Friday, November 30, 2007

Europe - spectrum decisions

2835th Council meeting Transport, Telecommunications and Energy, Brussels, 29-30 November/3 December 2007

Delegations agreed with the objectives of the Commission's proposals. However several Member States expressed their doubts related in particular to the need for a creation of a new European Agency and to the extension of the Commission's competence in terms of regulatory conditions or frequency administration.

Noted the EC proposal for the inclusion of Digital Video Broadcast transmission to handheld terminals (DVB-H), as non-mandatory standard, in the official list of standards of the EU, in accordance with Article 17(1) of the Framework Directive 2002/21/EC, in order to accelerate the deployment of terrestrial Mobile TV broadcasting services throughout the EU.

The repeal of the GSM Directive.

Ageing well in the information society

Africa - EaSSy - undersea cable

East African Submarine Cable System reaches financial close-The African Development Bank Signs Loans for the EASSy Cable Project

Tunis, 23 November 2007 – The African Development Bank (AfDB), along with other participating development financial institutions (DFIs) have signed loan agreements for the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), the landmark fibre-optic cable project that will connect 22 coastal and land-locked African countries to each other and the rest of the world with high-quality Internet and international communications services.

EASSy is an initiative sponsored by 25 telecommunications operators, most of which are African. The project will construct and operate a submarine fibre-optic cable along the east coast of Africa that will run for 10,000 kilometers from the continent’s southern tip to the African horn, connecting South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan. Another 13 adjoining countries will also be linked to the system as terrestrial backbone networks including Botswana, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The EASSy project will also provide the last link to completely encircle Africa with high-capacity fiber-optic telecommunications networks.

The AfDB’s financing will be channeled through the EASSy Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that is also known as the West Indian Ocean Cable Company, or WIOCC, and consists of a $14.5 million senior loan. The cable will transform the telecommunications landscape in the region as it improves access for 250 million Africans and substantially reduces costs for consumers and businesses. Construction will begin in December 2007 and the EASSy cable is expected to be fully operational in time for the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.

The AfDB, the French development Agency (AFD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), Germany’s Development Bank (KfW) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank group will provide the project’s entire long-term loan financing of $70.7 million, with $14.5 million to come from the AfDB. The total project cost is $235 million and the balance will be provided by the 25 private telecommunications operators wgho will operate the cable as a consortium. These Telecom operators, including 21 African operators, will be the main users of capacity on the cable.

Contrary to previous cables in the African continent that were built on the “closed-club” structure, EASSy is built on a Hybrid SPV Development model. This model will allow smaller operators to participate in the cable consortium at reduced individual entry investments. EASSy also adheres to the main development objectives of “Open Access", Non-discriminatory and Affordable pricing. The cable will act as a crucial medium of internet connectivity to carry telecom traffic for all African operators from the Eastern and Southern African markets to onward connecting Cable networks in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

After years of collaboration between the African Development Bank, World Bank Group and other global and regional development institutions, governments, and the region’s private sector, the project brings together the public and private sectors to expand Telecommunications Infrastructure. EASSy provides a model for future generations of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) that will be necessary to create the enabling environment for private sector participation in Africa.

The EASSy project will also foster regional integration in line with NEPAD and the AfDB’s strategic objectives. The EASSy project will contribute to the socio-economic development of the region through the expansion of inter-Africa trade, facilitated by lower costs and better communication. The expected increase in employment and income for the regions will help to reduce poverty and lead to sustainable development. Additionally, the EASSy project will help in breaking the barriers of social and geographical isolation and assist the population in its quest to access information and continued education.

Europe - ECTA Regulatory Scorecard

2007 Regulatory Scorecard

ECTA Regulatory Scorecards are studies on the effectiveness of regulation and the link between effective regulation and investment.

The question of how best to drive growth and innovation in the telecoms sector is high on the agenda with the 2006 review of the Electronic Communications Framework. Europe has to choose between two paths for the future of the telecoms sector: competitiveness, choice and investment or re-monopolisation and stagnation. By measuring the powers and performance of NRAs and the regulatory regimes overall, the Scorecard Report seeks to determine how effectively each of 16 countries promotes investment and competition as at 31st August 2005.

The Regulatory Scorecard, commissioned by ECTA, concludes that across 16 EU countries, investment in telecoms has suffered where regulation has failed to tackle dominant companies, whilst countries that have opened their markets to competition by imposing effective regulation have stormed ahead.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Australia - Telstra

Telstra looking for a quickie deal over broadband

TELSTRA has issued a brash challenge to the new Rudd Government, claiming it could start building a $4.7 super fast national broadband network within days.

The call came despite Telstra having no guarantees it would be even considered a front-runner to win the lucrative contract.

Telstra's regulatory affairs chief Dr Phil Burgess claimed yesterday the telco could start digging construction holes within 48 hours, if given the green light.

Analysts labelled the call as arrogant and presumptuous and a sign Telstra's relationship with the Rudd Government would be even more heated than with the former Howard Government.

Using broadband as a key election platform, Kevin Rudd has promised to spend almost $5 billion to build an open-access national high-speed broadband fibre network.

Despite Telstra's enthusiasm, it's unlikely any fibre rollout will start before late next year. But that did not prevent Dr Burgess from laying an early claim to the project.

"We're prepared with a plan, with the money and the talent and technology to get the job done," he said.

"Within 48 hours we can start digging holes."

An Optus-led group of telcos, known as the G9, also said it was keen to build the network on Labor's terms. "Optus and the G9 look forward to the commencement of a competitive selection process for the right to build a national broadband network, and we intend to participate vigorously in the process," said an Optus spokeswoman.

Telco analyst Paul Budde said the only way Telstra would be given a green light to start construction would be if it accepted that rivals would have open access to the infrastructure.

However he doubted that Telstra would be party to such a plan, as Labor appears determined to prevent further monopolisation of the industry.

"This is a continuation of their bad behaviour they have shown in the past," he said.

It is believed a tender process will be issued for the construction of the broadband network, with international parties invited to apply.

Europe - Mobile telephony

Nearly one mobile phone subscription per inhabitant in the EU27 in 2005

The number of mobile telephone subscriptions has increased almost fourteen times between 1996 and 2005 in the EU27, from 7 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 1996 to 96 in 2005. In 2005, thirteen Member States had more than 100 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Luxembourg (158), Lithuania (127), Italy (122), the Czech Republic (115) and Portugal (111) registered the highest ratios and Romania (62), Poland (76), France (77) and Bulgaria (80) the lowest.

In contrast, the number of fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants in the EU27 has only increased slightly in this period, from 43 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1996 to 48 in 2005. The pattern in the Member States varies: the number of fixed telephone lines has fallen in twelve Member States, while it increased in fourteen and remained stable in one. The Member States with the highest number of fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants in 2005 were Germany (67), Denmark (61), France and Sweden (both 58), and the lowest were Romania (20), Slovakia (22), Lithuania (23), the Czech Republic and Poland (both 31)

UK - competition law - private remedies

OFT publishes recommendations on private actions in competition law

The OFT has today published recommendations to Government to improve the effectiveness of redress for consumers and businesses that have suffered loss as a result of breaches of competition law. The recommendations follow an informal consultation on an OFT discussion paper published in April.

Infringements of competition law cause significant harm to both consumers and businesses. Recent experience shows that harm to consumers may run into tens of millions of pounds in any given case. However, responses to the consultation have confirmed that consumers and businesses wishing to bring legal proceedings continue to face significant barriers. As a result, their prospects of obtaining redress remain remote and the incentives for business to comply with competition law are more limited than was intended. The OFT recommends that Government consult on a number of proposed measures to make private actions in competition law as effective as the Government's 2001 White Paper, A World Class Competition Regime, intended them to be.

Philip Collins, OFT Chairman, said:

'An effective private actions system will enable consumers and businesses to obtain redress where they have suffered loss as a result of unlawful agreements or conduct. Increasing the incentives of businesses to comply with competition law will stimulate interest in good corporate governance and encourage the development of a competition culture, in which responsible business leaders and boards recognise the benefits of competition in properly functioning, open markets. This will have positive effects on the productivity and competitiveness of the UK economy.'

See also Private actions in competition law: effective redress for consumers and business - recommendations

UK - Broadband 2.0 - FTTH

UK 'must keep up' on broadband

Britain must ensure its broadband infrastructure does not lag behind those of other global players, industry experts have been told.

Addressing a broadband summit, Competitiveness Minister Stephen Timms said the UK must keep up with broadband developments.

BT, Virgin, the BBC, ITV and Cable and Wireless were among the organisations represented at the summit.

Mr Timms said: "When next-generation broadband starts to emerge, I don't want it to be claimed that Britain is being left behind. We need to work together to avoid the non-availability in Britain of commercially significant services emerging in the US and elsewhere."

The widespread availability of higher-speed broadband could create opportunities for new services and broadband uses, he added.

