News in Brief 9 May 2018

Africa:

Algeria: Fire damage - On 3 May 2018 a fire broke out at the Algeria Telecom transmission centre for the wilaya of Bejaia, located in the city centre of the capital. AT said that physical damage was relatively limited, following the successful intervention of the Civil Protection services. It added that some of the transmission equipment had been de-energized, which saw the isolation of part of the access network in the city centre of Bejaia. An antenna of Mobilis was also damaged.

Botswana: SATA senior named - Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) CEO Mabua Mabua is the new chairman of the Southern African Telecommunication Association (SATA) for a period of twelve months. He takes over the chairmanship from Petros Dlamini, who is the Managing Director of Swaziland Posts and Telecommunication Corporation. Outgoing chairman Dlamini said that Botswana was one step ahead, as they had seen Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTCL) undergoing transformation, hence the establishment of BoFiNet.

Egypt: CEO confirmed - Orange Egypt has named Yasser Shaker as its chief Executive Officer effective from 1 May 2018. Yasser's previous position was Senior VP CTIO Orange Middle East and Africa (OMEA) where he contributed to the execution of Orange Group strategy towards the development of the digitalization in 19 countries. Prior to that, Yasser was Chief Technology Officer of Orange Egypt. As a member of the OMEA Executive Committee, he was a contributor to OMEA growth in the recent years.

Kenya: LTE latest - 4G services have been formally launched by Airtel Kenya with a promotional double data offer for subscribers with a 4G handset and relevant SIM card. Also, any Airtel subscriber who upgrades their SIM to LTE will get a 2 GB bonus free. 4G will initially be available in Nairobi and Mombasa, followed by extended investment and roll-out to other towns and cities. Airtel has been upgrading its 2G and 3G networks on an on-going basis.

Nigeria: Fatal failure - A Globacom mast collapsed in Jalingo, Taraba as a result of a rainstorm in the town on 5 May. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Globacom mast fell on an eatery, killing three chefs. Glo is reported to be undertaking 'integrity tests' on all the masts in the area.

Nigeria: Improved coverage - 4G has been launched in Abuja by Airtel Nigeria. Managing Director Segun Ogunsanya said the launch was part of ongoing upgrade of its network. The 4G network expansion is claimed to be stabilizing the existing 3G network service by offering a high speed data experience.

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South Africa: Community broadcasting comments - On 6 April 2018 the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) published Draft Regulations for Community Broadcasting Services: Radio and Television in the Government Gazette 41561, for comments, with comments to be submitted by 18 May 2018. The Authority has decided to conduct extensive provincial workshops on the draft regulations from 15 May to 8 June 2018, and therefore, the deadline for the submission of written comments has been extended to 15 June 2018.

South Africa: How well are we doing? - The Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane has called for the public nominations for the 7 members of the Evaluation Panel to assess the performance of ICASA's Chairman and councillors. The members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister in consultation with the National Assembly. Nominations to serve on the Panel must reach the Ministry of Communications within 30 days after publication of the gazette.

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South Africa: IoT initiatives - Vox Telecom will extend its range of IoT solutions this year, having just launched several new products, according to Businesstech.co.za. It has partnered with Sigfox IoT network provider Sqwidnet, although is a network neutral platform provider and will support NB-IoT, LTE-M1, LoRa and Sigfox technologies. For farmers Vox is offering IoT for animal management, reproductive control, fattening management, and in-heat and calving detection via smart collars with multiple sensors. It is also targeting various other segments such as asset tracking, utilities, security and transport fleets.

South Africa: Non-executives nominated - Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has been named as an independent non-executive director of MTN. MTN said on 7 May that Mcebisi is currently one of four independent presidential investment envoys, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to attract investors to South Africa. Former Transnet group treasurer Swazi Tshabalala was also named as an independent non-executive director.

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South Africa: Pet product - Vox Telecom, an integrated ICT provider, plans to bring the Internet of things (IOT) into consumers' households, reports ITWeb. CEO Jacques du Toit said his vision is to bundle IOT services like asset-trackers into the company's fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) offerings. On 23 March it launched services for agricultural sector, as well as new commercial IoT offerings in the utilities and automobile industries. Now it intends to have 100,000 connected devices by the end of 2018; it currently has 100,000 subscribers. It is intending to launch a pet-tracker in July. The smart collar will allow real-time tracking of pets, unlike microchip implants which are passive RFID (radio frequency identification) technology which only provide identification information on animals when they are scanned.

Tunisia: B2B focus - Tunisie Telecom and ICT integrator TMI signed an MoU aimed at strengthening their respective positions in the B2B market by providing a wider range of IT, security and communication products and services. The deal covers Tunisia and several African countries where TMI is present.

Tunisia: Peak speed - Tunisie Telecom achieved a 4.5 G network a peak download speed of 638.66 Mbps during a live test in Tunis using a currently available smartphone. Tunisie Telecom and Huawei achieved the result using MIMO and carrier aggregation.

Zimbabwe: Woeful WiFi access - Econet Wi-Fi hotspots are not working correctly, according to TechZim. Problems appear to have started about two weeks ago with users not being able to access the 'login' to enter their details. Econet said in a response that there have been some 'technical challenges' at many of its WiFi hotspots, resulting in customers failing to login. It would appear that it has taken Econet some time to become aware of the issue, and then start to address it.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: New network for SMS news - Pajhwok Afghan News is launching its SMS news service via Etisalat, under a memorandum of understanding signed on last week. The deal was signed on 1 May 2018. Similar services are already been running on AWCC, Roshan, MTN and Salaam mobile networks. The service will provide instant information on fuel prices, highway traffic and flights.

