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News in Brief 24 April 2014

Africa: Nokia man named - Nokia Networks has appointed David Gaul as head of Central, East and West Africa (CEWA) with effect from 16 July. Previously, he headed delivery for the CEWA region from 2012, and prior to that was with Vodafone in the UK and Ghana. Born in the UK, he holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering and has an MSc in Design of Information Systems from Cranfield University, an MA in Defence Studies from Kings College London and an MBA from the Open University.

Algeria: Vendors courted - Algerie Telecom Mobile (Mobilis) is planning to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) based services, local newspaper L?Expression has reported. The telco is apparently in talks with several unnamed international vendors. In February 2014 the government amended provisions of the Algerie Telecom licence to allow it to deploy wireless in the local loop (WiLL) technology, and in May 2014 AT introduced fixed-wireless LTE services to business subscribers. It has deployed some 200 ?eNodeB? sites across 48 wilayas (provinces), with plans to install 2,000 LTE-enabled base stations by the end of 2015.

Angola: Expansion courtesy EIB - The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a EUR 20 million (USD 27 million) loan to help expand TVCabo's network. Established in 2002, TVCabo is owned by Angola Telecom and Portuguese Visabeira Group. The funds will expand the TV Cabo network in Luanda and several new fast-growing cities, and for the provision of broadband for both corporate and consumer markets. The project will include Luanda, Lobito, Benguela, Lubango, Huambo, Cabinda and Soyo. The investment is for the period 2014 to 2016, and the estimated total cost of the project is EUR 41 million (USD 55.4 million).

Bahrain: Holiday hosting - Batelco has provided LTE Data Roaming services via Mobily for subscribers visiting Saudi Arabia and Mobily KSA. As well as the direct connection with Mobily, Batelco customers can roam on other 4G networks using a new IPX technology. Batelco General Manager Consumer Division Muna Alhashimi said that many of Batelco's customers travel in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan and the Eid holidays or to perform Umra. Mrs. Alhashimi added it currently had 1,345 roaming agreements with international operators.

Botswana: Outraged Orange - Orange Botswana's Chief Executive Officer Phillipe Baudin, has told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on ICT that he is unhappy with the Universal Access and Service Fund, which was implemented on 1 April 2014. His complaint related to the short time frame between notification of the levy and its implementation, with insufficient time to make a provision. Botswana Communications Regulations Authority (BOCRA), CEO Thari Pheko, said the telcos were aware of the fund. The fund's secretariat is to housed by BOCRA but will have an independent board of trustees.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Cable connections - The World Bank has said it will provide some USD 92 million which will be made available through the International Development Association (IDA) on a five-year basis. The funds will be used to provide adequate connections with neighbouring countries and improve connectivity. Focus will be on developing the missing links in the national fibre network, and connect the most densely populated economic centres of Kinshasa, Goma and Lubumbashi. World Bank DRC representative Eustache Ouayoro said connecting the three economic centres would help private telcos have access to shared infrastructure.

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Egypt: Internet initiative - ICT Minister Atef Helmy said the government would launch a broadband initiative by mid-August. Helmy said that the Telecom Egypt affiliate TEData would implement the project in four areas nationally with 1,500 points. An fifth area will see other companies and mobile operators participate.

Egypt: Investment outlined - Vodafone Egypt is to invest some EGP 9.5 billion (USD 1.33 billion) through to 2017 to improve its network, recently appointed Chief Executive Ahmed Essam said. The program will be financed by existing funds. Essam said Vodafone Egypt is still considering whether to offer fixed line services.

Ghana: Rural resurgence - The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications' (GIFEC) Chief Executive, Kofi Attor, told the Nhyira News that despite financial challenges, GIFEC will continue to collaborate with telcos to improve communications in commercially unattractive areas. The project uses solar power to provide 2G and 3G base stations with small cellular antennas for free Internet Wi-Fi services through smaller cell sites. Mr. Attor mentioned that 20 more communities have been identified after contracts had been awarded for fifteen. 150 rural telephony sites are expected to be established by the end of 2015.

Jordan: Site sharing - Zain Jordan is to share sites with the military's Special Communications Commission. Both parties are expected to benefit from increased efficiency as a result. Zain and the Special Communications Commission will share towers and provide mutual access to the network and infrastructure facilities, including new sites, which are expected to save time and cost, and accelerate network expansion.

