News in Brief 7 November 2018

Africa:

Africa: Boxing on Facebook - The Fox Sports' Africa Boxing series is to be streamed live globally via Facebook Watch, and will be available via the Fox Sports Africa Facebook page. Viewers will be able to watch events at the Royal Swazi Spa in eSwatini, and Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom in Durban on 2 and 23 November respectively. The partnership was officially inaugurated at the ninth Africa Boxing at the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World in Limpopo, South Africa, on 21 September which was streamed to almost 200,000 viewers.

Africa: Fintech financing - MFS Africa has anounced the second close of its Series B funding round led by Shanghai-based LUN Partners Group. Existing shareholder Goodwell Investments also joins LUN in investing additional capital in the mobile payment services provider. ShoreCap III, LP managed by US-based Equator Capital Partners and UK-based FSD Africa joined the round as new investors, bringing this total round of funding to USD 14 million.

Africa: Satellite tv strategy - Econet Media is refining its direct-to-home satellite television service following a business strategy review and is to now focus on three core services, namely Kwese Free Sports (KFS), Kwese Iflix and Kwese Play. It will reduce third party channels on the satellite bouquet and remove Kwese branded sports (excluding KFS) and general entertainment channels. Kwese subscribers, who have already paid for November, or in advance, are to receive a full refund. KFS is Africa's largest free-to-air TV service, Kwese Iflix is a mobile Video on Demand sports and entertainment platform, and Kwese Play is a video streaming service with more than 200 sports, entertainment, children's and news channels. Econet Media is to also set-up its own content creation hub, Kwese Studios. Kwese's satellite TV business is present in 11 countries, along with a free-to-air business in 27 countries, and aired the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in Africa to a network of 115 sub-licence broadcasters in 37 countries to over 200 million households, acquired a controlling stake in a mobile VoD service, and launched its own OTT service, Kwese Play.

Egypt: LTE first - Etisalat Misr and MediaTek have launched next generation voice and video calling technologies (VoLTE & ViLTE) for the first time in the Middle East and Africa. The 4G Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Video over LTE (ViLTE) are supported by a wide range of affordable smartphones powered by MediaTek and specially developed for Etisalat Misr customers. VoLTE and ViLTE provide crystal clear, full HD voice quality, fast call set-up time, easy switching between voice and video calls without hanging up and fast Internet speed. The new services give users smooth connectivity during VoLTE calls between 4G and legacy 3G/2G technologies.

Kenya: New channels - GOtv Kenya has added two new channels, BET and SuperSport Select 5, to GOtv Max. It has also brought in new shows through its channels available on GOtv Plus and GOtv Max. A GOtv decoder with one month's GOtv Max subscription now costs KES 1,999 (USD 19.60).

Kenya: Smaller, better app - Finserve Africa’s upgraded mKey app integrates social, financial and lifestyle elements into its offering. It can run on any Android device running version 4.0 and later, and an iOS version will be served later in November. The app includes group chats and one-click access to online retailers. It launched with a number of issues, such as hanging when loading, which have now been resolved. mKey also says it is working on M-Pesa push APIs to replicate the same functions. The latest version has been reduced to 18MB, down from the original 25 MB.

Namibia: Corporate fibre launched - MTC has launched corporate fibre services. MTC said the launch will provide super-fast fibre broadband connections and more capacity. MTC is laying additional fibre to connect its roadside cabinets so that it can provide fibre directly to customer premises, with a minimum of delay.

Nigeria: Fair deals - The price of MultiChoice Nigeria's DStv Explora bundled with one-month Compact subscription is to be cut, to NGN 29,900 (USD 80.25) from NGN 52,100 for users who visit the 38th Lagos International Trade Fair 2-11 November. It will also reduce the prices for the HD Decoder and dish, and offer a one-month compact subscription of NGN 9,900 (USD 27.20).

Nigeria: ICT training - The government and Huawei have reached agreement for the second phase of the ICT for Change Programme, ThisDay reported. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha said that the scheme is an example of the government's partnership with private sector organisations to drive the implementation of its policies and programmes. The programme will see a thousand federal civil servants in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) trained. Huawei's Vice President of Middle East and African Region, Xue Man, said the initiative is part of its efforts to be more localised and fulfil its social responsibilities.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Rwanda: Local funding - MTN Rwanda's Chief Executive Officer Bart Hofker has said that the operator is to raise funding of RWF 50 billion (USD 56.3 million) from eight local banks. Hofker told The New Times that the finance would be used to modernize and expand the network infrastructure. MTN's request for the local currency syndicated loan is currently subject to the approval of its board, which is expected to meet soon to discuss the matter. The move follows the creation of a stronger competitor with the merger of Airtel and Tigo.

South Africa: Summer specials - Vodacom South Africa has launched its SummerGigs 2018 summer campaign, which allows subscribers to get up to 100 percent of their data back free. By using a minimum of 10MB per day of paid data, subscribers will have a chance to win up to 100 percent of their data back to use the next day. Users who use their data for seven consecutive days will also have the opportunity to enter a monthly draw for the chance to win one of fifteen Renault Dusters with a year's supply of fuel or stand a chance to win one of three ZAR 1 million Vodacom Millionaires cash prizes. The campaign will run till 10 February 2019.

South Africa: Wi-Fi expansion - The City of Cape Town has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with network provider Cell-C in partnership with Facebook. This will see the expansion of public access Wi-Fi locations in the city. Cell-C will have access to street pole infrastructure, council-owned buildings, and other public spaces in which it will install Wi-Fi, as well as on public transport infrastructure.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Uganda: Assemby plant announcement - A USD 10 million investment has been announced by LifeMobile, the commercial arm of US-based CTI Africa, in a telephone assembly plant. The facility is expected to start operations in January 2019, and is the result of cooperation with the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC), the commercial arm of the Uganda People's Defence Force. Minister of State for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite said the investment is one of the government's ambitions to reduce the volume of imported phones and to minimise foreign exchange. The LifeMobile assembly plant is the third investment of its kind; in February 2018 the Chinese Xinlan Group said it intended to set up an assembly plant, and previously technology company Pixan, owned by a local investor, announced its plan.

