News in Brief 22 January 2014

Afghanistan: Internet reductions - The cost of wholesale Internet access from Afghan Telecom has been reduced for STM-1 as well as DSL lines, with effect from 1 February. The price of the STM-1 service has been reduced from AFN 200,000 to 140,000 (USD 3,520 to 2,460), while a 2 Mbps DSL service now costs AFN 10,000 (USD 176), down from 8,000. The 1 Mbps service has been reduced by 20 percent to AFN 4,000 (USD 70); as has the 512 Kbps service to AFN 2,000 and the 256 Kbps service to AFN 1,000.

Africa: Foxy lady - Vera Pinto Pereira, who was previously TV Service Director of Portugal Telecom?s Pay-TV platform MEO, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Fox International Channels (FIC) Europe and Africa. She will be based in Lisbon and report to Executive Vice President for Southern Europe and Africa Adam Theiler.

Africa: Next generation - Vicky Myburgh, head of entertainment and media at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says that the new African mobile device user will be poorer, younger, less well educated and unlikely to have access to fixed broadband. Myburgh suggests that African consumers will use their mobiles primarily for entertainment, accessing information or transferring money. The comments were made following the publication of the 4th annual edition of PwC?s annual forecast of advertising and consumer spending, 'South African entertainment and media outlook: 2013 - 2017'.

Israel: Client cannibalisation - Bezeq could lose 600,000 broadband Internet and telephony customers in the next four years, according to a submission to a hearing on the wholesale market by Ministry of Communication's Deputy Director for Economics, Prof. Reuven Gronau. Globes also reports that if consumers opt to retain only a mobile phone or prefer a low-cost fixed line, Bezeq could lose a further 90,000 customers. Internet prices are expected to fall 30 percent and the cost of telephony by 20 percent.

 

Israel: Fixed decision - Cellcom Israel announced on Thursday 16 January that the Ministry of Communications had published its decision regarding the types of fixed services that will be offered through the wholesale market. The Ministry also published the outcome of a hearing into the terms for the provision of certain wholesale fixed services by Bezeq and HOT, who both own full fixed infrastructure, and the maximum prices it intends to set for certain wholesale services that will be provided by Bezeq. Cellcom says it is still evaluating the impact of the announcement on its own business.

Kenya: Back to court - Airtel Kenya has accused Safaricom of anti-competitive practices and is seeking a court order to quash a decision by the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) to terminate a hearing. Airtel said each party was to be allowed to make its case before CAK, which could arbitrate. Airtel accuses Safaricom of unfair market dominance, The Standard has reported. CAK terminated the 29 October 2013 hearing as Safaricom said it would resolve the matter through a negotiated settlement.

Kenya: PR head named - Safaricom has appointed Elizabeth Yoga-Odhiambo as its Head of PR & Corporate Communication. Previously she was with ICEA Lion Group, serving as the Group Communication and Corporate Affairs Manager. She will support Nzioka Waita (Director, Corporate Affairs) with her PR team comprising of Ann Nderi and June Chepkemei. A team from Ogilvy Public Relations will complement them.

Libya: Office opening - Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) last week officially opened a new office in Tripoli, Libya. It said in a release that office will 'enhance the company?s operational agility for delivery of its mobile broadband infrastructure for all operators in the country'. Faisel Gergab, Chairman of the Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Company (LPTIC) said the facility would enhance the position of Libya as a technology hub.

Libya: Regulatory assistance sort - The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has been approached by a delegation led by Deputy Communications Minister Mohamad Benrasali for assistance in creating a regulatory framework that is attractive to investors, and so will speed-up the restoration of war damaged infrastructure. The ITU in turn is to send a team to Libya to access the situation. ITU secretary general Hamadoun Toure said he was delighted to see Libya coming back to the world stage.

Malawi: TV fee transfer - Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) customers can now pay their GOtv monthly subscriptions using its Mpamba mobile money transfer service. TNM Head of Marketing, Sobhuza Ngwenya, said the new payment service would allow users of both brands to save money. Multichoice Malawi Sales and Marketing Manager, Chimwemwe Nyirenda, said users only needed a TNM SIM card and to be registered for Mpamba registration. GOtv is Multichoice?s low-cost Digital terrestrial television service.

Nigeria: Bank mandated - Etisalat is reported to have appointed Standard Bank in an advisory role for the sale of base stations by its Nigerian affiliate, according to a report by Reuters. The deal is thought to be worth some USD 400 million. Standard Bank is thought to have been tasked with identifying potential buyers. Etisalat has some 2,500 towers in Nigeria.

Nigeria: Cable connections - Glo Mobile plans to up the number of terrestrial connections to its submarine cable, Glo-1. The 9,800 km long network that connects Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.

Nigeria: Healthy foundation - MTN Foundation has launched its MTNF Y?ello Doctor Project, which involves the deployment of six state-of-the-art mobile clinics, stocked with medical equipment and drugs, to selected states. The beneficiary states will then provide the medical personnel. ThisDayLive reports that the MTN Foundation had earlier requested expressions of interest from state health ministries for consideration as beneficiaries of the project. The final selected states are Ogun, Delta, Abia and Taraba, with two remaining, representing the North West and North Central regions, still to be selected.

Nigeria: Rural renaissance - The Ministry of Communications & Technology expects to complete the long running National Rural Telephony Project (NRTP) tender by March. It blamed delays by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in issuing the final approval as delaying the hand over to the preferred bidders. The USD 200 million project was conceived in 2001 and was to be handed over to operators to take telephony to rural areas, and run the resulting networks. Engr. John Ayodele, Director of Posts and Telecommunications at the Ministry, told Nigeria Communications Week that the date is based on the expected budgetary approval, and for which the Ministry has provisioned for in the 2014 budget.