Kenya: Airtel Apple tie-up - Airtel has launched the iPhone 5s smartphone at a discounted price. Airtel Kenya Marketing Director Charles Wanjohi said the partnership with Apple would allow Airtel customers to service their iPhones at any Airtel outlet with a one-year service warranty. The phone is preloaded with the Airtel carrier settings and a 10 GB Internet bundle for a 3month period is provided after purchase.

Mauritania: Poor performers - Mauritel and Mattel are to be fined by the regulator after they failed to meet KPIs in an audit carried out between 22 June and 12 July. This followed a previous assessment, which had found poor performance, and the operators had been given a grace period in which to improve their networks. A final decision is not awaited. The report is available here.

Morocco: Etislat appointee - Maroc Telecom has appointed Oussama El Rifai as CFO and COO, succeeding Vivendi appointee Laurent Mairot. El Rifai comes from Maroc Telecom's new 53 percent owner, Etisalat, which he joined as Financial Development Director in 2005, later promoted to Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance. He previously worked at Arthur Andersen and Accenture.

Morocco: Fairer fixed - The Agence Nationale de Reglementation de Telecom (ANRT) has ordered fixed line Maroc Telecom (MT) to modify its wholesale leased line access offer, following a complaint filed by Medi Telecom (Meditel) in March 2014. MT has to amend its wholesale tariffs to allow a gross profit margin of 50 percent for alternative operators. It also has to amend the maximum distance between operator and point of presence (PoP) to between 35km and 100km and include intermediate bandwidth of 4Mbps, 8Mbps and 20Mbps with minimum gross profit margin of 20 percent for alternative providers. MT has till 1 January 2015 to comply.

Mozambique: Comprehensive coverage - Movitel, a joint venture between Vietnam's Viettel, and Mozambique?s SPI company, has won the 'Best Mobile Innovation Award' in the Mobile Innovations Awards 2014. Viettel has treated telecoms as a commodity which everyone, regardless of location and income, needs. It has built a network of 2,800 towers (half the national fleet), laid 25,000km of fibre (70 percent of national capacity) and has a widespread supply chain (153 shops, 12,600 agents and points of sales and nearly 4,000 direct sales staff). Service s provided to 85 percent of the rural population and 70+ percent of the total population.

Mozambique: Segmentation solution - Flytxt has announced a strategic tie-up with Vodacom. Flytxt's Big data technology and analytics driven solutions are to be used to analyse customer behaviour. Paula Zandamela, speaking for Vodacom, said the solution was chosen to 'augment our customer value management practices' as it featured innovative analytics driven customer segmentation.

Nigeria: Trackers tracked - A NCC team headed by Assistant Director (Enforcement), Salisu Abdu has impounded the assets of TB Links in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. The NCC said it undertook a monitoring exercise in April 2014, which found TB Links and Mark 2 providing an unlicensed vehicle tracking service.

Qatar: Spectrum speculation - The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has launched a public consultation on the development of a five-year spectrum outlook, which will complement the CRA?s current spectrum management framework. The consultation document is available here.

Rwanda: Innovation incubator - The Tigo-backed 'think' incubator is calling on start-ups and developers. It will pick the best five teams for a six-month programme designed to support exceptional start-ups in developing new and innovative digital solutions. The first group will be based in Kigali. Tigo will provide seed financing, structured training and coaching programs, along with access to Tigo technical resources for product testing and trials. It will also help in accessing outside investors and customers.

South Africa: Extended e-Learning - Vodacom Business is supporting e-Learning in East London. Vodacom is holding a summit at which attendees will be asked to partner with the Eastern Cape Department of Education in providing ICT solutions and other e-Learning infrastructure. The summit is the result of an on-going partnership between Vodacom Business and the Eastern Cape Department of Education to give schools and communities without Iinternet connectivity access to basic ICT resources. Vodacom is to equip and connect 11 teacher centres in the province over the next two years.

South Africa: Hedberg heads out - Former Telkom acting CEO and Cell C CEO Jeffrey Hedberg has been named as the new CEO of Mobilink, one of Pakistan?s largest mobile operators, parent company VimpelCom said in a statement on Friday. Hedberg is expected to assume office in Pakistan in early August. Prior to 2006 he was chairman and CEO of Deutsche Telekom USA, and joined Deutsche Telekom from Swisscom, where he was executive vice-president of Swisscom International in 1997.

