News in Brief to 25 November 2015

Algeria, Oman: Information exchange - A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and the Authority for the Regulation of Post and Telecommunications of Algeria (ARPT), the Muscat Daily reported. The MoU will increase the exchange of information and expertise in the telecoms and postal sectors. It will also strengthen co-operation in research and consultancy studies and exchange of information for approved technical standards. Possibilities of exchanging expertise in frequency spectrum management, allocation of bands, mechanisms of network evolution, interconnection and regulatory measures are also covered.

Angola: Holding its own - Last week Unitel's Chief Executive Tony Dolton told Reuters at the AfricaCom that he expects to see no growth in mobile users this year due to weak consumer spending and an economy hit by the falling price of oil. The operator has some 11.5 million users and is 25 percent owned by Brazil's Oi SA, which inherited the stake after a merger with Portugal Telecom. Oi is reconsidering the sale of the stake in Unitel as relations with partner, Isabel dos Santos, improve, Chief Executive Bayard Gontijo.

Burkina Faso: New chair - The new chairman of the Regulatory Board of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (ARCEP), Tontama Charles Millogo, was officially installed on Monday 16 November 2015. Millogo replaces Mathurin Bako.

 

Egypt: Come in Korea - Orascom Telecom said at the weekend that sanctions applied to North Korea had affected its ability to control its subsidiary there, and it was therefore removing Koryolink from its consolidated financial statement. Reuters reports that sanctions have apparently affected its ability to transfer currency, distribute profits as well as negotiate with the local regulator.

Egypt: Investment outlined - Vodafone Egypt is investing some EGP 10.5 billion (USD 1.34 billion) in the period 2014-17 according to the operator's External Affairs and Legal Director Khaled Hegazy speaking last week. Hegazy told the Amwal Al Ghad news portal that around EGP 4.5 billion (USD 572.8 million) was spent in the 2014-15 financial year. The operator will not need additional financing. Vodafone Egypt saw revenues of EGP 7.14 billion (USD 908.9 million) in the first half of the 2015-16, financial year, representing growth of 8.2 percent. Profit before interest and taxes in the period stood at some EGP 3 billion (USD 381.9 million) compared to EGP 2.9 billion in the same period last year.

Gabon: Improving Internet - At a press conference held to celebrate the first anniversary of 4G, Gabon Telecom's Director General Abderrahim Koumaa said it was now offering 4G+. This supports download transmission speeds of up to 233Mbps, so allowing for 'a richer download experience' Koumaa said. However, a report published by the Regulatory Agency for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) on 30 June 2015 said that 3G and 4G coverage was weak. Koumaa said that at launch, 3G / 4G covered just seven communities, whilst that has now been increased to 21 towns, major and minor cities in the nine provinces.

 

Israel: GT sale premature says PM - The Prime Minister has suggested that Michael Golan is 'pulling a fast one on the country,' Channel 2 reports, as Cellcom attempts to acquire Golan Telecom. Globes reports that in private conversations Netanyahu has reportedly said that the deal must not be approved as Michael Golan has not met his commitments. Netanyahu is also acting Minister of Communications.

Kenya: QoS quantified - The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) has set a penalty of 0.2 percent of annual gross turnover for operators that provide substandard services, the Business Daily reported. CAK Director General Francis Wangusi said the penalty would be effective from July 2016 and would also apply to data or Internet providers. Currently a flat rate of KES 500,000 (USD 48,000) is applied, which Wangusi believes is too lenient and has failed to give operators the necessary incentive to comply.

Kuwait: STC seeks VIVA stake - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) submitted last week a voluntary offer document for approval by the Kuwait Capital Market's Authority (CMA), as a preamble to it making an offer for all the issued shares of Kuwait Telecom Company (VIVA) not already owned by STC. This represents 74 percent of VIVA issued shares, of which the Government of Kuwait owns 24 percent and the Kuwaiti public 50 percent. The cost of purchase will be self-financed from the company's resources. STC will announce the details of its offer once it receives CMA approval. VIVA is a Kuwaiti join-stock company which was established in 2008 with a paid-in capital of KWD 49.94 million (USD 164.0 million), and was listed on the Kuwaiti stock market in December 2014.

Mauritania: Website re-work - Mobile operator Mattel has called for expressions of interest from companies interested in redesigning its Website. The submission criteria, award criteria, and all other clauses are an integral part of the consultation. Interested parties can contact the project leader Mr Dje Meimoune at dje.meimoune@mattel.mr. Tenders should be addressed to the Director General Mattel no later than 16:00 hours on Monday 30 November 2015 at 441 Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Tavargh Zeina, BP 3668, Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Namibia: Post advertised - Telecom Namibia has started the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive Officer. Telecom currently does not have a permanent CEO, with Chief Strategy Officer Theo Klein currently holding the fort. Former CEO Frans Ndoroma's contract ended last year. New Era reports that Telecom advertised the post in newspapers, calling for aspiring executives with experience of no less than 10 and 12 years respectively. The deadline for applications was Friday 19 November.

