News in Brief 11 April 2019

Africa:

Africa: Stake sale success - On 3 April 2019 Liquid Telecom completed the sale of 8 percent of its capital to CDC Group, the funding agency owned by the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) for some USD 180 million. The finalization followed the receipt of all applicable regulatory approvals. Liquid said that it will use the funding to invest in the densification of its network and the strengthening of its cloud service offerings and data hosting in Africa. In December 2018, Liquid initiated the sale of shares to CDC Group, and so postponing its listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Madagascar: Simple 4G - Mobile network operator Telma has just released the first 'simple' mobile to have 4G connectivity. The Wi-kif 4G, which has features comparable to those of a smartphone, is offered at what is described as a highly competitive price. It features a 1.3 megapixel camera and 2 GB internal memory expandable to 8 GB and a long battery of 2,500 mAh.

Mozambique: Fibre upgrade - PCCW Global has completed a major Internet infrastructure upgrade which it says will dramatically improve connectivity and so vastly improving international communications and increasing the number of Internet users while lowering overall connectivity costs. PCCW Global delivers a sophisticated hybrid solutions that combine fibre, satellite, microwave, and wireless connectivity to meet the unique needs of African service providers and enterprises. It expanded its African coverage expanded dramatically in 2012 when it acquired Gateway Communications, a pan-African provider of carrier and network solutions on the continent. PCCW Global's Chief Commercial Officer, Frederick Chui, said: "In Mozambique, our aim is to provide users such as global enterprises, content delivery networks, Internet service providers, and content providers with affordable connectivity to and from the country with the hope of gradually increasing the number of Internet users. We are pleased to be making additional investment to help further reduce the barriers to content availability and distribution that can have a significant impact on the Internet in Africa and will help make existing international content more accessible."

Nigeria: DND resumed - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has resumed its directive to mobile network operators (MNOs) regarding Do-Not-Disturb (DND), after a temporary suspension. The DND 2442 code enable subscribers to block incoming messages. NCC CEO Umar Danbatta said that the suspension was for a period of time which elapsed after the elections. He said that the NCC would continue to monitor the activities of MNOs strictly for compliance. In February the regulator suspended its directive on DND in order to enable MNOs to disseminate specific information on voter education on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Nigeria: Free Internet? - The government is aiming to provide free Internet access in public places nationally, the Premium Times reported. Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said the vision is of free Wi-Fi all over, particularly in public spaces such as airports and schools. Shittu said plan was to make the Internet to all, whilst ensuring the privacy of users is protected. Some of the issues providing free services include the high cost of access, low broadband penetration, poor Internet infrastructure and a poor enabling environment, with Shittu noting that solutions to these challenges are beyond the government's intervention.

Nigeria: SIM sales - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has secured 200 convictions to date on matters relating to sale of pre-registered SIM cards, the Vanguard reported. The NCC is working with the National Assembly to criminalise SIM card infractions. NCC's Director of Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen said that operators and their agents must adhere to the law that prohibits the release of fully activated SIM cards. The NCC is also working with the National Identity Management Commission to determine the role it would play in the registration process.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Nigeria: Smart roaming - Mobile broadband service provider Smile Communications Nigeria signed on 6 April 2019 in Lagos an international data roaming agreement with NUU Mobile (HKG) Limited. Smile Communications' users will be able to automatically access the company's data services when travelling to more than 85 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and Kenya. Head of Brands and Communications, Lotanna Anajemba, said that through the partnership, its users will be able to continue their international business as if they were still in Nigeria. The service is also available for Smile customers travelling abroad with the Smile Konnect device. However, only NUU Mobile customers travelling to Nigeria will be able to connect to the Smile network.