The summit was described as an opportunity for Government and the broadband industry to discuss the future of broadband. It follows a report released in September by Ofcom that warned the UK's current broadband network would be unable to meet future customer demand for very high speed connections.

The communications regulator said operators would have to make "significant" investment in overhauling the existing infrastructure.

Commenting ahead of the summit, Virgin Media pledged to launch 50 megabit broadband next year. This would be far quicker than the firm's existing broadband connection speeds.

Virgin Media acting CEO Neil Berkett said: "We'll never know exactly what demand there'll be for super-fast broadband until it's in people's homes and workplaces up and down the UK.

"What we do know is that our cable network has a unique potential to revolutionise consumers' experience and we're convinced that 2008 is the moment to take the lead with the commercial launch of a 50-megabit product."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fiji - liberalisation

Govt to announce an open call market

The interim regime is expected to announce that Fiji's telecommunications market is finally open next Tuesday.

A special Cabinet meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to endorse the way forward.

All operators are expected to have obtained their board endorsement of the terms of agreement by tomorrow, a statement from the Ministry of Communications said.

A public announcement outlining the details of the new order will be made following the special cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

The Government and directors and management of Telecom Fiji Limited, Vodafone Fiji Limited, Fiji International Telecommunications Limited and Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited participated in a mediation over four days, starting Friday last week.

It was facilitated by World Bank appointed mediators to agree conditions for deregulating the telecommunications industry.

Extensive dialogue and negotiations has resulted in an agreement between all parties with the intention of achieving an orderly transition to a competitive telecoms regime in Fiji, subject only to Cabinet and board approval of the signatories, the statement said.

"All parties look forward to bringing the process to a productive and collaborative conclusion," it stated.

Communications Minister Taito Waradi said the outcome of this mediation is no doubt an historical event that would contribute enormously to the economic, social and cultural development for the people of Fiji, now and into the future.

"It is also a historical event for Government as we bring the telecom operators and government together through the mediation process in a meaningful and effective manner to chart a map for the orderly reform of Fiji's telecommunications sector."

Waradi said the parties have agreed to the form and shape of the "new order" and where the current incumbent operators should fit into the new deregulated environment.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Equador - affordability and QoS

Ecuador wants cell phones for the poor

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador has contacted foreign mobile firms to negotiate new contracts that would impose higher penalties over operational errors and push companies to create a fund that would provide cell phone service to the poor, a government official said on Thursday.

"We are putting emphasis on sanctions... and that companies should comply with their taxes," said Jaime Guerrero, the head of Ecuador's telecommunications secretary, without giving more details on other economic measures in new contracts.

He said companies could donate 1 percent of their revenues to create a fund for the poor.

President Rafael Correa wants to rework contracts with mobile firms to raise the state participation, improve service and lower rates. He has warned that if companies do not comply with the new regulations they can leave the country.

Porta, a unit of Mexico's America Movil, and Movistar, owned by Telefonica, control 96 percent of the Andean country's market and are in talks with the government to extend their concessions for 15 years.

Guerrero warned authorities will continue to probe Porta over service errors that could lead to the termination of its contract. Ecuador earlier this month threatened to end Porta's contract if the company fails to fix a series of service failures by December.

Guerrero called on courts to ignore any legal actions taken by Porta to annul the government's demands.

Porta, Ecuador's largest mobile firm with more than 6 million clients, has sought arbitration from a local chamber of commerce to block any decision over its contract.

See also Conatel

Africa - SEACOM - undersea cable

SEACOM closes financing, starts construction of undersea fibre optic cable

Transcontinental Investment Boosts South and East African Economic and Social Development with High Capacity Link to India and Europe

African investors have taken a significant majority stake in SEACOM’s undersea broadband cable, joining hands with an international partner to link southern and east Africa with India and Europe in a massive technological boost to economic and social development on the continent.

The investors today gave the green light for construction of the state-of-the-art cable, committing financing for the broadband link from Mtunzini in South Africa to Mumbai in India and Marseille in France via Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, and Tanzania.

“This is a major milestone in the development of advanced broadband infrastructure for Africa by Africans”, said SEACOM President Brian Herlihy. “Ten years ago, very few believed African markets were capable of the tremendous growth experienced in the mobile industry. Today, we see the dawn of a similar revolution in the growth of data communications.”

High bandwidth at low costs will be a catalyst for productivity and the growth of service industries such as call-centres, back offices and research institutions in Africa. The additional bandwidth offered by the new cable will also contribute significantly to bringing the cost of connectivity down.

SEACOM has already invested more than $10-million in the marine survey and engineering of the cable. This advance work has allowed SEACOM to maintain its ready for service date of June 2009. Actual production of the high-tech cable and undersea repeaters start next week.

With more than three quarters of SEACOM’s shares owned by African investors, and agreements with service providers already in place or being finalised in most countries, the cable will provide a major boost to the continent’s international connectivity, and with it to economic and social development in Africa.

The US$ 650-million cable covers more than 15,000km. The investors in SEACOM are Industrial Promotion Services (25%), an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Venfin Limited (25%), Herakles Telecom LLC (25%), Convergence Partners (12,5%), and the Shanduka Group (12.5%). Nedbank Capital, the investment banking arm of Nedbank Limited, was appointed as the Mandated Lead Arranger for all debt funding requirements of the project and the funding will be provided by Nedbank Capital and Investec Bank.

“The agreements signed today make the SEACOM broadband cable a reality for Africa, and with it access to much cheaper, much faster fibre optic links between countries in the south and east of the continent to the rest of the world,” said Lutaf Kassam, CEO of IPS in Kenya. “I am delighted that it has been possible to assemble a group of African investors to bring the prospect of progress and prosperity to many Africans in this manner.”

By providing an enormous 1.28 Terrabytes per second of broadband capacity (approximately ten times larger than the capacity on the SAT-3 cable system), SEACOM aims to bring prices for businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals down significantly. Providing sufficient bandwidth to accommodate high definition TV, peer to peer networks, IPTV, and surging Internet demand, SEACOM will make a direct contribution to meeting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s (NEPAD’s) goals of development for Africa’s renewal and its full and beneficial integration into the global economy. SEACOM will provide the first access to true broadband connectivity for countries on Africa’s Eastern seaboard which are presently 100% reliant on expensive satellite solutions.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our continent, because the cable gives us the technical capacity for much closer integration into the world economy where Africa will significantly share in the new opportunities and efficiency gains arising from this project,” said Shanduka Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa. “We are extremely happy that the investors from South and East Africa have partnered with an international counterpart around our shared vision of linking Africa to the world in the spirit of NEPAD.”

SEACOM continues to engage governments in southern and east Africa in a concerted effort to ensure maximum benefit for the continent from the new broadband cable. At the core of the discussions, which are characterised by a spirit of cooperation and a very positive atmosphere, is the shared goal of closer working relationships in the interest of faster, cheaper broadband capacity for Africa.

“Improved access for business and individuals in Africa to communications, broadband services and new technology offerings can improve lives and help grow the economies of our countries. The linking of southern and east Africa with India and Europe is crucial for enhancing development and trade between these key regions.” said Andile Ngcaba, chairman of Convergence Partners. “Our agreement to proceed with the building of the cable is a great day for Africa.”

“The importance of this transaction in facilitating the delivery of affordable broadband access to countries in the region cannot be overemphasised as a facilitator of economic growth and as such is one of the most important telecommunications projects in recent years.” said Mike Peo, head of Infrastructure Project Finance at Nedbank Capital. “Nedbank Capital is extremely proud to achieve a first in delivering an innovative limited recourse financing solution through our participation in a project of this nature.”

See earlier announcement by Tyco Telecoms

see also Shanduka and Venfin

Roaming - Africa

Africa abolishes roaming as Celtel’s One Network expands

400 million people across 12 countries now connected across Africa in one borderless mobile network covering an area more than twice the size of Europe

Celtel International, a subsidiary of the Zain Group, the leading mobile telecommunications operator in Africa and the Middle East, today announces the introduction of ‘One Network’, the world’s first borderless mobile network to Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. These countries now join the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in the network which was initially launched in September 2006 and has been expanded due to increased demand.

The extension of this technological break-through now offers the possibility for nearly half of Africa’s population to make calls at local rates across 12 countries throughout the continent. The expansion of One Network now means the world’s first borderless mobile phone network covers an area more than twice the size of the European Union. Since its launch more than two million people have already used the service.

Announcing the One Network expansion, Zain Group CEO Dr Saad Al Barrak said, “The innovation behind and the expansion of the world’s first borderless mobile phone network is a reflection of our dedication to the African continent and its people. We have revolutionarised telecommunications in Africa and we intend to roll out this service to more of our operations on the African continent and in the Middle East.”

Starting today, all Celtel’s customers both prepaid and postpaid in the 12 countries from East, Central and West Africa, will be able to use this service. They can move freely across geographic borders making calls and sms at local rates and receive incoming calls free of charge. They can top-up their prepaid phones with locally-bought airtime cards which can easily be bought at more than 500,000 points of sale. The One Network service is simple to use and is automatically activated upon crossing into any one of the other countries, with no prior registration required or sign up free charged.

