News in Brief 22 April 2015

Africa: LTE latest - Ninety-nine mobile operators have a working LTE network as of 1 April, or have announced plans to deploy one, according to analyst firm Balancing Act. As of 1 April 2015, there are 99 operators officially wanting to launch or have launched 4G-LTE services in 35 African countries. But only 18 mobile operators have commercially launched 4G/LTE services. Over the next 5 years the firm forecasts that between 100 and 150 operators in Africa will launch 4G-LTE. Benin's three operators have subsequently started operations, according to Sylvain Beletre, Balancing Act analyst.

Africa: Mobile money momentum - The latest World Bank Global Findex report records that the percentage of adults with a bank account has risen globally from 51 to 62 percent between 2011 and 2014, primarily due to a 13 percent rise in bank account ownership in developing countries and the role of technology. Mobile money accounts in Sub-Saharan Africa are helping with these gains. World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim said: "This effort will require many partners - credit card companies, banks, microcredit institutions, the United Nations, foundations, and community leaders. But we can do it, and the payoff will be millions of people lifted out of poverty. "

Algeria: Know-how exchange - Algerie Telecom mobile unit Mobilis has marked the 2015 'Yaoum El-Ilm' (National Knowledge Day) with two deals signed with Houari Boumediene Science and Technology University and national management school ENSM. The operator will work closely on research programmes, seminars, and conferences.

Algeria: Saticom stake sale - Algerie Telecom (AT) has bought a 67 percent of Saticom from Algerian ICT R&D group CDTA. The move will support AT''s development of innovative services due to Saticom's expertise in research, design, development and integration services. Saticom is expected to become a public company with capital of DZD 100 million (USD 1.1 million). CDTA will continue to hold the remaining 33 percent stake. Minister of ICT, Zohra Derdouri, praised the move.

Algeria: USF bids sought - Notice for the provision of the first phase of the Universal Service of Telecommunications under the government's telecom sector development policy has been set out in a Minister of Post and Information Technology and Communication document issued on 24 March 2015. The Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications (ARPT) is calling for bids from operators holding a licence and operating a public telecoms network and providing telephony services, with a subscriber base of 100,000 subscribers.

Bahrain: Chauffeur WiFi - Batelco and car rental firm Avis has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate WiFi solutions for Avis Rent a Car's customers. Passengers can be connected using 4G LTE Internet solutions. The MoU was signed by Batelco Acting General Manager Consumer Division Ebrahim Al Sayed and Avis General Manager Gowtham G. Batelco will provide WiFi service via its 4G network, in all of Avis's Chauffeur Driven Fleet. Avis Rent a Car will also provide customers with Batelco Pre-paid SIM cards during the Formula One weekend in Bahrain. The SIMs will allow free calls to all Batelco numbers and include data services. Avis will also include a Batelco mobile line as part of the rental package over the Grand Prix weekend.

Bahrain: Fee review - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is conducting a comprehensive review of the current schedule of fees originally issued in 2010. The TRA has therefore issued a public consultation document on the review of the current schedule. TRA Director General Mohamed Bubashait said: "... TRA has embarked on studying the possibility of updating the current schedule of fees to reach a positive balance that contributes to the increased growth of the sector and supports continuity of positive competition as well as meets consumer needs of modern and advanced services at competitive prices. " Interested parties should submit their comments to sof@tra.org.bh.

Bahrain: Indoor dots - Zain Bahrain has deployed Ericsson's Radio Dot System. Zain said the equipment has been installed at Zain's new Network Operation Centre is one of the first implementations in the region. The system helps improve mobile network performance inside buildings. It uses a new type of antenna element - the 'Dot' - weighing less than 300 grams to boost coverage.

Bahrain: Licences cancelled - Last week the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced further revocation of telecoms licences. On 13 April 2015 it said Business Communication Networks; First Connex Gulf; Kulacom Communications; Media Phone Plus General Trading; Red Moon Communications; Skyfi Networks; and Smart Marketing were no longer licensed to offer any telecom services, with effect from 26 March 2015. The Individual International Telecommunications Services and Value Added Services licences awarded to Access Telecommunication were also revoked on 26 March 2015.

Bahrain: R&D deal - Batelco and Huawei have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see Huawei utilise Batelco's infrastructure and facilities to set up a Research and Development (R&D) Lab within Batelco's ideas Innovation Centre. Huawei will support Batelco to attain Broadband leadership with full capabilities for offering Best-in-Class network services.

Israel: Retirement bonus - Cellcom Israel has announced the second voluntary retirement plan within a year according to Globes. 200 staff were retired in the previous plan, and it is estimated that the number of retirees this year will be even greater. The workers' committee said that those seeking to retire would benefit from 'unprecedented' terms, including especially high retirement bonuses containing payments for incentives and being on-call, early pension bridging for those aged 58 or more, professionally tax consultation, a car package for an adjustment period, etc.

