News in Brief 25 May 2017

Africa: European access - Econet Global subsidiary Liquid Telecom said on 15 May that it had established a point of presence (PoP) at Interxion's data centre in Marseille, its first foothold in mainland Europe. The PoP will reduce roundtrip delays from Africa by up to 20 milliseconds. Interxion's MRS1 data centre in Marseilles is a major connectivity hub for Europe since it opened in 2014. It offers direct access to 13 major international submarine cables, including SEACOM, I-ME-WE and SEA-ME-WE4, providing Liquid Telecom with onwards connectivity to its Global PoPs in London, Mombasa and Fujairah. MRS1 provides direct access to the France-IX, NL-ix and DE-CIX Internet exchanges, providing new peering opportunities for Liquid Telecom.

Angola: Added sparkle - Sparkle, the international service arm of TIM Group, has been selected by Movicel Angola for its SMS network protection and revenues maximization. This solution is in addition to the existing Voice Interconnection and to the other Mobile Data Services implemented between the two to improve their Customer Experience. SMS Booster is an all-in-one solution which allows mobile operators to take control of their SMS incoming traffic, detecting and blocking messages delivered via unauthorized originations which turn into revenues leakage. As exclusive SMS international A2P (Application to Person) gateway of Movicel Angola, Sparkle boosts Movicel revenues by collecting SMS traffic from its wide customer base comprising of SMS Providers, OTT Players and Enterprises. Sparkle SMS Booster also blocks spam and all fraudulent SMS traffic.

Bahrain: Mobile fibre sampler - Batelco's brightly coloured Fibre Experience Van is to tour areas where the telco has installed fibre so that users can sample the service. Batelco has extended its plan to reach all areas of Bahrain with its fibre network delivering speeds of up to 500 Mbps. Batelco. Vendor Huawei equipped the van.

Ghana: Door-to-door delivery - Tigo has partnered with online grocery supermarket MarketExpress.com.gh to enable the network's High Value Customers (HVCs) purchase groceries online and have them delivered for free to their offices and homes. In the next six months shoppers will also enjoy a 3 discount at checkout when they pay from their Tigo Cash wallets. MarketExpress' CEO Ebenezer Lartey said: "In a city with as much vehicular traffic as Accra, shopping online is a fast and convenient alternative."

Ghana: Life insurance - MTN Ghana has partnered with aYo Ghana Intermediaries to launch 'aYo Send With Care' underwriting by Metropolitan Life Insurance Ghana. The insurance policy runs on MTN Mobile Money and allows subscribers to add insurance cover to the money they send home via MTN Mobile Money. aYo Ghana Intermediaries' Country Head Francis Gota said that users who are currently resident overseas and send money home via a MTN Mobile Money account will see the pay-out in the event of the death of the sender being based on payments sent in the last 4 months, and which will be tripled. Hospital cover will be paid out if the sender has to spend night or more in hospital due to an accident.

Israel: Domestic devices protected - Bezeq is launching Smart Net which protects the entire home against cyber attacks, Globes reported. Bezeq's Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Gil Rosen predicts that 20 home devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, with each smart device becoming a potential entry point to cyber attacks. Rosen noted that the protection is hosed on the router itself, so giving automatic protection to every connected domestic device. An app manages all the devices on the network, which reports what is connected and the level of protection. The service will be free for the first three months, and then cost ILS 9.90 (USD 2.74) per month after that.

Kenya: Data focus - Telkom Kenya is to focus on data services as the voice market continues to level out. CEO Aldo Mareuse told ITWebAfrica on the sidelines of East Africa Com that it was switching from a voice centric to a data-centric model. Mareuse said there are some 7 million 3G handsets and less than a million 4G handsets in Kenya. Telkom has maintained a 7.1 percent market share according to the Communication Authority quarterly report.

Kenya: Regulatory returns - Telcos could soon be required to make live submissions of industry data to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). Currently a pilot project is being run with mobile network operators providing customer numbers, usage and network performance under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and is due to end in July, Business Daily reports. A portal to receive the real time data is to be developed.

