News in Brief 2 July 2014

Africa: MVNO market potential - Mikkel Vinter, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa, told the MVNOs Industry Summit in Johannesburg last week that it was looking to tap other African markets, following its launch in South Africa in 2006. Vinter said Deloitte figures showed there are 1,200 MVNOs active globally, 800 of which are in Europe and less than 10 in Africa, which offered a significant opportunity to companies such as Virgin. He noted that there was potential in Africa is at least 500 MVNOs over the next 10 years.

Benin: Secure top-up - Globacom subscribers can now top-up airtime anytime and anywhere without the use of recharge cards. It has now launched its E-top up service. According to the Head of Glomobile Benin, Femi Ogunlusi, subscribers can activate the service by requesting a code, which allows the top-up without the phone's number being disclosed to the vendor. Globacom launched its commercial operations in 2008.

Cameroon: Milestone for MTN - MTN Cameroon has achieved the 10 million active subscriber milestone, with the 10 millionth subscriber connected to the MTN network on 17 June 2014 in Ndogbong in Douala. MTN says its position as leader in the mobile market is now consolidated. MTN acquired Camtel Mobile in February 2000.

Cote d'Ivoire: Poor power problems - Minister of ICT, Bruno Kone, has said that power outages cause half of the poor telecom service issues. He was speaking at a meeting organised by the French Chamber of Commerce, Telecom.paper reported. Quality of service continues to be a major issue for regulator ARTCI, which fined the six operators nearly XOF 3 billion (USD 6.2 million) earlier this month.

Kenya: Security project scrutinised - The National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security will shortly submit its report on the Integrated Public Safety, Communication and Surveillance System contract awarded to Safaricom. Committee Chairman Asman Kamama said on Thursday that there were various irregularities, including procurement, in the award of the KES 14.9 billion tender and the overall funding of the project by the government and telco. See also Tetra claims police project frequencies.

Kuwait: Clearer calls - Zain Kuwait and Huawei have announced the first successful test of a mobile call using Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) technology which enhances the customer experience with clear HD voice and low latency. A Mean Opinion Score (MOS) higher than 4.1 which allows a customer to be able to hear better. The call set-up of VoLTE takes only a second while Huawei's eSRVCC solution enables a hand over time of less than 250ms. Huawei's VoLTE solution and CaaS strategy was previewed as part of the demo.

 

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Kuwait: New CEO - The National Mobile Telecommunications Co (Wataniya) has named Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Thani as its Chief Executive Officer. He replaces Abdulaziz Ibrahim Fakhroo, who is now moving to a new post in the Ooredoo group.

Middle East: Z3 zooming-in - The BlackBerry Z3 smartphone is to be launched in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in July, followed by Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The Z3 can now be pre-ordered in the UAE through the BlackBerry Store in the Dubai Mall.

Oman: CFO replaces CEO - Talal Said Marhoon al-Mamari has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Oman Telecommunications (Omantel). Mamari was previously Chief Financial Officer. He replaces outgoing CEO Amer Al-Rawas, who moves to Oman's oil and gas sector.

Oman: Corporate care - Omantel has launched a self-care portal for corporate customers. Eng. Adil Al Awadhi, Manager of Communication Solutions at the Corporate Business Unit said the facility will allow a wide range of activities. These include the adding of new post-paid lines and/or new data SIMs to an account, SIM replacement, adding a Sawa SIM card which allows customers to create dual SIM Cards, as well as adding, upgrading, or changing Mobile data plans. The status of orders can also be tracked.

Saudi Arabia: Competitive cloud - As part of the strategic alliance with Virtustream, Mobily has launched a new cloud computing offer aimed at small and medium-sized business sector. The options available are: Silver includes 8 GB of RAM, 2.2 GHz with a storage capacity of 200 GB and costs SAR 2,699 (USD 706) a month; Gold offers 16 GB of RAM, 4.1 GHz with a storage capacity of 500 GB and costs SAR 5,149 (USD 1,347) a month while Platinum includes 32 GB of RAM, 8.2 GHz with a storage capacity of 1,000 GB and costs SAR 9,999 (USD 2,617) a month. The service is offered via secure, high-speed connections to its Tier III and IV data-centres.

