News in Brief 6 August 2015

Africa: TV delivery - StarTimes is to distribute TV channels for its direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers across Sub-Saharan Africa using SES Platform Services' broadcast facility in Germany. SES Platform Services will provide signal turnaround, video processing and uplinking services for StarTimes' SD and HD channels. StarTimes currently provides English-language TV content to viewers regionally via the SES-5 satellite located at 5 degrees East.

Angola: Fixed reaches further - Fixed and Internet services have been extended to the municipality of Quilengues by Angola Telecom, some 140 km north of Lubango, the Angop news agency reports. Services by mobile operator Unitel are already available there.

Bahrain: Enterprise e-Service - Batelco has launched an on-line portal for the enterprise sector, and is part of the Batelco e-Services suite. Information regarding data circuits, with full visibility of their account status and circuit performance is provided. Customers can now check the billing and activity status of all their circuits by simply entering their tag numbers. The portal also provides users with support services such as instant order tracking, upgrade requests, and quotation applications.

Bahrain: VSAT licences voided - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) notes that further to the notices published on 4 June 2015 in the Official Gazette and on its Website, asking for comments on the proposed voluntary revocation of Individual Very Small Aperture Terminal Licence awarded to BNP Paribas and Awal Bank. Accordingly, the VSAT Licences awarded to the two have been revoked with effect from 16 July 2015.

Cameroon: Rapid implementation - Huawei has just seven months to execute a contract for the supply, installation and operation of a centralised database to manage the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP). The Agence de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART) is reported by CamerPost to have valued the contract at some XAF 1.5 billion (USD 2.52 million). Huawei is already active in the country as a supplier to mobile operator Camtel and rolling out fibre and fixed wireless infrastructure. It also launched its smartphones in the country earlier this year.

Egypt: Internet lowered - TE Data has amended its tariff structures. 1Mbps is now the new entry-level speed, having done away with 256kbps and 512kbps plans, Ahram Online reports. Users signing up for the plan offering a 1Mbps download speed and 10GB data allowance will be charged EGP 50 (USD 6.37) per month, with this charge being notably lower than the EGP 90 (USD 11.46) TE Data had previously charged for a 512kbps connection. TE's new top-end plan will provide downlink rates of 8Mbps and a 300GB data cap.

Egypt: Level Internet field - The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) has instructed Telecom Egypt affiliate TE Data to fix the final date for the reduction of Internet prices. According to the Daily News, a NTRA official had ruled out any changes to the prices and maximum download amounts that have been agreed. NTRA wants a final date for improving Internet access and calculating the actual cost for the Internet services should also be decided upon, to ensure that services are not offered at low and unfair prices. The number of ADSL subscribers stands at 3.2 million, with TE Data having the largest market share at 67.3 percent. The rest of the market is distributed between Link, Vodafone and Etisalat.

Egypt: NTRA head named - Enginner Khaled Negm, Minister of Communications and Information Technology has appointed Engineer Mustafa Abdul Wahid as Acting Executive President of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA). He succeeds Engineer Hisham El-Alaily whose two-year term concluded on 17 July 2015. Wahid is currently NTRA's Senior Vice President for Operations, and was head of the Ministry of Communications infrastructure sector before moving to NTRA in 2006.

Gambia: Financial fibre - Reliance Financial Services signed last week with Gamtel for an enhanced fibre network. Managing Director of Reliance, Babucarr Khan, said the deal would ensure reliable, secure and fast Internet connectivity for all the branches of Reliance nationally. The Reliance board has approved more than GMD 1.5 million (USD 36,000) to be used in building and upgrading infrastructure at its head office and other branches.

Ghana: Enhanced experience - Vodafone Ghana has launched an on-line 'Live Chat' and 'Support Centre' to enhance its customer care channels. Vodafone users can interact with customer service agents using an instant messaging interface on the Vodafone Website. The new service has a comprehensive product and services knowledge base; a question and answer (Q & A) forum; and real-time support from customer care agents.

Ghana: Universal payment tool - Zeepay is to launch a multiple payment tool, Pulse reported. Irrespective of the payment device the user owns, a transaction can be conducted where there is a point of sale or via their smartphone. Customers with mobile wallets will be able to make payment at a point of sale or receive and send cash from a Zeepay merchant. It will offer direct payment into 16 major banks.