Kuwait: Sicily PoP - TIM Group's international service arm Sparkle has announced that Kuwait-based ICT-service provider Zajil has opened a new PoP in Sparkle's Sicily Hub in Palermo. The PoP Zajil will be able to provide both enterprise and wholesale subscribers connectivity to North Africa and Europe, whilst banking, finance and media users will see improved latency and application performances from their HQs in the Middle East and Europe. Sparkle noted that its open ecosystem Sicily Hub, is uniquely located in the Mediterranean at a crossways of a number of international cable systems connecting Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Mozambique: Trade directory - UX Information Technologies has supplied Vodacom Mozambique with its Biscate mobile application, an access platform for professionals from several areas that operate independently, allowing them to be registered and recommended for the provision of services. Biscate will initially offered references of AC technicians, locksmiths, masons, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, painters, plumbers and TV technicians. The app is available in the App Store and Google Play.

Mozambique: Mozik music - Vodacom Mozambique has teamed up with GMusic to launch Mozik on 12 May. The streaming music application offers local music and is integrated with Vibratoques. It is available for free (Mozik Package Free) and paid for Premium packages (Premium Zik and Premium Mo). The Mozik account can be linked to a Facebook or e-mail account. Mozik works in online mode and is charged at Internet data rates; in offline mode there is no additional credit or data consumption, as downloaded songs can be played offline. The service is available both on a premium ad-free subscription basis or free, but in the latter option the user will be obliged to see and/or hear ads from third parties.

Nigeria: Do not Disturb - The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has said that more than 1 million subscribers have activated the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb code within two months, The Daily Post reported. The NCC's Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Sunday Dare said that the drivers of the NCC 2017 Year of the Nigerian Telecom Consumer are the 2442 Do-Not-Disturb Service Code, the 622 toll free complaints line, Quality of Service, QoS and concerns about Electromagnetic Fields and EMF radiation.

Nigeria: Free Wi-Fi flagged-off - On 12 May the Lagos State Government launched a free public Wi-Fi project at parks and gardens in Lagos, as a result of a partnership with MainOne. The state Commissioner for Science and Technology, Olufemi Odubiyi, highlighted the importance of Internet access as an enabler in modern society and the efforts of the administration in providing free Wi-Fi. MainOne's Sales Manager, Public Sector, Funmike Olayera, lauded Lagos State for its commitment to evolving into a Smart City. Opeke added that the roll out of free public Wi-Fi in Lagos was due to the investment the company had made in fibre-optic infrastructure in Lagos State.

Oman: Call compensation - Omantel suffered a service disruption starting at 8.45 a.m. last Thursday, when subscribers were unable to make or receive calls. The Muscat Daily reported that users typically received a 'Not registered on network' message. It is now offering users a 50 percent discount on this month's bill.

Oman: Technicians attending - Omantel said in a Tweet on Thursday last week that users may face issues with their mobile networks in certain areas. It said that its technical teams were working to resolve the issue.

Qatar: TV triumph - Ooredoo Qatar has said that its TV service has passed the 100,000 customer mark. In the past 12 months it has launched its 4K set-top-box and region's first 4K linear channel, to providing MBC HD channels exclusively in Qatar, introducing the region's first MBC+ Ooredoo cobranded live channel, and offered a dedicated kids' user interface.

Rwanda: Hub fine - MTN has formally acknowledged the receipt of notification of a fine from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority. MTN said that the USD 8.5 million fine relates to non-compliance with the directives issued by the regulator prohibiting the inclusion of MTN Rwanda in the MTN South and East Africa (SEA) IT hub based in Uganda. MTN said that it has been engaging with the regulator on this matter over the past four months. MTN Rwanda said that it is currently studying the official notification and will continue to engage with the regulator on this matter.

Sierra Leone: Migration migrated - A delegation to the ongoing annual ITU Council meeting in Geneva has won an extension of the ITU 17 June 2017 deadline for the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting to December 2017, the Awareness Times reported. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has said that it is constrained in granting a sovereign guarantee and exclusivity for a period over ten years to the vendors that have expressed interest in the project. It was noted that budgetary support partners such as the IMF and World Bank were reluctant for government to give such a condition to a private entity given the risk of adding to the national debt.

