News in Brief 2 October 2013

Africa: Four-fold - Mobile broadband connections in Sub-Saharan Africa will rise from 40 million in 2012 to over 160 million by 2016, according to a report from Ericsson entitled 'Transformative Solutions for 2015 and Beyond'. The study was conducted as a joint venture of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Ericsson and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) through the Broadband Commission Task Force on Sustainable Development.

Bahrain: Faster still - Batelco has announced enhancement of its 4G LTE network speed from up to 100 Mbps to up to 150 Mbps. Batelco launched its 4G LTE network early this year with up to 100 Mbps download speed. Batelco General Manager Consumer Division Muna Al Hashemi said that its 4G LTE network enhancement was part of our ongoing commitment and investment in infrastructure.

Cape Verde: Rates reduced - The National Communications Agency (ANAC) has announced new, lower tariffs for radiocommunication services are now in force. The new service tariffs significantly reduce the rates for mobile terrestrial services, satellite communications services, broadcasting services and fixed services. For land-based mobile services, the tariffs have been reduced by 30-40 percent for the use of frequencies, and 90 percent for licensing of radio base stations. The new regulations also foresee the introduction of tariffs for 3G, fixed wireless access (FWA) and broadband wireless access (BWA) services.

NEW!  Africa, Middle East & Europe Mobile Market Opportunities Wallchart 2013
Mobile penetration, net additions and Q4 2010, Q4 2011, Q4 2012 subscriber data for all MNOs

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Eastern expansion - Tigo reckons to have signed up more than 250,000 customers in two eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in less than three months. Tigo only returned to North and South Kivu in June, and since then, the company has added more than 2,000 customers per day in this challenging area. The operator hopes to launch 3G service by the end of the year. Tigo also issued two toll-free emergency numbers through which Kivu people can share with police and local administration information about Goma.

Ghana: Eastern e-cable - The Ministry of Communications is constructing a 780-kilometre fibre optic backbone on the Eastern Corridor. It will provide broadband infrastructure between Ho to Bawku, and Tamale to Yendi. Ms Victoria Hammah, Deputy Minister of Communications discussed the development at a Meet-The-Press series to highlight preparations for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Conference in Ghana from 1-4 October, BusinessGhana reported.

Israel: Fixed switch - Cellcom Israel has said that all its mobile subscribers who switch their fixed-line number to it, will receive the service free for a year. The offer is also valid for mobile subscribers who switch to Cellcom. Cellcom will provide the router free-of-charge to customers who want to install it themselves, and will charge ILS 299 to customers who ask for an engineer to call. After the first 12 months, the price will be ILS 69 per month for unlimited calls.

Kenya: Fare deal - Bus passengers will be able to pay their fares using M-Pesa. According to Business Daily, Safaricom said it would allocate special till numbers to Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators so passengers can pay fares without incurring transaction charges. Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita gave no date for the launch, but the service will be rolled out under the Lipa Na M-Pesa scheme. PSV owners will pay Safaricom 1 percent commission on the value of each transaction. There are some 22,052 PSV licensed operators in Kenya.

Kuwait: Note III - Zain has said it will be offering the Samsung Galaxy Note III, with a larger and better screen. It is 4G enabled, allowing access to Zain's 4G LTE network.

Middle East: E-commerce evolution - The logistics firm Aramex said last week that its e-commerce business had quadrupled in the past two years, due to growing mobile transactions and higher levels of credit card use in the Middle East and North Africa. E-commerce grew some 300 percent in 2012 compared to 2011 due to new Websites, growing consumer adoption of online purchasing, and people having fewer security concerns.

Middle East: Fix for FLAG - E-marine has completed cable repairs to the FLAG Europe-Asia (FEA) network on behalf of Reliance Globalcom. Reliance Globalcom engaged E-marine to fix a repeater failure on the branch to Fujairah, UAE. Despite heavy seas, the repair was completed with less than 20 hours downtime. The damaged cable parted at the joint between the main high tension cable and the branching unit, thought to be due to previous damage to the joint, and the likely cause of the original cable fault.

Middle East: Sony waterproof smartphone - Sony Mobile Communications has announced the Middle East and Africa launch of the Xperia Z1, a premium waterproof smartphone. The Xperia Z1 will be available with leading retailers from October and will be priced at AED 2,649 (USD 721) in the UAE and SAR 2,649 (USD 706) in Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria: African award - The 2013 Nigeria Telecom Awards saw Ghana?s Roland Agambire named as the continent?s Telecom Personality of the Year 2012. The award noted Agambire's contribution to the promotion and access to ICT facilities by young people and the socially disadvantaged.

Nigeria: Customer centric - MTN Nigeria has announced the roll out of some 10,000 base stations nationally. MTN Nigeria CEO Michael Ikpoki said MTN "...is focused on three major areas, one of them being significant improvement of customer service. " It has installed additional switching centres, a network management centre, and approximately 20,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable cross-country and around metropolitan hubs.