Kenya: Cool reception - Facebook wants to partner with local telcos to bridge the digital divide in remote places, The Nation reported. Chris Daniels, Vice President of Internet.org, at a media briefing in Nairobi last week said that 'Facebook has made it easier for any mobile operator to sign up for and turn on Internet.org in developing countries through a partner portal that includes technical tools and best practices, improving the process to offer free basic services to the unconnected'. However the three telcos have called on the Communications Authority of Kenya to work with ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i to regulate Over The Top (OTT) service providers for eating into their voice and SMS revenues.

Kenya: Timely traffic updates - Safaricom is to offer Google's free interactive GPS-based Waze mobile application that gives motorists access to real-time traffic information compiled through crowd-sourced data from other road users. Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom's Director of Consumer Business said: "Safaricom is keen to continue to extend the benefits of our more connected world to our subscribers as we work to transform their lives by putting them closer to critical information. " The application calculates the time spent in a jam and updates progress as the user moves along. At the same time information generated by other motorists is received.

Malawi: Promotional prizes - Mobile operator TNM has extended its Tikolore Promotion by a further month and it will run till 31 August 2015 according to Marketing Manager Madalitso Jonazi. Prizes awarded to date include eight tricycles, farming tools and bags of fertilisers and sprayers. Other prizes include 50 percent bonus on daily airtime recharge vouchers. To enter TNM subscribers have to recharge with a minimum of MWK 5 (USD 0.01).

Malawi: Subscription payments simplified - Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) has partnered with the Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) to allow the latter's customers pay their monthly subscription through TNM's mobile money platform Mpamba. TNM Head of Marketing Webster Mbekeani said users can pay their bills any time and anywhere.

Mauritania: Network deficiencies - The Regulatory Authority carried out a spot check between 5 June to 3 July 2015 on the quality of mobile services. It found that operators were failing to meet the performance indicators prescribed in their specifications in several towns and cities. Mauritel was below standard in 11 cities and resorts; Mattel in 8 and Chinguitel in 3. The Regulatory Authority has given notice to the three to comply with their quality of service commitments within 30 days.

Middle East: IoT development - Etisalat has partnered with Oberthur Technologies and ThingWorx to develop an IoT platform for the Middle East. Etisalat launched an M2M Control Centre in 2013 and established partnerships with Belkin in 2014 and Huawei in 2015 to launch new services and develop IoT capabilities. Oberthur provides security solutions for digital connectivity, with a focus on transport and building access control, payment solutions, digital identity and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. ThingWorx is a software platform, which enables companies to manage, integrate and analyse data on their M2M connections.

Mozambique: Enhanced relationship - Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam has said at the end of an official visit that bilateral relations in the areas of agriculture and telecommunications would be enhanced, APA reported. The Vietnamese leader said the success of Movitel, a joint venture between Vietnam's Viettel Group and Mozambican company SPI, had led to investment in Mozambique.

Nigeria: Lifestyle loop - FirstBank of Nigeria has launched Loop, a lifestyle app delivering premium content to mobile phones. Customers have access to the latest articles and videos across a wide variety of categories, and can be customised from a range of international and local content including Bloomberg, ESPN, Viacom and Reuters. Loop is currently available on the Android platform and can be downloaded from the Google Play store. It will be available on all mobile platforms shortly.

Nigeria: Satellite signal split - A multi-room and independent viewership solution on cable TV has been launched by ACTV (African Cable Television), the Leadership reported. Jide Lawrence, Director of Content, ACTV, said that "the innovative ACTV Multi-room TV solution gives subscribers the expanded comfort and experience of viewing television contents in as much as four different rooms simultaneously and independently of each other. " The solution uses one satellite dish and a much better four-way signal connector that feeds four rooms simultaneously and allows the use of four independent remote control units.