South Africa: MTN best in Cape - MyBroadband's latest mobile network testing has found that MTN has the fastest mobile data speeds in Cape Town, followed closely by Vodacom and Cell C. The tests were done using the MyBroadband Speed Test app for Android and four Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones. 246 tests were conducted per network 5 - 7 May, and involved a combination of driving and stationary tests in the CBD and surrounding areas. Data roaming was off for the tests. MTN was ranked first for fastest average download speed and lowest latency, while Cell C was first for average upload speed.

South Africa: Promotion propels texts - The number of SMS messages sent on the Vodacom network per year peaked in 2011-2012 at 6.5 billion, and fell to 3.8 billion in 2015-2016. The decline is closely linked to the growth of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. However, according to Vodacom's annual results for the year ended March 2017, 4.3 billion SMS were sent on the Vodacom network over the previous 12 months. Vodacom said the rise in the number of messages was primarily due to the 'Play every day' campaign it started in December 2016.

South Africa: Scrap TV licences? - Television licences for smartphones, PCs and tablets are being opposed by the South African National Consumer Union (Sancu) and is arguing that licences should be scrapped altogether, MyBroadband has reported. South Africa Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) CEO James Aguma has told Parliament that the Broadcasting Act should be changed so that TV licence fees could be collected on more viewing devices. Aguma said the Act requires people to pay a licence fee for a device which can receive a TV signal, but argued that more people are watching TV on devices such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

South Africa: Virulent virus - The WannaCry ransomware affected Telkom's customer platforms. USSD menus and Telkom's app were not working, and subscribers could not buy data bundles. Voice mail systems and the call centres were also affected. The Sunday Times reported that the customer platforms were restored on Thursday last week after the virus manifested itself on Saturday morning.

Tanzania: Healthy hints - On 18 May Vodacom Tanzania Foundation Grants & Communication Manager, Sandra Oswald said that a one million Vodacom subscribers have enrolled for the Vodacom Health Service since its launch in 2012. The 'Wazazi Nipendeni' SMS service continues to offer guidance on better health practices to hundreds of pregnant women A total of some 55 million total messages have been sent free of charge, Tanzania Daily News reported.

Tanzania: SIM fraud sentencing - The sale of 1,000 SIM cards has seen Viettel Tanzania Ltd, which trades as Halotel, defended itself against a claim that it is operating fraudulently. At a press conference on 18 May 2017, newly-appointed Managing Director Le Van Dai claimed that when it sold the cards to Unex, which proved to be a fictitious company, it failed to verify the information provided by it for identification purposes. The company's ex-General Manager and seven foreign nationals were found guilty of fraud on 16 May 2017. Halotel therefore claims that it was not directly responsible for the subsequent diversion of incoming international traffic, carried out with the SIM cards, and causing a loss of some TZS 9 million (USD 4,000) by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

Turkey: Domestic 5G production - Turkcell and Huawei are to extend their relationship for developing 5G technologies and intensify joint efforts in the fields of R&D and domestic production. The co-operation involves IoT, smart cities applications and local production in 4.5G. The original deal was signed in China two years ago, and they have started improving the local production and 4.5 G and 5G technologies. They will now set-up joint teams for the realisation of smart cities using domestic production and software.

Turkey: Electricity empowerment - Turkcell energy subsidiary Turktell Bilisim Servisleri has been awarded an 'Electricity supply licence' from the Energy Markets Regulatory Authority (Emra) after submitting an application. The licence covers electricity energy trade, wholesale and retail electricity sale. The energy company was created at the start of 2017 with an initial capital of TRY 2 million (USD 560,000).

Turkey: Faster fibre packs - Vodafone Turkey has launched 'Vodafone FiberMax' offering subscribers speeds of up to 100 Mbps and unlimited fibre Internet options. Tariffs start at TRY 29.90 (USD 8.40) a month. Vodafone has some 2.7 million domestic users on its fibre Internet and subscribers are offered 6 tariff plans.

United Arab Emirates: Carrier connectivity - Global service provider Epsilon is partnering service provider du to provide Carriers connectivity between du and datacentres in Europe and Asia. Epsilon will become du's channel partner for sales and provision of international capacity below 10Gbps. Epsilon's CEO Jerzy Szlosarek said: "Partnering with du will enable us to offer our customers the simplest and most efficient way to connect their network services to the Middle East."