News in Brief 12 November 2014

Afghanistan: Computing connection - Khoshhal Khan Number and Rahman Baba High Schools have been connected to the fibre network, according to the Minister of ICT. The inauguration was attended by Minister of Frontiers and Affairs H. E. Khpelwak and the Deputy Minister (Technical) of MCIT Eng. Baryalay Hassam. The MCIT provided 275 computers to the two schools.

Africa: Regional reshuffle - Ashish Chowdhary, currently Nokia Networks' EVP Asia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA) and responsible for sales and operations in the region (which represents more than half of the revenue of its global business) has been appointed as Chief Business Officer to lead customer operations. Rene Svendsen-Tune, Executive Vice President Europe and Latin America, and Ricky Corker, Executive Vice President North America, will report to Chowdhary, although Svendsen-Tune is due to leave at the end of the first quarter 2015. Igor Leprince has been named as the lead of Global Services. A successor for Chowdhary has not been named.

Africa & Middle East: Code of conduct - MTN, Etisalat, Airtel have signed up to the Global System for Mobile communications Association's (GSMA) code of conduct for mobile money providers. Other signatories include Millicom, Ooredoo, Orange, Vodafone and Zain. The code contains eight principles underpinning three key areas of importance: soundness of services, security of the mobile network and channel, and fair treatment of customers.

Angola: Cable connection - At an event last week to formally present the South American submarine cable (SACS) and Angosat (first Angolan satellite), Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha said the country now has some 20,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable installed. The satellite is to be launched in 2016.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Rural rollout - Vodacom is targeting rural communities, starting with the Great Kasai. Vodacom has been consulting and collaborating with local communities, and land has been made available for masts, and warehouses for construction materials, biztechafrica reported. Vodacom media relations officer Roliane Yulu said it had put in place 'a national project of rural coverage that is targeting all the vulnerable communities living in remoteness and have a low purchasing power, and have been victims of insecurity'.

Egypt: Post held - Egypt has won ITU Council membership for Africa for the period 2015-2018 after being re-elected for the post with 115 votes. The election was held at ITU's Plenipotentiary Conference held in Busan, South Korea. Egypt's delegation was headed by Eng. Hisham El Alaily, NTRA's Executive President on behalf of HE Eng. Atef Helmy, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

Ethiopia: HQ tender - State-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom is seeking contractors for the design and construction of its new seven-building headquarters, on a 37,0000 sqm plot at the IT Park in Bole District. A tender announcement was published in the Ethiopian Herald on 20 October 2014, it will comprise of five separate 10-storey buildings, two basements and two separate multi-complexes located behind the five towers.

Israel: MVNO malfunction - An outage in the Cellcom Israel network last Thursday also affected Golan Telecom's subscribers, as the MVNO is hosted by Cellcom. Cellcom said; "At specific points in the north and Ben Gurion Airport, it is difficult to make calls. "

Israeli: User upgrade - Bezeq is to upgrade users surfing at 40 Mbps to 100 Mbps automatically and at no extra charge. Globes reports that subscribers already surfing at 100 Mbps will see the price of their package fall to the current price of the 40 Mbps package, from ILS 129 (USD 34) to ILS 119 (USD 31) monthly. Following the upgrade, 30 percent of Bezeq's users will have 100 Mbps bandwidth.

 

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Jordan: Faster fibre - Zain Jordan has launched its 'Zain Fiber' FTTH (Fiber-To-The-Home) service offering up to 1 GB per second. The service has been launched it in Swiefeh and Dair Ghbar in Amman. Zain Jordan's Chief Executive Officer said that the service will be extended to include other areas in Amman and other governorates in 2015.

Nigeria: Apple registrations - Globacom last week claimed that some 2,000 subscribers had pre-registered for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Glo has an agreement with Apple?s authorised distributor for Africa, Core Group. It is offering 3G bundles using its Internet service, Glo Bolt.

Nigeria: Spectrum sale - The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has announced that the auctioning of 2.6GHz spectrum will be in December. The NCC believes the auction will provide the necessary fillip to the drive by the commission to deepen broadband Internet penetration from its current six to 30 percent by 2018. It said that auction was the outcome of consultations with stakeholders and the direction of the National Broadband Plan.

