News in Brief 9 May 2013

Africa: Surfacing submarine - The USD 650 million 14,000 kilometre West Africa Cable System submarine cable system is due to go live on 11 May in Nigeria and several African countries where it lands. The cable terminates in the United Kingdom and will complement SAT3, Glo1 and Main One Cable systems. Wale Goodluck, Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria said the capacity is greater than any submarine cable that has previously landed in Nigeria. It will provide connectivity for the first time for Namibia, Togo, Congo Brazzaville the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as linking South Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d?Ivoire, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Portugal and the UK with a design capacity of 5.12Tbps.

Algeria: Profitable proposition - Ooredoo's Nedjma nearly doubled its net profit to USD 37 million in 1Q13, on revenues of USD 254.3 million, an increase of 22 percent. Its subscriber base rose to 9.25 million from 8.5 million in 1Q 2012 to give it a 31 percent market share, compared to 30 percent in March 2012. Agence Ecofin noted that the Qatar-base group invested some USD 57.2 million in Algeria in 1Q13, representing 15.5 percent of its global investment.

Bahrain: Europe entices - Batelco has installed a number of new POPs, some of which are located in the UK and France. Batelco already has a number of regional POPs across the GCC and the Middle East. Batelco's partners and customers can now access the full range of MPLS layer 2 & 3, IPLC and other Ethernet services globally.

Bharti Airtel: Acquisitive Airtel - Bharti Airtel is to acquire the remaining 30 percent stake in Bangladesh's Warid Telecom to make it a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airtel. In January 2010, Bharti acquired a 70 percent stake in the Bangladesh arm of Warid Telecom, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Dhabi Group. It recently announced it had acquired Warid's operations in Uganda.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Airtel advancement - Bharti Airtel launched its 3.75G service on 3 May 2013. According to Cheik Sarr, Airtel's national Marketing Director the new technology will improve the quality of service.

Ghana: Multi-operator Scratch card - Locally-based Prymo Limited on Friday launched the first Universal Scratch Card. The pre-paid scratch cards marketed under the ?One 4 All? moniker are being offered in denominations of GHS 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 and can be used on all networks except for MTN. Abubakar Iss-Hak, Founder and Executive Director of Prymo Ghana, said the company was focused on providing simple smart solutions for pre-paid mobile subscribers. Users are charged as per the tariffs of the network they are using.

Kenya: Points mean prizes - Safaricom is hailing its Bonga points reward scheme a success, with some 50 billion points accrued since the customer loyalty programme was launched six years ago. General Manager of its Commercial Business Unit Peter Arina said that out of the 50 billion points accrued so far, 82 percent have been redeemed by subscribers in exchange for either airtime, data bundles or a handset. 28,000 points will now earn a one-way Kenya Airways ticket to any local destination is the latest item to be offered. Readers will be pleased to here it is not a total one-way street for loyal subscribers, as when they generate 40,000 points they will be allowed back.

Nigeria: Tariff turmoil - MTN Group is seeking clarity from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) after the regulator raised concerns about its market dominance and pricing strategy. In a report undertaken by KPMG for the NCC, MTN's 44 percent market share was defined as dominant, and in particular, the offering of lower rates for calls that remained on its network was judged anti-competitive. MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer Brett Goschen was reported by Bloomberg on 2 May as saying that it was simply following the market with its pricing structure, and was unclear whether the NCC wanted it to raise or lower tariffs.

Qatar: Asian asset - The State of Qatar has bought a 5 percent stake in Bharti Airtel for USD 1.26 billion. The deal is being channelled through the Qatar Foundation Endowment. QFE is to be an active investor in Bharti Airtel, with a seat on the board.

Saudi Arabia: Roaming free - CITC has been ordered by the courts to retract a ban on a free roaming services offered by mobile operator Mobily. Arab News reported the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) now has to lift a SAR 500,000 (USD 133,300) fine it imposed on Mobily for continuing to offer its free service. The decision was reached some three years after Mobily initiated proceedings over CITC's decision to ban local operators, which also include Zain and STC, from offering the free facility. It is reported that CITC will be allowed to appeal.

South Africa: Educational enhancement - Telkom?s Executive of Shared Services Iqbal Moolla has officially opened a state-of-the-art IT Centre at Stanger Secondary School on 29 April 2013 that was facilitated by Telkom Foundation?s Adopt-a-Project initiative. Some 30 computers and a printer for the creation of the IT centre, valued at ZAR 100,000, were donated.

South Africa: One third free - Virgin Mobile South Africa has rolled out new pre-paid price plans under the '1, 2, Free' moniker. These see subscribers receiving every third unit - be it minutes, SMS or megabyte of data - free of charge. The 'Free Talk' plan focuses on voice services and provides every third minute free, and every third SMS and megabyte of data no extra cost.

South Africa: Performance data published - ICASA has published its latest Quality of Service (QoS) Monitoring Test Reports. Tests were carried out in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces, involving drive-testing, using the TEMS investigation tool. The metrics used to measure network quality were Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR) and Drop Call Rate (DCR). Cell C had the best Call Setup Success Rate at 96.84 percent, whilst had the best MTN ranked top with a Drop Call Rate (DCR) of only 0.80 percent. Further details are available here.

Syria: Staying in Syria - MTN Syria has issued a press release saying it is not pulling out. MTN Syria said that information published about MTN Group pulling was totally inaccurate. It said: ?MTN Syria remains committed to the country and to the BOT [build-operate-transfer] contract signed with the Syrian government, and it will continue to serve its subscribers and enhance its role in the Syrian society'.

United Arab Emirates: M2M management - du has partnered with SamTech to offer M2M solutions, including connected fleet Management, Smart Job Management, Smart Transportation and Smart Waste Management. The operator will provide end-to-end M2M solutions including data connectivity, SIM cards, devices and managed reporting, as a one-stop-shop to meet customers? needs.

United Arab Emirates: Top-up transfer - Etisalat 'International Credit Transfer' was launched on 5 May 2013 so allowing Wasel and Ahlan pre-paid subscribers to transfer airtime to any pre-paid account globally. Subscribers are able to transfer balances between local mobile accounts, but the new facility is available on 170 mobile network operators in 70 countries. An SMS is sent to 1700 with the recipient's mobile phone number. Users receive a message with instructions to complete the transaction. This is followed by a reply from the recipient's operator detailing the various denominations available to be transferred to the mobile number. Subscribers can make 10 transactions a month and three a week to any pre-paid mobile account in the world, and transfer a maximum credit of AED 300 (USD 82) per transaction and AED 500 (USD 136) in a month.