News in Brief 16 January 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Rural coverage - Algerie Telecom’s subsidiary Algerie Telecom Satellite (ATS) is to augment its B2B-focused portfolio by launching residential satellite broadband Internet services in September 2018. Agence Ecofin reported ATS' CEO Mohamed Anouar Benabdelouahad as saying that the user cost for consumer broadband service will be 'a little higher than that of ADSL' which is 'justified by the cost of equipment'. The focus is to be on isolated regions, unserved border areas and other under-served parts of the country, using bandwidth of the Algerian-owned satellite Alcomsat-1.

Cote d'Ivoire: Digital training - The Orange Digital Academy has been officially opened with its first campaign for applications. Orange said that the new school will offer five-month courses in digital training and coding, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality.

Gabon: Internet interrupted - The government is reported to have closed down the Internet and broadcasting services following an attempted coup against President Ali Bongo, according to digital rights groups Netblocks and Internet Without Borders. The closure affected Gabon Telecom and its mobile subsidiary Libertis, as well as Airtel. Internet Without Borders reports that Internet traffic from Gabon fell sharply at around 08:00 hrs on 7 January, indicating the start of an outage. In 2016, following the disputed re-election of President Bongo, the government imposed a digital curfew for the whole of September.

Ghana: LTE launch - Vodafone Ghana is to launch 4G LTE services nationally in the second quarter of 2019, IT Web Africa reports. The 4G launch will see Vodafone join MTN Ghana in the LTE market as the former attempts to challenge the leader's control of the mobile sector. The move follows a successful bid earlier in January for 2 x 5MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band. Vodafone Ghana is expected to spend about USD 90 million to launch 4G.

Ghana: Rural connectivity - Denmark-based Bluetown has reached agreement with Microsoft to connect approximately 800,000 unserved people to the Internet in eastern Ghana. Wi-Fi and TV white space technologies will be used to introduce public Wi-Fi zones, with free access to digital services such as e-learning, e-health and news. Dedicated Internet access will also be provided to local institutions and businesses. Bluetown's Chief Commercial Officer Nick Pallesen said: "Our organisations' goals align well and we are confident that this collaboration is just the beginning of a long-standing partnership to improve conditions in Ghana and expand global internet access in underserved regions around the world."

Kenya: Fresh feelers - Reuters has cited three industry sources as saying that Helios Investment Partners, which holds a 60 percent stake in Telkom, is looking to sell part of its investment. Bharti Airtel is reportedly in talks to acquire Telkom Kenya, in a move that would create a stronger number two in the market. Airtel Kenya has some 23 percent of the mobile market in 3Q18, ahead of Telkom with just 9 percent but considerably behind Safaricom with 67 percent. In June 2018 the pair dropped plans to merge their operations, after talks broke down. The deal could be completed by the end of March.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Mauritania: More fines - Mobile network operators Mauritel, Mattel and Chinguitel are being fined once again for failing to provide adequate quality of service (QoS) on their networks, Agence Ecofin reports. The three are being fined a total of MRU 60.4 million (USD 1.65 million). The Autorite de Regulation (ARE) monitored QoS levels between 20 October and 25 November 2018 and found deficiencies in the capital Nouakchott, as well as in a number of other cities and along the main highways. Market leader Mauritel is being fined MRU 37.7 million (USD 1.04 million); Mattel MRU 12.0 million (USD 330,000) and Chinguitel MRU 10.7 million (USD 294,000).

Niger: Tax truces - Mobile network operators Orange and Airtel Niger have both reportedly reached an agreement with the General Directorate of Taxes (DGI) over a dispute which saw their offices closed late in 2018. Jeune Afrique reports that Orange has agreed to settle part of the XOF 22 billion (USD 38.4 million) in back taxes it was ordered to pay in November, while a similar resolution was said to be agreed with Airtel, which had been ordered to pay XOF 62 billion (USD 108.2 million) in December.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: National solution - MTN Nigeria has deployed a Corporate Wide Area Network Service (CWAN) across 139 locations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). MTN in partnership with NNPC on 4 - 5 December 2018 held an exhibition to highlight the success of the CWAN service deployment.