Saudi Arabia: Free video - YouTube is being targeted by Zain KSA in its new Shabab pre-paid package aimed at the mobile youth market. Subscribers are offered unlimited YouTube browsing on smartphones when subscribing for the weekly or monthly package. Zain reckons there is a growing number of YouTube visitors reaching record numbers. The package allows a weekly subscription of 100 call minutes to all local networks and 1 GB of Internet use for SAR 30 (USD 7.85) and a monthly subscription of 500 call minutes to all local networks and 5 GB of Internet use for SAR 110 (USD 28.80) to be used within a month. Current subscribers can transfer.

South Africa: Intermittent link - Afrihost ADSL has said that outages over a number of evenings has been traced to an intermittent issue between MTN?s network and Telkom, which was due to a problematic hardware link. Afrihost said that the effect on authentication traffic placed additional stress on concurrent links, resulting in mobile and DSL authentications failing intermittently. Afrihost owns Axxess, and both use MTN as their upstream service provider.

South Africa: Store SIM - MTN and Pick n Pay are to offer a free money transfer service. Richard van Rensberg, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Pick n Pay, said customers would have a safe and secure way to transfer money at no cost and enjoy free banking services in-store. MTN CEO, Zunaid Bubulia, said improved financial inclusion was recognised as a key component in driving inclusive national growth. The new SIM card will also reward customers with an additional 10 percent airtime when they top-up at Pick n Pay and Boxer stores.

South Africa: Store sign-up - GraphicMail South Africa has released Chiosco, a tablet-based application that allows clients to use an automated sign-up kiosk that will be positioned in selected stores across. Clients can sign up for e-mail newsletters and promotions directly from any location and will be able to find useful information about the company and what they offer through the newsletter whilst they are waiting. The application is free to use and is available on Google Play.

South Sudan: Peace by phone - UNESCO has joined with Ericsson and Zain to expand the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN) in the Equatorias region. Zain South Sudan CEO Basel Manasrah said the partnership aims to bring young people together and motivate them to become agents of positive change. UNESCO Special Envoy Forest Whitaker unveiled the peace-building programme developed by The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI).

Tanzania: Tigo transfers - WorldRemit, the online money transfer service, has partnered with Tigo Tanzania to allow remittances from 35 countries in which Tigo has a presence to be lodged in a Tigo Pesa mobile wallet. Tanzanians located overseas remit some USD 75 million home in 2013, according to the World Bank, with remittances to Tanzania more than doubling since 2008.

Tunisia: Exam ending - Tunisie Telecom has launched new pre-paid 'Packs Reussite 2014' with smartphones to mark the end of high school baccalaureate exams. The packs come with a free SIM card with TND 2 (USD 1.17) of call bonus and 500 MB of mobile Internet a month for the first six months. The smartphones available are the Startrail by TT (TND 329), Alcatel OT 918 D (TND 239), Motorola Defy Mini (TND 333), Samsung Galaxy Pocket Plus (TND 229) and ZTE Navigator V856 with dual SIM slots (TND 244). They also comes with 100 percent bonus on top-ups, 100 MB of free mobile Internet and 100 SMS over 30 days.

Tanzania: Smartphone savings - Vodacom Tanzania held its second 'Vodacom Expo' at the Leaders Club grounds in Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam 28-30 June. Vodacom External Relation Manager, Mr Salum Mwalim, said it was a 'big event' where smartphones and devices could be purchased at reduced prices.

Uganda: Court case - MTN Uganda is claiming it has been defrauded of USD 4 million by Threeways Shipping Service, the New Vision has reported. MTN is also suing two of its former employees. MTN alleges that Threeways made fictitious claims to MTN between March 2009 and April 2012 on over 130 invoices with collusion of two employees. New Vision said the Commercial Court has told Threeways to file its defence within fifteen days. MTN has also asked the bank to freeze Threeways? accounts and wants the banks to be ordered to pay MTN from those accounts.