Commenting Tito Alai, Chief Commercial Officer Zain Group said “One Network is now available to more of our customers and makes it easier for them to communicate with their family, friends and business colleagues, making their life better.”

The extension of One Network is crucial to Celtel’s strategy of ensuring that their customers in Africa are connected through one borderless network; an initiative that has not been done anywhere else in the world. Additionally One Network plays a crucial role in helping to promote and boost cross-border trade while driving economic growth in East, Central and West Africa.

Commenting about One Network in September 2006 the internationally respected magazine, The Economist, said ‘Celtel has, in effect, created a unified market of the kind that regulators can only dream about in Europe.’

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roaming - West Africa

Orange Zone

un tarif unique pour la zone Orange en Afrique de l'ouest

Vous avez un numéro Orange du Sénégal, du Mali, de la Guinée Conakry, de la Guinée Bissau ou encore de la Côte d'ivoire ?

Profitez désormais d'Orange Zone et bénéficiez d'un tarif unique d'appel lors de vos déplacements dans ces pays (-25% sur les tarifs de l'Option sans frontières).

De plus, la réception d'appels est gratuite dans toute cette zone.Cette offre est accessible à tous les numéros Orange de ces pays qui ont souscrit à l'Option sans frontières .

L'Option sans frontières permet de conserver son numéro Orange dans 102 pays à travers un partenariat avec 169 opérateurs téléphoniques dans le monde. Au Sénégal, elle est activée par défaut pour toutes les puces Orange Prépayée. Pour les abonnements et autres forfaits mobiles, l'accès à l'Option sans frontières est conditionné par le versement d'une caution remboursable de 200 000 F CFA.

Tarifs Orange Zone en F CFA (HT) :
[EUR 1 = F CFA 656]

Orange Zone

Appel vers l'international hors zone (coût à la minute)
200 (EUR 0.30) Sénégal, Mali
300 (EUR 0.46) Côte d'Ivoire, Guinée Bissau, Guinée Conakry

Appel vers les pays de la zone (coût à la minute)
150 (EUR 0.23)

Réception d'appels
Gratuit (free)

Coût d'envoi d'1 SMS
95 (EUR 0.14)

UK - Broadband

UK broadband use reaches new high

Almost nine out of 10 UK net users are connecting via broadband services, official figures reveal.

Information gathered by National Statistics (ONS) for September show that 88.4% of Britons are choosing to use broadband rather than dial-up.

The statistics show that 49.2% of those connections are for services advertised at two megabits per second or faster.

But analysis of the figures suggest the broadband market is static, which could mean tough times for service suppliers.

see also National Statistics

Monday, November 19, 2007

Europe - regulators too close to operators

Telecoms regulators too close industry

Second eye needed, says EU commissioner

The European Union has claimed that telecoms watchdogs have become too close to the industries they are supposed to monitor.

"There are too many national regulators which obey industry and government," said EU communications commissioner Viviane Reding.

Reding maintained that a "second pair of eyes" is needed to ensure that the same standards are applied across the whole of Europe. The plans, which have already received the backing of Strasbourg, would create a second level of regulation to monitor the decisions of Comreg and other telecoms regulators in Europe.

Other measures proposed by the European Telecom Market Authority will push for clearer broadband marketing, quicker changeover of mobile and landline telephone numbers and calls to a free phone number no matter where the user is in Europe.

Reding is also keen to spread Wi-Fi throughout the continent's territories. "Wireless broadband for all is high on my agenda with no citizen left behind," she said.

The commissioner has now begun a tour of the region to convince member states to back the plans.

Nigeria - Siemens - Bribery

Nigeria: Siemens - Adebayo, Aminu Appear Before ICPC

Leadership (Abuja)

Former minister of communication, Chief Cornelius Adebayo and Senator Jubril Aminu have appeared before the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday to submit written denials in the alleged 10 million euro bribery scandal involving the German telecom giant Siemens.

A top official in the commission's office told LEADERSHIP that out of the 13 accused past public officers, only two have appeared before the chairman of the commission to officially submit their individual position statement to the commission.

"The two of them have contact with us. they have reported on their own, so there is no issue of granting bail or not, because they honoured the ICPC's invitation and they have made their position known.

"We are at the stage of allegations. until they are proven innocent or guilty of the economic crime, no one has the right to detain them, especially when ICPC's invitation is honoured. Only those who refuse to honour our invitation will incur the wrath of the commission."

Adebayo and Aminu arrived the commission's office at about 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. respectively and walked straight to the commission's chairman's office where the interrogation session took place.

The source further disclosed that the two indicted officers spent over an hour with the commission's special panel of interrogators, explaining how and why they were mentioned in the deal, in addition to the statement submitted.

Adebayo, who was said to have received 650,000.00 euros in the deal, and Senator Aminu 185,000.00 euros, hurriedly honoured the ICPC's invitation to prove their innocence in the allegations, according to the commission's source.

As at the time of the deal, Aminu was the Senate committee chairman on foreign affairs. he was said to have been very close to most foreign investors visiting the country to transact business and secure government contracts.

The commission is, however, expecting other indicted Nigerians whose names were published in the papers to come forward and make official statements about their involvement in the Siemens bribery scandal.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Kenya - France Telecom and Telkom Kenya

France Telecom wins the bid to aquire 51% of Telkom Kenya

The Kenyan State has selected the consortium controlled by France Telecom as the preferred bidder for the acquisition of a 51% stake in the incumbent operator Telkom Kenya for a consideration of US$ 390 million (about 270 million euros). The transaction is planned to close before the end of the year. Telkom Kenya serves over 280 000 fixed line customers and will benefit from a new mobile license.
France Telecom has teamed up with Alcazar Capital Limited, who subscribed to a 15% stake in the consortium. A shareholder of Alcazar is Agility, one of the world's leading logistics services providers, which has a strong presence in emerging markets. France Telecom will benefit from Alcazar and Agility's knowledge of the Kenyan market.

This transaction fits very strongly with France Telecom's strategy of targeted development in fast growing markets. With France Telecom, Telkom Kenya will develop convergent telecommunication services, i.e. mobile, fixed and internet based. As mobile penetration is currently lower than 30%, the Kenyan mobile market still offers a high growth potential. France Telecom will benefit from the existing infrastructure of Telkom Kenya to develop and launch its 2.5 G network in the short term. The planned implementation of submarine cables in 2009 will give Telkom Kenya the means to offer affordable prices and become the leader on the high speed internet market. France Telecom aims to market Telkom Kenya's services under the Orange brand,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maldives - Prepaid Local Number - Roaming

Dhiraagu Introduces International Mobile Prepaid Roaming Service

Effective today 15 November 2007, Dhiraagu introduces International Roaming service for Prepaid Mobile customers. With this new development all Dhiraagu prepaid mobile customers could use roaming service while overseas. This is the first time in the Maldives that Prepaid mobile customers would be able to use their GSM phones abroad.

Dhiraagu prepaid customers will be able to use roaming facility with 195 operators in more than 80 countries. The initial phase of prepaid roaming would allow Dhiraagu prepaid mobile customers to send and receive SMS, receive calls and send call-me-back requests while roaming. Receiving calls while on roaming would be cheaper than making calls. In addition Dhiraagu prepaid customers can also send and receive MMS and use GPRS where these services are supported. Customers who want to recharge their prepaid mobile accounts while on roaming may use Dhiraagu recharge vouchers or simply recharge through Dhiraagu Quick Top-up or Quick Recharge service. To activate international roaming service, customers can simply send a blank SMS to 515. There is no monthly fee or deposit required. The roaming charges are determined by the visited country’s operator but there will be no charge for SMS received. For details please refer to the tariff table.

Mobile - VoIP

Over 250m VoIP Users Over 3G Mobile Networks by 2012 – according to Disruptive Analysis report

LONDON, November 13th 2007 - A new research study from Disruptive Analysis shows that evolution of mobile VoIP will rapidly eclipse voice over WiFi and become a mainstream form of communication. The analyst firm predicts that the number of VoIPo3G users could grow from virtually zero in 2007 to over 250m by the end of 2012. This is comfortably in excess of the expected number of FMC users with dual-mode VoWLAN/cellular phones.

The report demonstrates that it will be the operators themselves which will be mainly responsible for the push towards VoIP being carried over cellular networks. Carriers will become increasingly attracted to VoIPo3G because it will enable them to fit more phone calls into their scarce spectrum allocations, reduce operating expenses by combining fixed and mobile core networks, and launch new services like push-to-talk and voice-integrated “mashups”. VoIPo3G also fits well with the move towards femtocells. Future generations of wireless technology – 3GPP LTE (Long Term Evolution), 3GPP2 UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband), WiMAX – are “all-IP”, so unless mobile operators continue to run separate voice networks in parallel, they will inevitably transition to VoIP at some point.

