MVNOs in Africa should focus on the premium end of the market rather than offer low-cost ‘no frills’ services, according to Bjorn Florman, chief executive, wholesale business at Cell C. The South African mobile operator is one of the relatively small number of networks in the region that has wholeheartedly opened its network to MVNOs.
The South African mobile operator subsidiary of UK-headquartered Vodafone has announced an agreement to acquire the market’s second largest fixed communications provider, Neotel, in a cash deal worth ZAR7.0bn ($673m). Negotiations between Vodacom and Neotel were announced in September last year, when Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub pledged to pump significant investment into the merged entity should talks prove fruitful.
South African mobile service reseller Nashua Mobile, which trades in subscriptions for the country’s main operators, is to close operations and sell its 750,000 users to Vodacom and MTN. The company is also looking to offload its Cell C customer base to a third party.
A greenfield LTE operator that has launched this year in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda would “happily prioritise Skype traffic” at the expense of standards-based voice services if that is what the market demanded, its chief operating officer has told Telecoms.com.
South African operator Telkom has written down the value of its assets by R12bn ($1.2bn) following a review by its board. The operator said the decision to revalue it’s assets is important in enabling it to become competitive and efficient.
US white space specialist Carlson Wireless has teamed up with Google to launch the first wireless broadband trial using TV white space in South Africa. The test case will focus on offering wireless connectivity to ten schools across the Cape Town area in an attempt to show that broadband can be offered over white spaces without interfering with licensed spectrum holders.
MTN has chosen equipment vendor Ericsson to launch its LTE network in South Africa, which following a year-long trial is now live in the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban areas. LTE has not been deployed in the city of Cape Town at present.
The arrival of LTE brings with it promises of simplified network architecture, lower cost per MB, higher throughput and lower latency. But deploying LTE services in Africa is not without major challenges, as MTN South Africa’s CTO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan outlined on the first day of the AfricaCom 2012 event in Cape Town.
South African fixed line and mobile operator Telkom has announced that its CEO Nombulelo Moholi will step down from her role. Moholi will serve a six-month notice period while the board seeks her replacement.
Informa Telecoms & Media’s “Mobilizing public services in Africa” White Paper, which is available at the AfricaCom event in Cape Town, ranks South Africa just ahead of Kenya and Egypt as the African country most ready to embrace mobile government services.
Vodacom, a subsidiary of Vodafone, has launched its own-branded netbook – the Webbook in South Africa. The firm said that the notebook will offer a simplified, value-added portable internet experience to citizens in the country.
Vodacom, the pan-African subsidiary of Vodafone, is reducing connection speeds for some of its BlackBerry users in South Africa “from 3G to 2G levels”. The company said that it studied the usage patterns of its customers to better understand the causes of congestion at peak times and found that more than 95 per cent of BlackBerry data usage was attributable to less than 5 per cent of users.
South African WiMAX provider Screamer Telecoms has had its offices raided and equipment confiscated by state communications regulator ICASA. The raid, which took place over the weekend, reportedly saw the seizure of WiMAX equipment from a number of the carrier’s sites, as well as a raid on the company’s offices in Centurion, Pretoria. ICASA said that the necessary police warrants had been used during the seizures. Screamer CEO Gavin Hart has, however, denied that any such raid took place and that the company is operating as usual.
MTN South Africa is rolling out a pilot LTE network in Gauteng, the company’s MD, Karel Pienaar, has told South African tech site TechCentral.
South Africa’s biggest carrier, Vodacom, has announced the launch of its HSPA+ network. Following the upgrade of 1,000 base stations in the country’s major cities, the carrier is now offering speeds of up to 43.2Mbps and says that this latest development clears the path for 86.4Mbps. According to Vodacom, a further 1,000 3G towers will be added to the telco’s current crop of 4,200 this financial year.
South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) has reintroduced a controversial requirement that companies applying for spectrum must be 30 per cent owned by historically disadvantaged shareholders (HDI). With the country’s second spectrum auction planned for an as-yet unspecified time this year, players such as MTN and Vodacom could find themselves excluded from bidding for access in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands which form a key component in both telcos next-generation, LTE network strategies.
The construction phase of the West African Cable System (WACS) is due for completion early in April, when the cable will reach its final destination point at Yzerfontein in South Africa. The cable was slated to be ready for commercial use by the third quarter of this year, but that target has now been pushed back to early 2012.
South Africa’s third mobile carrier, Cell C, has announced that it will begin rolling out its 42Mbps HSPA+ service in early April. Following through on plans that were announced in October 2010, the operator is adopting a phased rollout strategy, beginning with Port Elizabeth, where the high speed service will use ZTE modems.
The sudden departure of Broadband Infraco CEO Dave Smith on Friday last has left the South African stated-owned network infrastructure company’s future in doubt. Smith’s resignation comes just three months after the company launched its first commercial services.
South African mobile operator MTN has tapped local health care provider Sanlam Health, part of Sanlam Group, to launch mhealth applications by the end of the first quarter. The services to be rolled out will include community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers and patients as well as real-time monitoring of patient vital signs and provisioning of care.