News in Brief 10 June 2015

Afghanistan: Anniversary of achievement - Etisalat marked its eighth year of operations on 26 May 2015 in Kabul. Yasser Aboul Amayem, CCO of Etisalat Afghanistan said: "We celebrate eight years of achievements and partnership with our valued customers. Our customers will be the main part of this two-week celebration, during which they will get exciting gifts and offers." In 2013 Etisalat launched mHawala, a mobile monetary service. Under Etisalat's Educational project it pays the educational expenses of its undergraduate staff so that they can complete their Bachelor's degree while working at Etisalat. Etisalat has also signed contract with an accredited university of China, with staff sent for short-term training courses in China. Etisalat is offering 3.75G services in 23 provinces to a claimed 4 million subscribers.

Africa & Middle East: Thinking local - China Telecom Global (CTG) has set-up China Telecom (Africa and Middle East). CTG's network capabilities currently cover the UAE, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria. In March, CTG signed a deal with Wananchi Group for the 428 km National Optical Communication Infrastructure in Malawi.

Algeria: Further month for comments - On Friday last week regulator ARPT said it was granting an extension of time for comments on the deployment of Wi-Fi networks outside of buildings. It noted that 'some' telecoms players has requested additional time in order to better participate. Consequently that it is extending the deadline from 3 June 2015 to 30 June 2015.

Angola: New roaming partners - Unitel's Camel pre-paid roaming service is now available via Vodafone New Zealand, Menos Fios has reported. It also now offers roaming services in Switzerland following an agreement with Sunrise, and with Emtel in Mauritius, its second data-roaming partner in the country.

Bahrain: E-waste effort - Zain Bahrain is to place drop boxes at its headquarters, SCE's headquarters and UNIDO's headquarters in the Seef District that the public will be encouraged to dispose of redundant electronic devices in. Zain announced the launch of its second National Mobile Phone and e-Waste Recycling Campaign in co-operation with the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), with the outreach support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Trade Arabia reported. Enviroserve will dispose of the items, with mobile and electronic devices being reused. Drop boxes will also be located at schools, shopping centres and other key locations.

Cote d'Ivoire: African content app - A premium multi-screen VOD platform is to be launched by Ebonylife after it partnered with developer Summview. The service is available through mobile application and online. The service offers African-produced on-demand content. The app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, and users can subscribe for a month or a year.

Cote d'Ivoire: Broken broadband? - Unhappy about your lack of broadband or even a basic Internet connection? Autorite De Regulation des Telecommunications/Tic de Cote d'Ivoire has announced a new facility. Customers can send their complaints by e-mail to consommateurs@artci.ci, assuming they have access to the Internet.

Egypt: Contractual hangover - Orange Group has moved quickly to point out that it has no operational presence in Israel. However there is a brand licence agreement with Partner Communications. The Orange Group is not a shareholder of Partner and has no influence on the strategy or operational development of this company. Orange also noted that France Telecom signed the agreement prior to the acquisition of Orange in 2000, and it is the only long-term brand licence agreement within the Orange Group. Orange initially said that it does not wish to maintain the presence of the brand in countries in which it is not, or is no longer, an operator. But this week Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange Group backtracked and disclosed that Orange is 'to stay' in Israel, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Richard said he 'sincerely regrets' the outcry following his remark that Orange would end its brand-licensing agreement, adding: 'Orange does not support any form of boycott, in Israel or anywhere else in the world. Let me make it very clear that the Orange Group is in Israel to stay.'

Ghana: LTE launcher - Netherlands-based Afrimax Group is looking at launching 4G LTE services, Adom News has reported. It is suggested that Afrimax could bid for 4G-suitable spectrum following the release of TV spectrum after the digital migration. The spectrum has been valued at USD 92 million, but any participating bidder must be at least 40 percent locally owned. In November 2014 Afrimax and Vodafone Group announced a strategic framework agreement, under which they will co-operate and explore opportunities for Partner Market agreements in sub-Saharan Africa. In September 2014 Afrimax claimed to have licences and spectrum in 14 countries. In December 2014 Vodafone partnered with Afrimax to provide voice and data services under the Vodafone Uganda brand.