However, because these new radio technologies are three to five years away from mainstream deployment – what happens in the meantime will provide the major disruption to operator business models. Some independent VoIP players are already exploiting the fact that today’s 3G networks can already support VoIP, putting dedicated software on smartphones, exploiting open operating systems, flat-rate data plans and features like “naked SIP” and built-in VoIP capability. These are linked to competitive ‘over the top’ phone or IM services via a mobile Internet connection.

At the same time, there is an increasing trend of carriers marketing 3G modems for PCs – not just for mobile computing, but also to compete with home DSL/cable broadband offerings. Laptop users expect to be able to use their normal broadband applications over 3G, including voice-based ones like Skype. Some operators are even offering their own VoIP software for PCs with wireless broadband.

The end-result of the push towards VoIPo3G is that by 2012, most VoIPo3G users will be using mobile carriers’ own standards-based VoIP capabilities, over the new, advanced 3G+ networks. However, a significant minority of about 60m will be using independent or Internet-based solutions – many actually operated in partnership with carriers or retailers.

Dean Bubley, author of the report and founder of Disruptive Analysis, comments: “3G networks are increasingly capable of supporting VoIP, for both traditional mobile operators and independent Internet-based VoIP challengers. But while CDMA operators will benefit from VoIP being ‘designed-in’ to their newest networks, 3GPP / HSPA operators will have to wait for several years – a window of opportunity which will be exploited by the ‘over the top’ players. Rather than competing head-on, partnership models have the potential to create win-win propositions”

The report, “VoIPo3G Business Models”, is available from Disruptive Analysis from today. It is based on a huge research effort spanning hundreds of interviews and meetings, and contains extensive market forecasts, industry commentary & analysis and company profiles.

Gulf - investment in telecommunications

GCC to spend $375bn on expansion

The six countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council will spend up to $375bn on the expansion of telecommunications and related infrastructure over the next decade, reported Gulf News. About 25% of the multi-billion dollar GCC infrastructure development budgets will be spent on expanding telecommunications.

see also Gulf Co-operation Council

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Asia - Data roaming

Conexus Mobile Alliance Announces the Launch of Asia’s First Pay-per-day Flat-rate Data Roaming Tariff Plan and Other Member Privileges

Conexus Mobile Alliance (“the Alliance”), one of the largest mobile alliances in Asia with a combined customer base of around 160 million mobile subscribers, today announced the launch of Asia’s first-ever pay-per-day data roaming flat-rate tariff plan and a host of member privileges, with an aim to deliver ground-breaking, genuine and tangible benefits to international roamers and realize its vision of offering the highest level of customer satisfaction in mobile services to corporate and consumer markets.

Mr. Chan Kin Hung, Chairman of the Alliance’s Board and Head of StarHub’s Advanced Multimedia Services said, “We are very pleased with this achievement in bringing the first-ever pay-per-day data roaming flat-rate plan in Asia. With the increasing popularity of mobile broadband (HSDPA) roaming in the region, it is important for the Alliance to offer peace of mind to our customers as they use these services while roaming. For a typical HSDPA session, the consumption of mobile data can be in the tens of megabytes, so the conventional way of data charging (i.e. per kilobyte usage) may not meet customers’ needs as it will be costly. This move demonstrates our commitment in offering customers cost-effective data roaming charges while roaming onto all member networks.”

Added Mr. Chan, “As this plan operates on a per-day basis, it gives members’ customers greater flexibility in how they manage their mobile bills, enabling travelers staying overseas to determine their mobile expenditure depending on the number of days they use these roaming services. It is a more customer-friendly way of data charging. When the pay-per-day data roaming flat rate plan is launched in the first quarter of 2008, our subscribers will be able to enjoy the convenience of mobile broadband roaming with an affordable and predictable pay-per-day flat rate in roaming. We believe that this will lead the industry in driving the usage of mobile data while roaming.”

EC - reform proposals

The EU Telecoms Reform proposes a Single Market for 500 million consumers – Frequently Asked Questions

The EU Telecoms Reform package includes several specific measures that will strengthen consumer rights and their freedom to choose.

* Broadband internet access: The reform will tackle more efficiently the dominant telecoms operators' control of the broadband market. This will strengthen the right of consumers to choose and change their broadband provider, lead to better and faster broadband services, and to lower consumer prices. By making radio spectrum use more efficient, the reform will also ensure that those regions of Europe where it is uneconomic to build, say, a fibre optic network, can be connected via wireless broadband services.
* Number portability: The reform will make it easier for citizens to keep their telephone number when switching providers, and set a maximum of 24 hours for operators to 'move' their number to the new provider. Today, this porting of numbers between providers, takes on average about 8 days for fixed telephone numbers and about 5 days for mobile telephone numbers; the best countries for this are Malta (1 day), Germany, Austria, and Finland (3 days), while porting a fixed telephony number can still take up to 30 days in Estonia, and up to 20 days in Slovakia for mobile numbers. In future, the Commission will also be able to extend this consumer right to the possibility of porting subscriber's personal directories and to the portability of numbers between fixed and mobile networks.
* More transparency: Confronted with a wide range of telecoms services and products, consumers often have difficulties in deciding which one is best for them; 34% of EU consumers admit facing problems in comparing the offers of different providers, making it harder to take advantage of the best possible deals. The reform will force telecoms providers to provide all relevant information on prices and other conditions so that consumers can make informed choices before making a purchase.
* Access to freephone numbers from abroad: At present, it is not possible to access certain freephone or business service numbers when calling from one Member State to another. Today consumers on holidays, or people travelling for work can have a problem in accessing public administration contact points (e.g. for health and pension systems), or pre-sale/after sale services. The EU Telecoms Reform will guarantee that access to these numbers is granted from everywhere in the EU. If you have to pay for this access, you should be told clearly in advance.
* Connecting all citizens: About 15% of Europeans have a disability and by 2020 25% of the EU's population will be over 65. The reform will therefore ensure that people with disabilities, special needs and elderly people all get easier access to telecommunications services. For instance, access to emergency services via the European emergency number, 112, will be improved; and more TV channels will have subtitles, audio descriptions or sign language.
* Independent watchdogs: The EU Telecoms Reform will ensure that competition and consumer rights in national markets are ensured by watchdogs which are fully independent from operators and government alike. Too often, telecoms regulators are today close to the dominant operator that in many countries continues to be owned by the national government; government shares in telecoms incumbents are still 100% in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Slovenia, and considerable in many other EU countries. A close relationship between regulators, incumbents and governments can lead to ineffective regulation, national protectionism and delays in enforcing consumer rights. The EU Telecoms Reform therefore wants to strengthen the independence of national telecoms watchdogs to guarantee fair regulation in the interest of consumers.

EC - reduction in number of regulated markets

Commission acts to reduce telecoms regulation by 50% to focus on broadband

As part of its package of telecom reform proposals presented today, the European Commission has adopted a new Recommendation on the markets where telecom-specific regulation should take place. The original 2003 version of this Recommendation listed 18 retail and wholesale markets where the Commission considers that specific ex ante regulation is required by national telecoms regulators to deal with competition problems. To reflect the progress made in the past years in most EU Member States in terms of competition and consumer choice, the Commission concluded that in principle there is no need for regulators to intervene in half of these markets. At the same time, this move will allow regulation to better focus on the main bottlenecks in the telecoms sector.

"Our decision today shows that this Commission is taking the principle of better regulation seriously," said Viviane Reding, the EU Telecoms Commissioner. "Where telecoms markets tend towards effective competition, we no longer need sector-specific regulation. We should instead concentrate regulation on those markets where structural competition problems persist, such as access to high speed broadband services. This is where almost all of the national telecoms regulators have identified serious and sometimes even growing competition problems. Let me at the same time stress that the markets phased out by the Commission today do by no means risk falling into a kind of regulatory "no-man's land". Markets no longer covered by ex ante regulation are subject to the scrupulous scrutiny of competition authorities which have powerful instruments at their disposal to investigate and sanction anti-competitive behaviour."

Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for Competition said "I am very much in favour of de-regulation where competition is progressing to the benefit of consumers, as in the telecoms sector, even if I am in favour of regulation where competition is not developing, as in the energy sector. Today's adoption of the new Market Recommendation confirms that the Commission keeps its promise to reduce the level of public intervention when it is no longer warranted. This message should further encourage investment in the European communications industry."

The Commission's original Recommendation of 2003 specified 18 markets where ex-ante regulation by national telecom regulators (such as retail or wholesale access or price regulation) could be justified. All these markets had to be regularly analysed by national regulators and notified to the Commission in the so-called "Article 7 procedure". Since 2003, the Commission has had to assess more than 700 such notifications.

Today, following a broad public consultation and a close dialogue with national telecoms regulators and competition authorities, the Commission has decided to reduce this list (partly by merging markets) by 50%. The Commission thereby intends to relieve significantly the regulatory burden on industry and regulators.