Niger: Better billing - Orange Niger has upgraded its convergent billing and customer care platform to Alepo Service Enabler (SE) 8.2, thereby enabling broader customer care capabilities to its fixed broadband network, Alepo announced at AfricaCom. The solution is described as revenue-centric, whilst offering scalability as the demand for data services rises. Alepo has provided data solutions for Orange Group affiliates in 16 markets in EMEA. Established in 2004, Alepo has a regional office in Cameroon.

Nigeria: Internet initiation - Internet access enabler DataWind has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide low-cost mobile Internet. In Nigeria 48 percent of the 185 million population do not have Internet access. DataWind's Internet Delivery Platform uses cloud-based technology, so reducing bandwidth usage by factors of 10 - 30 times to give an affordable, broadband-like Internet experience on any data network, including 2G. DataWind intends to offer Internet access bundled with its low-cost tablet computers and smartphones, followed by the launch of a device-independent app for Androids.

Nigeria: Pressure politics - The Nigeria Governors? Forum (NGF) has voiced the opinion that MTN Nigeria should pay the full NGN 1.2 trillion (USD 5.2 billion) fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Technology Times reported. The forum is a body of State Governors. MTN Group issued a cautionary note early last week that it was in talks with the Nigerian authorities. The original deadline has been waived until this process has been completed.

Nigeria: Smartphone screen-cover - Mobile phone retailer Yes Mobile has partnered with AXAMansard Insurance to provide an insurance scheme on all phones and computers bought by its customers, The Guardian reported. Yes Mobile's CEO Foluso Ogunwale said the cover extends to damaged screens and liquid intrusion. Improved spread payment plans over a six-month period are also being offered in conjunction with third-party partner Page MFB. Ogunwale said smartphone penetration in Nigeria currently stands at 30 percent.

Nigeria: Voice messaging - Airtel Nigeria has partnered with Kirusa to launch a voice messaging service. The InstaVoice service provides communication features for customers enabling them to send and receive voice messages in Nigeria, and globally. Users can leave a message if a call goes unanswered or cannot be completed, or use the InstaVoice app on smartphones, press and hold the record button in the app to record and send a message, regardless of whether the recipient has the app or not. InstaVoice messages can be delivered to smartphone users anywhere and to feature phone users in 14 countries, including 10 in Africa through the Kirusa Cloud. Also, Airtel Smartphone users can benefit from the data features of the InstaVoice app, which include free texting, voicing, pictures, missed calls, and voicemail.

Senegal: Money service - Mobile operator Tigo Senegal has launched the Yone money transfer service, which works with all networks. Tigo said recipients could withdraw funds from Tigo Cash retailers free of charge. The sender is credited with bonus call minutes representing 10 percent of the value of the money transfer. Tigo CEO Diego Cambreros said the new 24-hour service makes money transfer operations faster and more open.

South Africa: Broadband endorsed - Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt is to promote Telkom's fibre-to-the-home broadband offerings. Bolt was filmed in Jamaica, and Telkom Chief Marketing Officer Enzo Scarcella Telkom noted: "We believe that Bolt, as the fastest person in the world, will assist us in creating awareness of the speed, consistency and reliability that fibre technology offers. " Telkom has re-branded its fibre broadband offering as 'Boltspeed Fibre', and expects to deploy fibre alongside a million homes by 2018.

South Africa: Cautious Orange - Orange is to launch as an Internet Service Provider in the next few months under the Orange Horizons banner, which launched in January 2013. Orange Horizons CEO Sebastien Crozier told IOL Business that it believes that the local market is saturated, as there are 'already enough infrastructure players'. Accordingly Orange would prefer to enter the market as an MVNO.

South Africa: Indoor demo - Cell C is claiming speeds of up to 138Mbps on a live LTE Advanced site in conjunction with Huawei using a number of different handsets during a demonstration at AfricaCom. Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said the operator has the technology and the capability to make it a commercial reality. The two companies implemented the LampSite indoor coverage solution, which better serves high-speed services such as video. The solution also uses Carrier Aggregation, which accounts for the top speeds that Cell C accomplished on this live site, and uses two different frequency bands which are joined together for faster downlinks.