Nigeria: Device sales to double - Huawei expects the launch on 6 September of its Ascend P6 to double its smartphone sales in Nigeria. Tony Liang, Managing Director Consumer Business Group for West Africa said it expects to sell 200,000 smartphones in Nigeria by the year-end, double the number it sold last year, Bloomberg reported. Yolanda Zhang, Marketing Director of Consumer Business in West Africa said it had the advantage of being a network provider to most mobile operators in the region.

Nigeria: Financial failure - Airtel Nigeria?s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Special Projects, Osondu Nwokoro, has said that the exclusion of telcos from playing an active role in the implementation of mobile money is a major drawback to the uptake of the service. The Vanguard newspaper reported his comments made at NigeriaCom. He said that almost three years after the issuing of the first Mobile Money licences, only around 2.2 percent of adults with bank accounts have subscribed to the service while the unbanked population is yet to be reached.

Oman: Telecom tender - The Tender Board last week awarded an OMR 1.89 million (USD 4.9 million) tender for the supply, installation, testing and operation of devices for the expansion of the fixed telecoms network of Oman Telecommunications Company.

Pakistan: Warid bidding war - Etisalat is one of the bidders for Warid Telecom, according to The News on Monday. China Mobile is also reported to have bid, with a 30-day validity period. Etisalat via PTCL has also notified the Karachi Stock Exchange of a non-binding offer for 100 percent of Warid Telecom. Four telcos expressed an interest included VimpelCom; Ooredoo; China Mobile, and Etisalat, parent of PTCL. Warid is thought to be worth some USD 1 billion.

Qatar: Open operator - Qatar National Broadband Network (Qnbn) has launched an advertising campaign focusing on the transformational potential of 100x faster Internet and next generation technology. Currently Qnbn is connecting premises in West Bay to its broadband infrastructure network. Qnbn provides telecom operators open access to its network giving end-users freedom of choice in all segments.

Sierra Leone: Remote recharge - Africell Sierra Leone and Gambia have signed US-based electronic payment service iSend to allow family members overseas to top-up airtime of family members in Sierra Leone or The Gambia. Some 150,000 iSend retailers are based in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe and the Middle East. Commercial Director of Africell Sierra Leone, Zein Annous, said the operator had achieved approximately 60 percent market share in their respective countries.

South Africa: Better broadband - Last week Telkom told resellers of ADSL services that users will see planned speed upgrades at no additional cost. Casper Kondo Chihaka, Telkom's Managing Executive of Wholesale Services said: '...deploying our exchange infrastructure closer to businesses and residential customers - essentially shortening the local loop - means that we are in a position to increase the performance of ADSL lines.' The migration to higher speeds will be phased from 11 November 2013, with a pause December 2013/January 2014, and resuming in February.

Sudan: Internet interrupted - CIO reports that Internet services failed at about 16:00 hrs on 25 September. Access via Canar was restored a couple of hours later, although it took 24 hours for the majority of the country to regain access. Doug Madory, Senior Analyst at Internet analysis company Renesys, noted this was the largest national outage since Egypt lost Internet access in 2011. Reports suggested the government, following violent rioting over fuel subsidies being removed, might have ordered the outage.

Tanzania: Service suspended - Vodacom Tanzania said it has resolved a technical problem that affected M-Pesa money transfer services nationally last week, ITNewsAfrica reported. Vodacom Managing Director Rene Meza said the disruption had been caused by a scheduled system upgrade on 21 September, which was due to take four hours from midnight. In the event it took some 8 hours to resolve the resulting 'system issues', and the service was fully restored at 17:30 hrs the same day.

Tanzania: Ticket transfer - M-Pesa can now be used to buy Kenya Airways (KQ) tickets. Vodacom Tanzania Head of Brand and Communication, Kelvin Twissa, said M-Pesa was the first mobile money transfer service in Tanzania to partner with an international airline. Twissa noted there are now 50,000 M-Pesa agents.

Tanzania: Towers for Tigo - Tigo Tanzania is to commission 209 new network sites in the next quarter. Diego Gutierrez, Tigo?s General Manager, Gutierrez said Tigo?s there would be 24 towers in Kagera, 16 in Dodoma and 11 in Morogoro. It is launching the Smile Tour caravan, which will visit 10 regions to promote the improved service.

United Arab Emirates: BlackBerry boost - Etisalat announced last week the exclusive launch of the 4G LTE-enabled BlackBerry Z30. Etisalat is offering a 50 per ent discount on the BlackBerry Complete, Unlimited and Global packages for three months. New or existing BlackBerry customers purchasing the Z30 who wish to subscribe to these discounted packages pay AED 40 per month for the Complete package, AED 93 per month for the Unlimited package and AED 150 per month on the Global package.

Zimbabwe: EcoCash expansion - Econet Wireless is expanding mobile money service, EcoCash. The expansion - due to be completed by the end of September - will make the EcoCash system four times bigger than it is currently, and pave the way for the launch of additional services. Econets services CEO, Mr Darlington Mandivenga, said the systems would have suffered from high congestion if not upgraded.