Most of the retail markets on the list were removed since effective wholesale regulation, checked by the Commission, serves in all EU Member States to protect retail users. A number of wholesale markets were also removed after most national regulators had found these markets to be effectively competitive.

The markets now removed from the Recommendation cover:

* National/local residential telephone services from a landline (Market 3)
* International residential telephone services from a landline (Market 4)
* National/local business telephone services from a landline (Market 5)
* International business telephone services from a landline (Market 6)
* The minimum set of leased lines (Market 7)
* Transit services in the fixed telephone network (Market 10)
* Wholesale trunk segments of leased lines (Market 14)
* Access and call origination on mobile networks (Market 15)
* International roaming on mobile networks[1] (Market 17)
* Broadcasting transmission (Market 18)

For these markets, the Commission no longer sees an a priori case for sector-specific ex ante regulation by national telecoms regulators; these markets should now be primarily dealt with by competition authorities using ex post instruments. It remains, however, possible for a national telecoms regulator to demonstrate, by a solid market analysis, that in its country, competition is still seriously hampered on one of the above markets. Under such circumstances, telecoms-specific regulation could be continued. This could be especially relevant for some of the EU's newest Member States.

From today onwards, the Commission and national regulators will be refocusing their efforts on those markets where competition is not yet effective and where consumer benefits are still largely lacking:

* Access to the fixed telephone network (formerly Market 1 and 2)
* Call origination on the fixed telephone network (formerly Market 8)
* Call termination on individual fixed telephone networks (formerly Market 9)
* Wholesale access to the local loop (formerly Market 11)
* Wholesale broadband access (formerly Market 12)
* Wholesale terminating segments of leased lines (formerly Market 13)
* Voice call termination on individual mobile networks (formerly Market 16)

Enterprise - Mobility

Two-thirds of business users would switch mobile operators for mobile device management

Businesses expect operator help with the growing complexity of mobilizing enterprise employees and applications, creating new opportunities for mobile operators to differentiate through MDM services

EDISON, New Jersey, USA – November 8, 2007 – Faced with a growing mobile workforce, a rapidly growing range of feature-phones and smartphones, and an increasing demand for enterprise application mobility, a recent survey of CIOs from top 500 enterprises shows that businesses are looking to their mobile operator partners to provide tools and services to help them control, secure, and manage mobile devices in the same way they manage other IT assets.

While CIOs have reported significant productivity gains from their use of mobile technology, and expect further gains from ongoing investments, the effective management of these corporate assets is becoming increasingly difficult. As a result, 45 percent of the CIOs surveyed are looking to mobile operators to provide assistance with the management of mobile devices. 62 percent of US CIOs indicate that they would change their mobile operator if they were offered a comprehensive mobile device management (MDM) solution by a competing mobile operator.

To determine how CIOs feel about the operators’ role in helping to manage mobile devices and the sensitive corporate data on them, mobile device management leader Mformation® Technologies, Inc. sponsored a survey by independent research firm Coleman Parkes. The firm conducted 200 detailed interviews with CIOs and telecommunications directors of top 500 enterprises divided across the U.S. and Europe (U.K., Germany, and Spain).

Key research findings:

* 82 percent of US CIOs report that managing mobile devices has become increasingly difficult.
* Almost all CIOs surveyed (95 percent) are currently looking for a solution for managing and securing enterprise mobile devices and applications.
* The vast majority of US companies (88 percent) expect the operator to have a role in enterprise mobile device management, with nearly 60 percent indicating that they would prefer an arrangement with their operator that gives the IT department direct control over their mobile assets.
* Not surprisingly, therefore, 62 percent of US companies indicated they would consider switching to a new mobile operator if they offered MDM as a managed service.

“Clearly, very real opportunities exist for mobile operators to provide value-added device management services for enterprise customers, increasing their competitive advantage,” said Matt Bancroft, CMO of Mformation. “More than 90 percent of CIOs expected operators to play a role in the management of their mobile devices, with most preferring that their IT departments directly control the devices with some support from the operator. There is a significant opportunity for operators to help enterprises with the challenges and complexities associated with mobile device management.”

Enterprise Expectations and Operator Actualities
Companies are already taking action to address some of the issues created by growing mobile device usage. 74 percent of US companies said they have increased investment in data and system security, while 71 percent said they have increased investment in staff training. Furthermore, 66 percent have increased their investment in monitoring and security systems.

A critical device management concern among enterprises is the ability to provide a high degree of device and network security. Other key concerns are the ability to remotely support users, so that device problems are quickly identified and fixed, technology is kept updated and future-proof, and support costs are kept under control. CIOs surveyed indicated that they expect some level of operator support in this area. However, the present enterprise view is that the operator is not supporting these needs well. 60 percent of US enterprises surveyed did not have any positive opinion of current operator device management support.

“From a revenue perspective, enterprise customers are immensely important to operators. However, their needs are significantly different from those of consumers. Enterprises are looking for far more advanced device and application management services; they need the same levels of security and control as they have over other IT assets such as laptops and PCs. If mobile operators can’t meet these needs, they risk losing their most profitable customers,” concluded Bancroft.

Monday, November 12, 2007

India - 3G spectrum

DOT announces guidelines for 3G services

The Government has released the guidelines for 3G services today. With the introduction of 3G services in the country, additional value added services will be available to the public.

Guidelines for 3G Services:

Ø The 3G (3rd generation) mobile telecommunications is the generic name for the next generation of mobile networks that will combine wireless mobile technology with high data rate transmission capabilities. The 3G networks will be capable of providing higher data rates and will also be capable of supporting a variety of services such as high- resolution video and multi media services in addition to voice, fax and conventional data services.
Ø 3G spectrum will be permitted in the 2.1 GHz band.
Ø The 3G licences would be granted through a controlled, simultaneous ascending e-auction, by a specialised agency to ensure transparency in the selection process.
Ø Besides the initial, one time spectrum charge, it has been decided that the successful service provider would pay additional spectrum charge of 0.5 % of their total Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), as the recurring annual spectrum charge. This additional revenue share is proposed to be 1% of AGR after 3 years from the date of spectrum assignment.
Ø The roll out requirements, including rural roll-out, as well as stiff penalties for non compliance of the same has been stipulated.
Ø Mergers will not be allowed during the initial five years. No trading/ reselling of spectrum is allowed.
Ø The CDMA spectrum in 800 MHz band for EV-DO applications would be treated separately from 2.1 GHz spectrum. If the CDMA based service provider(s) ask for the EV-DO carrier of 2 x 1.25 MHz, they would have to pay an amount proportionate to the highest bid for spectrum in 2.1 GHz band.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bangladesh - VoIP

Aktel fined Tk 145cr for illegal VoIP trade

The country's telecom watchdog fined Aktel Tk 145 crore for its involvement in the illegal use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or call termination business.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) in a press release said during recent raids by the law enforces, Aktel's involvement in illegal call termination business was ascertained.

Talking to The Daily Star, BTRC Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Manzurul Alam said, "Aktel has already paid Tk 72.50 crore to the national exchequer."

Telekom Malaysia International Bangladesh (TMIB) is the 70 percent stakeholder of Aktel.

Aktel is not alone in paying the government compensation. Earlier, country's largest mobile phone service operator Grameenphone announced it would pay the government Tk 168.4 crore while another major operator Banglalink said they would pay Tk 125 crore.

The BTRC chairman said, "We hope that no telecommunication operator will facilitate any illegal VoIP ventures... No one will be spared if found involved in any capacity in the illegal call termination business."

The BTRC in a press statement yesterday said international call termination to Bangladesh is a licensed service and is currently reserved only for the state-owned telephone operator Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB).

Law enforcement agencies and the BTRC started joint operations on illegal VoIP operators after this interim government took office in January.

Aktel, the second largest mobile phone service operator in Bangladesh, already made a loss in the third quarter, due mainly to the compensation it will pay the government.

However, Aktel's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell sharply due to the government compensation. It also increased customer acquisition costs. In the 2007 third quarter it made an EBITDA loss of Tk 343 crore.

In the 2007 third quarter, Aktel's total revenue rose to Tk 355.7 crore. The number of subscribers reached 70 lakh this year, up 63 percent from last year, according to figures published by Telekom Malaysia (TM).


The TMIB in a statement said, "The company has recently agreed to compensate Bangladesh government for the 'lost revenue' attributed by the misuse of some of TMIB subscribers [Aktel]. The TMIB already paid Tk 72.50 crore out of its total commitment of Tk 145 crore."

Before the current caretaker government took control, unauthorised use of VoIP and international call termination was highly prevalent in the country.

It said TMIB, as a responsible corporate entity, is compliant with laws of the land and is very much appreciative of the stand and initiative of BTRC in becoming an effective regulatory regime.

TMIB's acting managing director Kamshul Kasim said, "We respect where we do business. We would be 100 percent compliant with the laws of Bangladesh."