Qatar: Own-brand devices - Vodafone Qatar has launched the Vodafone Smart 4 Power and Vodafone Smart 4 Fun. The LTE-enabled Vodafone Smart 4 Power and the 3G-enabled Vodafone Smart 4 Fun are priced at QAR 699 (USD 192) and QAR 199 (USD 55) respectively. Free data for a limited period is offered. The 3G-enabled Vodafone Smart 4 Fun runs on the Android operating system, whilst the 4G-enabled Vodafone Smart 4 Power uses Android 4.4.2 KitKat.

Rwanda: More banks for MTN - MTN Rwanda is partnering with Access Bank, Urwego Opportunity Bank and GT Bank to provide Mobile Money ATM withdrawal services. I&M Bank Rwanda now also offers Bank Integration Services where MTN Mobile Money subscribers can transfer money between their Mobile Money and I&M bank accounts. Norman Munyampundu is the General Manager of MTN Business. MTN partnered with KCB and I&M Bank Rwanda in July to allow its users to transfer money between their wallets and KCB accounts.

Senegal: CEO churn - Abdallah Said has been named as the new CEO of Sudatel-unit Expresso. According to the Liberation newspaper, Said has replaced Emmanuel Hamez, although he still has to take office. The decision was taken by the board in Dakar, following poor performance recorded by Expresso since the end of 2013.

South Africa: Firefox first - Firefox OS has been launched in Africa. The Mozilla Web browser is already well-known, but is now joined by its companion Firefox operating system (OS) with MTN as its first South African partner. Airtel and Tigo are to offer the OS in the wider market. Launch timing and pricing is to be determined by the operators. The OS allows developers to create and distribute local content without gatekeepers. Rick Fant is Mozilla's VP for planning and ecosystem.

South Africa: Falling forecast - Vodacom Group has dropped its earnings forecast as cuts to mobile termination rates and weak consumer spending in its home market curb growth. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation will rise by a mid-single digit percentage over three years, compared with a previous forecast of mid-to-high single digits. Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said: "We have faced tough macroeconomic conditions in all markets, increased competitive intensity, and have also seen a significant impact from lower mobile termination rates in South Africa. "

South Africa: Hit where it hurts - Forget about ranting on Facebook. One angry Cell C customer has created and displayed a professional looking banner along Beyers Naude Drive in Johannesburg which carries the Cell C logo and reads: 'The most useless service provider in South Africa, Cell C Sandton City'. Cell C is now attempting to have the banner removed by legal means, iafrica reported.

South Africa: Policing in the cloud - Vodacom South Africa and Samsung showcased the 'police car of the future' at the GovTech conference in Durban. Each vehicle includes cameras capable of numberplate recognition. LTE and 3G technology via Vodacom's fibre and microwave network provide connectivity. The data gathered can be cross-referenced with the Department of Transport and the Department of Home Affairs databases. Mobile printers allow the issuing of infringement notices with information automatically populated from wirelessly linked databases.

South Africa: Power problems - Telkom services are being impacted by Eskom's national load shedding schedule, and the operator may lose some core network elements, which can impact customer services. Ms Marna Wilden, Managing Executive of Telkom's Network Centre Operations said it understood the 'great inconvenience' the disconnection of its services to customers. Telkom also noted that older models of modems do not have built-in functionality that allows the modem to reset itself in the event of a power cut.

Turkey: Rating revised - Turkcell has said that the international credit rating agency Standard & Poor?s has revised Turkcell's outlook from 'stable' to 'positive', while affirming its credit rating of BB+.

United Arab Emirates: Web wherewithal - Etisalat has partnered with Accenture to introduce the first Digital Index. The service ranks businesses and government bodies by their digital maturity ranked, and provides insights on how to improve their ranking to increase their competitive advantage. The Index will focus on four areas; organisation and collaboration, IT and infrastructure, the customer experience, and channels and partners. It will highlight areas such as recruitment, employee mobility, digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, and digital supply chain management. Inclusion is free for all UAE-based companies.