News in Brief 22 May 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Ramadan discounts - Algeria Telecom (AT) has announced a series of special rates for Ramadan, including discounts on calls to domestic mobiles as well as international fixed lines. Calls to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, China, the United States and Morocco will cost DZD 3 (USD 0.03) per minute - the cost of a local call - from the third minute. Calls made from AT fixed lines to all national mobile networks for DZD 2 (USD 0.02) per minute instead of DZD 8 (USD 0.08) per minute from 8pm to 8am. The promotions are valid throughout the month of Ramadan.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Resolution sought - A further strike was called by the Societe Congolaise des Postes et Telecommunications (SCPT) on 2 May 2019, with action starting on 14 May 2019, Le Phare reported. Four months of salary arrears are claimed for workers in Kinshasa (February, March, April and May 2019) and 15 months for those in the interior. Despite a compromise struck at the start of the year between the union and the employer, it is claimed that the latter failed to respect its commitment to clear the arrears and regularize pay. Calls are also being made for an audit of the activities of Acting Director General Umba Patrick and the departure of the Management Committee he heads. Greater transparency is also called for regarding the sale of Standard Telecom, which would amounted to over USD 4 million, an operation claimed not to be recorded, as is a similar sized deal with Airtel for black fibre.

Egypt: Scarce spectrum solutions - In an interview Chief Technology Officer Khalid Murshed told the Daily News Egypt that mobile broadband traffic has doubled every two years, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming few years. Etisalat's suppliers include Huawei, Ericcson, Nokia, ZTE, Cisco, and others. Issue facing the operator include scarcity of resources such as spectrum, as the four Egyptian mobile operators have the spectrum resources equivalent to a single operator in neighbouring countries, which imposes several challenges. Murshed noted that the Huawei Cloud-AIR solution does not require spectrum to be allocated to a specific technology, and that Huawei and Etisalat have been collaborating for a considerable time.

Ghana: Cost of cable cuts - MTN Ghana had a capital expenditure of some GHS 825 million (USD 160.3 million) in network and ICT in 2018, but put the cost of cable cuts between October 2018 and February 2019 at some GHS 39 million (USD 7.6 million), Ghanaweb reported. Fibre cable cuts, and the consequent service disruption are on the rise, and MTN suffered 382 incidents between January and March. The Ashanti Region recorded the highest number of fibre cuts with 159, representing 41 percent, above Western, Greater Accra and Central regions. Corporate Services Executive Sam Koranteng said the primary cause was construction works. It costs MTN almost GHS 7,000 (USD 1,360) to repair each fibre optic cable cut. Koranteng says the state lost GHS 17.5 million in regulatory fees and tax. Despite huge commitments, destruction of fibre optics resulting in service disruption or shut down persists.

Ghana: SIM audit sought - The Consumer Advocacy Centre (CAC) is suing the National Communications Authority (NCA) and mobile network operators in the High Court to protect consumers by upholding the SIM card registration and regulations. The CAC has claimed that consumers are being exposed to criminals who have fraudulently acquired SIM cards. These are then activated by network providers, enabling the criminals to contact and dupe unsuspecting consumers. CAC is seeking an order to form a taskforce of stakeholders, including itself, to undertake an audit to identify all SIM cards that have not been registered.

Ghana: Spectrum sought - MTN Ghana is seeking to acquire the remaining 4G spectrum being offered by the National Communications Authority (NCA) Citi Business has reported. The acquisition is expected to improve its quality of service delivery and expand its network operations. MTN was initially excluded from purchasing any of the three (2 x 5 MHz) spectrum blocks that the NCA sold in 2018. One of them was purchased for USD 30 million. CEO Selorm Adadevoh said although the NCA has yet to invite other interested companies to purchase the remaining spectrum, it is open to securing it when it is offered.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: Fibre network - Safaricom’s fibre optic network has now reached a length of 5,500-km. The deployment in Nairobi and major centres compares with 5,000-km in March 2018; 4,190-km in March 2017; 3,236-km in March 2016; 2,010-km by March 2015 and 770-km in March 2014.

Kenya: Network enhancement - Telkom is upgrading its network capacity in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret. The upgrade is part of Telkom's KES 1 billion (USD 9.8 million) network expansion and optimisation programme. The expansion will also include the IP Core from 30GB to 100GB. Telkom's Chief Technical and Information Officer, John Barorot, said: "There may be pockets of network interruption during the execution of this specific upgrade but our customers and Kenyans should look forward to an even more superior experience once done." The upgrade covers both 3G and 4G sites in the five urban areas with a targeted focus on metros as well as areas around universities and colleges. Some 3G sites have been earmarked for upgrade to 4G.

Kenya: Outage rectified - Mobile network operator Safaricom has restored its M-Pesa mobile money transfer service, following an outage reported on16 May. The operator attributed the network failure on hitches affecting its database.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Morocco: Low-cost Internet - For Ramadan inwi is offering unlimited Internet from midnight to noon for MAD 79 (USD 8.14). To activate this new promotion, charging can be done via (* 12) or through the Myinwi app. Inwi's B2C Marketing Director Adil Chafiqi: "This new offer responds to real demand at this particular time of the year. It adapts to the pace of life of Moroccans during this holy month and confirms our commitment to the Internet for all." The promotion is valid for 30 days from the date of recharge, which must occur during the month of Ramadan.

