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    Senegal secures more licensed MVNOs in push for market competition 29 Jul 2017

    Senegal’s economic growth has improved steadily in recent years, with GDP estimated to have grown 5.1% in 2015. This has translated into consistent growth in the telecom market, with the number of mobile subscribers having increased 2.6% in the first quarter of 2016 alone. Orange Group’s local subsidiary Sonatel is the dominant player in both the fixed-line and mobile sectors, though there is effective competition in the mobile sector from Tigo Senegal and Sudatel’s local unit Expresso, which have a 23% and 21% market share, respectively.

    Competition in the fixed-line sector was introduced when Expresso launched services as the second national operator (SNO) in 2009. The new entrant initially chose CDMA2000 technology to serve both market segments but switched to GSM technology in 2010, including 3G/HSPA mobile broadband.

    The licensing of new operators has not always been transparent in Senegal, with the licences of both Sentel and Sudatel were awarded under controversial circumstances. Sentel settled a four-year licence dispute with the government in August 2012.

    The mobile market has prospered, helped in part by poor fixed-line infrastructure in some rural areas. Mobile penetration reached about 117% by mid-2016. A range of value-added services is available to subscribers, including mobile broadband access, which has become by far the dominant internet platform, accounting for about 98.5% of all internet accesses as of mid-2016.

    Recent licensing developments will help propel the LTE sector. In June 2016 Sonatel secured a 17-year LTE licence (reduced from 20 years), as well as an extension to its fixed-line, 2G and 3G operating concessions (which had been due to expire in 2017) for no additional cost. The LTE licence includes the use of 10MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band and 10MHz in the 800MHz band. Sonatel must provide 70% population coverage within five years and 90% coverage within ten years.

    Development of the internet market until 2007 was hampered by Sonatel’s monopolistic pricing of bandwidth on the only high-capacity international submarine fibre optic cable serving the country. Despite this, broadband services in Senegal are relatively advanced, and a range of IP-based services including broadband TV (IPTV) and converged triple-play services are offered. Sonatel has progressively reduced its prices following the arrival of several competing international fibre optic submarine cables.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Senegal - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses


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    South Sudan’s civil unrest causing collapse in mobile subscriber base 28 Jul 2017

    Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 and became an independent nation. Having been deprived of investment for decades, it inherited one of the least developed telecommunications and internet markets in the world, while other infrastructure is also lamentably poor. Although this potentially can create investment opportunities for infrastructure and service providers, such developments largely depend on a negotiated end to the protracted civil war which erupted in December 2013, and which has caused considerable mayhem and bloodshed, particularly in the oil-producing areas. While the struggle continues, now exacerbated by large-scale famine, investors in all economic sectors have been discouraged.

    There was once investment activity among mobile network operators who sought to expand their networks in some areas of the country, but by late 2016 both Zain South Sudan and MTN South Sudan had cut back their workforces in a bid to save on operating costs, while their falling subscriber bases have strained revenue. Zain South Sudan in particular recorded considerable financial losses in 2015 and 2016. Operators in the telecom sector, as in other markets, are placing themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability. MTN reported a 32% fall in the number of mobile subscribers in the year to March 2017, with a consequent severe decline in revenue.

    At only around 21% penetration, one of the lowest in Africa, South Sudan’s mobile market potentially has many years of strong growth ahead of it, though this is premised on a resolution to the political crisis and a recovery of the country’s economy. The virtually untapped internet and broadband market will kick off once the country gains access to international fibre optic cables and a national backbone network is put in place. Sophisticated infrastructure solutions are needed to reach the 80% of the population that live outside of the main urban centres. With a negligible rate of bank account ownership, mobile payment and banking solutions are set to dominate the country’s financial services sector as well.