Tanzania: Investment pays off - Vodacom has invested over USD 1 billion in building its 2 and 3G infrastructure coverage during the past few years to create the widest 2G and 3G coverage, with 87 percent population coverage. Managing Director Ian Ferrao said the investment had seen it dominate the market with total of 12.0 active subscribers, giving it a 45 percent market share. Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) figures show there were some 34.25 million active SIMs at the end of June 2015. Ferrao said it is investing at least UGX 200 billion (USD 90.1 million) each year in the country market, adding that this level of investment will continue as it expands coverage and technologies including 4G fibre networks.

Tunisia: TT targets trees - Tunisie Telecom's Deputy CEO Fadhel Kraiem has said that it will contribute to the planting of a million trees. He noted that the area covered by plants is barely 8 2 percent, and is one of the lowest rates in the Mediterranean region, where the average is 15 percent. Kraiem added that with the sponsorship and partnership deal signed in 2014 with the Almadanya Association, Tunisie Telecom has actively participated in several initiatives, including the Green Tunisia programme. The official was speaking at the event to mark National Tree Day, organised by the Almadanya Foundation.

Turkey: Council power cuts - Vodafone has described the closing down of its base station in the Black Sea town of Karasu, Sakarya as 'unfair'. The power supply was cut-off by the local municipality. Vodafone said that Turkish legislation permits local authorities to suspend operations of base stations. Vodafone has initiated proceedings against the decision, and has informed the municipality of the possible consequences. Türk Telekom has base stations in Karasu and in Istanbul's Bakirköy district that also appear to be affected.

Turkey: SVPs step-down - Turkcell said last week that two senior people had resigned from their posts with effect from 18 November 2015. They are Doga Unay who joined it in 2008 and served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, and Cihan Nazmi Biyikli who joined in 1995 and served as Senior Vice President of Infrastructure Management.

Uganda: QoS quarterly - The UCC is to publish its Quality of Service report shortly, with details of quality of service (QoS), network performance (NP) and busy hour (BH). UCC's spokesman and director of Broadcasting Fred Otunnu told The Daily Monitor that there has been general compliance with regard to quality of service in the sector. However there are persistent complaints about dropped call rates, with MTN needing to improve its successful call rate, blocked call rate and dropped call rate if it is to stay in the lead, particularly with Airtel and others closing in after the disconnection of over 300,000 subscribers for non-registration. Anthony Katamba, MTN's legal counsel was reported as saying it had not yet seen the quarterly report.

United Arab Emirates: Card geo confirmation - Mobile identity-authentication services provider Finsphere Corporation announced last week that Dubai-based Emirates NBD has signed to offer Visa's fraud-fighting Mobile Location Confirmation (MLC) service to its cardholders. Visa's Mobile Location Confirmation service is powered by Finsphere's geo-location analysis engine and mobile-banking-application toolkit. Visa unveiled its identity-authentication service earlier in 2015 and launched it commercially to banks and other card-issuing financial institutions in May.

United Arab Emirates: SIM vending - At a time when SIM registration is firmly on the agenda in many countries, Etisalat has decided to launch 20 SIM vending machines before the end of 2015. Residents will be able to buy a new SIM card, replace an existing one or pay their mobile, Internet and fixed-line bills. Gulf News reported an official as saying that users needed to insert their Emirates ID into the machine for verification. Currently there is only a single SIM vending machine in The Dubai Mall, and it additional machines are to be deployed in Mirdif City Centre, Mall of the Emirates, and the Deira City Centre. In Abu Dhabi, the machines will be available at Etisalat?s business centre, Mushrif Mall, Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, as well as Sharjah?s Mega Mall and Ajman?s City Centre. Etisalat plans a hundred additional machines across the UAE in 2016.
SIM Vending London Heathrow style

London Heathrow

United Arab Emirates: Subscriber cyber security - Etisalat has partnered with FireEye to offer subscribers the FireEye-As-A-Service offering. This is an on-demand security management service that allows organisations to scale their security investments up or down, based on their needs. Etisalat's Chief Business Officer Salvador Anglada, said: "Today, cyber security is a top priority for both business and IT as they continue to invest in building next generation infrastructure powered by internet enabled technologies and applications. "

West Africa: SES satellite selected - SES S.A. has signed with media production company Canal Holdings in Benin a multi-year deal to distribute Canal 3 TV channels in West Africa. SES will broadcast Canal's pay TV offering to Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal, providing new content and channels in four local languages: Hausa, Savanna, Wolof and French, according to Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, Senior Vice President, Commercial, Africa at SES. SES's Astra 2G satellite at 28.2 degrees East will be utilised, with Benin and Niger being covered by the SES-5 satellite located at 5 degrees East.