News in Brief 11 April 2013

Afghanistan: Guided choice - SMS spam was the subject of a meeting between the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) and mobile operators. ATRA 'guided' operators on taking immediate measures including technical and public awareness, to resolve the problem. Messages regarding call billing need a single code and billing messages sent to subscribers need to contain details of the credit consumed, time duration and remaining balance at the end of each call according to ATRA. A standard for 3G packages based on data volume is also required.

Africa & Middle East: Symantec sees suspect security - A study by Norton from Symantec suggests 40 percent of Middle Eastern and North African mobile users are victims of cybercrime. Some 87 percent of adults use mobile device users; of which 78 percent are for Internet access. Nearly 25 percent do not to always download applications from trustworthy sources, and 29 percent do not use secure payment methods. More than 28 percent admitted to not using a password. Items at risk include work correspondence and documents (54 percent), passwords for other online accounts (20 percent) and bank statements (33 percent).

Algeria: Constantine connectivity - Since September 2012 the city of Constantine has enjoyed multiservice access node technology (MSAN), with some 17,000 customers of Telecom Algeria already connected to it. Agence Ecofin reports Telecom Algeria's local manager as saying that by the end of June 2013 all the city's 25,000 ADSL subscribers will be connected.

Burkina Faso: Quality questioned - The President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) announced that a QoS audit on the fixed infrastructure was undertaken on Tuesday 02 April 2013. ARCEP apologised for any inconvenience and said that the survey is part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality of service of the networks.

Ghana: Chamber eyes cuts - The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has opened a dialogue with the Association of Road Contractors (ASROC) regarding cable cuts and have agreed to engage in a joint sensitisation programme to minimise cuts that are affecting network availability, the Chamber said recently. Cable cuts in 2012 reached 1,605 cuts, a three-fold increase over 2011, of which 75 percent were due to road construction. In January alone, one operator reported some 85 cable cuts.

Liberia: Fines firmed-up - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) published at the end of March what it describes as a 'Tool for Regulatory Enforcement' or the 'LTA Regulation on Penalties'. The aim of the 12-page document is to ensure 'strict adherence' to the Telecommunications Act of 2007; to ensure compliance and instil public confidence through regulatory decisions and so 'facilitate stability and development in the sector', and to deter the public from engaging in acts which undermine the LTA?s ability to effectively regulate the sector. The document notes that all fines are payable in US dollars its equivalent in Liberian dollars, and then provides a detailed menu of potential offences with a schedule of fines. The full document is available here.

Madagascar: Reaction to Regulatory revision - IT services association Goticom has expressed concern about telecom regulator Omert's new pricing regime, which is effective 1 April, and appears to ignore existing contracts signed with corporate clients. L'Express de Madagascar reports the two main industry and business associations have also joined the protest. It is being claimed that the regulator increased the tariffs, working with the three mobile operators. Omert is mandated to ensure that parties do not collude, and the pricing framework is non-compliant according to Goticom's president.

Mauritius: Migration marketing - To help smooth the way for the planned migration from 7 to 8 digit telephone numbers, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) has called for expressions of interest from design and advertising agencies for a campaign intended to prepare citizens for the process. On 29 June 2012, Government approved the migration of mobile numbers from 7 to 8 digits to take place from 1 of September 2013. Having an extensive portfolio of local and international brands would be an advantage. Bids have to be posted in the Tender Box at the reception of the ICT Authority in Port Louis by Tuesday 23 April 2013. Short-listed parties may then be invited to participate in a bidding exercise at a later date to be determined by the ICTA.

Mozambique: Frequency forum -The National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM) held a conference on 2 April 2013 regarding the planned auction for frequencies in the range of 790 - 862 MHz which are to be offered in five lots of 2x5MHz bandwidth each.

Nigeria: Regulatory relish - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is now empowered to revoke operating licences of operators that ignore its directives on promotions and lotteries, the Daily Trust reported. NCC's current crackdown on promotions and lotteries started last year when it fined MTN, Glo, Etisalat and Airtel NGN 22 million (USD 138,828). The four were barred from running promotions and lotteries on account of the poor Quality of Service attributed to network congestion caused by the traffic generated. NCC said the four had breached the directive and has fined the four again. It seems odd that the regulator has lurched from levying an insignificant fine which would never changed corporate behaviour to the revocation of licences: a much larger fine might just have done the trick.

Saudi Arabia: STC chair step-down - Saudi Telecom Group announced that group CEO Khaled al-Ghoneim had formally step down on 27 March, having tendered his resignation on 18 March, just nine months after taking the post. Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Alsugair is now STC?s Managing Director, as well as continuing his current role as chairman.

Saudi Arabia: Virtual op crystallisation - TMT Finance reports five operators bid for three MVNO licences, with Virgin Mobile MEA, Malaysian consortium Tune Talk and a European company shortlisted. It was suggested that Vodafone and Mexican operator America Movil dropped out. The winners are expected to be finalised towards the end of April, with licences awarded on 4 May.

Senegal: Quality to be quantified - The Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Post (ARTP) Abu Lo presided over the first day of a consultation process to validate the quality of service indicators for mobile operators, Agence Ecofin reported. The meeting included experts and regulators from Ghana and Morocco. The Director noted there had been 'multiple complaints recorded on the poor quality of mobile networks', and improved mobile services were a priority for 2013. ARTP is to acquire equipment to measure the quality of voice services, SMS and ADSL.

Sudan: Registration Workshop - The Ministry of Science and Communications Issa Bushra has addressed a workshop on mobile phone SIM-card registration, emphasising the need to implement a programme. He said there was an urgent need to encourage subscribers to register their data, in co-ordination and co-operation with operators, stakeholders and the relevant security authorities. Director General of the Telecommunications Authority, Dr. Azzedin Kamel said a program to complete the registration process by establishing control points, with a decisive procedure, would be implemented.

Tanzania: Social service - Tanzania Telecommunications Limited (TTCL) has reduced its mobile Internet service charges by 75 percent: ?Basti? promotion aiming to improve services and reduce costs, The Citizen reported. TTCL Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Peter Ngota said: "With increasing application of online technology, reduction in prices of Internet services would enable many Tanzanians to use the Internet for development ".

Uganda: Achievement award - MTN Uganda has been awarded the Best Mobile Telecom provider of the year (2012) at the 2013 Uganda Responsible Investment (URI) awards ceremony in Kampala. In 2012 it invested more than USD 80million in upgrading infrastructure and reaching uncovered areas and in 2013 plans to invest a further USD 70million. It paid more than UGX 360 billion (USD 136.6 million) in taxes in 2012, and employs some 1,250 staff.

United Arab Emirates: Payment portal - Etisalat has joined the Dubai eGovernment's mPay Portal service, allowing users to pay for Etisalat's services including Internet, mobile and TV packages. This brings to five the number of entities participating in mPay after the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Police, Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) and Dubai Cares.