    The limits to growth are currently defined by widespread poverty and a low literacy rate, but the government recognises the positive feedback loop on development that access to information and communication technologies (ICT) can have and is providing a range of investment incentives. The international community has provided billions of dollars in aid to strengthen governance and institutions in the young nation.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: South Sudan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


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    DRC to see 750 mobile towers set up in rural areas 27 Jul 2017

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) was under a 30-year dictatorship between 1967 and 1997. Since then the country has suffered from several wars and considerable social upheaval. There remain violent conflicts in the eastern part of the country, exacerbated by considerable corruption within the government as well as by ethnic tensions resulting from disputes among and within bordering countries which have spilled over in the DRC itself. These circumstances have made it difficult for the government to extend its control in these regions.

    The economy is heavily dependent on revenue from the mining sector though much economic activity occurs informally and is not reflected in GDP data. The global economic crisis reduced GDP growth to around 3% in 2009, but it grew steadily in subsequent years, peaking at 9.5% in 2014. Since then, though, GDP has fallen to just over 2%, a decline largely caused by the turbulent security situation. It is expected to remain stable at this level for the next two to three years, largely supported by mining, though the accuracy of monitored economic growth continues to be questionable.

    Largely due to the country’s troubled history, the national telecom system remains one of the least developed in the region. The national operator, SCPT, theoretically has monopoly rights under 1970 legislation. However, recognising the need for telecommunications infrastructure, the government is only loosely regulating the sector. SCPT has little capital to invest, and so much of the investment in infrastructure is from donor countries or from the efforts of foreign (particularly Chinese) companies and banks.

    Mobile network operators are the principal providers of basic telecom services. By 2001 some 16 private operators had been granted mobile telephony licences and the subscriber base grew rapidly. The proliferation of networks, and the poor monitoring of also spectrum assets, caused frequent problems with spectrum shortages, interference and compatibility issues. As a result, the mobile sector has since consolidated. In the latest round of consolidation, Orange Congo completed its acquisition of Tigo Congo in April 2016, which greatly increased its market share. Yozma Timeturns, which had been awarded a mobile licence in 2009, risks having its licence revoked for having failed to launch services. The regulator is minded to reallocate the company’s spectrum to another operator in a bid to encourage market competition lost resulting from the merger of Orange Congo and Tigo Congo.

    The development of the DRC’s internet and broadband market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure. However, the country was finally connected to low-cost, high-quality international bandwidth through the WACS submarine fibre optic cable in 2013, and SCPT is rolling out a fibre optic national backbone network with support from China. International bandwidth is still limited, and as a result internet pricing is high and backhaul capacity (for both fixed and mobile internet services) is low. An alternative terrestrial international fibre connection exists via neighbouring countries. Broadband access is provided by 3G mobile services and wireless networks using WiMAX and EV-DO technology. The country’s first commercial LTE networks are imminent. Mobile operators are keen to develop mobile data services, capitalising on the growth of smartphones usage, but in mid-2016 their attempts to dramatically increase mobile internet pricing was criticised by the regulator.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Democratic Republic of Congo - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


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    4G LTE network rollouts gain momentum in Kyrgyzstan 26 Jul 2017

    The telecommunications sector in Kyrgyzstan has been generally characterised by an open market that welcomes both foreign and domestic investors. However there also remains a culture of poor transparency in some aspects of corporate behaviour; this needs to be addressed if the telecoms market is to reach its full potential.

    The number of fixed lines has been falling since 2011. The growth of the mobile market is the main driver of this fall. This decline is expected to continue over the next five years to 2022 however at a slower rate.

    During 2012 to 2017 the internet penetration in Kyrgyzstan has been increasing steadily. Fixed broadband penetration continues to grow strongly but from a very small base. Moderate growth is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2022. Fixed broadband penetration rates will continue to be much lower in the long term than mobile broadband penetration rates as mobile networks will continue to dominate fixed line networks.

    Although there are four mobile networks in operation, the market is dominated by the two operators – Sky Mobile (Beeline) and MegaCom – which between them continue to hold onto a major chunk of the total mobile subscriber base.

    The mobile subscriber growth rate in 2017 was very low due to a mature mobile market. Further slow growth is predicted over the next five years to 2022. By that year the market will reach mobile subscriber penetration of over 130%.

