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News in Brief 28 May 2014

Afghanistan: New network - Afghan Telecom (AT) has launched 3G services in Maidan Wardak, Bamyan, Faryab, Samangan and Sarepul provinces. To date some USD 65 million has been invested in the deployment of GSM and 3G services, which were launched in February 2014 in Kabul. AT previously only offered CDMA mobile services.

Africa: SDR solution - Shoreline Energy International has signed xG Technology for the joint supply of its broadband solutions. Shoreline has holdings in a wide variety of industries including oil and gas, power, infrastructure, construction, etc., with subsidiaries in Nigeria, Uganda, Angola and Kenya. xG will deploy mobile broadband networks across Shoreline?s different sectors and regions through its product xMax, a low cost mobile broadband solution. The company said that this leverages software defined radio (SDR) and cognitive radio access network technology that enable efficient sharing of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

Africa: Tower transactions - Mobile towerco leaders and financial institutions are meeting in London on 18 June for TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2014. Dominic Lowndes, Managing Director of TMT Finance, said: "We are currently tracking eight live tower transactions between mobile operators and towercos, valued at between USD 200 - 800 million, as well as number of capital raisings as towercos raise funds for more acquisitions and capex. Goldman Sachs invested in IHS, and Providence is looking to invest in Helios Towers Africa, with several other large private equity investors actively looking to enter the market. "

Botswana: Staff/student service - The University of Botswana School of Medicine (UBSoM) and Orange Botswana have launched a collaborative venture to provide anytime-anywhere access to clinical and learning resources via tablets. Users can access resources away from Wi-Fi areas, while the Closed User Group (CUG) allows call at no extra cost to users. The project is funded through the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant of the US government and the President?s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Cameroon: Hubs hailed - Minister of Postal Services and Telecommunications, Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam , has announced the upcoming construction of the first Internet hubs in the cities of Yaounde and Douala. The Minister said it was a priority to as it would resolve connection problems, improve the quality of service and lower interconnection costs. The cost of using overseas networks for the transmission of information for countries without their own hubs is put as some USD 600 million per annum.

Cameroon: Maintenance mandate - The Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART) has issued a consultation notice dated 15 May 2014 for the maintenance of the technical platform for control of coverage and quality of services of the mobile voice networks. Companies established in Cameroon are invited to participate. The document can be obtained from the ART Contracts Unit located on the ground floor of Balanos Building, Giscard d?Estaing street, P.O.Box: 6132 Yaounde, and payment of a non-refundable deposit of XAF 20,000 (USD 42) is required for release of the documents. Further details are available here.

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Iran: Photos protected - Popular photo-sharing social media app Instagram has been banned by the courts, with the Ministry of Telecommunications receiving the order to block the platform following reported alleged complaints that Instagram violates people?s privacy, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported. Social media apps already blocked in Iran include Facebook and Twitter. The order was made just days after a group of young Iranians were arrested for appearing in a YouTube video rendition of the Pharell Williams pop song 'Happy'.

Kenya: Call rates clarified - Orange Kenya has reworked its advert that implied that Safaricom was a more expensive network, following a ruling that saw the original ad banned. Orange Kenya has added a caveat that the comparative rates only apply during peak call hours. The move now meets the Advertising Standards Committee (ASC) ruling. Orange claimed that calls from Safaricom are KES 4 (USD 0.045) a minute while it charges KES 3 (USD 0.34) for off-net calls and KES 2 (USD 0.022) for on-net. Safaricom complained as it charges KES 2 a minute during off-peak hours.

Kenya: Flight facilitation - Increased ticket sales has led JamboJet is to strengthen its customer service platform by leasing Safaricom?s Call Centre facilities. JamboJet launched domestic flights to key cities in Kenya on 1 April 2014, and the deal now doubles its call handling capacity, CapitalFM reported. Safaricom?s Director of Customer Care, Pauline Warui, said that Safaricom runs the largest, busiest and the most technologically advanced Call Centre in the region.

Kenya: SoHo solution - Orange has launched post-paid Biashara Talk targeted at Small office Home office (SoHo) customers and small businesses. The offering combines a mobile platform, whilst allowing the user to have a new fixed-line number, or re-activate their old business fixed-line as well as migrate their active fixedline to a mobile network while maintaining their existing phone number. The offering is based on a single number, and businesses can choose to purchase as many numbers as required. Biashara Talk can subscribe to monthly bundles costing KES 1,000 - 10,000 (USD 11.20 - 112), all with 30 day validity periods.

Liberia: Consultation courted - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has launched a process of public consultation to on the Regulations published on 16 May 2014, with the final deadline for submissions being 30 May 2014. It intends to provide a of summary of the responses and/or its report on 6 June, with the final Regulations being published on 13 June. Further details are here.

Mauritania: ICT integration - Maroc Telecom's Mauritel unit has leased 622 Mbps of Internet capacity to Mali's Sotelma, Agence Ecofin has reported. This initial capacity can be increased up to 1.2 Gbps. The deal is part of Mauritel's strategy of 'developing Mauritania's sub-regional competitiveness in the new area of ICT, that is the leasing secure capacity to operators in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Maghreb, as a bandwidth transit country.'

