News in Brief 10 October 2018

Africa:

Africa: MultiChoice management - M-Net’s CEO in Sub-Saharan Africa is now Nkateko Mabaso MultiChoice announced. The role was previously performed by Yolisa Phahle, who is now the role of CEO of General Entertainment for the Video Entertainment segment. In the last seven months in his position as acting CEO of M-Net, Mabaso has been associated with a number of content strategies, including increased investment in local content and co-production. Local channels including Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo, Zambezi Magic, Mzansi Magic and 1Magic have produced popular output and consistent growth in audience and advertising revenues.

Africa: Oracle opportunity - Andrew Sordam has been named as Oracle's vice president for sub-Saharan Africa. He replaces Cherian Varghese, who is now the regional managing director and vice president for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and South Asian Growing Economies at Oracle, based in Singapore. Sordam joined Oracle some 20 years ago and has held a number of leadership roles, most recently that of Vice President for Oracle's Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) business in EMEA.

Comoros: ICT funding - The government has been awarded a USD 10 million grant from the World Bank to fund ICT projects to connect schools, universities, public services and private institutions, Agence Ecofin reported. The other planned ICT projects include: launching e-government applications in collaboration with other countries in the region; the management and use of the national domain name; strengthening cybersecurity, networking government sites and creating a government cloud; the development and installation of digital applications for e-Visas; and to purchase bandwidth capacity on regional cables for use by government institutions.

Ghana: Streaming partnership - MTN Ghana and Kwese Iflix have announced a mobile streaming partnership. The service is available for users to stream with MTN Video Bundles. MTN Ghana subscribers can download the Iflix app from Google Play or the Apple App Store with a choice of a daily, weekly or monthly MTN Video Pack. The daily bundle costs GHS 3 (USD 0.63) and provides up to four hours (800 MB) of access to Kwese Iflix. A weekly one costs GHS 10 (USD 2.10), for more than ten hours (2 GB).

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Kenya: Sudden departure - Safaricom Head of Innovation Lab, Kamal Bhattacharya is reported to have stood down according to the kahawatungu news portal. Kamal previously worked with MIT and IBM and joined in April 2017. Other team members were Kennedy Kahiri and Kariuki Marima.

Maldives: Mobile rising -The mobile subscriber base rose to 862,864 subscribers in July, from 861,507 in June. Mobile penetration stood at 264 percent in July from 242 percent in June, according to figures from the Communications Authority of Maldives. Of the total mobile subscribes, 136,799 were post-paid and 726,065 were pre-paid. The number of fixed lines fell to 19,752 in July from 19,970 in June, while fixed-line teledensity stood at 5.4 percent in July. The mobile broadband subscriber base fell to 273,574 users in July from 274,741 users in June, while the fixed broadband user base increased to 45,885 in July from 42,837 in June.

Nigeria: Subscription payments - Clickatell Transact has partnered with GTBank and other major banks to enable their customers to buy Kwese Iflix subscriptions via USSD. A daily package costs NGN 140 (USD 0.39) and a monthly one NGN 999 (USD 2.75). Users receive a link to a Kwese Iflix subscription, and clicking this will automatically redeem a voucher and activate the account on the Kwese Iflix platform of the customer's choice.

Reunion: Faster yet - Orange Reunion has increased the maximum download/upload speeds over its fibre network to 1Gbps/300Mbps, up from 500Mbps/200Mbps previously. Livebox Fibre Magik 500 subscribers, which costs EUR 67.40 (USD 79.30) per month, will be automatically upgraded to the new premium speeds free of charge. The fibre network currently covers Saint-Denis, Saint Paul, Saint Leu, Saint Pierre, Le Tampon, Saint Gilles-les Bains, La Possession, Quarlier Francais, Saint Andre and Saint Benoit.

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South Africa: Efficient generation - Bladon Micro Turbine has launched the MTG12, a 12kW (15kVA equivalent) micro turbine generator set developed specifically for the global telecom tower market. It offers up to 8,000-hour service intervals, which translates to 90 percent fewer site visits than conventional diesel gensets. Field trials were conducted this year in South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria. Abbott Technologies’ CEO Andrew Edmondson said: “We have been working with Bladon for the last 12 months refining the offering of its micro turbine genset for the African market.”

South Africa: LTE focus - MTN South Africa has invested some ZAR 30 billion (USD 2.09 billion) in network upgrades over three years, with an emphasis on deploying LTE services in the 900MHz band. MTN South Africa's executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O'Sullivan told MyBroadband that it had rolled out approximately 2,700 new LTE-900 sites over the last few months, which had contributed to a 4 percent rise in population coverage, to 87 percent. The upgrades also included improved radio design, new technology features (4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM modulation), higher radio base station backhaul capacity, and expanded core transport and IP data network capacity.