Jordan: Airline enhancement - The Royal Jordanian airline has signed Zain to offer Internet services to its passengers. Zain will provide passengers with wi-fi connectivity and advanced payment options on board its aircraft. The airline will also work with Zain to deliver luggage-tracking devices, mobile application, boarding pass devices and commercially important passenger lounge facilities. Members of the Royal Plus rewards programme, who are also Zain VIP customers, will also be given privileges.

Jordan: Bundle doubling - Zain customers can benefit from the limited period offer by subscribing or recharging their current subscriptions. Post-paid users subscribing to 15 GB bundles will receive 30 GB for JOD 25 (USD 35) per month, 50 GB bundles will get 100 GB for a monthly sub of JOD 35 (USD 49), 100 GB bundle subscribers will get 200 GB for JOD 50 (USD 70) per month and 300 GB bundle subscribers will get 600 GB for a JOD 100 (USD 141) monthly subscription. Zain 4G pre-paid users will get the same deals.

Oman: Exceptional experience - Omantel contact centre was named 'Best Contact Centre Experience' award at the fourth annual Customer Experience Management in Telecoms Middle East Summit, held in Dubai from 12-14 April 2015. Hamed Al Mur al Ghabshi, Senior Manager of Omantel Contact Center said: "Omantel was also among the first few corporates in the Sultanate to improve Contact Centre operations by introducing interactive voice response systems (IVR) that provides answers in three languages namely Arabic, English and Urdu. We also added new options that resulted in saving more of our customers time and more flexibility. "

Qatar: Wireless wrestling - Ooredoo announced on 15 April it had partnered with Nazara, content provider for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Company, to provide the latest wrestling content. The service has been designed to accompany Ooredoo's Mozaic TV coverage of WWE, which airs its RAW and SmackDown programmes. Fatima Sultan Al Kuwari, Director of Community and Public Relations, Ooredoo, said: "Like the WWE we believe in promoting good health, fair sportsmanship and championing youth. We're excited to offer our customers exclusive content to the latest WWE news, and hope to announce more partnerships with Nazara, to give our customers access to more internationally loved companies soon. " A subscription is just QAR 1 (USD 0.27) a day or QAR 5 (USD 1.37) a week.

Rwanda: Fee facilitation - School fees can now be paid using the MTN Mobile Money platform. Norman Munyampundu, General Manager of MTN Business said: "It has not been very easy for schools to collect on time school fees for children and this is why as MTN, we decided to invest in a platform that would enable parents pay school fees for their children conveniently ". The service is already available for 21 schools such including the High School Academy, GS Muyange, King David Academy, GS Remera Protestant, GS Nyanza and Trinity International Academy. MTN Mobile Money has over 3.1million subscribers.

Rwanda: IPO imminent - Crystal Ventures is to launch an initial public offering (IPO) of its subsidiary Crystal Telecom, which holds a 20 percent stake in MTN Rwanda. The shares will be offered on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), once the Capital Market Authority has approved the move. Crystal Ventures has hired Renaissance Capital to act as the Lead Transaction Advisor on the IPO process.

Senegal: SIM fraudster sentenced - Former Inwi CEO Karim Zaz has been found guilty of telecom fraud in a case brought by Maroc Telecom, Meditel and Inwi, Agence Ecofin has reported. Zaz was sentenced to a 5-year goal term and ordered to pay fines of MAD 20,000 (USD 2.027) and 40,000 (USD 4,055) plus MAD 40 million (USD 4.06 million) in damages. He also has to forfeit all of his assets. Another 11 people were convicted to 2 - 4 year prison sentences, fined and ordered to help pay MAD 80.28 million (USD 8.2 million) with Zaz. The SIM box fraud cost the operators some MAD 4 billion (USD 405.5 million).

South Africa: Fixed failure - Last week the iol news site reported that Telkom fixed lines in Pretoria suffered an outage which has affected some users for 5-days or more. Telkom media relations officer Pynee Chetty said Telkom was looking into the matter and was currently unable to determine the extent of the problem across the city.

South Africa: MVNO has new market angle? - A new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is due to launch
on 1 May 2015 - BeUnordinary. MyBroadband reports that Brett Howell, who is its Chief Executive Officer, is
heading the new MVNO. The company says it is confident its services will 'turn the traditional mobile market
model on its head'. In a pre-launch campaign, the MVNO is promising contract-free offerings and much lower
rates.

South Africa: Nashua's next - An Internet protocol-based telephony service, called Nashua Voice, will be available from April at selected franchises. Nashua Voice lets subscribers make and receive calls via fixed or mobile using a carrier-grade IP network, whether they are in South Africa or overseas. It also offers the ability to record calls and host conference calls. Nashua said in the future it will include Virtual Boardroom free teleconferencing service, Virtual Fax, and Virtual Access. Nashua Voice is able to route all call types, and uses per-second billing from the first second of the call, with no minimum call charges.