Germany - traffic data retention

German parliament passes controversial telecom surveillance law

The German parliament approved a highly controversial law on Friday to toughen telecommunications surveillance in a bid to combat crimes and terrorism.

The new law, passed by the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, will allow telephone and Internet data to be stored for up to six months.

The data include telephone numbers, cellphone locations, and the times and dates of the calls. The content of telephone conversations will not be stored.

The new measure, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, will also allows German law enforcement authorities to bug telephone conversations of lawyers, journalists and doctors in investigations into serious crimes after obtaining a court order. Access to emails and other internet data will be permissible from 2009.

The law has triggered outcry from German associations of doctors and journalists, which said that they would take measures to examine whether the law violates the constitution.

Speaking of a "black day for civil rights" and a "sad day for democracy," the opposition Greens and the Left Party said that they would file a complaint against the law with the constitution court.

In defending the bill, German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said Friday that the amended telecommunications law will not "pave the way towards a surveillance state." The law would enable the authorities to combat crime and terrorism more effectively, she stressed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Femto Cells

Femto Forum adds Morotola, NEC and other heavyweights

Just three months ago, femtocells were being labeled as obscure technology. But the Femto Forum is hoping that some of its new members will make femtocells an everyday word.

The Femto Forum, an industry group dedicated to promoting the adoption of industry-wide standards, announced this week that it has added several big-name players in the mobile communications industry to its roster, including Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks and Motorola. The forum, which was originally launched in July, initially consisted of smaller femtocell designers and vendors such as Airvana and picoChip.

“The forum’s work is now in full flow, with the major femtocell vendors and component providers actively working with operators to ensure that their products interoperate,” says Simon Saunders, the chairman of the Femto Forum.

Femtocells, which are sometimes referred to as “mini-cell towers,” are devices that let you use short-range cell phone frequencies to route wireless calls through your home broadband connection. Because they essentially take cell phone calls and convert them into VoIP, they have the potential to free up some demand placed on the wireless carriers’ networks.

In order to promote the widespread deployment of femtocells, the Femto Forum has created four working groups to craft industry-wide femtocell standards and to forge a common marketing strategy. Among other things, the groups are working on promoting a unified regulatory framework for femtocells, on creating standardized architectures and interfaces that will guarantee network interoperability, and on examining how to avoid potential interference between nearby or outdoor femtocells.

Saunders says he expects 2008 to be a “really busy year” for femtocell deployment, as more Femto Forum members begin going to market with their products. A report by ABI Research expects femtocells to become very popular with consumers, and projects that there will be 150 million femtocell users by 2012. Sprint Nextel has been the most aggressive major American carrier in promoting femtocell use, as the company recently rolled out its Airave devices in Denver and Indianapolis, making the first time a major carrier has sold femtocells in metropolitan markets.

see also Femto Forum

Latin America - new operator

ALBA Members Outline Joint Venture to Boost Communication Services

Havana, Nov 6 (acn) Officials from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Cuba, member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) agreement, are meeting in Havana to outline the legal framework for a joint venture that will boost communication services in the region.

Scheduled for January 2008, the project called "Grannacion" is aimed at boosting the telecommunications and information technologies in Latin America by providing safe and stable access.

"All member countries will have the same advantages and possibilities," said Cuban First Vice Minister of Telecommunications and Informatics Ramon Luis Linares Torres.

Participants will discuss telephone services, the development of communications, future training workshops and infrastructure networks, among other topics.

"This project is an alternative to transnational companies and is much needed as part of the integration model for Latin America and ALBA members in particular," said Linares Tuesday in the opening ceremony in Havana.

The meeting is scheduled to conclude on Saturday. The legal framework for the project should be approved during the next meeting to take place in Venezuela in December.

see also Defining the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas - ALBA

Friday, November 09, 2007

India - spectrum

GSM lobby moves tribunal against expert report

Not satisfied with the government’s move to review the expert committee recommendation on spectrum allocation, GSM operators’ body COAI today moved telecom tribunal TDSAT challenging the criteria adopted by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

Members of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar and Idea Cellular, met here and decided to go ahead with filing of the affidavit in the TDSAT against the Telecom Engineering Centre’s (TEC’s) report.

The COAI has also questioned the government’s move to allocate spectrum to two telecom PSUs — BSNL and MTNL — saying they have been given frequency out of turn as many other players have been waiting to get spectrum for months and even years now.

Today’s affidavit would widen the scope of COAI’s original petition challenging the DoT’s decision to allow use of dual technology thereby permitting operators to offer mobile services using both technologies (GSM and CDMA) simultaneously within a circle.

In the face of stiff opposition from the GSM lobby, the government yesterday announced to form a panel to look into the TEC report on spectrum allocation.

Earlier Raja had informed the prime minister that the TEC, a technical wing of the DoT, had recommended very scientific criteria for spectrum allocation and the same had been accepted in-principle by his ministry.

According to the TEC report, none of the existing GSM players would remain eligible to get additional spectrum as the body had recommended 4-15 times higher subscriber limit for additional spectrum.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Telstra - Executive pay

Statement by the Chairman

The Board is disappointed by the vote on the Remuneration Report today. We have heard the views of shareholders and will carefully assess and fully consider those views in planning future remuneration.

The Board has a responsibility to act in the long-term interest of shareholders: a responsibility that we take with the utmost seriousness. We believe the Telstra remuneration plan is serving the long-term interests of shareholders by directly aligning executives' remuneration with shareholder wealth and strong financial results like those announced last week.

When boards are faced with non-standard circumstances - such as implementing the world's largest, fastest and most complex transformation strategy - they are obliged to design remuneration plans that serve the long-term interests of shareholders and drive strong financial results like those announced last week. This is the role of the Board.

We have received institutional and retail support for the plan. In particular, we are pleased with the support of instalment receipt holders - shareholders of less than one year - who support our strategic vision. However, the opposition of the Future Fund has decided the final outcome.

Most opponents of the Remuneration Report did not object to the value of benefits available. Most recognised that, under the 2006/07 long-term incentive plan, 99.7 cents in every dollar of shareholder wealth created would accrue to ordinary shareholders. Opposition was instead often based on the complexity of the plan and the fact that some performance hurdles were not disclosed.

We accept that the scheme is complex: in a transformation of this size, extent and pace, complexity is necessary, especially at the early stage of a transformation, to ensure progress simultaneously on many fronts. We do not accept that further disclosure of performance hurdles would serve shareholders' interests. In fact, we have resisted revealing hurdles that could provide competitors with competitively sensitive information. For instance, we did not disclose competitively sensitive information about the timing and extent of the NextG™ network, even though some advisers desired that.

Detailed discussions with many of our largest shareholders reveal increasing support for company-by-company assessment criteria that can account for particular circumstances, rather than a one-site-fits-all approach. We believe this debate is in its infancy and will continue, involving many corporations, stakeholders and, eventually, proxy advisers.

Telstra is changing the game in telecommunications with benefits for shareholders and the nation. Telstra's transformation is changing the competitive landscape with strategic projects like NextG™ and NextIP™. We are confident shareholders will be well served by the remuneration plan discussed today. This remuneration plan is designed to drive the transformation by linking executive remuneration to the success of the strategy. Ultimately, the Telstra board is prepared to be judged on how effectively the transformation strategy delivers shareholder value.

France Telecom - functional separation

France Telecom's Champeaux critical of EU telecom proposals

Jacques Champeaux, head of regulatory affairs at France Telecom, says the group has 'mixed feelings' over European Commission proposals to overhaul the telecoms market, arguing that measures such as functional separation take away the incentive to invest in new infrastructure.

'Even when presented as last recourse, we believe it (functional separation) goes in the wrong direction,' said Champeaux.

'The Commission presents it as just an additional remedy in the toolbox, but if a regulator has not been able to implement a simple remedy, it will be very difficult to implement an intrusive remedy such as functional separation,' he said.

Functional separation is a measure under which a telecoms company with a dominant market position could, if other measures failed, be forced to separate its networks and services divisions to guarantee that rivals can access its infrastructure.

According to Champeaux there is big difference between the telecoms and energy industry, for which the Commission recently proposed similar measures which call for the separation of European electricity and gas grid operations from supply, generation and production.

'There is clear evidence that there won't be new technology for electricity, but in telecommunications there is a real possibility to create full infrastructure competition,' Champeaux said, stressing that the introduction of functional separation would amount to 'a move back to a monopoly'.

Asked whether the group has been in contact with EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes and EU industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen, Champeaux said it is 'interesting that the opinions were against functional separation and the need for a new European authority'.

Commenting on the EU's proposals as a whole, Champeaux told reporters: 'It is not a fully consistent message: on the one hand there is a real message on deregulation, with the Commission acknowledging we need less regulation.'

But on the other hand, 'some measures in the proposals make us believe that the European Commission does not think we can achieve full competition'.