Nigeria: Package upgrades - MultiChoice Nigeria Chief Customer Officer Martin Mabutho said its new 'Step Up' offer is for active and disconnected DStv Compact, Family and Access customers who pay to upgrade their package, with access to an even higher specification one within 48 hours. The campaign will run for three months and started on 15 January and will allow DStv customers on the Access package to pay NGN 4,000 (USD 11) for the Family package, and get a boost to view programmes on the Compact package. Customers on the Family package can pay NGN 6,800 (USD 19) for the Compact package, and view Compact Plus package programmes. Compact customers can pay NGN 10,650 (USD 29) for Compact Plus and in turn, get Premium package programmes. Customers on GOtvPlus, Value and Lite will get upgraded to GOtv Max when they pay a reduced fee of NGN 2,500 (USD 7), while GOtv tops up by NGN 700 (USD 2). Active and disconnected GOtv Max customers can take advantage of this limited time offer to renew their subscription for NGN 2,500 (USD 7).

Togo: Broadband offering - ISP Teolis launched last week 'Dream' offering in Lome. Launched earlier than announced, the new offer is dedicated mainly to households, start-ups and SMEs. It aims to provide access to broadband in line with the budget and demand of customers. Two offerings are available: the Dream Basic module for homes or individuals, and the Dream Privilege module for SMEs and very small enterprises, based on criteria such as the number of users and required capacity. Only initially available in Lome, the service costs XOF 20,000 (USD 35) per month for 4Mb. Teolis is the country’s third ISP and competes with Togo Telecom and Vivendi.

Zimbabwe: Vandalism quantified - TelOne claims to have lost over USD 3 million in the ten months to October 2018 due to vandalism of network infrastructure, Bulawayo 24/7 has reported. Of this, USD 2.2 million was in lost revenue as customers could not use TelOne's services, and USD 913,000 went towards repairing the network. TelOne Managing Director Chipo Mtasa said vandalism has led to monthly revenue loss and loss of customer confidence in its services, thereby damaging its reputation. More than 30,000 customers have been affected by service disruptions. Network vandalism has been prevalent in Harare (50 percent) and Bulawayo (12 percent).

Middle East:

Iran: Satellite upset - Iran is to launch a remote sensing satellite into space, according to new images obtained by CNN last week. The high-res images were captured between 4 - 7 January by Planet Labs, and appear to show activity at the Imam Khomeini Space Centre according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. It is thought the satellites will be launched by a two-stage Simorgh space launch vehicle. The US has claimed that such a launch would breach the UN Security Council resolution that enshrines the 2015 nuclear deal and a launch could see new sanctions applied. Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, said: "We cannot wait for other countries to launch our satellites. It is nonsense that some countries state that Iran should not improve. The ICT Ministry does its best for the promotion of peaceful satellite technology."

Israel: Enhanced enterprise offering - Bezeq's enterprise offerings are to be powered by DSP Group’s Ultra Low Energy (ULE) technology. ULE is a networking technology, offering long range, lower power consumption as well as robust and secure RF channels. It supports two-way voice, audio and video communication over the air. Based on a simple star topology, ULE requires fewer nodes compared with other mesh network technologies according to DSP. It is used for IoT in residential and business market segments to support data, voice and visual communications.

Oman: Flexible business packages - Ooredoo Oman's Shahry+ promotion is to run to 4 February, offering businesses 60GB of local data and 40GB roaming data each month, in addition to discounts on international calls. Ooredoo's Shahry+ provides tailor-made packages. Users signing up for a one year contract can choose from six different packages to suit their requirements.

Qatar: Smart banking - Ooredoo Qatar has connected Qatari National Bank (QNB) to its bespoke, pre-standardised 5G network services. QNB will benefit from connectivity via radio service, aimed at corporate customers who may have operations in hard-to-reach areas, as an alternative to wired networks. Ooredoo Qatar's 5G service provides improved coverage and will enable QNB to offer its customers smart applications.

Turkey: TT eurobond - The board of Turk Telekom (TT) has approved the issue of a eurobond of up to USD 500 million or its equivalent. The Capital Market Board now has to approve the move. TT also said in a separate development that its shareholder Levent Yapilandirma Yonetimi (LYY) was exempted by a Capital Markets Board decision from the mandatory tender offer requirement under Turkish regulations. This follows LYY acquiring a majority stake in December 2018; the regulatory decision was issued on 4 December.

United Arab Emirates: City services - Mobile operator Du expects to deliver smart city services at Silicon Park, Dubai's first integrated smart city project located at Dubai Silicon Oasis. Du has partnered with Orange Business Services to deliver a complete range of smart city services. The main data centre infrastructure is already up and running, and over a third of all services are now in various stages of implementation. Silicon Park will be supported by smart energy solutions, environmentally sustainable mobility, and smart public amenities and services.