News in Brief 13 December 2017

Africa:

Afghanistan: LTE launch - In November Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) launched LTE services in Herat and Baghlan. It is the sole provider of 4G services, having rolled out LTE to Herat city on 1 November, before launching in Pol-e-Khomri, New Baghlan City and Old Baghlan City in December. AWCC's MD Amin Ramin said: "The inclusion of Baghlan within AWCC's 4G LTE network highlights the success of our strategy, which is to expand our company's 4G LTE service throughout Afghanistan". AWCC launched its LTE technology in Kabul in May 2017.

Africa: Local content - Huawei is to launch a localised app store in Africa which will be pre-installed on Huawei devices and will include locally-developed games, music, movies, books and other content. It said it was also planning to launch African themes and cloud storage. Huawei said the store is not aiming to compete with Google Play, but will supplement existing Android apps.

Cote d'Ivoire: Inflationary increase - The Federation of Consumer Associations of Cote d'Ivoire (FAC-CI) has said in a press statement that it opposes the increase in the cost of Orange money transactions that were applied on 29 November 2017. FAC-CI president Doukoua Gode said that the consumer organisation was urging the ARTCI and the State to block this decision. The increase is XOF 50 (USD 0.09) per withdrawal.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Funds required - The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is appealing for at least USD 1.4 million to enable it to provide coordination, information management and delivery of shared ICT services for six months in the Kasai, South Kivu and Tanganyika regions, the CAJ News Agency reported. The ETC has undertaken an initial ICT assessment which indentified an urgent need in Kasai for security telecommunications and Internet connectivity for humanitarian staff conducting activities outside of urban areas. Since April 2016 the conflict in the Kasai region has been escalating, causing widespread displacements and the loss of livelihoods. As the global lead of the ETC, the World Food Programme is coordinating the ETC in DRC to provide vital common ICT services including reliable security telecommunications and internet connectivity.

Egypt: Lab flagged off - Huawei has partnered on the launch of an OpenLab. The Cairo OpenLab represents the 8th OpenLab targeting business customers; it will serve all of Northern Africa. Situated in Cairo's Smart Village, it has been operating as a Research and Development facility for about a year and is now officially open to customers and partners.

Egypt: More spectrum please - The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Acting Executive President Mustafa Abdul has said that all four mobile network operators (MNOs) are seeking additional 4G spectrum. The Daily News Egypt reported that Orange Egypt, Vodafone Egypt, Etisalat Misr and Telecom Egypt have formally applied for additionally frequencies to keep up with demand for their respective LTE-based offerings. Wahid said the MNOs' requests are now being studied. Vodafone Egypt Head of Corporate Government Relations Ayman Essam said that the current allocation of frequencies were sufficient for the current generation of 4G services, but new frequencies would be needed in 2018 and 2019. Vodafone Egypt also said that it expects to increase CAPEX by 10 percent over the next three years, whilst experiencing increased profits following the launch of 4G services.

GMS advertising banner

Kenya: 4G entrant - Broadband operator Jamii Telecommunications (JTL), which trades under the Faiba moniker, has launched a 4G LTE network. It has a licence for spectrum in the 700MHz and 800MHz bands. 'Faiba4G' voice (using VoLTE technology), data and video calling services are being offered, with speeds of up to 72Mbps. The network is currently available in Nairobi, Thika, Machakos, Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa, Athi River and Syokimau. The Standard reports that JTL has installed over 300 base stations and intends to have 600 in 2018 and 900 within three years.

Kenya: Credit check - Mobile Score Card has been launched by TransUnion to provide lenders with access to a loan applicant's credit status. The database solution continually 'learns' based on mobile transactional history. It also provides mobile lenders with a customisable and reliable risk view of the mobile loans. TransUnion Kenya's CEO Billy Owino said: "Transacting with conventional banks can be difficult, as many banks require documentation such as pay slips and credit history, in order to apply for credit or transactional accounts." TransUnion launched a similar product in Rwanda in November.