Champeaux also feels that creating a new EU agency called the European Telecom Market Authority, which would be made up of the directors of the 27 national telecommunications agencies, is 'a bad message on less regulation and full competition'.

EU Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding will present her proposal to change the current EU telecoms framework on Nov 13.

Romania - Independent regulator

Romania may be fined for inappropriate telecom market rules

The European Commission warned Romania that a fine may be applied for breaking the Community Treaty, Martin Selmayr, spokesman for Telecomm Commissioner Viviane Reding, declared for in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Romania risks millions of euros in fines for the lack of political independence of the Telecomm Regulation Authority (ANRCTI).

European officials sent warning a letter to the Romanian Telecomm Minister, Iuliu Winkler, but the local authorities claim it was "a natural information demand from the Commission".

The stake is to control a market that may reach some six billion euros in 2008. President Traian Basescu sent back to the Parliament the ANRCTI law because the current shape of the law would leave the institution under the control of the House of Deputies, currently dominated by the governing Liberal Party.

The electronic telecomm market reached 4.2 billion euros in 2006 and is estimated at 5 billions in 2007.

The European Commission demands the EU members to ensure the political independence of the telecomm regulation authority, mainly on markets where the state still holds shares at one or more of the operators.

The Romanian state still holds, through the IT&C Ministry, 45.99% of the stock at Romtelecom (the rest being owned by the Greek group OTE) and 100% of the public radio service, SRR.

See also ANRCTI

Monday, November 05, 2007

Google - Mobile telephony

Where's my Gphone?

Despite all of the very interesting speculation over the last few months, we're not announcing a Gphone. However, we think what we are announcing -- the Open Handset Alliance and Android -- is more significant and ambitious than a single phone. In fact, through the joint efforts of the members of the Open Handset Alliance, we hope Android will be the foundation for many new phones and will create an entirely new mobile experience for users, with new applications and new capabilities we can’t imagine today.

Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications -- all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile. Through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. We think the result will ultimately be a better and faster pace for innovation that will give mobile customers unforeseen applications and capabilities.

We see Android as an important part of our strategy of furthering Google's goal of providing access to information to users wherever they are. We recognize that many among the multitude of mobile users around the world do not and may never have an Android-based phone. Our goals must be independent of device or even platform. For this reason, Android will complement, but not replace, our longstanding mobile strategy of developing useful and compelling mobile services and driving adoption of these products through partnerships with handset manufacturers and mobile operators around the world.

It's important to recognize that the Open Handset Alliance and Android have the potential to be major changes from the status quo -- one which will take patience and much investment by the various players before you'll see the first benefits. But we feel the potential gains for mobile customers around the world are worth the effort. If you’re a developer and this approach sounds exciting, give us a week or so and we’ll have an SDK available. If you’re a mobile user, you’ll have to wait a little longer, but some of our partners are targeting the second half of 2008 to ship phones based on the Android platform. And if you already have a phone you know and love, check out and make sure you have Google Maps for mobile, Gmail and our other great applications on your phone. We'll continue to make these services better and add plenty of exciting new features, applications and services, too.

What would your phone do?

see also Open Handset Alliance

Asia - data roaming

Asia Pacific’s leading Bridge Alliance launches one-flat data roaming rate across 11 territories

* One-flat rate for easy-to-understand pricing across the region
* Competitive rates provide up to 10 times more usage benefit
* Choice of two capped usage monthly subscription plans
* Subscription is straightforward – just add on to a local service plan
* The alliance also launches a new brand identity, reinforcing its focus to serve customers roaming on the alliance network

Bridge Alliance, the leading mobile alliance in Asia Pacific announces the launch of its one-flat rate mobile data roaming(1) plan, ‘Bridge DataRoam’ across 11 territories in the region.

With ‘Bridge DataRoam’, customers have a choice of two capped usage monthly subscription plans - US$30 for 15MB (Bridge DataRoam15) or US$60 for 40MB (Bridge DataRoam40). The one-flat rate is applicable when customers roam on the alliance’s 11 member operator networks, namely: Airtel (India), AIS (Thailand), CSL (Hong Kong), CTM (Macau), Globe Telecom (Philippines), Maxis (Malaysia), SK Telecom (Korea), SingTel Mobile (Singapore), SingTel Optus (Australia), Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan) and Telkomsel (Indonesia).

Bridge DataRoam15 and Bridge DataRoam40 can be used for both Blackberry and general mobile data roaming, customers can subscribe to either plan depending on their data roaming usage requirement.

Currently, different operators are charging different data roaming rates across the Asia Pacific territories and it is sometimes confusing for the customers. Some customers may have even experienced “bill shock” when they used data roaming to access their emails or perform downloads from the mobile internet when they travel overseas and across multiple territories. Bridge DataRoam’s one-flat rate across 11 territories not only provides an easy-to-understand pricing, it is competitively priced and its capped usage plans provide the best value of up to 10 times(2) more usage benefits. Customers can now subscribe to a Bridge DataRoam plan before they travel and they know exactly how much to pay for their data roaming.

The bundled capped usage of 15MB and 40MB are catered for the mid to heavy data users. As an indication, 15MB and 40MB can provide up to 300(3) emails or 1500(3) WAP pages, and 800(3) emails or 4000(3) WAP pages downloads respectively. Frequent business travellers and regional enterprises can now effectively manage and control their data roaming expenses with Bridge DataRoam.

Subscription is straightforward, customers can simply add on to their local service plan by signing up with their respective local member operator. Bridge DataRoam will be available for subscription from the month of November(4), from its 10 participating member operators, namely: Airtel (India), AIS (Thailand), CSL (Hong Kong), Globe Telecom (Philippines), Maxis (Malaysia), SK Telecom (Korea), SingTel Mobile (Singapore), SingTel Optus (Australia), Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan) and Telkomsel (Indonesia).

“We are delighted to announce the launch of Bridge DataRoam across our alliance network. This is a ground-breaking initiative that exemplifies the value that Bridge Alliance offer to our customers,” says Ms Mary Ong, Chief Executive Officer of Bridge Mobile, at the Bridge DataRoam launch event today.

“We are the leading mobile alliance with the widest footprint in Asia Pacific, providing seamless connectivity on tier-one quality networks of our member operators. In addition, we have now introduced a product that delivers tangible value to our customers: a truly seamless experience of one-flat data roaming rate across the region. Whether you are a current data roaming user or new user, Bridge DataRoam is your travel essential,” she adds.

Also at the launch event, the alliance unveiled a new brand identity, announcing the change of its previous name from Bridge Mobile Alliance to Bridge Alliance and introducing its new logo.

Launching the alliance’s new brand identity, Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of Bridge Alliance says, “The re-branding to Bridge Alliance and the introduction of a new logo marks the start of a new phase in the growth of the alliance. Going forward, Bridge Alliance will further strengthen its focus on serving the telecommunications needs of both business and leisure travellers across the region. We believe that with the new brand image, customers will better associate and recognize the value that Bridge Alliance can offer to them.”

“Bridge DataRoam is a service that brings to life the brand promise of seamlessness and straightforward services to help our customers stay one step ahead of their busy lives. Bridge DataRoam is priced at a level that will bring about a sense of "peace of mind" when our customers access their emails and other data services while travelling in the region. In line with our focus to serve the needs of travellers, Bridge Alliance will continue to develop innovative solutions and to deliver more value-added regional offers to enhance our customers’ travel experience when they are on Bridge Alliance's network.” Mr Lim adds.

Beyond the 11 territories covered by Bridge DataRoam, the alliance will also seek other collaborations to extend the roaming coverage to more territories for its Bridge DataRoam users.

GPS-enabled mobile handsets

Shipments of GPS-enabled mobile handsets to more than quadruple by 2011, says iSuppli

Global shipments of mobile handsets equipped with GPS capability are expected to more than quadruple from 2006 to 2011 due to the US government's mandate for emergency 911 (E911) capability as well as initiatives by wireless operators to offer location-based services (LBSs), according to research firm iSuppli.

GPS-equipped mobile handset shipments will increase to 444 million units by 2011, rising from 109.6 million units in 2006. By 2011, 29.6% of all mobile phones shipped will have GPS capability, up from 11.1% in 2006.

"Besides cameras, multimedia capabilities and connectivity solutions, mobile-handset OEMs increasingly are investigating the integration of GPS functionality in mobile devices as a value-added product differentiator," said Tina Teng, analyst, wireless communications at iSuppli. "Wireless carriers are looking at introducing various new GPS-based, revenues-generating services to increase average revenues per user (ARPU)."

Such LBSs are the key services that could drive up ARPUs. LBSs include a broad range of value-added services that incorporate user location pinpointed by satellites or other tools with location databases. The most common services are user location, turn-by-turn navigation, location search, tracking, information services and social networking.

E911 mandates also are driving the expansion of the GPS-enabled handset market in the United States. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1996 issued a report that requires all operators to precisely locate the position of wireless callers making emergency 911 calls.

