News in Brief 12 December 2013

Angola: Dual play package - Angola Telecom launched last week a 'Dual Play' service (telephone and Internet) which offers free calls on-net, as well as access to the Internet. The new service is called 'Fale e Navegue' and allows users to download information, movies, games and music throughout the whole month, without additional cost. The service retails at AOA 7,800 (USD 78).

Benin: Booster jab - Mobile vaccine registry systems in health centres have had a boost of some USD 695,431 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding will be used to enrol additional health centres on the VaxTrac system with the aim of improving record-keeping practices, reducing vaccine waste, and improving schedule adherence, especially for children under the age of five.

Botswana: LTE line-up - Orange, Mascom (MTN), Global Broadband Solutions and Micro Teck have been awarded national WiMAX licences, BOPA reported. The Minister of Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi said Mascom and Orange had undertaken technical trials of LTE, which were completed in March and September respectively. Both had also said they would like to roll out LTE services in the future, while BOCRA is currently consulting stakeholders to determine the appropriate spectrum for LTE.

Egypt: Faster fibre - Telecom Egypt (TE) is to upgrade the National Bank of Egypt's (NBE) network with fibre-optic technology. This will facilitate secure data transfer and higher speeds reaching up to 10 GBs /sec. Hisham Okasha, chairman of NBE, said this was part of a plan of reform initiated in 2008. Mohamed El-Nawawy, Managing Director and CEO of TE said the banking sector was in dire need of an upgraded communication service in order to compete globally.

Egypt: Mobile modalities - Reuters has reported Hesham el-Alaily, Head of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, as confirming it is in the final stages of issuing a licence to allow Telecom Egypt (TE) to provide both a fixed and mobile services. TE surpassed the 1.5 million subscriber mark in June and offers broadband services as well as wholesale to other operators.

Egypt: Profit penalty - Orascom's Naguib Onsi Sawiris has said there will no further investment in North Korea until it sees a return, Middle East Online reported. The government is not allowing it to remit profits to Egypt. Investment current stands at USD 200 million since 2008 and the telco offers 3G mobile services in a joint venture with North Korea's postal service. Koryo Link, is 75-percent owned by Orascom and has 2 million subscribers.

Iran: Datek deadline - WiMAX provider Datak Telecom was expected to be cut off from 12 December 2013 after it failed to pay overdue royalties to regulator Communications Regulatory Authority of Iran (CRA), local WIMAX News has reported. It was granted a one-year renewal deadline, which has now expired. It was granted a licence in November 2008, and rolled out in Tehran in 2010.

Israel: Rescue ratified - The creditors of IDB Holding Corp have approved a rescue plan put forward by Argentine businessman Eduardo Elsztain and his Israeli partner, rejecting a rival proposal from controlling shareholder Nochi Dankner. Reuters reported that Elsztain's proposal received over 75 percent of the votes. IDB controls Cellcom, Israel's biggest mobile operator. Dankner, however, has a legal option, which is expected to be exercised.

Israel: Share sale - Scailex Corporation has sold some two million shares in Partner for ILS 63.2 million (USD 18.0 million), the Globes news service has reported. Following the sale, Scailex owns 14.4 percent of Partner, and the combined stake with sister Suny stands at 15.83 percent.

Kenya: Bidding war - Safaricom launched its MyMarket platform last week, which is a direct rival for already established OLX. The web-based platform provides free auction services for people to sell items for cash. The Star quoted Olx Marketing Manager, Priscilla Muhiu,as saying: "I believe Olx has strongly positioned itself in the online market business and we are ready for any rival ".

Kenya: Financial facilitation - Family Bank has a mobile banking product branded Pesamob which allows users to open and operate Family Bank accounts. Safaricom subscribers can send their ID number through a short code that opens an account. Details will be verified through the national database, and following approval, their mobile number becomes the account number. Family Bank?s MD Peter Munyiri said it was targeting 5 million virtual account holders in the next nine months.

Malawi: Half million milestone - Airtel Money has registered over 500,000 users 20 months from launch, the Nyasa Times reported. Managing Director Saulos Chilima said financial transactions amounting to USD 12 million had been performed. Airtel Money Marketing Manager, Masiye Mazaza said the service provides a secure alternative to holding cash at home.