Israel: Level playing field - The Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasts has ordered Hot Mobile to withdraw its Triple Weekend Friday-Saturday promotion offered solely on-line, in order to ensure equal and non-discriminatory conditions for the entire population. The council requested that the special offer be offered at the same price also for customers who are not Internet subscribers. It was argued that the HOT Mobile licence requires it to provide broadcasts and broadcasting services under equal conditions.

Jordan: One-click billing - Umniah is to use the Bango Payment Platform for app store carrier billing. Umniah is to launch Microsoft's Windows Phone Store allowing its subscribers to use one-click carrier billing, charging the cost to their phone bill.

Kenya: CA mounts appeal - The government is to appeal the High Court ruling that saw the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) board disbanded, the Daily Nation reported. ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i said the board appointments had been legal, with the names put forward by a selection panel. The Constitution mandates the establishment of an independent body free from government, political or commercial interests.

Kenya: Competitive countryside - The Helix Institute of Digital Finance has found that the profit of mobile money agents in non-Nairobi urban areas rose by 26 percent in 2014, compared with 45 percent in rural areas. The agents attributed the higher profits to lower operating costs and the introduction of new revenue streams. It also follows that they would have less direct competition.

Kuwait: Ooredoo acceleration - Ooredoo has upgraded its 4G-LTE network to '4G+ Speed' in Kuwait, with speeds up to 150 Mbps. There is no additional charge to use the new network. LTE-Advanced combines a block of 1800 MHz spectrum and a block of the 800 MHz spectrum to deliver peak speeds of more than 185 Mbps.

Maldives: LTE latest - Ooredoo Maldives' 4G data service is now available across the mobile pre- and post-paid tariff portfolio, vNews.mv has reported. Ooredoo launched commercial 4G LTE for mobile handset users in Male in early December 2013, and on Kaafu Maafushi in August 2014. In October 2014 it said it had tested LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology.

Morocco: Regional centre - Casablanca is the new regional home for Huawei, enjoying CFC status so that it benefits from financial and foreign exchange advantages. Country manager Xujing Xu said Huawei Technologies Casablanca will provide management, supervision, consultation, training and technical support for subsidiaries already present in the region. Huawei now has a presence in 20 African countries.

Nigeria: Local music library - Nigerian music is now available on the Web and via mobiles from MyMusic.com.ng. Three categories are offered: Latest, Popular and Recommended. Users can pay for songs in one click at the price of NGN 30 (USD 0.16) per song, payable via mobile credit. Customers receive an SMS as proof of payment with a link to re-download the song. MyMusic.com.ng can take one-click mobile phone payments from 300 networks in 80 countries, while users can also pay using PayPal and bank cards.

Nigeria: Scriptures via SMS - Globacom has launched a daily devotional, the Rhapsody of Realities (ROR). The programming is being sourced from Christ Embassy Church, a Pentecostal churches with a large following in Nigeria and South Africa. The content is delivered by Interactive Voice Response, (IVR) text message or WAP. Ashok Israni, Globacom's Chief Regional Marketing Officer, says the service is offered in English, Hausa and Pidgin English.

Nigeria: Spectrum release - Lagos-based ISP Cyberspace is reported by ITWebAfrica to have returned spectrum to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Cyberspace was one of the entities that received spectrum without an open public auction, under the direction of former president Goodluck Jonathan. Visafone and Globacom also received spectrum. Globacom has yet to issue a statement, but received 700MHz spectrum and a two-year licence on an exclusive trial basis.

Nigeria: Surplus asset sale stopped - The President of the Nigeria Association of Auctioneers, Alhaji Aliyu Kiliya, has been granted a court order stopping the auctioning of NITEL/MTel equipment nationally following a suit initiated by the association. The association wrote to the Inspector General of Police (IG) and the Commander General of the Nigeria Security and Civil (NSCDC), to ensure that the property is protected and that the injunction restraining the liquidator from disposing of items is upheld. The Bureau of Public Procurement and six others were taken to court following an advertisement placed in the Daily Trust newspaper notifying the public of the planned auctioning of NITEL and MTel. It is claimed that the planned auction breaches the Procurement Act as it does not follow due process.