Mozambique: Unified remit - The Communications Regulatory Authority of Mozambique (ARECOM, formerly INCM) has awarded state-owned fixed and mobile operator Mocambique Telecom (TMCEL) a new unified, technology neutral telecommunications licence, and relaxing the rules covering spectrum usage and numbering. Vodacom Mozambique received a unified licence in July 2018.

Mozambique: Universal M-Pesa - Vodacom's M-pesa service is to be expanded to subscribers of other mobile netwok operators. Vodacom M-Pesa's Mozambique General Manager, Gulamo Nabi, made the announcement at the sixth Moztech conference. No timetable for the multi-operator service was provided.

Nigeria: Development centre - Microsoft's first Africa Development Centre (ADC) has opened in Nigeria. The centre is Microsoft's seventh globally and is recruiting African engineering talent to develop new products in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and mixed reality. The ADC is expected to recruit 100 full-time engineers by the end of 2019 and expand to 500 across the two sites by 2023. Applications are open on the ADC Website. Microsoft is also partnering with local universities to create a cloud curriculum unique to Africa.

Nigeria: Network enhancement - Airtel has extended its 4G service to Owerri region, the Imo State capital. CEO Segun Ogunsanya said that there had been a total modernisation of Airtel’s Network infrastructure in Imo State.

Nigeria: Repackaged ringback - Globacom has repackaged its Glo Caller Ring Back Tunes service. Music from a genre of their choice is played to the caller whilst waiting for their calls to be answered. Some 50,000 tunes are available. Subscribers can download up to five different tunes and assign contacts to any four of the five tunes. The fifth tune remains a default tune for all other, unassigned numbers. Subscribers can also give away Glo caller tunes as a gift.

South Africa: Cloud exchange - Teraco, which is responsible for Africa's largest and most interconnected vendor neutral data centre, has said that its cloud exchange, located in the Johannesburg and Cape Town data centre facilities, will ensure a low risk, direct entry point for clients wishing to connect to local and global cloud providers. This 'on-ramp' is a vital, secure connection service housed within data centres such as Teraco and provides direct connectivity to a host of cloud providers. Currently AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Express Route and Google's Cloud Platform are all available via the cloud exchange.

South Africa: Privacy solution partnership - Some 43 million Vodacom Business subscribers will now have the benefit of cybersecurity and privacy solutions after the company announced a partnership with BlackFog. BlackFog ensures the confidentiality of device data and file-less cybersecurity, as 77 percent of cyber attacks are file-free and 10 times more likely to succeed. BlackFog consists of 12 layers of defence against ransomware, spyware, malware, phishing, and unauthorized data collection and profiling.

South Africa: Township fibre - Soweto has become the first South African township to benefit from fibre-to-the home (FttH). Telkom has rolled out fibre in Diepkloof and Orlando, passing Orlando West Secondary School. Telkom Group Chief Executive, Sipho Maseko said that Telkom has invested in fibre to the home in Soweto because it believes that access to broadband has become a necessity for human and economic development.

Zimbabwe: Regulatory merger - The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill has been approved by Cabinet which will see the media and telecoms regulators merged. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) are to be combined as the Broadcasting and Communications Authority, in a move to improve accountability and ensure there is no state interference in the country's media. Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa is quoted by the New Zimbabwe as saying: "All state-owned media .... must be impartial and free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcast."

Zimbabwe: Training technology - ICT equipment worth USD 98,300 Huawei has been donated to the University of Zimbabwe to allow it to offer the latest training in ICT. Huawei Zimbabwe MD Hao Wen said the company was committed to enhancing technical skills training to students, and had created over 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

Middle East:

Israel: More profitable - Gilat Satellite Networks has reiterated its full year guidance after reporting a positive set of 1Q19 results, with profits again higher despite lower revenues. CEO Yona Ovadia said it had won important contracts in the quarter, for its aero modem, 4G services, 4G satellite backhaul and 5G networks. Capex was increased in 2019 to further develop these areas. Quarterly revenues fell to USD 62.1 million from 67.4 million the year before, but the operating profit rose 21 percent to USD 4.5 million and the net profit rose 22.2 percent to USD 2.8 million. The adjusted EBITDA grew 9 percent to USD 8.2 percent.

Israel: TV treats - Cellcom Israel is adding Netflix to its Cellcom tv service, after it signed a collaboration deal with Netflix, with the service to start within the next few weeks. Cellcom is to also launch a new Android converter that will have a remote control with a dedicated Netflix button, similar to the one on Partner's remote. Consequently Yes is now the only Israeli television service provider that does not offer access to Netflix.

Oman: Expanded role - Kumail Al-Moosawi has been appointed by Ooredoo Oman into the newly created role of Chief Corporate Services Officer (CCSO). Al-Moosawi will continue to be responsible for human resources but also be responsible for customer service, business continuity and the health, safety and environment (HSE) department. The new unit will provide contact centre services to other companies both nationally and internationally. Al-Moosawi has 19 years of experience in numerous business functions in Ooredoo.