Kenya: Payment platform - Opera has integrated a new Web payment platform in Kenya called Opay. This is part of the Opera's USD 100 million investment initiative to grow the African digital economy announced earlier in 2017. The fast and secure payment option will enable users to top up their Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom mobile accounts, as well as pay electricity, cable TV and utility bills directly. It will also accommodate multiple payment methods, from major credit cards to Airtel Money and M-Pesa. Opera Software's Executive Vice President of Payments and Fintech, Nuno Sitima, said: "This mobile payment technology integrated into the Opera Mini browser will help Kenya continue the highest rate of mobile payment technology adoption in the world. More than 80 percent of the country's population with access to a cell phone use it to pay for goods and services."

Madagascar: 4G expansion - Airtel has said that it will extend its 4G LTE network to 150 sites in 1Q 2018, reports L'Express. The operator has already launched LTE technology in 50 sites and plans to rapidly expand its 4G network to catch rivals Telecom Malagasy (Telma) and Orange which launched 4G in June 2015 and March 2017 respectively.

Advertisement

Namibia: Bank support - Paratus Telecom is to provide Nedbank Namibia with IT services and resume responsibility of the entire Nedbank Namibia network infrastructure, which was previously managed by Nedbank South Africa. Nedbank Namibia's Managing Director Lionel Matthews the deal will allow for synergies between the two resulting in better banking services for clients.

Nigeria: Short listing - The five bidders shortlisted for the 9Mobile sale are Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP, Teleology Holdings Limited and Globacom. BusinessDay reported.

Duraline banner advertisement

Nigeria: Smartphone sales - Jumia Nigeria has had some 14.4 million visits with more than 320,000 orders placed, of which 86,000 were for smartphones since the start of its 'Black Friday' sales on 13 November. Jumia Nigeria's CEO Juliet Anammah said that the eCommerce platform had surpassed its volume of sales in just two weeks into this year's Black Friday sales, when compared with that of 2016. Some 85 percent of all visits were made from a mobile device, compared to 72 percent in 2016. The Jumia app has been installed 208,214 times since the start of the Black Friday festival. The top selling feature phone was the Tecno T401, with Triple SIM, Back Camera and Flash.

Nigeria: Vocational roaming - 9mobile has launched double roaming offers in the UAE and ten other destinations from 1 December to 31 January. Packages are 9mobile Roaming to United Arab Emirate (UAE) and 9mobile Xmas Roaming. The former offers a recharge of NGN 5,000 (USD 13.74) allowing subscribers to make local calls in the UAE and calls to Nigeria at the rate of NGN 100 (USD 0.27) per minute, send SMS at NGN 30 (USD 0.08) per event and receive free incoming calls from Nigeria and UAE.  9mobile Xmas Roaming covers South Africa (Vodacom & Cell-C), USA (T Mobile), UK (Vodafone and 02), Ghana (Vodafone), France (Orange), Germany (Vodafone, T mobile and 02), Kenya (Safaricom), Spain (Vodafone and Movistar), Turkey (Vodafone and Turkcell) and the Netherlands (Vodafone). Starting at NGN 150 (USD 0.41) for calls to local numbers in visited countries and back to Nigeria, NGN 50 (USD 1.37) per SMS and upon recharge of NGN 5,000 (USD 13.74), customers are eligible to receive calls for free from Nigeria and local numbers within the visited country.

South Africa: 3G coverage - MTN South Africa Chief Technology and Information Officer Giovanni Chiarelli told MyBroadband that its plans to cover 98 percent of South Africa's population with 3G, and 73 percent with LTE, by the end of the 2017, and that by the end of 2017, it expects to have more 3G sites than 2G sites for the first time. The year-end tally will be 10,954 2G sites, 11,150 3G sites, and 7,920 LTE sites online by the end of December.

South Africa: Christmas preparations - Vodacom has strengthened its network in preparation for the increased demand over the December holiday period. Vodacom's Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport noted that a high level of tourism was forecast and the mobile data traffic is expected to more than double in certain places. In 2016 Vodacom's data volumes increased by 50 percent nationally. In anticipation it has deployed 100 new base stations to provide coverage and capacity along the coast as well some inland destinations. It has also completed the deployment of a further 21 temporary base stations in key holiday destinations. The data capacity at 1,701 3G and 535 4G sites in key provinces has also been upgraded. In the six months ended September 2017, it invested ZAR 4 billion (USD 293.6 million) in the network. Delport added that including the current period, capital expenditure across the group will total ZAR 37 billion (USD 2.71 billion) over a three year period, with ZAR 26 billion (USD 1.91 billion) in South Africa alone.

