a total of 110 base transceiver stations (BTS) to offer mobile network coverage of 85% of the country, it has been confirmed. In an interview with Ministry of Information news service Shabait, Minister of Transportation and Communications, Tesfaselasie Berhane, said that the number of wireless telephony subscribers has reached around 500,000. Looking ahead, the Minister said that future focus will placed on expanding coverage in rural areas, increasing the use of solar energy to power networks, reducing service charges and improving quality of service (QoS).

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:18:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Madagascar’s campaign for SIM identification ended on 30 April, reports Agence Ecofin, with any SIMs not yet registered being deactivated as of 1 May. The country’s Agency for Regulation of Technology and Telecommunication (ARTEC, formerly OMERT) implemented the SIM registration campaign in early March 2016, and will enforce the move. As per regulations (Article 5 of Order No. 2471/2016), subscribers have 90 days from SIM deactivation to provide identification details in order to retain their mobile number, otherwise the mobile line will be cancelled permanently>

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 17 June 2016 07:17:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 05 February 2016

Singapore’s biggest telecoms operator by subscribers Singtel has announced plans to offer home users a 10Gbps fibre-optic service, trumping rivals in what will be the city state’s fastest residential service to date. The carrier says that the ultra-high speed service will be hosted on its next generation 10 Gigabit Passive Optical Network (XG-PON), noting that trials of 10Gbps-based fibre services kicked off in May 2015 for selected customers, ahead of what it hoped would be a full commercial launch last year. Commenting on the launch, Mr Goh Seow Eng, managing director for the group’s home and consumer division, said: ‘We recognise that residential customers are using greater bandwidth and requiring faster speeds for their online activities … Our 10Gbps Fibre Home Bundle will offer households the fastest fibre broadband experience in Singapore.’ Singtel’s 10Gbps Fibre Home Bundle is priced at SGD189 (USD132.4) per month, including a 10G optical network router, a wireless dual-band AC router and installation.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Singtel rival M1 launched XG-PON fibre-optic broadband services in September last year over the city-state’s next generation national broadband network (Next Gen NBN), initially only available to corporate customers. Although XG-PON is due to be extended to residential users in due course, the business user plan is priced at SGD1,088 per month for a 2Gbps subscription, rising to SGD2,888 for a 10Gbps service.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:15:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

France’s Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, Arcep) has invited applications for the award of available 3G/4G spectrum in the French overseas territories (‘departement d’outre-mer’, DOM) of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Reunion, Martinique, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy. The watchdog will auction spectrum in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands (yet unallocated overseas), along with additional frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. All interested parties are invited to submit their applications by 10 May 2016. The regulator will award up to four licences ‘per zone’, each with specific deployment obligations; Arcep said that the authorisations in Guyana will come with obligations to improve the coverage of the two national highways (NR1 and NR2). In regards to Reunion and Mayotte, Arcep decided to set the commercial launch of 4G services for 1 December 2016, due to the ‘particularly fragile’ competition environment since the November 2014 merger of SFR and Outremer Telecom.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, back in July 2013 Arcep unveiled a ‘broad public consultation’ covering mobile frequency assignments in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands, with a view to facilitating the introduction of LTE. The process was successfully concluded in February 2014, and a formal tender was expected to be introduced in 1H14, only for the regulator to miss its self-imposed target.

Source: TeleGeography.

3G | LTE
Friday, 05 February 2016 09:14:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Canal+ in Benin has struck a deal to operate internet access services via the network of the Beninese Electric Power Company (SBEE), reports Agence Ecofin. A partnership agreement signed on 21 January 2016 provides for the operation of internet infrastructure by Canal Box Benin, the local subsidiary of the French-owned Canal+ pay-TV group, which TeleGeography notes is registered as a Beninese ISP under the name Espace Informatique Benin (EIT). The new internet service will initially be rolled out in Benin’s capital Cotonou, before a potential expansion to other areas, with the CEO of Canal+ declaring that: ‘Our ambition is to mesh the entire city of Cotonou, and gradually, a fibre-optic network that will enable end users to benefit from very high speed internet,’ whilst citing the example of successful powerline communications (PLC) internet services in Brazil as a precedent. Under the partnership, SBEE will receive fees for the use of its infrastructure, whilst the utility company says there are mutual benefits from the project including georeferencing its electricity poles and making the connection of customers easier.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:11:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The government of Guinea is planning to introduce a new tax on SMS and mobile data services on 1 February 2016 as part of widespread changes to the Finance Act 2016, reports Guineenews, citing a statement from Budget Minister Mohamed Lamine Doumbouya. According to the report, a tax of GNF10 (USD0.0013) will be introduced on text messages, while the additional fee for mobile internet access will be 5% of the overall cost of the subscription package. The new levy follows the introduction of a GNF1 per second tax on fixed and mobile telephony calls on 1 July 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:09:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Movistar Argentina has revealed that it signed up a total of 1.5 million 4G customers by the end of December 2015. At that date, the cellco’s 4G network comprised 2,500 cell towers, with LTE coverage supported in more than 300 locations across 17 provinces. Also served by Movistar’s 4G network are 25 metropolitan subway stations. Going forward, the cellco has disclosed that a voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) launch is expected to take place in early 2016.