Middle East: Huawei hosting - Huawei has launched a new Middle East Hosting Centre and co-operative program in the Middle East to empower local telecos to pioneer original communication and entertainment services. The Huawei Middle East InTouch Hosting Co-operation Forum was attended by over 30 operators from the MENA region and more than 80 content and service providers. Huawei has also launched of its own dedicated regional entertainment portal branded Wakti, or 'My Time' in Arabic. A series of MoUs have been signed with Rockville, MT2, Anghami and GamePower7.

Mozambique: 3G towers - Vodacom has commissioned 17 new 3G masts as follows: Montepuez (Cabo Delgado); Nhancutsi (Gaza); Chicoroa; Chissibuca; Muele; Zavora (Inhambane); City of Chimoio (3); Soalpo; Catandica (Manica); Provincia de Maputo (Maputo); Munhava (Sofala); Municipio de Tete (2); Canongola and Mutarara (Tete).

Namibia: CDRs fight malaria - A British-Namibian project has used mobile phone data to identify malaria 'hotspots', VacineNewsDaily has reported. The University of Southampton and the Namibian National Vector-borne Diseases Control Programme (NVDCP) tracked nine billion mobile communications from 2010-2011 in Namibia. When combined with recorded cases of malaria, climate and topography, the researchers were able to develop more targeted strategies to help the NVDCP combat malaria in Namibia. MTC provided anonymised call data records for 1.19 million unique customers, or approximately 52 percent of the population.

Namibia: Growing GDP - The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) recorded in its 2012/2013 annual report that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributed 5.5 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2013 and 2.9 percent during 2012.

Nigeria: Android phone with Apps - Mi-Fone has launched its new range of Android smart phones, the Sun News Website reported. They are being shipped with pre-embedded localised apps such as Nigerian taxi app EasyTaxi, Nigerian music Blog app Singuu, the music upload service app PureSolo and the 360Nobs Nigerian social media app. Mi-Fone is also including its own OJU Africa app, which provides the first ethnically diverse emoticons. The latter saw over 22,000 downloads of the free app from Google Play in just four days, of which the majority originated from the USA.

Nigeria: Interconnect inconsistencies - Poor interconnection between MTN and Glo networks has been highlighted at the 63rd NCC's Consumer Outreach Programme in Aba. Eze David Ufere, the Nkalu Ukwu of Alaiyi in Bende Local Government Area, said that when you MTN is dialled from a Glo mobile line, the message 'the number you're dialling does not exist or is incorrect, check the number and dial again' is heard, and vice versa.

Nigeria: Investing in improvements - Globacom is to increase its 3G coverage to 90 percent from the current 43 percent, while it will also invest in network upgrades to deal with quality of service (QoS) issues. Head of Operations Bisi Koleosho said Glo is signing a USD 100 million network upgrade to improve quality. Some 3,000 sites in Abuja, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers, Lagos and several other locations across Nigeria have already been dealt with.

Qatar: Growth to continue - On Monday the Minister of Information and Communications Technology Dr Hessa al-Jaber said the telecoms sector grew 11 percent in 2013 and growth is expected to continue at 9 - 12 percent in the next five years. The Minster was speaking at the Qatar ICT Conference and Exhibition (Qitcom) 2014.

South Africa: Agency appointment - DDB South Africa has been named as Telkom's lead agency for brand, sponsorships, retail and business advertising requirements. DDB CEO Emmet O' Hanlon noted: "This was the biggest and most prestigious pitch of the year and one that we threw absolutely everything at given our deep rooted desire to work with Telkom and our respect for a strong competitive field. " He added: "The arrival of Enzo Scarcella as one of South Africa's top flight marketers was further confirmation that the brand is going to do great things. "

South Africa: Cable competitor - One Cloud Internet is to launch fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services. In an interview with ITWeb, Rudzani Matshatshe, president of One Cloud Internet, said it is currently identifying areas with the highest demand. Installation will cost ZAR 1,299 (USD 126) and the PW-RN501 router ZAR 1,199 (USD 116). It plans to install FTTH services to the first thousand customers at no charge, with speeds of up to 100Mbps. It will start service installation when it receives a minimum of 10,000 requests from an area. It claims to have access to existing fibre across Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town.

South Africa: Consultation commences - Telkom has started an eight-week consultation period, which will see around a quarter of its management staff cut within the next three years. The cuts will be initiated throughout the 2014-2015 financial year. HumanIPO reported that alternatives such as outsourcing and joint ventures might also be explored.

South Africa: Online orientation - Cell C has appointed Hellocomputer to increase the role of digital in its marketing mix. Hellocomputer will provide digital services including social media and the redevelopment of key digital assets such as the new Cell C Web and mobile presence. It offers full-service digital marketing with through-the-line advertising.

