News in Brief 28 March 2018

Africa:

Africa: Satellite connectivity - Gilat Telecom has launched Satcube terminals targeted at governments, armies, NGOs and other organisations in Africa operational in areas with little or no network coverage. The service provides speeds of up to 20 Mbps and uses the Ku-band. The device weighs just 8 kg and can be transported as hand luggage in a plane. Users pay a monthly fee for connectivity with a variety of different packages available.

Algeria: Broadband bargain - Mobile operator Djezzy has launched a promotion of its Internet post-paid Smart 1300 offer, Libre et Control, from 19 March. Djezzy is offering for DZD 1,300 (USD 11.32) 10 GB of data volume instead of 6 GB, in addition to unlimited calls and on-net SMS and 120 minutes to other networks. The 10 GB per month will be valid for the first 3 months according to the billing cycle for existing customers as well users. The Smart offers are unchanged. All three packages are available in control mode (capped plan) at no additional cost. The advantages of the new package are not cumulative. Billing calls per second after the first minute are indivisible, and value-added services will be billed according to the rate card in force. The offer is available for 30 days.

Angola: Satellite meet - The government announced on 22 March that Angola and Russia are to meet in April in Luanda to define procedures for the use of the Angosat-1 satellite, which was launched in December 2017, macauhub reported. Angolan Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Technology, Manuel Homem, said the satellite is in orbit and verification work is under way so that it can start operating in April. Built by a Russian state consortium, Angosat-1 was launched from Kazakhstan using Ukrainian rocket Zenit-3SLB.

Egypt: Peak week - Jumia is to increase its sales of mobile phones to 80,000 during its Mobile Week from 30,000 during the same event in 2017, according to e-marketing director Karim Ahmed, the Daily News reported. It is anticipating 10 million visits to its Website during the week, when it is offering discounts in partnership with Samsung, Xiaomi, Sico and Soda.

Egypt: Quality assured - Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yasser ElKady visited Telecom Egypt (TE) on 21 March 2019. TE’s President and CEO Ahmed El-Behairy was tasked on the planned actions to further improve Quality of Service. Plans include the expansion of mobile network in the coming months to provide quality access in remote areas. Achievements include a broad fixed network and a mobile 4G network in progress, currently with close to 3 million subscribers.

Equatorial Guinea: New minister - The new Secretary General of Transport, Post and Telecommunications Francisco is Javier Bela, the Equatorial Guinea Press and Information Office reported. He has replaced Ramon Nca Ela. The ceremony took place in the meeting room of the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications, chaired by the Delegate Minister, Joaquin Elema Borengue.

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Ethiopia: Internet interrupted - Oromia, the largest regional state, has had its Internet services cut off according to a television network report. According to the Oromia Broadcasting Network (OBN) the outage lasted some two weeks, and affected universities and businesses in the region. Provider Ethio Telecom has yet to provide a reason for the loss of service. Internet services are often restricted, and in 2016 to prevent the distribution of key university entrance exams, the authorities blocked the Internet in 2016 and 2017.

Kenya: Drone testing - Facebook and Uber have applied for licences to test drones following legalisation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the Business Daily reported. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said the two have shown interest following the adoption of regulations to guide the operation of such devices; Kenya the third African country after Rwanda and South Africa to have a legal framework for remotely controlled aircraft. Uber apparently wants to test flying taxis. The rules, however, have yet to be ratified by parliament.

Liberia: First birthday - K3 Telecom-Liberia has marked its first year of operations, offering triple-play services in Monrovia on its own wireless broadband network, the Liberian Observer reported. K3 Telecom AG is a Swiss-based operator using K3 Air Last mile solution technology providing broadband Internet, digital TV and fixed lines services. K3 Liberia's CEO Mohammed Nasrallah said he was delighted with the success of its satellite television services, which will see its coverage extended to cover Montserrado, Margibi and other counties.

Nigeria: Promo period - A free upgrade on all of its packages for subscribers for the antenna and Dish platform is being offered by StarTimes Nigeria. The promotion started on 15 March and will run to 30 April and is open to all subscribers. Nova users at NGN 900 (USD 2.50) will get the Basic channels free for two weeks; for NGN 1,300 (USD 3.60) for one month Basic users will get all Classic bouquet channels free for another two weeks while customers who pay one month on the Classic and Unique bouquet will get an extra week free of charge. A one month subscription of NGN 3,800 (USD 10.50) on Super Bouquet will give access to one extra week free.

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Nigeria: Ticking towards target - According to NCC's Executive Vice Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta, broadband penetration now stands at 22 percent, some 8 percent short of the December 2018 target, Nigeria Communications Week reported. He said that plans were ongoing to licence more Infracos, auction some frequency licences; some of which are being initiated and some reframed to achieve the broadband penetration target.

