News in Brief 26 March 2014

Bahrain: LTE latest - Batelco said LTE-enabled iPhones can now access its LTE service. Batelco is offering four post-paid packages for the iPhone 5s, ranging BHD 20 - 50 per month. These include unlimited voice calls to Batelco lines and unlimited data access. Additional free calls (60, 120 and 5,000 minutes respectively) are also included to other local networks. The BHD 50 package features 250 free text or multimedia messages each month in addition to free BHD 10 credit for international calls and roaming.

Botswana: Medical mission - Orange Botswana is to work with the University of Botswana (UB) School of Medicine to develop a specialised data plan that gives students and lecturers access to medical resources while they are far from the UB library, the Sunday Standard reported. Orange Botswana CEO Philippe Baudin said M-health can help provide people with expected health services such as the prevention and monitoring of chronic conditions such as diabetes at a lower cost than other traditional medical care.

Ghana: Spam silenced - Tigo has rolled out an upgraded Internet security system, which virtually eliminates spam from customers' emails and reduces phishing incidents, according to GhanaWeb. Gloria Adutwumwaa Frempong, Internet Offer Design Manager at Tigo says the move is to 'ensure that customers who use Tigo's internet services for either social or business purposes can do so without having to worry about the security of their data.' The upgrade is free.

Kenya: Computer contract - Olive Telecommunications, which lost a contract to supply schools with laptops, has gone to court. PC Advisor reports that Olive is challenging the decision of the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB). The PPARB said Olive was not qualified to bid as it was not an original equipment manufacturer.

Kenya: Smartphone from Safaricom - Infinix Mobility has launched the Alpha Marvel smartphone. The device comes with 500MB data upon purchase at Safaricom outlets and is retailing at KES 29,999 (USD 341). It runs Android 4.2.1 with a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor and 4GB memory. A 'Dream Big' prize draw is being run to promote the phone. Safaricom's Head of Retail Sales Jannet Atika said that the cost of 3G-enabled smartphones is an on-going deterrent to mobile data penetration, and it will now partner with manufacturers to offer low-cost devices. Atika said smartphones account for 67 percent of total sales through Safaricom's shops.

Kuwait: Mobile motoring - The Drive Zain road safety Corporate Social Responsibility campaign has received 1.6 million views on YouTube in the 3 weeks since its launch at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. The campaign promotes the responsible use of mobile phones while driving. Drive Zain was launched in June 2011.

Libya: Telecoms teach-in - Etisalat Academy has signed with Libyan Post Telecommunications Information Company (LPTIC Holding) to set-up a training academy in Libya. LPTIC Holding will be assisted in determining their training needs in its eight subsidiaries and provide support to establish a training academy in Libya. LPTIC's has some 14,000 employees. The Academy will manage the training and development requirements of LPTIC employees either in Dubai or in the centre being built in Libya. Development programs will focus on psychometrics and competency assessments, technical and ICT knowledge, soft skills as well as talent and leadership development programs.



Namibia: Better broadband - Telecom Namibia has announced the launch of its Speedlink broadband packages for residential, small office/home (SOHO) and small enterprises. It is offering 'Speedlink Lite' 20 March - 20 June 2014 consisting of Speedlink Data (home and business) and Speedlink Data Professional with static IP address. The service has a minimum speed of 512kbps and maximum of 10 Mbps, while Professional offers speeds from 1Mbps up to 10 Mbps. Speedlink Lite packages do not include customer premises equipment (CPE), and users have the option to purchase a modem separately.

Nigeria: Advanced airtime - Globacom has launched 'Borrow Me Credit', so allowing pre-paid subscribers to be advanced airtime when they run out. They can send a request to a specified USSD code under emergency situations. The initial denominations available are NGN 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. Globacom's Marketing Co-ordinator, Adeniyi Olukoya said it is the first of its kind in Nigeria. The credited money is taken back from the subscriber when they next recharge their account.

Oman: Faster fibre - The domestic broadband speed for 90 percent of Omantel's customers has been raised. Haitham Abdullah Al Kharousi Vice President of Consumer Business Unit at Omantel said: "Our strategy at Omantel has always been focused on providing our customers with the best overall broadband experience ". Upload speeds have been upgraded to 1 Mbps. The VP noted that it has created a FTTH network and rolled out more MSANs 'neighborhood exchanges' allowing it to provide Home Broadband speeds up to 60 Mbps.