South Africa: LG latest - MyBroadband reports that Cell C, MTN, and Vodacom will be offering the LG G3 on contract from August 2014. MTN SA Head of products and solutions, Mike Fairon, said the G3 would be available in August for post-paid subscribers. Vodacom is to have it available from stores and online from 7 August 2014. It is expected to have a recommended retail price of ZAR 8,754 (USD 821) and will be available for ZAR 499 (USD 47) on a Vodacom uChoose Flexi 200 contract.

South Africa: Payment app - Standard Bank and MasterCard have launched the MasterPass app for Android, iOS and legacy Blackberry that allows payment through online checkouts. MasterPass is already available in nine other countries. MasterPass generates a QR code on screen during the checkout process. MasterPass accounts are linked to a debit card via the Standard Bank account. The app can be downloaded from the Google Play store, iOS store or Blackberry World today by searching for ?Standard Bank Master Pass?. It is expected to be available for the Windows Phone within the next three months.

South Africa: Plant planned - Samsung Electronics is to open a manufacturing plant in South Africa at the Dube TradePort, a duty-free area adjacent to the harbour in Durban. Telecomlead reported that Samsung is expected to make an announcement shortly. It is not known whether the plant would assemble smartphones or televisions or both.

South Africa: Power-hour promotion - Vodacom is providing its Top Up and uChoose customers a free Power Hour bundle. MyBroadband reported that previously only pre-paid subscribers had the Power Hour facility. This gives subscribers 60 minutes of calls to other Vodacom customers. The free minutes must be used on the same day the bundle is purchased or given to the customer. The Power Hour promo started on 10 July and will run to mid-August.

United Arab Emirates: Etisalat excellence - Etisalat saw a 26 percent rise in 2Q14 profit, as Maroc Telecom's contribution was factored in. Reuters reported it making a net profit of AED 2.5 billion (USD 680.6 million) in the quarter ending June, up from AED 1.98 billion in the same period in 2013. Net profit for 1H14 rose to AED 4.5 billion, up 19 percent year-on-year.

United Arab Emirates: Operator app - Etisalat has launched its official app on the Windows Phone Store which allows users to find its retail centres, payment options, Wifi spots and more. The Etisalat Mobile App is described as an 'innovative selfcare solution' for its customers. As well as the ability to find and use Etisalat facilities, users can also pay for car parking.

United Arab Emirates: Nokia anounced - Etisalat at the weekend launched the new Nokia Lumia 635 4G LTE-enabled smartphone. It includes a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a high-quality 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel rear camera and Windows Phone 8.1 operating system It also has pre-loaded applications such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Vine and Asphalt 8 game. Its retail price is AED 699 (USD 190), and 40 percent of the value is offered back in the form of free 1GB data allowance for three months, worth AED 297 (USD 81). After three months, customers will be charged AED 99 (USD 27) for 1GB data on a monthly basis.

Zimbabwe: m-health messaging - Econet Wireless has launched Econet Health. Chief Executive Officer Douglas Mboweni said on Friday that 'People should know how to deal with stress and pregnant mothers know of what to do through their mobile phones'. Marketing manager Isaiah Nyangari said research studies undertaken by the University of Zimbabwe had shown a high need for m-health. Subscribers will pay USD 0.05 to access the service. Infant health care information has already been distributed to mothers using text messaging. The telco has also launched its 'Energize the Chain' project where medical centres in rural areas use power from its substations to refrigerate vaccines.

Zimbabwe: Overseas opportunities - Telecel Zimbabwe is to target citizens in the USA, South Africa, Australia and other markets with significant populations of Zimbabweans, according to the company?s financial services director, Nkosinathi Ncube, the New Zimbabwe has reported. Ncube was speaking at the official launch of the company?s Golden Card. Telecel?s information technology director, Tendai Chirokote, said the company had embarked on a plan to integrate its Golden Card to the Visa and MasterCard regime once it is 'done' with the local market.

Zimbabwe: Falling revenues - The Posts and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) said telecom sector revenue in 1Q14 fell to USD 213 million from USD 249 million, a fall of 15 percent. Econet Wireless saw a 4.1 percent rise in subscribers in the first quarter to give it 9 million giving it a market share of 65.3 percent. Telecel Zimbabwe has a 17.7 percent share and Net One 17 percent. Total investment was USD 27.91 million; down 53 percent from USD 59.1 million recorded in the previous quarter.