Nigeria: Turkish satellite talks - The Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) is in talks with Turkish satellite operator Turksat. The two held talks at the Satellite 2018 Conference and Exhibition in the USA. NigComSat said the parties are exploring technical and commercial agreements that would expand their satellite footprints, and exchange content on their platforms.

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South Africa: No deal - Naspers and Vivendi have failed to reach agreement on the latter's acquisition of Multichoice (DStv). According to information from BFM Business, Vivendi's offer of USD 1 billion for the acquisition of Multichoice (DStv, M-Net and SuperSport) has been rejected by its parent, South African based group Naspers.

Tanzania: Money interoperability - Tigo Tanzania is partnering with Tanzania Telecommunication Corporation (TTCL) to implement mobile money interoperability so that users can send and receive money from TTCL Pesa to Tigo Pesa and vice-versa without significant cost.

Uganda: Scratch cards scratched - The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has set 30 June 2018 as the deadline for phasing out scratch cards, The Dispatch reported. In a communication dated 23 March 2018, UCC said telcos should start using of electronic airtime. Telcos now required to submit records of their current stock of airtime scratch cards including the scratch cards already purchased and en-route to Uganda. This as well as a weighted average period in which they are expected to have used up all scratch cards available in the market and also begin sensitizing the vendors about the phase out of scratch cards.

Zambia: Soccer support - The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has signed a three-year Super Division and national team sponsorship deals worth USD 4.5million with MTN Zambia.The 20 teams in the Super Division will receive ZMW 200,000 (USD 20,300) each as a participation fee. MTN will increase sponsorship by USD 1.5 million and also flexed the exclusive rights from the previous USD 3 million deal that gave them explicit rights. The contract will allow other companies to also provide sponsorship, although MTN maintains exclusive rights in the telecom business.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Smartphone store - Viva Bahrain has launched an online store with cashback deals only available from the online shop, on top-selling smartphones such as the iPhone X, Samsung A8+ and the newly released Samsung S9/S9+. Among the deals is an exclusive BHD 50 (USD 132) cashback on the iPhone X and Samsung S9/S9+.

Israel: Judged checked - Tel Aviv Magistrate Court Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz was suspended last week awaiting a disciplinary hearing on charges that she colluded with a state prosecutor in a case involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the JNS Daily Syndicate reported. The judge is accused of 'highly inappropriate' communications with a state prosecutor in the on-going Bezeq investigation against Netanyahu, which alleges that the Israeli prime minister offered regulatory help to Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch in exchange for favourable coverage on Elovitch's Walla news site.

Israel: PM queried - The police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 26 March over his alleged dealings with Bezeq, Israel Radio reported. This is the second time the PM has been questioned with regard to Bezeq. He is suspected of awarding regulatory favours to the telco in return for favourable coverage on a news site the company's owner controls. Netanyahu's wife and son are to be questioned separately.

Israel: Satellite stumble - Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication has said that it has written off ILS 90 million (USD 25.8 million) after the Yes satellite TV broadcaster saw a fall in value and reputation, Globes reported. Consequently it as issued a profit warning. This is the second such write-off by Bezeq in the past few months. The previous re-valuation four months ago made reference to the fall in the company's value but did not impact operations.

Oman: Home mesh - Ooredoo Oman is to provide Home Broadband customers with comprehensive home Wi-Fi coverage. Fast and Superfast Home Broadband contracts on 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps and 1 Gbps will be eligible for a free Wi-Fi 'mesh' device (Linksys VELOP Tri-Band) worth OMR 169.90 (USD 441). The offer will be valid for the next three months. Users will be able to control the speed of devices and allocate the speed or bandwidth to specific users.

Palestine: Operations resumed - Wataniya's offices in Gaza were allowed to re-open last week after the Hamas-run police in Gaza closed down the operator on Saturday, after the state prosecutor accused it of failing to comply with the investigation into the bomb attack targeting Rami Hamdallah. This followed a roadside bomb on 13 March targeting his convoy during a visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The attorney general in Gaza, in a statement, said on 19 March that the company would reopen fully, without giving further details.

United Arab Emirates: Directors named - Etisalat's Annual General Meeting last week approved the board's proposed buy-back programme of 5 percent of the paid capital, representing 434.8 million shares. Eissa Al Suwaidi and Eissa Abdul Fattah Kazim were appointed as Chairman and Vice-president of Etisalat Group respectively. Hisham Abdullah Al Qassem, Mohammed Sultan Al Hamli, Saleh Abdullah Lootah and Mariam Saeed Ghobash were appointed as board members; the seventh member will be announced shortly. Four board directors to fill the seats unassigned for the government shareholder were named as Sheikh Ahmed Mohd Sultan bin Suroor Al Dhahiri, Abdelmonem bin Eisa bin Nasser Alserkal. Khalid Abdulwahid Hassan Alrustamani and Otaiba Khalaf Ahmed Khalaf Al Otaiba.