Nigeria: StarTimes special bundle - StarTimes Nigeria has partnered with MTN to offer mobile Internet subscribers on the platform a special data bundle for StarTimes ON mobile app, The Guardian reported. MTN subscribers can now enjoy unlimited entertainment and video on demand (VOD) service at a cheaper data price than any other networks. MTN's General Manager, Data - Devices, Abiodun Ajayi, said: "With a data bundle of NGN 150 (USD 0.04), subscribers can enjoy up to 60 minutes of streaming time on StarTimes ON by simply sending ST1 via SMS to 131 while for NGN 400 (USD 110) the customer gets up to 180 minutes of streaming time by sending ST3 via SMS to 131." StarTimes Nigeria's OTT Director Tony Tuo, noted: "StarTimes ON currently boasts of 3.5 million users in Nigeria and over 12 million across Africa, making its partnership with MTN the latest in an industry where it has become a common trend for telecoms and video operators to partner towards an effective delivery in a market where VOD and live streaming is on the rise."

Rwanda: Internet roaming - MTN Rwanda pre- and post-paid subscribers now have mobile Internet roaming rates in 17 MTN Group countries without charge. CEO Bart Hofker announced the development on Twitter on 4 April 2019. He said: "All MTN Rwanda customers will now pay the domestic out-of-bundle Internet rate: RWF 10/Mb (USD 0.01)." The participating MTN Group countries are: Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana, Guinee Bissau, Guinee Conakry, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: New Nokia - HMD Global has announced that the Nokia 9 PureView has gone on sale in South Africa and is exclusively available from Vodacom and its retail partners, in Midnight Blue from Vodacom World on a ZAR 699 (USD 50) per month post-paid or from ZAR 11,849 (USD 840) pre-paid. It is claimed to be the world’s first five-camera array with Zeiss Optics, to capture at least 60 MP of imaging data per shot. The screen also has an integrated fingerprint sensor and advanced biometric face unlocking, HMD Global said. The device will receive three years of monthly security patches and two major OS updates, as guaranteed in the Android One programme.

Global: O3b satellite success - Arianespace has completed its second Soyuz 2019 mission, orbiting four additional O3b satellites for SES Networks' O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation. The launch was on 4 April from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, and slightly later than the original timescale of end-March. Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, the four additional Ka-band satellites bring the O3b constellation to 20, increasing the fleet's performance and improving service availability. Arianespace has completed all five launch missions for the O3b constellation, which started commercial service in September 2014.

Middle East:

Oman: Stronger branding - The Telecommunications Railway Authority has clarified that Majan Telecom, which holds a Class Two licence for the resale of mobile telecom services, has added the 'Red Bull Mobile' brand name to its portfolio. Mobile reseller Renna Mobile (Majan Telecommunication) launched in May 2009 to become one of the first mobile reseller companies in Oman, which is hosted by Omantel.

Qatar: Video access - MediaKind has been selected by Vodafone Qatar to provide MediaFirst, a next generation cloud-based multiscreen TV platform service. The deployment will allow the operator to launch new content over existing IPTV or OTT devices. The deployment of the new TV platform is expected to start by the end of 2019, giving users a full range of experiences that are consistent across all devices, with access to online and offline video content. The deployment will be based on a continuous engagement model where a partner owns and develops a full solution ecosystem, enabling the delivery of features such as immersive content, universal search, metadata and advanced personalization, all within a single pay-TV subscription.

United Arab Emirates: BPaaS approved - Mobile network operator Du has said that the Smart Dubai office has endorsed its Blockchain Platform as a Service (BPaaS). Du is providing the platform for the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. This will give all government entities the freedom to build on a framework of their choice (Ethereum or Hyperledger) based on their business needs, on a fully managed, scalable and secure platform with low cost access through a pay as you go model. Du will provide the Smart Dubai with the BPaaS, which is a cloud native blockchain infrastructure that can provision a private blockchain networks on Ethereum and Hyperledger fabric frameworks.

United Arab Emirates: New dawn - Etisalat expects to invest some AED 4 billion (USD 1.1 billion) during 2019 on 'digital transformation', including upgrades to its mobile and fixed fibre networks. It is looking to roll-out hundreds of 5G-enabled base stations by the end of 2019. Etisalat expects the first 5G-capable handsets to be available in the UAE by June. Etisalat International's Chief Technology Officer Hatem Bamatraf, is quoted by Zawya as saying: "We are stepping into an era which marks the revolution of 'Intelligent Connectivity' underpinned by ubiquitous and hyper connectivity. This term is used to describe the powerful combination of flexible, high speed 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)."