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News in Brief 29 August 2013

Afghanistan: Internet inauguration - The Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) H. E. Amirzai Sangin inaugurated the fibre optic project in Dai Kundi province on Sunday 25 August 2013. Engineer Sangin said 80 percent of the population would soon have access to Internet services and 3G. He said that in Dai Kundi province 7 towers for the TDF project have been built and a further contract for 22 towers has signed.

Afghanistan: Payment prize - Roshan Telecom M-Paisa has received the Sustainability Commercialised award at the Ethical Corporation?s Responsible Business Awards held recently in London. Since 2008, M-Paisa has signed some 1.2 million users and handled over USD 4 million in salary payments each month. The service is used by the Afghan National Police, Western Union, Herat Cable Network and Norwegian Refugee Council, etc.

Gabon: Cost cutting - Lin Mombo, President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) has been charged with reducing the cost of communication. La Nouvelle Tribune reports that a 3-day meeting is to be held in Liberville in October. Mobile operators and other economic players will attend, with the resulting strategy implemented in 2015.

Israel: IDB issues - The chairman of indebted IDB Holding Corp and his partner have deposited ILS 520 million (USD 144.3 million) with a trustees' account and a court to meet a requirement ahead of a key hearing last Sunday. Failure to deposit the funds would have seen control of IDB transferred to the company's bondholders. In a notice to the stock exchange, IDB said Dankner and Ukranian businessman Alexander Granovsky intended to submit an improved offer for a debt settlement and hold talks with the company's trustees and representatives of the bondholders. IDB controls mobile operator Cellcom.

India: M-PESA multiplies - Vodafone, in conjunction with ICICI Bank, has launched M-PESA in New Delhi. Vodafone subscribers need to deposit INR 200 (USD 3.00) to register for the service and each transaction costs INR 10 (USD 0.15). There are also additional fees for transferring money, The Times of India reported. Launches are also anticipated in Mumbai and Lucknow.

Liberia: Backbone development -The Liberia Telecommunications Authority has requested Expressions of Interest for consultancy services to conduct feasibility study for the deployment of a National ICT Backbone Network. Full details are here.

Mozambique: Decade of development - Vodacom has celebrated its tenth anniversary as a mobile operator in Tanzania with a program of events. It also noted that it had the launched M-PESA in its anniversary year. Vodacom is to undertake a network expansion program by adding 325 towers by the end of 2013.

Saudi Arabia: Fast fibre - Saudi Telecom Corporation (STC) has extended its FTTH network to connect over 600 locations to its 6,000 kilometre FTTH network, The Saudi Gazette reported. Engineer Mizyad bin Nasser Al Harbi, Vice-President of the Home sector, said that STC had provided the fibre optic service at speeds of 1,000 MB/s. STC now serves more than 200,000 households with FTTH services.

Senegal: Tigo triumphant -Tigo reckons it has registered all its subscribers following the program launched by the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Posts identification process (ARTP). The process was launched on 20 June and ended on 18 August, after being extended.

South Africa: Seizures only suspended - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has denied reports that its inspectors are no longer allowed to seize equipment of operators believed to be making use of spectrum unlawfully, ITWeb reported. ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka however clarified that the council has only decided that seizures will be held in abeyance until further notice. Media reports had claimed that the ICASA council had made the decision in May, following the seizure of equipment owned by Wireless Business Solutions (WBS).

South Africa: Telkom changes tack - Cell C has successfully objected to a Telkom Mobile campaign advertising its new Sim-Sonke pre-paid calling plan, TechCentral has reported. Consequently Telkom Mobile has agreed to amend the campaign for its low-cost Sim-Sonke pre-paid calling plan after Cell C lodged an objection with the Advertising Standards Authority. Cell C suggested that Telkom Mobile offer of on-network calls for 29 cents per minute was only available in a very narrow range of situations, which was not explained in the advertising.