Rwanda: Short code standardisation - MTN Rwanda is to change the codes for loading airtime and checking balances with effect from 15 June. The move is a result of a directive applied across all operators in East Africa to harmonise operations. MTN Chief Marketing Officer, Yvonne Manzi Makolo said sufficient time would be allowed for users to become acclimatised to the new codes.

Saudi Arabia: Leap available locally - The BlackBerry Leap is now available from leading telecom retailers at a suggested retail price of SAR 1,099 (USD 293). Chris Corsi, Regional Director of Territory Sales in the Middle East, said the Leap complements the portfolio of BlackBerry 10 devices.

South Africa: Bank SIMs - First National Bank (FNB) is to offer SIM cards to its customers from 15 June, and will be the first bank to do so, CAJ News reported. Jacques Celliers, Chief Executive Officer of FNB said: "The FNB Connect mobile offering will add value to our customers' lives as it is seamlessly integrated into all our banking systems. " SIM cards will be sold separately from devices and customers will be able to choose from a range of mobile voice and data products. FNB already offers ADSL and 3G data rewards through its FNB Connect offering.

South Africa: Cape cable service - Octotel is rolling out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure in Cape Town. Targeted suburbs are Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Moille Point, Three Anchor Bay, Green Point and Fresnay. Deployment is in partnership with the community and local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using an open-access business model. Octel claims to be an independent fibre provider working on a fully vendor-neutral basis, adding that it will be responsible for operating and maintaining the fibre infrastructure, while ISPs will be responsible for the supply of data and voice services.

 

South Africa, Cape Town showing Octel rollout areas  
South Africa Cape Town showing Octel rollout areas

c. Blycroft 2015

South Africa: Cell C notes - Last week Cell C said it would issue euro-denominated notes due in 2018 with a coupon of 8.625 percent, a year after it restructured more senior debt. No details were provided on the amount to be raised. MedInvestment Bank SAL will handle the issue, which will close before 30 June.

South Africa: Device with data - The Vodacom Smart 6 smartphone is now available for pre-paid subscribers for ZAR 799 (USD 69). A range of packages is also being offered, including the uChoose flexi 110 for ZAR 99 (USD 8.50) per month. The device has a 4-inch handset and a full Android 4.4 (KitKat) OS. Pre-paid users who buy the device and activate it on the Vodacom network will receive 100 MB of data per month for free for the first six months. The promotion ends 30 November.

South Africa: Maturing Wi-Fi - AlwaysOn now sees itself potentially as a Wi-Fi service provider that will offer users more value-added service, with the launch of a new Wi-Fi voice calling service in South Africa. Pricing and other details about the service are expected shortly, MyBroadband has reported. The provider has 2,200 hotspots locally and offers roaming capabilities in over 110 countries.

South Africa: Smartphone price slashed - The price of MTN's Steppa 2 smartphone has been cut from ZAR 999 (USD 116) to ZAR 799 (USD 93). It runs on the Android 4.3 operating system and has a 5 megapixel camera and 4-inch LCD screen.

South Africa: Survey shows standards falling - The latest SA Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) has found that Cell C has increased its customer satisfaction index to 72.9 out of 100. News24Wire reported Vodacom had fallen to 76.7 while MTN managed 75.6. Telkom Mobile scored only 69.4 whilst the industry overall scored of 75.4 compared to 76.7 last year. The survey consulted a random sample of 2,195 mobile subscribers and found that Cell C's rise was due to reducing customer problems by 8 percent.

South Africa: Tender submission streamlined - Telkom now has an electronic tender management system, and all tender processes will be moved onto an electronic portal. Jacqui O'Sullian, Telkom's Managing Executive for Group Communication described the traditional system as 'cumbersome paper-based processes'. A 'better experience for suppliers' is promised and all suppliers are being encouraged to self-register on-line. The existing tender office in Pretoria has consequently been closed.

Tanzania: FLY phones - Jumia has launched two smartphones from FLY - the Iris (IQ4400) and the Thunder 3 (IQ4415). The Daily News reported Country Manager Sabrina Dorman as saying that the phones will sell for around TZS 100,000 (USD 62).

Tanzania: Spectrum for sale - The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) last week said it planned to auction spectrum starting in 2016, the East African Business Week reported. No details were provided on the frequencies to be offered or the auction model to be adopted.