Uganda: Opt out - Uganda Telecom (UTL) has introduced Do Not Disturb (DND) which will allow subscribers to opt out of receiving SMS alerts. The Uganda Communications Commission issued a notice to all operators to stop the distribution of unsolicited SMS, and UTL said the new service will allow users to block unsolicited SMS. However after the opt out of is activated subscribers will still receive promotional SMS from the operator.

United Arab Emirates: Charitable tweeting - du has launched #30DaysofSharing on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook allowing subscribers to share the moments which make Ramadan special to them and to others. du will donate AED 10 (USD 2.67) to its annual Iftar tables initiative with every post using the hashtag. Hala Badri, Executive Vice President, Brand and Communications, du, said it invited the UAE community to participate. du has also allocated a AED 1.57 million (USD 420,000) from 5 percent of the monthly fees from its Emirati Plan subscriptions, to employ 25 Emirati women who will cook the Iftar meals for a month.

United Arab Emirates: Smart stores - Following the launch of its Smart store concept in Al Ain Mall, Abu Dhabi, earlier this year, Etisalat has said it will open 20 more across the UAE. Waiting times are cliamed to have been cut by 70 percent and there has been a 200 percent rise in customers served. The outlet features interactive screens that allow product research and account access. Free WiFi is available. Etisalat reports a 400 percent increase in eLife subscriptions at the Al Ain branch. Phillip Mckinnon, Vice President-Retail Development said the concept engaged visitors better.

United Arab Emirates: TV strategy - du has announced an extended strategic partnership with Samsung Gulf Electronics. du is transitioning its Home Service portfolio into Smart Home services. du will work with Samsung to develop a Smart TV application for its multiscreen solution. Customers will shortly be able to purchase select Samsung Smart TVs directly from du, when applying for their home service subscription. Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said: "Our collaboration with Samsung will enable a smart revolution in our customers' homes, by empowering them with access to a more integrated and convenient lifestyle. "

Yemen: Ambassadorial assembly - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghr met on Monday with South Korean Ambassador to Yemen Lee Young-ho to discuss co-operation between the two countries, Sabanews reported. The Korean ambassador said meetings with Korean telcos could be held to discuss ways to invest in the Yemen telecom sector, adding that Korea would continue to support the on-going political process in Yemen. An invitation was extended to the Minster from Korea's Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Choi Mun-Kee to attend the 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference that will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea from 20 October to 7 November.

Zambia: Subscribers compensated - Airtel Zambia has refunded airtime to over 28,000 subscribers after intervention of the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA). ZICTA said about 28,000 Airtel subscribers had wrongly marked as roaming subscribers and lost airtime amounting to USD 180 each. ZICTA PR Manager Ngabo Nankonde said the operator had given them 30 minutes of free talk-time for use within the Airtel network.

Zimbabwe: Apple added - Econet Wireless is now an exclusive supplier of Apple products in Zimbabwe. It already has partnerships with Huawei, ZTE and Ericson. Speaking at the launch of Econet's third premium customers' shop in Borrowdale, Chief Commercial and Customer Services Officer Stanley Henning said the telco was now the official exclusive provider of Apple products. Econet's High Value Customers' General Manager Fungai Mandiveyi said customers can now get products such as Sumsung and Apple 'with ease'.

Zimbabwe: Fixed numbers - An article in The Herald last week suggests that Econet could be vulnerable should POTRAZ introduce Mobile Number Portability. Despite aggressive campaigns mounted by all three operators, Econet last month announced a gain of 780,000 whilst Telecel saw a drop of 100,000 such that Econet is nearing the 9 million subscriber mark while Telecel and Netone last reported 2.5 million and 2 million subscribers in the last quarter. The Herald suggests the popularity of Econet is due to subscribers not wanting to lose their known number. A survey by TechnoMag showed that at least 30 percent of subscribers have more than one active SIM card.