South Africa: IoT delivery - MTN is to work with Cisco Jasper so that business customers can deliver Internet of Things (IoT) services globally. MTN is the first South African MNO to deploy the automated IoT connectivity management platform, Cisco Jasper Control Centre. This is Cisco Jasper's first entry into South Africa. This will initially be rolled out in South Africa, before being implemented in MTN's data centres across its 22 African points of presence.

South Africa: Reduced rates expected - The Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) says that when the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill is passed says ISPs and similar will be able to compete for subscribers over the networks of mobile network operators. ISPA's regulatory advisor Dominic Cull has said that the legislation requiring telcos to open up to competition should be welcomed: "Consumers on open-access fibre networks enjoy the highest speeds at the lowest per GB pricing available. This is because they benefit from hundreds of packages offering monthly and fixed terms across capped and uncapped packages. It is time for this kind of choice to be extended to all internet consumers." Costs remain are very high in comparison to neighbouring countries and have seen little reduction over the last few years.

South Africa: Telkom top for kids - Tariffic Tracker which monitors the cost of mobile bills has claimed that Telkom has the lowest mobile youth contract prices, according to the latest update, ITWeb reported. Tariffic interviewed children and parents, and ideally a few minutes of YouTube daily (when not connected to Wi-Fi) was required, a lot of WhatsApp messaging and calling, as well as enough minutes to make calls in an emergency. This could be serviced by 1GB of data; a minimum of 50 minutes for calls; with free WhatsApp optional and contracts that avoid bill-shock. It noted that Telkom was the clear winner, offering the cheapest contract for kids, at ZAR 133 (USD 9.76), followed by MTN at ZAR 199 (USD ), according to Tariffic's CEO Antony Seeff. He noted that Vodacom and Cell-C prices were 87 and 109 percent more expensive than Telkom respectively.

Tanzania: Growing channel - Tigo and WorldRemit have seen some USD 25 million annually remitted through Tigo Pesa, having partnered two-years ago, the DailyNews reported. WorldRemit, Regional Head, Middle East & Africa Andrew Stewart said: "Our partnership with Tigo provides more choice to millions of Tanzanians living and working abroad..." A mid-year report by Financial Sector Deepening Africa showed that senders spent 14 percent of face value remitting to Tanzania as opposed to an average 10 percent for Africa and about 7.5 percent of the global average. Tigo Tanzania Chief Officer, Mobile Financial Services, Hussein Sayed, said Tigo Tanzania was WorldRemit's fastest growing payout channel the country.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Steady pair of hands - The fibre roll-out programme, which Batelco claims is key to its network expansion plans, is being personally supervised by Batelco's Chairman Shaikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Batelco Bahrain CEO Mohamed Bubashait. They are reported to have visited a number of Batelco divisions and locations where super-fast Internet services are currently being installed. Shaikh Mohamed said that Fibre Rollout Programme is taking services into new developments as well as replacing legacy networks to enhance services for all sectors.

Bahrain: Top speed - VIVA is Bahrain's Fastest Mobile Network according to Ookla. VIVA's CEO Eng. Ulaiyan Al Wetaid said: "We are very glad to see that our substantial investments in the latest network technologies are delivering results that are recognised by all. This achievement encourages us to continue strengthening our efforts to evolve our network technology and invest in what is best for Bahrain, and ultimately deliver the best customer experience. VIVA has recently upgraded its mobile network with LTE-Advanced and VoLTE nationally, which allows its customers to experience download speeds at up to 225Mbps.