Tanzania: Telecom taxation - Vodacom Tanzania paid TZS 46.4 billion (USD 25.4 million) in corporation tax in the 2014-2015 financial year. Managing Director Rene Meza said it also collected over TZS 108.6 billion (USD 59.5 million) in VAT; TZS 99.5 billion (USD 54.5 million) in Excise Duty and TZS 81.5 billion (USD 44.6 million) in other duties and taxes. The operator also paid TZS 47.1 billion (USD 25.8 million) in Corporation Tax in the 2013-2014 and was the second largest contributor to government revenue.

Tunisia: Comments sought - The National Telecommunications Authority (INT) has invited consultation on a draft decision relating to the regulation of rates of mobile services. Contributions will be accepted until 22 June 2015, and should be sent to contact@intt.tn. The proposal can be viewed here.

Turkey: International Internet - Turkcell has launched Ukraine's first 3G GSM network. On Friday last week Life:) launched 3G, in which Turkcell has a 55 percent stake. Chief Executive Kaan Terzioglu added: "Ukraine is a success story in Turkcell's international operations and it will be a pilot country for us in carrying our experience to other countries in the region." Data speeds of up to 63.3 megabytes per second are being achieved.

Turkey: Optimised OSS - Turkcell Superonline is to deploy NetCracker products to improve and optimise B2B and B2C service fulfilment and assurance and drive operational and business agility. NetCracker will deliver its Discovery & Reconciliation, Resource Inventory and Network Planning & Design products in collaboration with NEC Turkey. NetCracker will be responsible for the delivery and integration, as well as the migration of customers from several legacy systems to the new platform.

Uganda: Bank link-up - Airtel Uganda has launched a mobile phone banking service with Pride Microfinance. Airtel Money users can deposit money from their Airtel Money accounts into bank accounts, and vice-versa. Customers have to register their SIM card, before activating their Airtel Money account and authorise their banker to link bank and Airtel money account by signing authorisation forms at the nearest Pride Microfinance branch.

United Arab Emirates: Comms devices confiscated - The Department of Economic Development (DED) has seized some 4,700 used smartphones, worth a total of AED 7 million. Eighteen retailers in Souq Naif and Satwa had refurbished and repackaged old phones and was offering them as new items. The phones are to be destroyed.

United Arab Emirates: SIM support - Workz has joined the GSM Association (GSMA) to contribute to GSMA initiatives in areas such as SIM development, remote provisioning and M2M solutions. Workz Director Brad Taylor commented: "As a provider of mobile subscriber products to over 50 operators across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, it is paramount at this stage of the company's growth that we are playing a proactive role in the industry's future. We, particularly, see remote provisioning and M2M solutions as critical topics for the development of the industry as well as the transition to embedded SIMs. "

Zimbabwe: Declining dividend - The Daily News reports that Econet Wireless has declared a USD 0.0031 dividend, taking the full year dividend to USD 0.6131. The USD 15 million pay out to shareholders this year follows a USD 70.2 million profit in the full year to February under what Econet has described as very difficult economic conditions, with an acute liquidity crunch, deflation, declining disposable incomes and low consumer demand. Econet has over 9.1 million subscribers.

Zimbabwe: MTOs mandated - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has licensed 27 companies as Authorised Dealers with Limited Authority (ADLA) effective from 1 June 1 2015, ThisDay reported. Three tiers have been defined, with Tier One comprising locally incorporated money transfer operators (MTOs) partnering with approved international MTOs or using their own systems and permitted to carry out both inward and outward international remittances. These include Peoples Own Savings Bank, Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe, Econet Wireless, Express Financial Services, Ecobank Zimbabwe, Central African Building Society, Easylink Money Transfer, Send Money Home, Steward Bank, Corporeti Support Service and Zimbabwe Post pvt Ltd.

Zimbabwe: Top telco - In its Top 250 African companies listing, African Business magazine has ranked Econet 153rd, albeit three spots lower from its150th rank in 2014, with a market capitalisation of USD 820 million as at 31 March 2015. In the financial year ended 28 February 2015, Econet saw its revenue fall to USD 746.2 million from USD 752.7 million in the same period last year, NewsDay reported. Profit after tax fell to USD 70.2 million from USD 119.4 million.