TeleGeography notes that Movistar’s LTE network went live in December 2014, one month after it won a nationwide concession pairing frequencies in the 1710MHz-1720MHz and 2110MHz-2120MHz bands; the cellco paid USD209.14 million for the spectrum permit.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:08:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Oman ended last year with a total of 434,932 fixed telephony lines, an increase of 15.9% from the 375,196 lines reported at the end of 2014. According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), during 2015 mobile telephony subscriptions increased by 7.3% from roughly 6.19 million to around 6.65 million (including over one million MVNO customers) over the twelve-month period, of which post-paid users accounted for 585,166 (an increase of 10.7%) and pre-paid customers 6.06 million (up 7.0% year-on-year). The TRA reports that active mobile broadband subscribers in the Sultanate reached in excess of 3.25 million at 31 December 2015, an increase of 12.5% compared to twelve months previously, while fixed broadband customers rose by 31.7% during last year, to total 233,233 at end-December. Dial-up internet subscriptions continued to fall in 2015, declining by 10.1% to 2,771.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:08:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Algeria’s telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications (Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms, ARPT) has revealed the results of a tender for authorising operators for the provision of universal telecoms services in the country. Out of the four companies that submitted bids for the concessions – Algerie Telecom (AT), Algeria Telecom Mobile (Mobilis), Ooredoo Algeria (Nedjma), and Optimum Telecom Algerie (OTA, Djezzy) – the regulator has approved three (AT, Mobilis and OTA), while Ooredoo’s bid was deemed too expensive. The authorisations will allow the successful bidders to provide basic telecoms services (wireless or fixed) and internet access at affordable prices to underserved areas. Under the first stage of the Universal Telecommunications Service (UTS) programme, a total of 97 communities in 28 wilayas (regions) in Southern Algeria (towns with population of between 500 and 2,000 people) and Northern Algeria (with population of between 1,000 and 2,000) will gain access to telecoms services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:07:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Idea Cellular, India’s third largest wireless provider by subscribers, has booked gross revenue of INR90.09 billion (USD1.33 billion) for the three months ended 31December, up 3.8% quarter-on-quarter. Idea notes that its rate of revenue growth has slowed – the cellco booked q-o-q expansion of 4.5%, 5.0% and 5.9% in its Q1 FY16 (to end-June 2015), Q4 FY15 and Q3 FY15 respectively – as a result of intense price competition and reductions in mobile termination rates (MTRs). Indeed, despite average minutes of use (MOU) per customer increasing to 393 in the period under review from 388 a year earlier and average data use increasing from 470MB to 653MB over the same period, ARPU has dropped from INR179 to INR176. EBITDA for the period, meanwhile, was INR28.51 billion, up from INR27.77 billion in the previous quarter. Net profit, however, was down 7.2% q-o-q, at INR23.49 billion. Idea claimed 171.9 million mobile users at the end of December 2015, including 27.6 million 3G customers, up from 166.6 million and 24.5 million respectively in September.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:06:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Digicel has launched Vanuatu’s first 4G LTE network, providing coverage to subscribers in the capital Port Vila. Daily Post Vanuatu cites the operator’s CEO, Mr Yaser Maher, as saying: ‘The licence the government has given us allows us to provide the people of Vanuatu with a world-class internet service … Since Cyclone Pam, we have been focused on rebuilding, investing and innovating.’ Customers with compatible devices can access the LTE network by swapping to a new SIM card while retaining their existing phone number. An LTE Mi-Fi (personal Wi-Fi hotspot), LTE modem and LTE router are also available to purchase, priced at VUV7,900 (USD68.7), VUV14,000 and VUV12,000, respectively.

Meanwhile, Chief Technical Officer at Digicel Vanuatu, Sajjad Ahmed, confirmed to TeleGeography that the LTE service was introduced on 20 January with ‘good coverage in Port Vila’s top residential areas and central business district.’