Iran: Rate cuts and caps - Lower Internet tariffs have been announced by ISPs following the introduction of a mandatory fixed line Fair Usage Policy (FUP) by the Communication Regulatory Authority (CRA), the Financial Tribune reports. Each fixedline ISP is now required to announce a bandwidth cap for different Internet speeds. A maximum monthly fee has been set based on speed ranging, from IRR 125,000 for a 512 Kbps service to IRR 800,000 (USD 22.95) for a 16 Mbps connection. Major local ISPs including Shatel, HiWeb, Pars Online, Asia Tech and Telecommunication Company of Iran have announced their new data caps for each speed. Service providers are also obliged to notify customers before reaching the cap. Users can pay extra to forestall the decrease in speed.

Iran: Truck telephony - Iranian start-upmobile application developer Asanbar and Azerbaijan-based Avirtel have signed an MoU on the sidelines of Bakutel-2017, the 23rd Azerbaijan International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Trend reported. Asanbar's app provides a platform for better communication between shippers and truck drivers. Asanbar's CEO Mohammad Hosseini said: "The MoU is capable of facilitating trade ties between the two neighbouring counties in particular the issue of North-South Transportation Corridor." The first phase of cooperation will aim to transfer the technical know-how and concepts developed by Asanbar to Azerbaijan and other countries in the CIS region. The International North-South Transportation Corridor is meant to connect Northern Europe with Southeast Asia. It will serve as a link connecting the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia. At the initial stage, it is planned to transport 5 million tons of cargo per year through the corridor and over 10 million tons of cargo in the future.

Kuwait: Auto-terminations - The Ministry of Utilities has urged fixed line subscribers to pay their phone bills, noting that the automated cutting off of unpaid December subscribers have started with the first warning issued on 10 December followed by a second on 17 December. The automatic disconnection process will start on 24 December.

Middle East: Arabic app - Amino is officially launching in the Middle East where it sees an untapped market, as Arabic is the fifth most widely spoken language but only 1 percent of content currently created online is in Arabic. The Amino app provides a platform with several options of expression within a community, called an 'Amino' and allows people within an 'Amino' chat using text or video, upload images, videos and GIFs, post and create quizzes and interact with like-minded people on the same topic. It will be available in Arabic and it expects to see a significant increase in downloads in the Middle East over the next twelve months.

Oman: Fast fibre - Ooredoo Oman is upgrading its Fibre Home Broadband 20 Mbps, 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps plans to higher speeds for the same monthly fee. This will be automatically provided over the next three months, giving 2.5-times faster internet service. New customers who join 45 days will be automatically upgraded to the next plan speed. Plans start at OMR 28 (USD 72.60). Throughout the past year, Ooreodo has continued to expand its Superfast Fibre network coverage, with new tenancies located in Ruwi, Darsait, and Al Mabelah among many other areas.

Qatar: Money home - Ooredoo Qatar and MoneyGram are now allowing Ooredoo Money customers to send money directly to any bank account in India with MoneyGram via the Ooredoo Money Wallet. To accompany the launch a special promotion valid until 13 February, gives every customer sending money to a bank account in India a QAR 10 cashback per transaction.

Saudi Arabia: 5G demo - Zain Saudi Arabia, in partnership with Trescon Global, has sponsored the Big DT Show Conference held 20 to 21 November in Riyadh. Zain gave a live demonstrations of 5G technology, as well as a scientific symposium on digital transformation. Zain Saudi's Chief Operating Officer Eng Sultan Bin AbdulAziz AlDegaither, said: "We are up to date on all aspects relevant to technical development, and how to integrate that into everyday life, be it on an individual or corporate level, all while applying the highest standards of quality and innovation." The conference covered worksheets, studies and applications related to services such as 5G, IoT and Big Data.

Turkey: IPOs considered - Turk Telekom has said that public listings may be considered in the future for its group subsidiaries, in-line with its strategic direction for its potential corporate venture capital investments, it said in a press release. No specific decision has been taken on any single company. CEO Paul Doany said that Turk Telekom will hold initial public offerings for subsidiaries such as Argela and others, Reuters reported. Investment targets include health, energy and mobile applications sectors.

Turkey: Prize draw - Vodafone Turkey has launched the 'Vodafone Yanimda (Vodafone Hometown)' mobile application, with offers and discounts from a number of partner brands. A prize draw with a top prize of 20GB per month is also being run. Partner brands include 'Little Caesars,' 'Kahve Dunyasi' and 'Loft'.