    Mobile broadband continues to grow strongly in Kyrgyzstan. The mobile broadband subscriber penetration has grown strongly driven by a mature mobile subscriber base and rollout of 4G LTE mobile networks. 4G networks now covers a significant proportion of the nation as the major mobile operators gain momentum in their rollout of these faster networks.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Kyrgyzstan - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses


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    El Salvador selects ISDB-Tb standard for DTTV services 25 Jul 2017

    El Salvador has a small economy and population, while growth in its telecom sector has been restricted by poor infrastructure and unequal income distribution. There have been organisational delays which have retarded the development of DTTV and LTE services, though into 2017 much progress in these areas has been evident. Indeed the telecom sector has been one of the more successful within the overall economy.

    El Salvador’s fixed-line teledensity is substantially lower than the Latin American and Caribbean average. However, there has been a significant drop in the number of fixed lines since 2010, largely due to the substitution for mobile-only alternatives.

    Mobile penetration is remarkably high considering El Salvador’s economic indicators, being about a third higher than average for Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the estimated total number of telephones in the country, 10% are fixed and 90% are mobile. The country was one of the last in the region to provide LTE services. This was mainly due to the inadequate provision of suitable spectrum. A multi-spectrum auction is expected later in 2017 which will allow the mobile network operators to improve the reach and quality of their LTE offerings. Movistar by mid-2017 offered LTE to all provincial capitals, while Tigo is investing up to $1 billion in network infrastructure to extend LTE to 80% of the population by 2020. The switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, though delayed, will also release valuable spectrum in the 700MHz band for mobile broadband use.

    El Salvador’s telecom legislation is one of the more liberal in Latin America, encouraging competition in most aspects of the telecoms sector and permitting foreign investment in all areas. However, there are no regulations as yet which promote wholesale broadband, and thus in the DSL market Claro retains a virtual monopoly. The only effective cross-platform competition in the broadband market comes from the few cable operators. There has been some market consolidation in recent years, and in mid-2017 the regulator stepped in to enforce provisions related to the proposed acquisition by Telemóvil of the regional cable TV provider Caribena Cable.

    Through this process of consolidation a few dominant multinational operators have emerged (notably Millicom’s Tigo, América Móvil’s Claro, and Telefónica’s Movistar), which have managed to expand into almost all sectors through a process of convergence.

    The mobile market is served by five operators: Tigo, Movistar, Claro, Digicel, and Intelfon. The outlook is especially promising for mobile broadband, where competition between Claro, Tigo, and Telefónica will oblige the operators to diversify services and reduce prices.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: El Salvador - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses


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    Australia progressing as a major APAC data centre hub 24 Jul 2017

    BuddeComm describes ‘big data’ as looking at intelligent outcomes that can be achieved from data collaboration. The most critical issue here is strategic management, rather than technology. Big data has become a vital tool as competition is forcing many companies to transform their organisations from a company-centric approach to a customer-centric one.

    The fact that this development is being driven by data-rich organisations such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and many others operating in the digital economy is an indication that data management is a critical factor here. In other words, if you don’t have your company’s data systems and structures organised in a customer-centric way you won’t be able to deliver a good customer experience.

    Connected information management, however, can go much further. There are many other players involved in the broader ecosystem, and by sharing and combining relevant data sets and then analysing those large data sets we can find new correlations that can be used to spot business trends, assess customer behaviour, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on.

    Key emerging trends for 2018 in data analytics include: embedded analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), behavioural analytics and predictive analytics.

    The arrival of cloud computing, Big Data, M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) allowed for a large range of new services and applications in the data centre market, especially aimed at small and medium organisations.

    These developments have given an enormous boost to the data centre market, with investments totalling $5 billion over the 2011-2017 period.

    The Government continues to increase in maturity in their understanding of cloud technologies, how to use cloud to the best of their advantage, and how to optimize their existing infrastructure. Spending in the cloud government segment is expected to rise over the next few years as the government pushes its cloud-first agenda.

    Australia has progressed to now be one of the four major sub-markets for data centres in Asia alongside Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Greater diversity however has led to the fact that it is now harder to serve the entire region from one location. The Asia-Pacific region is currently undergoing very strong wholesale colocation growth driven by large-scale global cloud providers including Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google, Microsoft and IBM as they expand aggressively in major hubs.

    Sydney has emerged as the cloud connection capital of the Asia Pacific region, home to the most number of direct connections to public cloud services.

    Growth of data centres is largely driven by the shift to cloud computing, as companies of all sizes scoped out new ways to boost efficiency, foster innovation and find a competitive edge.

    The ‘Internet of Things’ (referring more to personal devices such as wearables and smartphones) and M2M (referring to a more industrial use based on sensors) are going to be real game-changers. They will transform every single sector of society and the economy and it will be out of this environment that new businesses – and indeed new industries – will be born. LTE and later on 5G will take a leadership role in the development of M2M but the NBN is also a key infrastructure element as more and applications will require high quality video. These developments are closely linked to big data, data analytics, cloud computing and data centres and these elements all play a fundamental role in the success of this new infrastructure.

    Demand in IoT is expected to be driven by three vertical industries: automotive, utility and security applications.

    High growth sectors to 2021, are likely to include smart home technologies, airport facilities automation, electric vehicle charging and in-store contextual marketing.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Australia - Data Analytics, IoT, Cyber Crime and Data Centres

     
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    Libya sees in its first LTE network 20 Jul 2017

    Libya’s civil war has crippled the country’s economy and disrupted its telecommunications sector. Considerable telecom infrastructure has been destroyed or stolen, including about a quarter of the country’s mobile tower sites. Reconstruction efforts continue to be stymied by political and military disturbances which affect much of the country, while with two opposing administrations, in Tripoli and Tobruk, there is no consensus as to how to rebuild infrastructure on a national scale despite attempts to reach a political solution.

    As a result of these difficulties, and of heightened national security issues, telecom services have been regularly disrupted, particularly in the eastern region of the country. In June 2017 In June 2017 mobile and landline services were restored in Sirte after these had been disconnected by Islamic State (a group ejected from the city after a two-year occupation). As a security measure, the main mobile network provider Libyana in July 2017 disconnected SIM cards owned by foreigners, on the basis that criminals and radical groups had been using the company’s network for their activities. Reregistering a SIM card now requires proof of ID.

    In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to Malta, and since then both rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts in an attempt to assume control of the company. The collapsing economy, which has seen GDP fall dramatically in recent years and looks set to continue into 2018, has stymied the ability of telcos to invest in infrastructure.

    Under the Gaddafi regime, virtually the entire telecom and internet sector was in government hands, with the unique situation wherein three government-owned mobile networks were expected to compete with each other. One of these networks, Libyana, was to have been privatised through an IPO in late 2014, though instead elements of the operator’s mobile network were split off to create a separate operator serving the eastern part of the country.

    A new Telecommunications Law has been drafted and the government is in the process of establishing an independent regulatory authority. Since the downfall of the old regime, 25 ISPs have already been licensed to compete with the government-owned former monopoly, as well as 23 VSAT operators.

    Despite destruction to telecom infrastructure, it remains superior to those in most other African countries. Massive investments had been made by the former government into a next-generation national fibre optic backbone network. There was considerable expansion of DSL and WiMAX broadband services, and new international fibre connections and upgrades made to existing ones. Libya also had one of Africa’s first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments. The first terabit international fibre optic cable landed in the country in 2010, followed by a second in 2013. Investments into telecommunications infrastructure totalling S10 billion were earmarked for the 15 years to 2020, though given the civil strife in recent years it is difficult to say how much of this will be put into effect.

    With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. So far only one of the mobile networks has launched third-generation (3G) broadband services. Fixed-line penetration has fallen significantly as a result of the war but is also expected to see a renaissance, including fibre, as the demand for very high-speed broadband increases.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Libya - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


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Paul, May I congratulate you on a very successful and enjoyable afternoon with the Minister. In providing the roundtable discussions between government and industry, it highlighted the strong interest by stakeholders in Broadband and its implementation but it also presented us with other issues and opportunities that we need to address.

Dominic Schipano, CITT

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