South Africa: Phased upgrade - Paratus Telecom has completed the first phase of its LTE data network upgrade. Phase two will start in November 2018 when the equipment arrives from the vendor. The upgrade has seen throughput speeds substantially increased on the network and Paratus is confident that the upgrades will be completed on the rest of the grid. A second phase is required due to manufacturing time frames and deliverables.

South Africa: Social bundles - Mobile network operator Cell-C has extended its ShoutOut social data bundles promotion until the end of January 2019. Originally launched on 26 July, it included Facebook and WhatsApp. The data bundle pricing will be unchanged, with three different promotions on offer. Users can purchase the bundles through the Cell-C mobile app or USSD menu by dialling star 147 hash and star 109 hash.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

South Africa: Uncapped offering - MetroFibre Networx has launched its new GigaGo fibre ISP, offering uncapped packages using both the MetroFibre Networx and Openserve grids. Availability will be rolled-out to other networks shortly. All GigaGo packages are uncapped and unshaped, and are subject to fair usage policies (FUPs), depending on the line speed of the package. Uncapped packages with line speeds from 4 Mbps to 100 Mbps are available, each with its own FUP.

Sudan: 4G roaming - Telenor has signed a global connectivity agreement that will enable Zain Sudan to provide LTE roaming services via Telenor's IPX connectivity network. Telenor Global Wholesale's CEO Harald Krohg said: "We are delighted to have strengthened our relationship with Zain Sudan and that this agreement will ensure consistent user experience for both companies' subscribers at all times".

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Tanzania: Free means free - Nextvame has reported that the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is collecting information on payments for access to free-to-air (FTA) local channels from MultiChoice Tanzania (DStv), Azam Media and Simbanet (Zuku), as such payments are illegal. TCRA has told decoder providers to remove FTA local channels such as TBC1, ITV, Star TV, channel Ten, East Arica TV and Clouds TV. TCRA's Director General James Kilaba said that charging for FTA channels on set-top boxes is a breach of the law and of licence conditions, and that the regulator will take action if anyone is charged for FTA to air local channels.

Uganda: Day trip - On 3 October the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Houlin Zhao made a one day visit, and was received by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Director of Industry and Communication, Juliana Muhiirwe, the New Vsion reported. Zhao officiated as the guest of honour at the UCC ICT symposium at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort. The symposium is a part of the celebrations UCC is holding to mark 20 years of existence. Uganda has been a member of the ICT council 2014-2018 and is seeking re-election for 2018-2022.

Uganda: Local content - MultiChoice's DStv is airing a channel showing locally produced entertainment, Nextvame reported. Pearl Magic provides music shows, reality shows, films and telenovelas. MultiChoice Uganda's Marketing Manager Albert Nga said the channel will promote Ugandan talent. The channel will be accessible to all DStv subscribers to the Premium, Compact Plus, Compact & Family bundles on channel 161, and to subscribers of GOtv Max on channel 304. Pearl Magic is also accessible on the DStv Now app, for active DStv subscribers on any platform.

Uganda: Rural roll-outs - Airtel Uganda is partnering with Facebook and the Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS) to improve connectivity in underserved parts of northern Uganda. PML Daily reported that the partners will roll out 800km of new fibre infrastructure in areas such as Gulu, Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini. The project aims to provide backhaul networks covering more than 3 million people and enable future cross-border connectivity to neighbouring countries. Airtel's managing director, Anwar Soussa said: "This will help improve performance and support upgrades to 3G and 4G in areas where operators are bandwidth-constrained."

Uganda: Tax retention - Parliament has voted to retain a tax law on mobile money and social media, MedAfricaTimes reported. From 1 July users have paid a daily UGX 200 (USD 0.05) tax to access social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, YouTube, Skype and Yahoo Messenger. A lawsuit has been filed against the government, accused of breaching the principles of Net neutrality. The petitioners called on Uganda's Constitutional court to overturn the decision to charge the unpopular tax and 'declare it illegal, null and void.' Uganda has about 23.6 million mobile subscribers, 17 million of whom use the Internet. Activists say the new tax will keep people, already struggling to make ends meet, off the internet.