Rwanda: Payment facilitation - Tigo Rwanda and Western Union have launched a service that allows the reception of international remittances directly into Tigo Cash accounts. Tongai Maramba, Chief Executive Officer, Tigo Rwanda said: "Over 2.5 million subscribers are registered on Tigo Cash and this launch with Western Union will enable them to easily receive money from countries across the globe where Western Union has a presence. "

South Africa: Exodus continues - Telkom has agreed to 2,393 voluntary severance packages. This is part of a plan to reduce its staff cost-to-revenue ratio to 25 percent within three years from the current 29 percent, according to spokeswoman Jacqui O'Sullivan said in an e-mail to MoneyWeb. Trade Union Solidarity expressed its concerns about the exodus of skilled workers and how this might affect the company's future endeavours and service delivery.

South Africa: No M-Pesa momentum - In its annual report for the year to end March 2015, TechCentral notes that Vodacom claimed a million registered M-Pesa customers, with 76,000 people actively using the service. However in a footnote it said that the 76,000 is the 'number of unique customers who have generated revenue related to any M-Pesa activities in relation to M-Pesa revenue in the past 90 days. Of these 42,000 have been active in the past 30 days in South Africa, which represents just 0.13 percent of its subscriber base. However its location-based deals app Vouchercloud has delivered almost half a billion rand in savings for local consumers in just over a year since its launch. More than two million people are now using Vouchercloud in South Africa. It has far exceeded its original target of 1 million users in South Africa by March. A total 650,000 customers have downloaded the app onto their smartphones, and approximately 170,000 customers access deals via the Website monthly.

South Africa: Open access - Telkom has said in its annual report that around 200 exchanges will be made available to ISPs on an open access basis during 2015 in an effort to stimulate access to broadband. According to Businesstech, Telkom said the project is still in development. Telkom spokesperson Jacqui O'Sullivan said Telkom is looking to run pilot projects based on data uptake to fully realise the profitability of its exchanges.

Tunisia: Mobile data driver - The Tunisian telecommunications market will generate total service revenue of USD 1.5 billion in 2015, a 4.1 percent increase in local currency terms from the previous year, Pyramid has forecast. Mobile data will be an important growth driver, generating USD 379 million in 2015, driven by social networks, OTT communications and video. Fixed broadband powered by ADSL and FTTH will seize the largest share of fixed access lines at 70.3 percent by 2020, up from an estimated 39.2 percent in 2015. Read more >>>

Turkey: 5G MoU - Turkcell has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei for 5G during an official visit to Beijing by Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan met Huawei Rotating CEO Guo Ping during an official visit to Beijing.

Uganda: Shop service - Airtel Uganda has opened a Premium Service Centre in the New Park, Kampala. Airtel now has premium shops in Fort Portal, Mbarara, Arua, Mbale, Kampala, Soroti and Gulu.

United Arab Emirates: SIM dispensing - Etisalat has launched its first interactive touchscreen 'Smart Service' machine to sell new, activated pre-paid SIM cards. The machine is able to verify the Emirates ID. Initially, pre-paid SIMs will be sold but Etisalat also plans to sell post-paid ones and introduce services such as SIM Swap (SIM replacement) and SIM re-registration in the future. The first machine is located at Al Kifaf in Dubai, and there are plans to add 20 machines across at Etisalat business centres, airports and malls.

Zimbabwe: Cellular classifieds - On-line market Tengai has partnered with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to provide an on-line classifieds platform which allows free browsing and free advertising, The Source reported. Tengai Head of Countries James Gibson said the service was available to all and the Website was mobile friendly. Tengai has created a stringent adhering process to ensure information posted is genuine, sophisticated fraud detection technology and expert advice on how to trade safely.

Zimbabwe: Commercial vacuum - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe's Chief Commercial and Customer Service Officer Stanley Henning has resigned. Econet said Stanley stood down on 30 July to pursue personal interests. He worked previously for Mcel in Mozambique, Saicom International in South Africa, Telecel International in Nigeria, Uganda Telecommunications, and MTN (Uganda).

Zimbabwe: Shortlist for COO - Former Telecel Zimbabwe (Telecel) Chief Executive, Francis Mawindi, is thought to be in the running to be NetOne's next Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Daily News reported. The paper reported Mawindi as being on a shortlist for the job due to his experience and market expertise. Earlier this year NetOne sought to recruit 24 key managers, including a COO, as it gears for expansion.