South Africa: New CEO for MultiChoice - MultiChoice Africa has promoted Tim Jacobs, formerly CFO of the pay-TV segment, to CEO. He replaces Nico Meyer who left for 'personal reasons' on 31 March, Techcentral reported. Jacobs took on the Africa CEO role effective from 1 April. Jacobs is former COO at SA Taxi and group CFO at Transaction Capital. Between 2001 and 2009, he served as group finance chief at Nampak. He joined MultiChoice in 2013 as CFO of MultiChoice South Africa Holdings.

South Africa: No payment for 'Please Call Me' - Nkosna Makate, the inventor of the 'Please Call Me' mobile SMS service, has filed papers in the Constitutional Court in a further bid to force the Vodacom to pay for his idea, BDLive has reported. The High Court dismissed his case in 2014, and Makate is now seeking the right to appeal. Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected his application for leave to appeal, finding he had 'no reasonable prospect of success'. Makate was a trainee accountant with Vodacom who was negotiating with director Philip Geissler in 2000. Makate claims Geissler agreed to pay him for the idea if the service was technically and commercially feasible. It launched in 2001, but Makate was not paid and he went to court in 2008.

Tanzania: Profitable Pesa - Tigo Tanzania has declared the quarterly Tigo Pesa profit share pay out of TZS 3.3 billion (USD 1.81 million) for the first quarter of 2015 to its customers. The payment is 6 percent higher than the TZS 3.1 billion that in paid in the fourth quarter of 2014. Tigo Interim General Manager, Cecile Tiano, said: "We are very excited once again to be announcing this profit distribution to our Tigo Pesa users. This payment underlines our commitment to improving the welfare of our customers and the country at large ". Tigo has so far paid a total of TZS 23.9 billion (USD 13.1 million) to Tigo Pesa users in four quarterly disbursements since the launch in July 2014.

Turkey: 3G prospecting - Turkcell has conducted due diligence on the Ukraine's TriMob, the mobile unit of Ukrtelecom, according to Epravada. Ukrtelecom is owned by Ukrainian conglomerate SCM, itself wholly owned by Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, while Turkcell already majority owns Ukrainian mobile operator Astelit in a joint venture with SCM. Previous attempts by Ukrtelecom to sell 3G network operator TriMob have failed, primarily over its value.

Turkey: Speed tests - Vodafone Turkey has achieved downlink transmission speeds of 450.79Mbps in its recent tri-band carrier aggregation (CA) tests, which combined frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands. Vodafone claims that the tests made it the first provider in Turkey to test LTE in the 800MHz band, as well as the first operator to achieve speeds of 450Mbps. Turkcell is reported to have also achieved speeds of 450Mbps using its own tri-band CA technology using Ericsson technology.

Turkey: Trio step down - Turkcell has reported that three senior executives have resigned. Selen Kocabas, Chief Corporate Business Officer; Tayfun Cataltepe, Chief Regulations, Legal & Wholesale Business Officer and Tolga Cem Seyfeli, Chief Legal Officer have stepped down with effect from 17 April 2015. In January, Sureyya Ciliv, appointed as Turkcell CEO on 9 January 2007, also stepped down following a number of government appointments made to the Turkcell board amid a dispute between the operator's major shareholders. Since 2007, Turkcell has been subject of a legal battle for control by its partners, and the dispute has seen Turkcell unable to agree on the composition of its board and distribute dividends.

Uganda: Scammers sentanced - Five MTN Uganda ex-staffers have been found guilty of a mobile money scam than has defrauded the operator of some UGX 5 billion (USD 1,665), the New Vision reported. The discovery was made during an audit undertaken by Grant Thorton. The fraud involved 17 fictitious subscriber accounts. The five were charged with embezzlement, electronic fraud, unauthorised disclosure of access codes, neglect of duty and conspiracy to defraud. The accused pleaded not guilty to all charges.

United Arab Emirates: Business broadband - In September 2014 Etisalat provided a free upgrade of broadband speeds of 2.5 times for nearly 100,000 business customers. Now the operator has said it will increase broadband speed by up to further 50 percent and provide 200 free voice minutes for customers subscribed to its fixed business bundles. BusinessSuper customers subscribed to fixed line broadband can opt for higher speeds and get 200 free voice minutes when they subscribe to the recently launched Business Quick Start.

Zimbabwe: Internet growth falters - The Internet penetration rate has fallen for the first time in the past year to 45 percent following a decline in active Internet subscribers. Data from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) show that Internet connectivity fell 2.5 percent in the period from 47.5 percent in 3Q14. The decline is attributed to the fall in Telecel and Econet?s active mobile Internet subscriptions. The Internet penetration rate rose from 41.9 percent in 4Q 2013 to 43.1 percent in 1Q14, to 47 percent in 2Q14 and to 47.5 percent in 3Q14.

Zimbabwe: Labour levy - Econet Wireless has lost a High Court case in which it was challenging the demand to register and pay subscriptions by the National Employment Council (NEC), The Herald reported. The High Court ruled that Econet should have first complied with the law and then challenged the legality of the institution and processes requiring it to recognise the council. Econet was ordered to register with the council, pay the required subscriptions and pay the respondents (Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Registrar of Labour and NEC) costs.