Qatar: More wanted - A survey conducted by local daily Al Raya found 69 percent of respondents saying telecom services were sub-standard compared to neighbouring countries. Low signal strength in the outer areas of cities was cited by 59.5 percent of respondents while 24 percent wanted cheaper tariffs. However 24 percent said telcos were on a par with those in the neighbouring countries, and 14 percent said services are better in Qatar than in neighbouring countries.

Saudi Arabia: Pre-paid payments - Pre-paid subscribers of Zain Saudi Arabia can now top-up using the SADAD payment system. They can now top-up directly from their bank accounts using ATM machines, bank Websites or phone banking. The initial banks offering the facility are Banque Saudi Fransi, Saudi Investment Bank, Samba Financial Group, the National Commercial Bank, Aljazeera Bank and Riyadh Bank.

Sierra Leone: ISP licensed - Sierra Wi-Fi has been licensed as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) by the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), according to Sierra Express Media. It was established in 2012 as a subsidiary of Canada-based telecoms solution specialist World Affinity Telecom, and aims to provide broadband services over Wi-Fi and WLAN networks in Western and Central Africa. It plans to start operations in Sierra Leone in May 2014, and expand to Liberia and Ghana in the next six months. Wi-Fi3 technology provided by Edgewater Wireless will deliver broadband services over Wi-Fi and WLAN networks, initially in Freetown.

South Africa: Agency ascendant- Cell C has named the Draftfcb Group as its new advertising agency. Cell C Acting CEO, Jose Dos Santos said "We were looking to find a creative and strategic partner that could deliver cutting edge communication that can give our brand a leading edge in a busy category ". The Group will be responsible for Cell C?s integrated marketing communication account. Ogilvy will continue to service the existing campaigns during a three-month hand over. There was no indication whether CEO Alan Knott-Craig had been consulted on the appointment.

South Africa: Tower deal touted - Telkom is reported by BusinessTech to have been made a proposal that would see USD 3 billion spent on buying and expanding its mobile infrastructure. Telkom has some 1,600 towers and has plans for a further 8,400. The proposal was made by a southeast Asian company that was not named. It did hold talks with MTN regarding an infrastructure sharing deal in 2013.

Tanzania: 24/7 top-up - Tigo Tanzania has launched the second TigoMatic in Dar es Salaam. The device allows subscribers to pay bills and recharge their accounts. The TigoMatic is similar to a bank ATMs, on which customers can perform a range of transactions independent of support from staff. No new registration is required by existing Tigo customers to use the machines. The first one was launched in December 2013, being installed at its Head Office customer care shop in Kijitonyama.

Uganda: Unregistered SIMs - Despite the 31 August 2013 deadline for the disconnection of unregistered SIMs, the New Vision reports unregistered cards still in service. Operators claimed to have cut off some 627,000 cards. Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi said the law does not allow the commission to maintain a database of registered and unregistered cards, and the responsibility of policing the subscriber file rested with the operators.

United Arab Emirates: Reticent users - Research conducted by B2B International in conjunction with Kaspersky Laboratories has found that more than a third of UAE users do not feel safe making e-payments on their smartphones or tablets, with 37 percent of respondents saying they would never use a mobile device for making online transactions, such as paying for goods in online stores. 27 percent of smartphone and tablet owners do not feel comfortable using their devices for online banking, and only 22 percent of tablet and 27 percent of smartphone users globally are unconcerned about entering financial information from their gadgets.

Zambia: Better billing - Zamtel has launched what its describes as a 'robust and dynamic' converged billing platform for its mobile, fixed and data networks with a capacity of 5 million lines (an increase of 3 million). The Post reported Managing Director Dr Mupanga Mwanakatwe saying that the system could handle up to 2,086 call attempts per second, representing a 12-fold increase; the previous installation had a limit of 166 call attempts per second.

Zambia: Mine severed - Zamtel's tougher stance on collecting arrears has seen the Konkola Copper Mines lose its safety-critical underground communication network after it was disconnected due to a debt of more than ZMK8 million (USD 1,500) built-up over a year. However it subsequently relented, accepting a 50 percent payment on 17 January 2014.

Zimbabwe: Conditional access - TechZim has reported that Econet Wireless has opened up Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) functionality for the ZimSwitch mobile money transfer service. Using the ZimSwitch Shared Services platform, banks will be able to provide a full mobile money transfer to Econet subscribers. Subscribers who use a bank?s ZimSwitch Mobile service are currently limited to non-mobile money transfer transactions, such as buying airtime and money transfers. In December Econet-owned Steward Bank was refused access to the bank's ZimSwitch platform, following Econet?s refusal to allow access to its own network platform. However TechZim reported on Monday this week that Econet is charging a premium 30 cents per access; for other transactions Econet charges 5 cents.

Zimbabwe: Ownership laid open - Following the recently announced sale of Altech's stake in Liquid Telecom to Econet Wireless for USD 55 million, Econet has been at pains to clarify the relationship of the Group, with a spokesman stressing that Liquid Telecom is not a subsidiary of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. Rather, both Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and Liquid Telecom are subsidiaries of Econet Wireless Global, whose principle shareholder is Strive Masiyiwa. Econet Wireless Zimbabwe apparently does not have business interests outside Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe: Projects postulated - State-owned TelOne is looking to invest USD 90 million over the next two years on new projects particularly in data, according to Managing Director Mrs Chipo Mtasa. The funding is part of the company's budget set aside for new projects. It is currently conducting feasibility studies on the proposed projects.