Zimbabwe: Entertainment on demand - TelOne has provided details of its streaming service DEOD (Digital Entertainment on Demand) with three packages: On Demand, Subscription and DEOD Premium. Each DEOD account will support up to 5 devices, and users can watch on either desktop or on mobile (Android or iOS). Films can also be rented at USD 2.50 for SD movies and USD 3 for HD movies; the catalogue has a 3 month lag following the cinema release. The DEOD Premium offers a combination of News, Sport and On Demand for a take-all special price of USD 11.99 for 30 days; weekly USD 4.50 or weekend USD 2.50.

Zimbabwe: Money on the rise - The number of active mobile money subscribers rose by 12.6 percent to 5.6 million during 2Q 2018 from 5.01 million due to cash shortages in the country, data from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) shows. NetOne saw significant growth in active mobile money subscriptions of some 93 percent. Econet recorded an 11.5 percent rise in mobile money subscriptions, and giving it a market share of some 95.9 percent.

Zimbabwe: Tax take increased - The government has raised statutory taxes on mobile money and electronic transactions, the New Zimbabwe reported. New Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube has announced an additional USD 0.02 tax per US dollar on electronic transactions. He ordered the review of the Intermediated Money Transfer Tax, which was previously just charged at USD 0.05 per transaction regardless of value, effective from 1 October.

Middle East:

Israel: Police probe - Police questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 4.5 hours on 5 October as part of their investigations into corruption allegations, YNetNews reported. This was the twelfth time Netanyahu has been questioned by police. The investigators were expected to complete the questioning in Case 1000 (the ‘gifts affair’) and in Case 2000 (the ‘Netanyahu-Moses affair’), in both of which police have already recommended to indict the prime minister for bribery. Bezeq majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch, who is accused of having a quid pro quo relationship with Netanyahu in which Bezeq enjoyed regulatory benefits in return for favourable coverage of the Netanyahu family on Walla! News, was also questioned.

MENA: Regulatory head - The Chairmanship of the Arab Regulators Network of Telecommunications and Information Technologies (AREGNET) has now been handed to Bahrain, which it has taken over from UAE, the Daily Tribune has reported. The decision followed a meeting with delegates from Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Sudan, Iraq, The Comoros, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritania.

Oman: Bonus extension - Ooredoo Oman has extended its New Shababiah bonus data offer until 6 December, due, it said, to popular demand. Customers who recharge by OMR 5 (USD 13) or more will automatically receive free additional data valid for 30 days. New Shababiah customers need to recharge by OMR 5 or 10 to receive an extra 1 GB or 3 GB respectively at no extra cost. There are no limitations on the number of times customers can obtain bonus data. New Shababiah users will also continue to earn 15 percent bonus credit when recharging through their app.

Qatar: eSIM deal - Ooredoo Qatar has contracted Munich-based Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security for its eSIM 'AirOn' system, so allowing Ooredoo to offer smooth eSIM switching, as the entire eSIM transaction can be handled via the Ooredoo eShop for Ooredoo customers. Without the need for a physical SIM card, many small devices, such as watches and other wearables, will be able to connect to Ooredoo's Supernet network. The eSIM will be offered as device manufacturers enable their software.

Saudi Arabia: Tie-up talks - STC Pay has been launched by Saudi Telecom Company's (STC) Digital Payments subsidiary. STC Pay chairman Tareq Inaya it allows business owners to reach a large segment of STC customers. STC Pay is also in talks to embed Western Union's cross-border functionality into the platform. The digital mobile wallet is available from the Apple and Android app stores. Western Union CEO and President Hikmet Ersek said the proposed cooperation agreement would pave the way for STC Pay Digital Mobile to go global. Under the proposed arrangement with Western Union, STC Pay users would be able to shop locally, receive money, or send money to friends and family nearly anywhere in the world.

Turkey: Billion by 2021 - Turkcell has set a target of a billion app downloads within three years, after announcing that its various apps have been downloaded a total of 120 million times so far, DigitalTVEurope reported. BiP, Turkcell’s IP-based messaging and call app, has been downloaded 20 million times in Turkey and five million times internationally. Other apps in the portfolio include music platform Fizy; TV platform TV+; and local search engine Yaani.

Device developments:

Qatar: Premium parking - Vodafone Qatar has launched the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Subscribers who pre-ordered online were treated to a VIP experience during the launch with Vodafone Qatar's brand ambassador Saoud Al-Maadeed, who personally delivered the iPhone XS to the doorsteps of several customers. Vodafone’s Red 500 Post-paid plan is offered to users with the added benefit of a free Star number worth QAR 10,000 (USD 2,730) and free valet parking service for twelve months when one of the new Apple phones is purchased.