Nigeria: Bumpa bonus - Glo has introduced a new tariff plan which gives pre-paid subscribers up to 200 percent instant bonus each time they recharge. To qualify, the top-up must be NGN100 or greater. Marketing Co-ordinator Adeniyi Olukoya said Glo Bumpa bonuses can be used to text or call any network in Nigeria and also to browse the Internet. Bumpa comes with a flat rate of NGN 4 per SMS to all networks, while international SMS will be charged at NGN 10 per SMS.


Nigeria: Complaints categorised - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is now using Facebook and Twitter for complaints about operators as part of its 'consumer enlightenment campaign'. The aim to reach as many subscribers as possible and 'enlighten' them on the ways of making complaints. Complaint categories are billing issues, call-centre and customer care, call set-up, faulty terminal, health issues, internet service, promotions, recharge cards, SMS and MMS and SIM related matters.

Nigeria: Cost of calling - A one-day industry forum organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) heard that Nigerian mobile subscribers have lost an average of NGN 730 billion (USD 4.6 billion) annually due to poor quality of service (QoS). This is attributed to inadequate network capacity, infrastructure vandalism, dropped calls and charges for undelivered short message service (SMS), The Leadership reported.

Nigeria: Timely top-ups - Clickatell and Nigerian technology firm VTNetwork have provided a system to recharge phones on the go, which works on the MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Glo networks. Peter Ojo, CEO of VTNetwork, said the service could be used on all types of mobile phones. The system detects in real time when a phone's airtime is nearly used up, based on a subscriber's usage pattern, and applies an appropriate credit.

Reunion: Better mobile broadband - Orange says its HSDPA is now available to 75 percent of the population, and will be extended to more than 90 percent in 2014. Rival SFR launched its HSDPA in August.

Saudi Arabia: Planning portfolio - Zain Saudi Arabia (KSA) has deployed tools supplied by Aircom for improved network planning, including Asset, Capesso, Connect and I-VIEW Dimension. Three years of maintenance and support is included. Sultan Al-Deghaither, Network Engineering Director at Zain KSA said it was developing core engineering and technology skills in the strategic business areas to provide greater differentiation in advanced products and services.

Senegal: Move by ex-Minister - Ex-Cabinet Minister Youssou Ndour has declared an interest in the fourth telephony licence, news site Ndarinfo has reported. The current working title is 'Youtel', and it would compete with established players Tigo, Orange and Expresso.


South Africa: Cost of cuts - MTN South Africa CEO Zunaid Bulbulia has accused the telecoms regulator ICASA of acting 'irrationally' with its plan to cut wholesale mobile call termination rates from ZAR 0.40 per minute to ZAR 0.10 per minute over the next three years. Bulbulia says that tariffs have come down because of retail competition and not lower wholesale fees. He queries whether future network investment will be justified.

South Africa: Data youth - World Wide Worx's 'Mobility 2014' study shows that the 19-24 age group is switching from voice to data at a faster rate than any other segment. Only 56 percent of this group's mobile budget is spent on calls, down from 66 percent in mid-2012, whilst the spend on data has risen from 17 to 24 percent. The overall market saw call expenditure fall from 73 percent of the mobile budget to 65, while data rose from 12 to 16 percent. In early 2010 calls stood at 77 percent and data at 8.

Sudan: Zain denial - Zain last week said it is not looking at fixed-line operator Canar. Reuters reported a source 'close to the matter' as saying Etisalat could resurrect talks to sell Canar to Zain. Etisalat pulled out, although both parties were still keen on a deal. However Zain issued a statement saying it had no interest.

Swaziland: No shares for SEL - The Swaziland Empowerment Limited (SEL) has failed to acquire the additional 2 percent shareholding in Swazi MTN it had signalled it wanted as other shareholders declined to sell. It currently has a 19 percent holding.

Tanzania: NGN now - Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has launched an integrated Business and Operational Support system in Dar es Salaam. TCL Chief of Marketing and Sales Officer, Peter Ngota said the services for both data and voice over fixed and mobile networks would be improved, including real time billing of usage for pre- and post-paid customers and insurance of various notification through electronic means and personalised services. TTCL Regional Manager of Dar es Salaam North Karim Bablia was also in attendance at the launch. Vendors were ZTE and Huawei.

Tunisia: Committee called for - The Minister of Information Technologies and Communications has told the press that with the 3G market close to saturation it was time to consider 4G. Operators Tunisie Telecom, Orange Tunisia and Ooredoo are calling for a committee to orchestrate the launch of 4G services, to be operational between 2014 and 2015.