Iran: Critical timing - President Trump's efforts to see sanctions on Iran re-imposed could torpedo MTN's efforts to repatriate some ZAR 4.6 billion (USD 372.6 million), BusinessDay noted. MTN has been in discussions with Iran's central bank to repatriate the remaining EUR 300 million in legacy cash. A decision is due to be announced on 12 May. It was suggested that if the US withdraws but does not convince the EU to do the same, MTN will still be able to repatriate the Iranian funds by exchanging them for euros and then rands. MTN Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said last week: "But we think there will be something less than that negotiated in and around the twelfth [of May]."

Iran: Telegram alternatives? - Minister of Telecommunications Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said that it will be 'impossible' to block access to information following the ruling of the conservative-dominated judiciary to ban the Telegram messaging app, Arab News reported. The Minister's comments on Twitter highlight differences between the government of reformist President Hassan Rouhani and ultra-conservatives, which controls the judiciary and security services. The app was ordered to be blocked by a court 30 April, and has some 40 million Iranian users, or approximately half the population. In the first week of May investigations by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) show that the Telecommunications Infrastructure Company (TIC) had yet to comply with a prosecutor's order to block the Telegram messaging app.

Israel: CSO to step down - Bezeq has said that Amikam Shorer, Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer, will step down with effect from 30 July. Bezeq is currently the subject of a major fraud investigation.

Israel: Operator driven - The growing number of mobile operators will drive mobile subscribers to 11.3 million by 2022 from 10.3 million mobile subscribers in 2017, GlobalData forecasts. With a relatively small population of almost 9 million and a saturated telecom market with over five mobile operators and a number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), 018 Xfone has launched a new mobile operator under the 'We4G' brand which launched in April 2018 with network sharing agreements with Cellcom and Golan Telecom. It is reported to have an initial 4,000 subscribers, cannibalised from other mobile operators.

Qatar: Enhanced DDoS - Vodafone Qatar has launched an enhanced version of its Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) mitigation service to protect businesses and governmental networks from attack. The new version protects the customer network from different levels of DDoS attack, including ones targeted at customer applications. In 2017, the Middle East apparently suffered over 23,000 DDos attacks per month.

Saudi Arabia: Consumer cloud centre - SAP has launched the first live Public Cloud Data Centre in Saudi Arabia, the centerpiece of SAP's four-year, SAR 285 million (USD 75.9 million) Saudi investment plan, at SAP NOW in Riyadh. Organisations can now adopt scalable services able to curb operating expenditure for 25 industries and a dozen lines of business. Customers can use services running on the SAP HANA in-memory database and SAP Cloud Platform, which are available on the SAP Public Cloud Data Centre. SAP said that it is also exploring how to integrate the SAP Public Cloud Data Centre into the planned Saudi Government Cloud.

Saudi Arabia: Media investment - Digital media company Telfaz11, with some 20 million YouTube subscribers on its network, has said that it has received USD 9 million funding from lead investor Saudi Technology Ventures (STV). VentureSouq has also joined the Series A round of funding. The investment will be used to build capacity, accelerate revenues and scale operations.

Saudi Arabia: Quarterly fall - Mobile network operator Zain Saudi saw a loss in the 1Q 2018, as it lost nearly two million subscribers over the period. Zain Saudi reported a loss of SAR 77 million (USD 20.5 million) in the January-March period it said in a statement issued to the local stock exchange on 8 May 2018. This compares to a profit of SAR 45 million (USD 12.0 million) in 1Q17. In April Saudi Telecom reported a 2.1 percent increase in 1Q18 to SAR 2.59 billion (USD 690 million) and Mobily reduced its quarterly losses to SAR 93 million (USD 24.8 million). Zain Saudi saw quarterly revenue fall 12 percent to SAR 1.69 billion (USD 450.1 million), which it blamed on falling MTRs and a fall in international traffic.

Saudi Arabia: Senior communicators - Mobile operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has named Amjad Shacker and Abdullah Al Fahad as its Senior Executive Officer Corporate Brand and Communications, and Executive GM Marketing Communications respectively. In a press release Mobily said that both were experienced in the Telecom and IT sector, and have over 15 years of experience in the field of Marketing Communications and Corporate Communications. Mobily's CEO, Ahmed Aboudoma, noted that the Saudization ratio has reached more than 80 percent recently.

Turkey: GM steps down - Turk Telekom's Technology Assistant General Manager Cengiz Dogan has resigned his post. The post's responsibilities will now be executed by the company's General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Boulos H.B. Doany, in addition to his existing duties.

United Arab Emirates: Efficient energy - Mobile operator Du is to offer smart energy management services to buildings and facilities after collaborating with NXN (formerly Nexgen). By working with NXN, the service will provides advanced facility intelligence functionality that can be overseen on a single platform to help users monitor, validate, predict, and control all energy-related expenses. It will offer real-time management and monitoring of energy assets from an Integrated Operations Centre using connectivity by Du to operate on a NXN-powered platform.

United Arab Emirates: Show spectrum - Events and equipment rental companies need to obtain authorisation for the use of radio frequency (RF) spectrum the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said. TRA's Spectrum Management Affairs Department Manager for Broadcasting and Space Services Khalid Al Awadh said it is the regulator's responsibility to ensure the best and most efficient use of radio spectrum. Spectrum misuse is impacting the Programme-making and Special Events (PMSE) industry, and the TRA noted that the large majority of organisations are unaware of the need and benefits of the regulations. Teams of spectrum management officers have been appointed to monitor spectrum usage at events.

Device developments:

Kuwait: Post-paid Pro plans - The new Huawei P20 Pro has been launched by Viva Kuwait with post-paid plans starting from KWD 21 (USD 70) that give customers KWD 10 (USD 33) of credit and 10 GB of Internet allowance. The device has a Leica Triple Camera and a spacious display that occupies most of its front, an edgeless fingerprint sensor and smart navigation.