News in Brief 25 July 2013

Afghanistan: Mobile towers mapped - Regulator ATRA has updated its general mobile coverage map which is located here. This shows the approximate positions of all towers, colour coded by operator. ATRA also provides individual coverage maps for each operator. We should just note however that the ATRA site was off-line on the morning of 22 July. Other maps include AWCC Coverage; Roshan Coverage; MTN Coverage; Etisalat Coverage; Afghan Telecom Coverage ; Wasel Telecom Coverage and 3G Coverage Map.

Africa: Data is a driver - Renaissance Capital reckons that MTN will see the contribution of data services double by 2015 in key markets such as Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The THISDAY newspaper reported rencap researchers Johan Snyman and Alex Kazbegi as saying data services would double and account for 20 percent of MTN's total revenue by the end of 2015. They noted how East African countries have taken more readily to non-voice products and services, one reason being the arrival of at least four submarine cable systems on the east coast since 2010, whereas the west has only recently had the benefit of three systems.

Africa & Middle East: Sales see-saw - Ericsson saw its second quarter Middle East sales rise by 7.5 percent, year-on-year, to reach SEK 3.98 billion (USD 607.4 million). Sales in Sub-Saharan Africa region however fell nearly 5 percent to SEK 2.65 billion (USD 404.4 million).

Bahrain: Innovation via investment - VIVA CEO Olyan Al-Wateed in an interview with the Bahrain News Agency said that the key driver to its success is innovation that has allowed better offerings for users. Viva is continuing to invest in both technology and infrastructure. The introduction of 4G LTE is another area of competition, with people looking to each provider for key services and the quality each operator can provide.

Benin: Suspect service - The actubenin.com Website reports that users of the MTN network in particular are encountering problems when making calls. Issues highlighted are erratic power supplies; lack of a Universal Service Fund to provide for enhanced rural coverage; and upgrade work, particularly software, relating to the introduction of 3G.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Cable contract - Although reports continue to suggest that there are still technical defects attributed to the recently lit submarine fibre optic cable, Vodacom has decided to now provide access to it. According to a report by Agence Ecofin, the operator signed a deal on 17 July 2013, with the Congolese Society of Posts and Telecommunications, becoming the first operator to take leased. Vodacom Congo Director General Moza Godfrey, having signed the contract, invited users to try out the improved connectivity.

Ghana: Marketeer moves - Glo Mobile Ghana's Head of Advertising, Maria Louisa Brookshire, has stood down to take up the role of Director/Head of Department, Institutional Advancement at the Ghana Technology University College, according to the MyJoy Online Website. At 32 she was the youngest, and only woman to be named as Chief Marketing Officer at Uganda Telecom, a LAP Green telecommunication unit in Uganda. MyJoy notes that no replacement has yet been named at Glo.

Israel: Cable competition - The Globes news service has reported the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee last week as approving the expansion of Idan + digital terrestrial television (DTT) service to compete against cable and satellite services provided by subsidiary DBS Satellite Services (YES) and Hot Telecommunication, respectively. Globes reports that the tenders for the channels will be published in early 2014.

Saudi Arabia: Centres coming - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has opened its Melgha II data centre in Riyadh, and is one of a number the operator is currently establishing in major centres. The Melgha II data centre is the Uptime Institute's first Tier IV Certified Constructed Facility in Asia and North Africa. Khalid Al-Kaf, Mobily's MD and CEO said Mobily is running 38 data centres while implementing 18 others, which will be completed within five years, covering 65,000 square meters, and providing an operating in total capacity of up to 162,500 Kilo Watts.

South Africa: Data devices - Renaissance Capital's Johan Snyman and Alex Kazbegi have examined the growth of data in South Africa; the THISDAY newspaper reporting them as saying: "Data usage is driven by a growing base of smartphone users of about 13million ". An examination of data provided by Facebook and Statcounter of Web activity by device in South Africa shows a strong fit, with both recording BlackBerry with a market share in the region of 34-37 percent.

South Africa: Nokia challenge - Nokia has appointed Shaun Durandt as General Manager for Nokia South Africa. His appointment is effective June 2013. Durandt has held senior management roles within MTN?s Retail and Operational structures prior to joining BlackBerry, where he has held various sales and strategic positions over the past five years, the most recent being head of distribution for Africa. He will be based in Johannesburg, reporting directly to the Vice President of Nokia South East Africa.

South Africa: Talked to Telkom - Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig said in a radio interview on Thursday last week that it the operator had held talks with Telkom about how the mobile industry might be consolidated. Talk Radio 702 host Stephen Grootes asked Knott-Craig whether there had been talks with Telkom about consolidating the mobile market, Knott-Craig confirmed he had 'addressed it with them', TechCentral has reported.

Tanzania: SIMs suspended - The mobile operators are reported to be complying with the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) of 2010, which required all SIM cards to be registered. Last week Vodacom Tanzania said it had switched off 450,000 lines, whilst Airtel Tanzania is reported to have now followed suite by switching off 200,000 lines, the East African Business Week reported.

United Arab Emirates: Bitstream barrier - Mobile operators Etisalat and du have been unable to reach agreement over how they might compete on fixed line services four years after talks started, Reuters has reported. The two provide fixed-line, broadband and TV packages, but not in the same districts, with du confined to the newer areas of Dubai. Bitstream access appears to be the stumbling block, and the TRA has said it will impose a requirement to offer bitstream access products as per a commitment it made in its 2010 policy document.

Yemen: Incremental Internet - Public Telecommunication Corporation General Manager Sadeq Mosleh has said that the number of Internet service subscribers now stands at 160,000, the Yemen Times reported. There are some 900,000 fixed lines; these are declining due to the increasing popularity of mobile phones. According to the Central Statistical Organisation, the number of mobile subscribers rose from 11 million in 2010 to 14 million in 2012, in a nation with a World Bank estimated population of 24 million.

Zambia: Better service - Zamtel is to expand its call centre operation three fold, with a typical shift expanding from 35 seats to 100 on each of the three daily shifts. Chief Marketing Officer Evans Muhanga told ZNBC News that the new centre would involve reconstruction of part of the third floor at Lamya House. He added that the three mobile operators are co-operating on plans to ensure coverage of rural areas currently without service.

Zimbabwe: Econet evaluating - Econet Wireless is piloting LTE technology, although it will not rollout commercially in 2013. Speaking at LTE Africa in Cape Town, Francis Mahofa, Econet Wireless' Chief Technical Officer (CTO) said its data subscribers were currently using 2.5G and 3G services, HumanIPO reported. He noted the simplicity of an LTE network compared to a 3G network. Refarming of spectrum would be required.

Zimbabwe: Grateful Liquid - Econet subsidiary Liquid Telecom has been named as the official connectivity provider for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly to be held in Victoria Falls in August, The Herald reported. Liquid MD Wellington Makamure said it was grateful to the Ministry of Transport, Information and Infrastructural Development for the opportunity. It has connected all the major hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls via fibre. There is also Wi-Fi coverage at all hotels and lodges.

Zimbabwe: ISP invalidated - The Zimbabwe Independent reports that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has cancelled the ?Class A? Internet access provider (IAP) licence held by Valley Technologies. The ISP apparently failed to address its debts and meet current licence and spectrum obligations, totalling around USD 2.45 million, and wracked-up from 2010 onwards. POTRAZ set a deadline of 10 September 2013 for the company to cease its current operations.