According to reports, the members of the South African media have been invited to an event at Lanseria airport, north of Johannesburg on 14 October, with the enigmatic invitation entitled â€˜The time has come – Telkom is stepping into a new era with unlimited possibilities’, lending credibility to the theory that Telkom is finally ready to enter the market. Opposing to earlier rumors, the new business will not be branded Telkom Mobile; it will be called â€˜Heita’, which literally means â€˜hello’.
Telkom is looking to become the country’s fourth mobile operator, following the sale of its 50% stake in Vodacom in November 2008, which prevented it from making a foray into mobile services under a shareholders agreement. In November 2009 the operator confirmed its wireless ambitions, stating that it would launch commercial mobile services before the end of 2010. The company, which will roam on MTN’s 2G and 3G networks outside of its predominantly urban coverage areas, intends to spend US$858.2 million on its infrastructure roll-out over the next five years. Telkom hopes that by embracing mobile telephony it will be able to offset the declining profits of its fixed line operations.
MTN South Africa is planning to build a 3G network in the 900MHz band to improve bandwidth for customers in remote areas. According to reports, MTN is expecting major expansion in demand for broadband services in the outskirts of South Africa’s main cities in the coming years. The company is expecting a growth of 3G coverage in these areas.
Constructing its network on 900MHz will help MTN in providing wider coverage with fewer base stations, reducing costs, and making it possible to bring broadband in such areas where it was impossible. Till this date, MTN and Vodacom have used the 2.1GHz band for 3G.
According to MTN South Africa CTO, Sameer Dave, the company is planning to re-farm a portion of its 900MHz spectrum, currently used for its 2G network, for rural 3G purposes. MTN has concluded a detailed UMTS-900 test, involving 20 base stations in Limpopo region, and has ascertained that the technology delivers a 30% increase in coverage compared to 3G at 2.1GHz. Currently, MTN covers 48% of the South African population with its 3G network.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: An investment of more than US$60 million has been planned by Vodacom Mozambique over the next two years to expand its network. 43% increase in the number of customers last year to 2.3 million has resulted in the decision for expansion.
100 new transmission towers has been planned to be set up by the network mainly in the centre and north of the country – which is around double its expansion rate last year. Expansion of its own microwave and fibre-optic backhaul is also in consideration to reduce reliance on the national landline operator, which the firm blames for repeated network outages.
The move to improve the network comes as the country’s regulator announced plans to award a third mobile license later this year.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: Despite tough competition from dominant players Vodacom and MTN Group, the annual profit of South Africa’s third largest mobile phone operator, Cell C has increased, courtesy, the 8% increase in subscribers.
Majorly owned by Saudi Arabian group Saudi Oger, Cell C has been increasingly seen as a potential takeover target.
According to the company, EBITDA went up to ZAR1.4 billion (USD183.8 million) compared to ZAR812 million in 2008/09 and revenue rose to ZAR9.9 billion from ZAR8.6 billion in 2008.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: The operators of South Africa have been asked by regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to further reduce their interconnection fees by July. A new interconnection fee of 65c from July onwards has been approved by the regulator along with an off-peak mobile termination fee of 77c.
Vodacom, MTN and Cell C expressed their willingness to lower the call termination fee from R1,25 to 89c in March this year. Icasa has been speeding up the process recently by further reducing the termination fees to 50c by July 2011 and to 40c before July 2012.
According to ICASA councilor, Thabo Makhakhe, given the nature of product bundling in the provision of retail mobile services, it is expected that price reductions will be subject to dynamic competition and failure from operators to comply with the new rates would force ICASA to look at regulating retail prices.
The operators are now required to proceed to study the draft regulations and submit their responses to ICASA. The reduction in the termination fees is expected to lower the profit of the operators as Vodacom has estimated a loss of R200 million for every 10%.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: The future of Vodacom Congo seems to be looming in dark as the shareholders of the company are moving towards an arbitration process which means that the capital flow into the company’s operations in Congo will become very limited.
According to Bob Collymore, Vodacom Group’s chief officer for corporate affairs, at least now management knows that there is a process under way that will lead to a conclusion and the operational expenses will be met from cash flow with limited new capital to keep the business ticking, but not at the same level as before.
While the company hopes that the process would take less than a year to be finalized, experts feel that the process might take a longer time and the wait does not seem to be a short one.
Vodacom Group’s plans to expand in Africa might be hindered by the ongoing shareholders problems in Vodacom Congo. However, the company has expressed its commitment towards the continent every time and the Group recently acquired Gateway Communications providing telecommunications services such as satellite connectivity.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: Long anticipated tender for a third mobile network operator license has finally been issued by government of Mozambique. US$25 million has been set as the reserved price for the license, with the last date for submissions due by July 6th 2010. After winning the license, the operator can begin operating within 30 days of the license being granted.
Earlier it was announced by Portugal Telecom that it would bid for a 3rd license, which at the time was expected to be offered around the middle of last year.
Last year, the country had 6.55 million subscribers, representing a population penetration level of 36%. With a market share of 65%, mCel is the dominant operator followed by Vodacom having 35% of the market share. No progress has been made in the government plans to sell a small stake in Mo§ambique Celular (mCel) which have been discussed in the past.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: The Congo unit of Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, is facing a shareholders dispute under which the Congolese unit is seeking a $484 million capital injection in the business through a share sale. The move is expected to dilute the stake of the Congolese unit.
According to a letter issued on March 15 by Vodacom Congo Managing Director Godfrey Motsa, shareholders of the venture, Vodacom Congo Sprl, have been invited to meet tomorrow at the Johannesburg office of Vodafone- controlled Vodacom Group Ltd. to discuss the new funding.
As per a complaint filed by CWN on December 17 with Congo’s attorney general, Vodacom owes it more than $166 million, a claim which has been denied by Vodacom.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: A joint initiative to bring the M-Pesa mobile money transfer service to South Africa has been announced by Nedbank and South African mobile operator Vodacom. Other South African markets already avail the facility of M-Pesa including Afghanistan.
The service enables customers to transfer money from person to person using a mobile phone. In order to ensure that the initiative meets all requirements set out by the South African Reserve Bank, Nedbank has engaged itself with the banking regulator.
Plans to launch M-Pesa in South Africa were first announced by Vodacom’s parent company, Vodafone at the GSMA Mobile World conference in Barcelona earlier this year.
www.WirelessFederation.com/news: Deutsche Post DHL’s (DPDHL) five year contract to provide a fully managed MPLS network in 67 countries has been won by Vodafone. Vodafone will connect over 400 sites across Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. Vodafone Global Enterprise will also provide an international Wide Area Network (WAN) across the three regions and a domestic WAN in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Through this solution, DPDHL would be enabled to provide improved tracking capabilities. This capability in return will allow employees to quickly and easily access the vital bespoke applications, as well as provide critical connectivity to DPDHL’s data centres in Czech Republic and Malaysia.
Gateway Business Services and Vodacom Business South Africa, which are Vodafone’s country business, have combined with Vodafone Global Enterprise to provide complete connectivity and management between the international networks.
This will also provide comprehensive project management support throughout besides ensuring that all regions benefit from its global reach and expertise.
Telefonica was selected by DPDHL’s parent company, Deutsche Post World Net last January to manage its mobile and fixed-line services across 28 European countries, also for five years.