Middle East:

Bahrain: eSIM first - Viva Bahrain has launched eSIM technology, claiming a first in Bahrain. Subscribers will be able to use both SIM card slots in their Apple devices, such as iPhone Xs, Xs Max or Xr. Viva’s Chief Commercial Officer, Karim Tabbouche said: "We are pleased to be the first to introduce the eSIM technology in Bahrain, which will simplify the mobile experience for our VIVA customers. This is a great example of our dedication to always be pioneers in telecom and digital innovation within the Kingdom".

Jordan: Fast fibre - Zain Jordan's Zain Fiber zone has been expanded to include the eastern districts of Tlaa Al Ali, Al Salheen, Al Salam (Al Rabiah) and Al Sahil. The service combines a fixed Internet connection with ultra-fast unlimited download capacity built on FttH. New users get two months free of charge. The service features speeds of up to 80 Mbps and fixed Internet connectivity (end-to-end Fibre). Service have been expanded to 13 new areas in 2018 and more are expected be connected.

Qatar: SIM switch - All of Ooredoo Qatar subscribers who switch to eSims will enjoy a reward of free unlimited local calls and data for three months. Ooredoo provides SIMs to both its post- and pre-paid users.

Turkey: 5G experience - Turkcell and Samsung have held a 'live 5G experience' event showcasing ultra-high definition (UHD) live streaming, cloud gaming, 360-degree camera and VR streaming via Samsung's 5G fixed-wireless access (FWA) solutions combined with Turkcell's network infrastructure. Samsung's 5G FWA solutions have been tested in Istanbul Technical University and Kadikoy, a densely populated district of Istanbul, as well as Maltepe Plaza. Samsung unveiled its complete commercial 5G FWA solution in February 2018, comprised of 5G radio (access unit and virtualised RAN), 5G routers and next-generation core, enabling gigabit speed broadband services without end users needing optical fibre connections at their home or office.

Turkey: Communication hub - Turk Telekom (TT) has installed fibre and mobile infrastructure at the new Istanbul Airport (Istanbul Yeni Havalimani) which opened on 29 October. TT installed a 165 km fibre cable and 18 km of infrastructure. It also deployed energy and transmission systems fully protected against multiple failures. The mobile infrastructure supports 4.5G speeds and will be able to offer 5G services in due course.

Turkey: V range launched - Vodafone Turkey is the seventh Vodafone operation to start selling consumer-oriented IoT products from Vodafone's 'V by Vodafone' range. Subscribes can purchase four devices: V-Kids Watch, V-Bag, V-Pet, and V-Auto, which work with the V-Sim smartphone app. Two special tariffs for 'V' products are being offered, 'V-Yasam Saat' and 'V-Yasam', which can be purchased from TRY 10 (USD 1.76) each. The new V-Kids Watch product can be bought in 12 monthly instalments of TRY 82 (USD 14.45) per month with the V-Yasam Saat tariff.

United Arab Emirates: eSim launch - Etisalat has launched the 12.1 iOS compatible eSim for Apple devices, making it the first globally to operate the technology. Etisalat first introduced the first generation eSim technology in May 2018 for the Apple Watch. Subscribers can now use two mobile numbers on their latest iPhone devices, and select an international roaming network while travelling out of UAE.

United Arab Emirates: Facility management - Etisalat Facilities Management is to offer telecoms and other industries facilities management services after it signed an agreement with global facility management service provider Grupo Eulen. The deal will see the companies collaborate to develop products and services in response to the evolving market needs and demands. Grupo Eulen's General Manager eFM Ali Hassan Harmoodi said it has the deal would offer an outstanding client experience and operation efficiency empowered by the cloud, smart and integrated solutions.

United Arab Emirates: Film fest - Virgin Mobile UAE and Netflix are to provide customers three months subscription to Netflix free. New and existing Virgin Mobile customers can subscribe to a plan worth AED 150 (USD 41) or more. The offer period coincides with the season premieres of Netflix Original series such as Narcos: Mexico, Marvel’s Daredevil season Three and Boss Baby: Back in business season two.

Device developments:

Jordan: iPhone specials - Zain has launched the iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max. Special offers have been tailored for new and exisiting post-paid subscribers, with special features. iPhone Xs packages come with 64 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB and 512 GB Extra. Zain is also offering packages for the iPhone Xs Max with 64GB, 256GB and 512GB, 512GB Extra; subscribers can choose among 24-month packages. The iPhone Xs monthly subscription package starts at JOD 65 (USD 92), including the price of the device and the package, with unlimited minutes for the Zain network and 1,750 minutes on other networks, plus 75 minutes of international calls to more than 60 countries, in addition to 40 GB divided into 39 GB used locally and 1 Gigabyte for international roaming. The monthly iPhone Xs Max subscription starts from JOD 75 (USD 106), including the price of the device and the package, with unlimited minutes on the Zain network, 3,500 minutes on the other networks, 100 minutes to more than sixty countries, 50 GB (49 GB local abd 1 GB international), and 3,500 local short messages.

Oman: Shahry XR - Ooredoo Oman has launched the iPhone XR. It can be obtained from Ooredoo’s retail outlets with Shahry plans, and a zero down payment and up to 6,000 minutes, 80 GB and data roll over.  The device is available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red.