South Africa: Rescheduled repayment - Vodacom?s BEE shareholders now have until 2018 to repay their debt for the financing of the YeboYethu scheme. Black investors bought shares in Vodacom South Africa for ZAR 25 (USD 2.42) a share in 2008, with trading on 3 February 2014. The Citypress Website quoted Vodacom CFO Ivan Dittrich as saying: "It is really to provide more value to the participants and give them more time to settle the notional debt because the existing deal would have expired in September 2015. YeboYethu shareholders currently owe Vodacom SA some ZAR 3.1?billion (USD 300.1 million), including the employee share scheme.

Tanzania: News notification - Etisalat-unit Zantel has launched an SMS-based news service in conjunction with The Guardian newspaper. Zantel Director of Mobile Financing Hashim Mukudi made the announcement at a news conference last week in Dar es Salaam. Branded as ?Guardian SMS? and ?Nipashe SMS?, the service will offer local, international and sports news from The Guardian and Nipashe newspapers. Operations Manager from Premier Mobile Solutions, Lulu Ramole, said the service costs TZS 100 (USD 0.06) per day.

Togo: Soccer service - Kirusa has launched its Sports Connect service on Moov's Togo network. Subscribers receive voice daily updates such as team news, pre-match and post-match analysis, and quotes from team managers as well as players. Clubs covered include Manchester United, Barcelona FC, Arsenal, and Chelsea, as well as national teams such as the Ghanaian Black Stars and Nigerian Super Eagles. Sports Connect service from Kirusa, offered in partnership with Goal.com, currently connects 1.7 million fans, in eight countries, to twelve football clubs and national teams.

Tunisia: Remote region - Tunisie Telecom has launched 2G and 3G mobile services in the southernmost region in the presence of ICT minister Taoufik Jelassi, Business News Tunisie reports. The announcement was made in the town of Borj El Khadhra, in the province of Tataouine. TT is also deploying base stations in Tataouine, Remada, Ehhiba, Jbel Angar, Sangar, El Borma, Ain Skhouna and Tiarat.

Uganda: Cost for clients - With effect from 23 May 2014 MTN Uganda has said that the fees for its Mobile Money are as per the normal local transaction fees when subscribers are roaming. However roaming customers will be charged an additional UGX 80 (USD 0.032) for each transaction message. MTN Chief Marketing Officer Ernst Fonternel said there is a notification SMS which is free in Uganda, but when generated internationally using external networks during roaming, MTN incurs a costs, which it needs to pass on to users.

United Arab Emirates: OK-rating for operator - Last week Moody?s Investors Service rated Emirates Telecommunications Corporation?s (Etisalat) Aa3 for its local and foreign currency long-term issuer ratings. The ratings followed Etisalat?s announcement that it had acquired Vivendi?s 53 percent stake in Itissalat Al Maghrib (Maroc Telecom) last week. Moody?s has signed a provisional Aa3 rating to Etisalat?s USD 7 billion (AED 25.6 billion) medium-term notes program.

United Arab Emirates: No tagging please - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has launched a white paper on Facebook usage which comes as part of ?The UAE Social Media White Papers? collection. The guidelines note that it is illegal for users to tag other users without their consent, with the UAE law having broad provisions relating to the protection of privacy and reputation. Full versions of the white papers and the corresponding infographics are available here.

United Arab Emirates: Parking payments - Etisalat's mobile payment solutions for parking is now operational in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. Users send an SMS from their Etisalat mobile to 5566 to pay for their car parking. An SMS reminder is sent prior to the expiry of the parking permit will alert customers and enable them to save fines. Khaled El Khouly, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat said: "We have seen an increase in the number of service users' transactions by more than 50 percent and value of transactions by more 70 percent in the first quarter of 2014 in comparison with the same period last year. "

Zimbabwe: Local labour - ZTE Corporation says it has injected over USD 400 million into various projects and trained over 1,000 technicians in Zimbabwe. NewsDay reported Chief Executive Officer Duan Yong as saying that ZTE was working towards creating further employment by rolling out more projects. The comments were made at the ICT Workshop 2014 in Harare. Duan said ZTE's local office had around 150 employees, 70 percent of whom are Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe: Pre-paid power - Utility Zesa has declined Econet Wireless' application to sell pre-paid electricity tokens through its mobile money transfer service, EcoCash. Zesa said the third party vending facility was reserved for State-linked enterprises. According to bulawayo24, Zesa chose NetOne, TelOne, CBZ, ZB, Agribank, Zimpost and POSB to sell pre-paid electricity on its behalf following bids from 38 companies. Prior to this, pre-paid electricity tokens were available at Zesa banking halls and at two OK Supermarkets in Harare, and a ZETDC desk in TM Supermarket Mutare.

Zimbabwe: Upset over offsetting - Econet offset the interconnection fees it was owed by State-owned TelOne and NetOne against the new USD 137.5 million mobile licence fee, with the result that it paid only USD 50 million. TechZim reported the Financial Express e-mail news service quoting POTRAZ Acting Director General, Alfred Marisa. Marisa as saying that Econet, like other mobile operators, had negotiated payment to be offset against government debt to Econet. Telecel had also reached a similar arrangement. Econet CEO, Douglas Mboweni, had previously claimed that Econet was the only operator that has paid the full licence fee.