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digicel – which competes with sole rival Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) in the mobile sector – launched a 2G network in June 2008, followed by a 3G service in December 2011. The operator held an estimated 89.9% of the wireless subscriber share at end-September 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:05:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a programme for the development of the country’s high speed telecoms infrastructure, with the aim of increasing nationwide fixed broadband penetration to 40% by 2020. According to the Vietnam News Agency, the strategy also aims to ensure that at least 60% of fixed internet subscribers will have a minimum downstream connection speed of 25Mbps by 2020. The plan aims to ensure that all of the country’s public internet access points will use a fixed broadband service by that date, half of which will use a minimum download connection rate of 50Mbps. With regards to mobile data networks, the broadband development plan seeks to ensure that at least 95% of residential areas will have coverage of 3G/4G services at average downstream speeds of 4Mbps in urban locations and 2Mbps in more rural areas. In addition, the broadband programme will focus on promoting the application of digital content and ICT services, such as e-government, e-commerce and disaster prevention.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:03:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Nepal Telecom (NT) has asked the country’s regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), for permission to launch 4G mobile services. The state-backed telco says it is ready to begin upgrading its systems in the country’s major urban areas as soon as the NTA gives the nod. It also plans to expand its 3G services nationwide and phase out its 2G networks. A report from the Kathmandu Post quotes NT’s managing director Buddhi Prasad Acharya as saying: ‘We want the NTA to respond to our request so that we can start the service right away.’ Acharya added: ‘We need to compete with private players. However, we cannot procure equipment as fast as they can. This has impacted our quest to make the service quality better.’ NT competes in the mobile market with Ncell, which will be controlled by Axiata of Malaysia once its purchase of TeliaSonera’s 80% interest is completed; the USD1.365 billion deal was announced last month. Another privately owned operator, Smart Telecom, is deploying a GSM network but has still to launch commercially, while United Telecom Limited (UTL) provides limited mobility CDMA-based services.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:02:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

El Salvador’s telecoms regulator, the Superintendencia General de Electricidad y Telecom (SIGET), has announced that a total of 85,170 fixed and mobile numbers have been successfully ported to another service provider since the service was introduced on 24 August last year. In a statement on its website, the watchdog claims that the country’s telecoms market has benefited from new and improved deals and promotions from service providers in the four months since the launch of number portability (NP), which gives consumers the opportunity to freely exercise their right to choose their telecoms operator.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that legislation calling for the introduction of NP came into force in 2010, but SIGET subsequently postponed the service’s implementation, stating that telecoms operators were not prepared for the change, while a lack of consensus over who would fund the process also led to further delays. Eventually, legislation stating that the cost of the process would be absorbed by the recipient operator was approved in October 2014, and in January 2015 SIGET announced that it had awarded the NP administrator contract to Mediafon, in association with local company imCard, ahead of the service’s official launch for fixed and mobile users in August.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 09:01:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The latest quarterly report from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows that the country has seen a surge in interest in 4G LTE technology thanks to the continuing network rollouts by mobile operators NetOne and Econet. There were 26,185 LTE users in Zimbabwe at the end of September 2015, up from just 474 three months before. The wider mobile market saw the active subscriber total rise from 11.95 million to 12.39 million over the same three-month period, with market leader Econet claiming 6.68 million users, up from 6.63 million at end-June, NetOne taking second place with 3.80 million (up from 3.38 million), and Telecel witnessing a slight fall, from 1.94 million to 1.91 million. Meanwhile, the number of mobile money customers in the country rose from 6.23 million at 30 June 2015 to 6.67 million three months later, though the total value of deposits fell by 10.5% to USD458 million due to the tough economic situation.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:59:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From 1 February 2016 Sri Lanka will enforce a common minimum retail voice call rate for on-net and off-net domestic voice calls, to support competition between large and small network operators. As reported by the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has scrapped an existing dual-rate structure for on-net and off-net voice calls, by raising the on-net rate and lowering the off-net rate. The TRC said the floor rate revision was made in response to submissions made by the [smaller] telcos and would only be applicable for new connections issued from the effective date.

For end-user tariffs with per-second basis billing, the new unified minimum voice call rate will be LKR1.80 (USD0.01) per minute for calls within Sri Lanka regardless of making on-net or off-net calls; previously the on-net rate was LKR1.50 and the off-net rate LKR2.50.

For end-user tariffs with per-minute basis billing, the new common floor rate is LKR1.50 for calling all domestic phone numbers (previously LKR1.50 on-net, LKR2.00 off-net).

The SMS/MMS minimum charge was already a unified on-net/off-net LKR0.10 per message, but the TRC is raising this to LKR0.20 from 1 February.

Five mobile network operators are active in Sri Lanka, although the market leader Dialog Axiata accounted for more than 44% of all users at end-September 2015.

Source: TeleGeography.

Friday, 05 February 2016 08:58:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |