According to reports, this decision was made despite the Competition Commission finding that MTN and Vodacom had similar rates and admitting that it still had residual concerns about the companies’ high rates between 2004 and 2009.
The Competition Commission’s manager for advocacy and stakeholder relations, Oupa Bodibe stated that the commission completed the investigation at the end of last year, and it decided not to refer the matter to the Competition Tribunal.
Rwanda has reportedly completed construction of a 2,300 kilometre fibre optic network that links the country to undersea cables running along the east African coast.
According to Ignace Gatare, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, the fibre optic project will initially be operated by an independently-managed government entity on an open access model to accommodate infrastructure sharing with the private ICT services providers. The ultimate goal is to progressively transfer the business to a private business.
Rwanda is a land-locked country with Internet penetration of only 12%. However, Minister Gatare states that the ICT sector in the country generated revenues of US$143 million in 2009, rising by 12% in 2010.
The fibre network connects to undersea cable system at Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salam in Tanzania.
The Minister added that initiatives to activate the links have been launched and discussions between Rwanda telecommunication operators that include MTN Rwanda, Tigo Rwanda and Rwandatel and regional cable operators are ongoing.
At a Senate meeting, the minister was asked to increase the awareness to the population on the importance of the use of ICT and made several recommendations, including to extend ICT infrastructure, especially in rural areas; to put more effort in the use of ICT in all sectors and services; to sensitize the population on cyber security of individual data; and to emphasize the quality of education in ICT.
Elsewhere, Google has extended its Gmail SMS chat functionality to add three more African countries to its growing coverage list. Mobile users in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi can now use Google’s email service via SMS texting.
Gmail users can send and receive SMS messages for free using the service. Non-Gmail users can reply via SMS for regular text charging rates. The networks supporting the service are MTN, Uganda Telecom and Orange (Uganda), Vodacom (Tanzania), and Airtel and TNM (Malawi).
In May 2009, Vodafone increased its stake in Vodacom to 65%, giving the UK-based mobile giant control over Vodacom and removing Telkom as a shareholder. Since then, Vodacom has increasingly launched various Vodafone branded products, but to date the company kept its blue and green branding.
According to Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys, the company plans a new marketing campaign in April, and it is no secret that the company will unveil a more Vodafone-centric brand. It is likely to include red replacing Vodacom’s traditional blue branding, starting to use the Vodafone’s inverted red comma and incorporating the “Power to you” slogan.
According to reports, 1st April seems to be the official launch date, with a big branding campaign likely to happen on 3rd April using the Sunday newspapers as a launch platform. Many of Vodacom’s partners have already been informed about the planned branding changes to give them time to align their offerings with the new Vodafone centric branding, but strict non-disclosure agreements are stopping these companies from revealing any details.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies stated that they are aiming to reduce operating costs, improve efficiency, save energy and offer competitive tariffs to customers of Vodacom Tanzania.
Telecom Namibia is set to link the southern African country to the consortium submarine system called West African Cable System (WACS) that links Africa to Europe.
The undersea fiber-optic cable, which was installed along the West African coast, delivered higher broadband connectivity for Namibia and its neighboring cities.
The WACS consortium includes 12 companies. They are Vodacom, Togo Telecom, Telkom SA, Telecom Namibia, Tata Communications/Neotel, Portugal Telecom/Cabo Verde Telecom, Office Congolais des Postes et Telecommunications, MTN, Congo Telecom, Cable & Wireless, Broadband Infraco and Angola Cables.
It is anticipated that the high-speed fiber-optic cable will help in reducing the cost for internet users. The cable will also be expanded to Botswana. According to media reports, Telecom Namibia has installed the required infrastructure to connect its Swakopmund’s landing station to the domestic network. The cable, which is installed in Swakopmund beach, was developed by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks and Telecom Namibia.
Telecom Namibia anticipates that the commercial operation will be initiated in the Q2 of 2011 and hopes that the country will benefit from direct access to worldwide network cable network.
Telecom Namibia’s Managing Director, Frans Ndoroma stated that the 14,900 km WACS will provide direct connectivity between the UK, West Africa and Namibia.
Mobile operators in Africa are betting that broadband via a cheaper mobile device can deliver explosive growth and help transform economies.
While mobile firms in developed markets have long seen mobile broadband as a lucrative add-on service, Africa’s limited internet infrastructure means that mobile phones are becoming the point of entry for high-speed Internet.
Big shots of the Industry such as South African group MTN, Indian operator Bharti Airtel and France Telecom’s Orange unit, as well as smaller firms like South Africa’s unlisted Cell C, are ramping up investments to win the new battleground of high-speed internet via mobile phones.
According to Karel Pienaar, Managing Director of MTN South Africa, for many consumers, their first internet experience is via a mobile handset — and this is the next revenue frontier for African markets.
Telecoms research firms expect non-voice revenue in Africa, including short messaging services, to hit $10 billion by 2014, from about $5 billion now. Mobile broadband still accounts for a small fraction of industry revenue, but its contribution is growing rapidly and is now helping to boost revenues at African operators.
MTN, Vodafone’s Vodacom and Kenya’s Safaricom have pointed to the rising smartphone and mobile internet use as partly helping the earnings last year.
MTN recently delivered a 46% rise in first-half data revenue to US$413.2 million, while rival Vodacom posted data growth of 41%.
Vodafone has announced that its fourth quarter revenues increased by 3% to US$19.2 billion. The company has not yet released quarterly profit figures, but stated that its full year profits are now expected to be near around the upper end of the US$19.2 billion to US$19.7 billion range. The figure excludes the impact of the Verizon Wireless iPhone launch, which should be negative in the short term due to handset subsidies.
According to Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive, this is the fifth successive quarter of service revenue growth improvement, with strong results from India, Turkey, the UK and Vodacom. In addition, Verizon Wireless continues to show strong momentum. The company’s performance has been driven by the effective execution of our strategy to strengthen our businesses and deliver growth, particularly in data services and emerging markets.
Data revenue continues to drive the company’s growth strategy, with growth of 27.2% resulting from strong smartphone and mobile connectivity sales. On an annualized basis the Group’s data revenue has grown to over US$8 billion, exceeding messaging revenue for the first time ever.
Net debt at the end of 2010 was US$49 billion, slightly lower than at 30 September 2010, as free cash flow generation and the initial proceeds from the sale of the Group’s SoftBank interests broadly offset US$1.62 billion of shares bought back under the share buy-back programme and one-off tax related payments in the UK, India and China during the quarter.
Telecom Namibia is ready to connect the country to the West African Cable System (WACS), a consortium high speed submarine system linking Africa to Europe, which it hopes will lead to higher-bandwidth, cheaper data and voice services for all end-users.
The US$600 million fibre-optic cable has reached the shores of Namibia, while Telecom has already deployed infrastructure to link its landing station at Swakopmund to its domestic network and expects that commercial services could be launched by the second quarter of this year. The project will give Namibia its first direct access to global submarine cable networks.
The WACS consortium consists of twelve companies: Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Office Congolais des Postes et Telecommunications, Portugal Telecom/Cabo Verde Telecom, Tata Communications/Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Telecom and Vodacom.
Mobile telecommunications group Vodacom stated that group revenue and service revenue for the three months that ended December 31 increased by 5.6% and 4.8% respectively, with continued robust performance in South Africa and a 36.2% growth in group data revenue.
According to the company, group revenue and service revenue grew by 3.9% to and 4% respectively. Group customers increased by 2.2 million in the quarter, resulting in a total of 41.6 million group customers at December 31.
As per the company, service revenue growth of 7.3%, excluding the impact of the drop in mobile termination rates, was supported mainly by the increasing contribution from data revenue and stronger customer and usage growth stimulated by focused promotional activity during the quarter.
Data revenue increased by 33.8% as demand for data services remained high. Data users increased by 780000 to reach 8.7 million at December 31, of which 2.1 million were active data bundle users.
Active smartphones on the network were up by 71.8% to 3.1 million and mobile connect cards were up by 52.2% to 1.0 million on the previous year