The regulation was implemented in three phases: Phases 0, I and II. Phase II of the E911 implementation requires all operators to deliver specific latitude and longitude information of the caller, also known as automatic location identification (ALI). This can be accomplished using a GPS-enabled mobile handset.

Qualcomm, the dominant supplier of code division multiple access (CDMA) solutions, began to integrate GPS processors into its digital baseband semiconductors in 2000. This company always ensures its CDMA network infrastructure products support the functionalities that its digital basebands deliver, including GPS.

Because of this, the CDMA-dominated nations of the United States and South Korea are expected to be the leading regions for GPS-enabled mobile handsets. Europe will be the next largest GPS-enabled handset market as GPS functionality penetrates into smartphones. In September, a Nokia smartphone with GPS capability was the top model purchased on the website of European carrier O2.

Semiconductor suppliers, wireless network operators and device manufacturers are already in the GPS game. LBS will encourage more suppliers to provide the most efficient solutions in terms of power consumption, time to first fix (TTFF) and affordable pricing for A-GPS adoption.

Semiconductor suppliers include baseband providers that offer complete solutions from cellular products to various connectivity options; companies that specialize in GPS and that provide GPS chipsets and software packages not only to handset manufacturers but also to automotive and personal navigation system manufacturers; and companies that specialize in radio frequency (RF) and that integrate GPS receivers into their current cellular RF receiver offerings.

see also iSuppli

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Africa - MTN

MTN Group maintains emerging markets leadership as subscribers exceed 54 million


* SEA region subscriber base up 5% for quarter ended 30 September 2007
* WECA region subscriber base up 9% for quarter ended 30 September 2007
* MENA region subscriber base up 36% for quarter ended 30 September 2007

The MTN Group is pleased to announce that it recorded 54,162,000 subscribers across its 21 operations for the quarter ended 30 September 2007, a 12% increase from 48,346,000 subscribers recorded at 30 June 2007.

The South and East Africa (SEA) region contributed 33% (June 2007: 35%) of the Group’s total subscribers while the West, East and Central Africa (WECA) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions contributed 47% (June 2007: 48%) and 20% (June 2007: 17%) respectively.

Says MTN Group President and CEO, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko: “I am pleased with the steady growth of our subscriber base during this last quarter, especially the progress we are making at MTN Irancell, which really launched in earnest in January 2007 but has already exceeded 3,7 million subscribers.”

The SEA region increased its subscriber base by 5% for the quarter. Growth in the region was driven mainly by MTN Group’s South African operation, with subscribers increasing by 3% for the quarter ended 30 September 2007. Postpaid net connections have now normalised following the unwinding of the specific unfavourable on biller agreement. There has been a restatement of the South African subscribers and ARPU which now reflects MTN’s consolidated South African operation (the restated history is available at MTN Uganda subscribers increased 12% to 2,094,000 due to more competitive pricing.

In the WECA region the 9% growth was driven largely by MTN Nigeria, which recorded a 7% increase in subscribers to 14,985,000. An aggressive network rollout plan is addressing the quality and capacity issues following the high rate of subscriber acquisitions since the last quarter of 2006.

Ghana increased its subscriber base by 14% to 3,872,000 underpinned by strong operational execution of the network rollout. In addition, Cameroon increased subscribers by 15% to 2,238,000 due to increased marketing activities.

The MENA region recorded a 36% increase in subscribers mainly due to strong growth from start-up operations in Iran, which increased subscribers by 88% to 3,720,000. There was also continued strong growth in Afghanistan (66%), Sudan (24%) and Syria (12%).

MTN South Africa’s Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) increased, on a comparable basis, by 1% to R146. Nigerian and Ghanaian ARPUs remained strong at $17 and $16 respectively.

Subscriber Numbers - Subscribers are customers who have participated in a revenue generating activity in the last 90 days. ARPU is the average revenue per subscriber calculated on a monthly basis (includes interconnect fees and excludes connection fees, where these are material, and visitor roaming revenue).

* South Africa now includes community service payphones into the pre-paid and application providers into post-paid. Prior periods have been adjusted for comparative purposes.

see also financial results

Saturday, November 03, 2007

South Africa - Undersea cables

South Africa: Controversy Continues Over Undersea Cables

Highway Africa News Agency (Grahamstown)

The uncertainty surrounding aspects of the South African government's position on undersea cables is damaging and threatening to sink the country's hopes for a successful 2010 Soccer World Cup.

According to the Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa (ISPA) which is particularly concerned about the troubling about-turn in the Minister Ivy Matsepe Casaburri's policy regarding the ending of the exclusivity on SAT-3 from November 2007.

"While the draft policies issued in May had a clear and welcome provision on SAT-3 exclusivity, this is mysteriously missing from final policy gazetted last month. Many pronouncements made by the Minister in her budget speech are now out of date," said Ant Brooks, ISPA General Manager. Equally confusing is that while the minister has mandated ICASA to ensure there is no unfair competition relating to the use of undersea cables, she has also made it clear that any undersea cable landing in South Africa must be majority South African-owned. This is especially confusing because a cable usually has two ends.

That the Minister's ownership comments are unfortunate is highlighted by the fact that Seacom's quoted prices for its March 2009 launch are some fifteen times cheaper than Telkom's current pricing for International Private Leased Circuits.

Seacom is the planned undersea cable system running along the East African coast. When it comes to landing rights, the fact that Seacom is majority foreign-owned is now seen as more important than President Mbeki's State of the Nation Address comment about telecoms pricing in South Africa being ten times too expensive.

Amid assurances that her department was working on refining the landing requirements, almost a full month ago, Communications Ministry Director-General Lyndall Shope-Mafole was quoted as saying the undersea cable landing guidelines would be ready "soon".

"Talk of majority South African-ownership of cable systems is very worrying and totally at odds with common practice elsewhere.

Reputable organisations such as the World Bank have made it clear that allowing all competing undersea cables equitable landing rights while limiting public sector involvement in telecommunications is the way to reduce prices," said Mr. Brooks.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) e-Africa Commission recently announced plans for a submarine cable following its split from the private sector-led East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy). Much attention has been given to the fact that the new cable system will eventually have a 3.8 terabit per second capacity without any mention of exactly how much capacity will be ready for 2010.

Should the South African government continue to place arbitrary and ill-advised restrictions on investment in communications it is very doubtful that the country will have sufficient bandwidth available for 2010.

According to Mr. Brooks, "A likely scenario is that bad planning and an unclear regulatory framework will see ISPs being pressured to give preference to World Cup traffic at the expense of mission-critical daily business traffic."

The Internet Service Providers' Association is a South African Internet industry body incorporated not for gain. ISPA currently has about 150 members, comprised of large, medium and small Internet service and access providers in South Africa. Formed in 1996, ISPA has historically served as an active industry body, facilitating exchange between the different independent Internet service providers, the Department of Communications, ICASA, operators and other service providers in South Africa.

Africa - World Bank commitment

World Bank's $1 billion to spur Africa IT

World Bank doubles its commitment in Africa's broadband infrastructure development by investing $1 billion

Government officials and industry insiders have high hopes for the World Bank's additional $1 billion investment, announced this week, in the development of the information and communication technology infrastructure in Africa over the next five years.

The World Bank's private arm, the International Financing Corp. (IFC), is investing in Africa's fiber-optic cable systems by giving loans to governments and private partners, service providers, and investors to extend access to ICT.

"The World Bank is now doubling its commitment in Africa's broadband infrastructure development in the next five years by investing $1 billion in broadband infrastructure development," said World Bank director of operations, Hartwig Schafer. He added that the aim of the funds is to make sure that the continent catches up with the rest of the world in broadband connectivity.

With the announcement, made this week at the Connect Africa summit in Kigali, Rwanda, the World Bank is raising its commitment to African ICT to $2 billion by 2012, from its current investment program of $1 billion over the past five years.

Many African broadband projects remain incomplete due to lack of funds, said Rwandan president Paul Kagame at the Connect Africa summit.

The bank is also pushing African governments to ease restrictions on the acquisition of international gateway licenses in order to promote competition by service providers and lower telecom. Acquiring an international gateway license in Kenya costs $214, 000, a figure that service providers say is beyond their ability to pay and prohibits development.

In August this year, the bank approved a $32.5 million loan to East African Submarine Cable System project, designed to connect 21 countries in Africa to each other and the rest of the world.

Celtel International, Africa's second largest mobile service provider, received a $320 million loan for expansion in five countries on the continent, including Madagascar, Uganda, Sierre Leone, and Malawi. Celtel has a presence in 14 African countries.

Schafer said the bank would also partner with universities, ICT regional regulatory associations and IT institutions in Africa to offer training and capacity development for regulatory staff.

According to the bank, from 1995 to 2005, it invested $25 billion in the ICT sector in Sub-Saharan Africa through private operators and investors. Sub-Saharan African includes Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Kenya.