Saudi Arabia: Application avalanche - Virgin Mobile (VMMEA) has received over 35,000 job applications as a result of its online recruitment programme according to Karim Benkirane, Virgin Mobile Saudi CEO. The Virgin Mobile brand, which initially launched in the UK, also operates in Australia, Chile, Colombia, Canada, France, India, Poland, South Africa and the US. It failed in Singapore.

Senegal: Soccer signing - Tigo Senegal and the Senegalese Radio and Television (RTS) last week signed a memorandum of agreement to broadcast matches of the 2014 World Cup football. The 2014 World Cup tournament will be held 12 June - 13 July in Brazil.

Senegal: Stakeholder summit - The first focus group meeting on the formulation of a national strategy for the digital economy was to be held on Tuesday morning at the King King Fahd Palace, at the initiative of the Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy. The meeting was to bring together 'major public and private sector stakeholders of the digital economy in Senegal.'

South Africa: Termination rates tried - Regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will be in court from Tuesday to defend its proposed asynchronous termination rates which Vodacom and MTN claim unfairly favour Cell C and Telkom. The case is due to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. The two telcos claim the setting of mobile termination rates for 2014 at 20 cents for them and at 44 cents for the others is unlawful on a number of grounds.

Swaziland: Squeezing soccer sponsorship - MTN Swaziland has renewed its sponsorship for a local football team for another year, the Swazi Times reported. MTN Corporate Affairs Manager Mpumelelo Makhubu said the contract would be renewed for the 2014/15 season but talks will be on going with the PLS about getting better value from football sponsorship. The sponsorship package is worth SZL 1.34 million (USD 123,000).

Tunisia: TT touchphone - Tunisie Telecom (TT) has launched the Startrail by TT 3G+ Android smartphone in collaboration with French operator SFR. The device has a 3.5-in touchscreen, 5 Megapixel camera, 1GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 4GB of ROM plus a micro SD card slot. It supports Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 4.0 LE. It is selling for TND 39 (USD 25) on a 2-year subscription to the Mobi 50 plan; for TND 139 (USD 88) on a 1-year subscription to Mobi 50; for TND 129 (USD 82) on a 2-year subscription to Mobi 30 and for TND 189 (USD 119) on a 1-year subscription to Mobi 30.

Uganda: utl upgrade - Uganda Telecom is to upgrade its M-Sente mobile money banking platform in the next two weeks. The operator is under new management, led by LAP Green of Libya. Peter Kakaire, the head of UTL's M-Sente, said it will be upgrading to a more competitive platform. A M-Sente promotion is now running with weekly prizes for the next ten weeks.

Zimbabwe: Android app - Econet Wireless has launched the EcoCash Android application which can be downloaded free from Google's Play Store. The app allows users to top-up airtime, buy goods and services, send money and obtain balances. Ecobank profit before tax has risen from USD 0.75 million in 2012 to USD 2.4 million at the end of 2014.

Zimbabwe: Cup competition - Telecel Zimbabwe is the latest operator to launch a World Cup promotion. Called Go Brazil, it is offering prizes worth more than USD 200,000, including four prizes of an all-expenses paid trip for two to the World Cup in Brazil. The promotion runs until 8 August.

Zimbabwe: Outlets on-the-up - Telecel Zimbabwe said last week that the number of Telecash agents and merchants had risen by a thousand from 1,600 to 2,600 since the service was launched in January 2014. It has also signed deals with two insurance companies and a medical aid society for the payment of premiums and subscriptions with Telecash. OK Bazaars, Bon Marche, TM Supermarkets, and Zimpost are among the major retail outlets that are Telecash agents.

Zimbabwe: School base station - Exposure of students to harmful radiation does not appear to be an issue for the University of Zimbabwe's Engineering Faculty as Econet Wireless has donated a base station to enable students to gain practical knowledge in mobile phone technology. Econet Technical Director Mr. Kezito Makuni presented the unit.