Thursday, 8 April 2021

Jamaica has good 4G coverage but no certainty on 5G


The Caribbean island of Jamaica currently has two mobile network operators: Digicel Jamaica and
Flow (by Cable & Wireless).

Jamaica is home to over 3 million mobile users, with Digicel claiming around 2.2 million and Flow having around one million.

In 2016 Jamaica's cabinet approved the award of a third licence to Symbiote Investments that has paid US$ 20.8 million to roll out a 4G LTE service under the Caricel brand. They started in 2017 but face a regulatory investigation into the circumstances of their licensing and in 2019 their licence was revoked and the provider shut down.

Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has instructed Digicel and Flow to improve what it describes as ‘persistent quality of service (QoS) issues’ such as data and voice service interruption, dropped calls and calls not being initiated. Both companies admitted that the steep and rapid rise in the demand and use of data had hampered their service delivery. For its part, Digicel blamed the QoS lapses on its modernization program, while Flow claimed that the incidents were isolated and not related to a general failure of its telecoms infrastructure. Flow also cited vandalism and ongoing road works as mitigating factors.


Jamaica was the first market where Digicel started in 2001 in the Caribbean. It's considered as their home base and they soon became market leader on the island with a major share of the customers.

They run a dual CDMA and GSM network. CDMA is on BC1 and only for inbound roaming. Their GSM 2G is on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz and 3G is on 850 MHz up to DC-HSPA+. They started 4G/LTE on 700 MHz or Band 17 in 2016 in Kingston, St Andrew and around the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, with hopes of it reaching other parts of the island soon. Recently, they've expanded coverage to Montego Bay, Falmouth and a few other places on the North Coast and South Coast. On their 2G/3G networks they claim to cover 99% of Jamaicans, on 4G/LTE 65% are covered at the end of 2018..

Digicel has deployed LTE on Band 4 with a bandwidth of 20 MHz aggregated with Band 17. Digicel was the first carrier to offer HD Voice in Jamaica, available on its 3G network for AMR-WB or VoLTE capable devices like iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.


FLOW, previously called LIME is the incumbent provider in Jamaica. It's operated by Cable & Wireless Communications which is owned by Liberty Global.

FLOW's 2G network is only on 850 MHz. FLOW's 3G network resides on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. Both their 2G & 3G networks are available island wide. FLOW recently disabled DC-HSDPA and GSM on 1900 MHz, opting to use the spectrum for LTE and a small allocation for 3G, instead. The company is also intending to shutter its legacy technology (presumably 2G) "soon" but timelines were not provided.

FLOW started its 4G/LTE rollout in the Kingston Metropolitan Area in 2016 and expanded it to Montego Bay (and its environs) and the resort town of Ocho Rios as well as the towns of Spanish Town, Portmore in St. Catherine and Mandeville in Manchester in 2017 (see coverage map). FLOW's primary LTE Band, Band 4 (1700 MHz), has less in-building penetration. As a result, it doesn't propagate as far as lower frequencies like 700 MHz on Digicel. Band 4 offers more speed and network capacity than its competition because it sits on a 20 MHz bandwidth. FLOW also began deploying LTE Band 2 (1900 MHz) in places like Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Kingston and a good portion of rural areas with aggregation. They recently also began adding Band 12 (700 MHz) as the 3rd LTE band that will become the layer on which the carrier deploys VoLTE. The network has already begun deployment of its full spectrum in some rural areas like Portland, St. Mary, St. Elizabeth, St. Thomas and other like areas. FLOW, as of early 2020, claims its LTE network now covers 95% of the Jamaican population.

FLOW was awarded a Speedtest Award from Ookla for Q2-Q3 2018, with average download speeds of 22.66 Mbit/s and average upload speeds of 9.62 Mbit/s. They intended to cover all Jamaicans by 2020.

The Jamaican government is currently considering a proposal from US firm Rivada Networks, which would see the vendor deploy a 5G network free of charge, in exchange for a share of the eventual revenues. According to the Jamaica Observer, which quotes remarks by Donald Tapia, the US Ambassador to Jamaica, the proposal has been on the table for some time, but the authorities remain undecided.

Monday, 5 April 2021

8.05 Billion Mobile Subscribers with 5.22 Billion Unique by End of 2020


Telegeography reported that the number of mobile subscribers reached 8.05 billion at the end of 2020. The article reported

Figures from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database show that the global wireless subscriber total has passed 8 billion. User numbers were up 1% in 2020, ending the year at 8.05 billion.

The cellular market showed year-on-year growth despite the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to downturns in user take-up in a number of countries.

Of the end-2020 wireless user total, 55% were located in Asia; China and India alone accounted for 34% of the global base.

Asia saw year-on-year growth of 1%, with Pakistan registering the biggest jump in percentage terms. Customer numbers increased 6% in 2020 to 177 million. And there’s still room for expansion in Pakistan. The country’s wireless population penetration was around 80% at the end of 2020, compared to a regional average of 104%.

As for other regions, the U.S. & Canada also saw a 1% increase in customers, while overall user numbers in the Middle East and Latin America remained virtually static during 2020.

In Latin America’s largest market by subscribers, Brazil, the year finally saw an end to a long-running decline in user numbers. The customer total had fallen from over 280 million in 2014 to below 200 million as of June 2020. But the second half of 2020 brought a turnaround as the country ended the year with 205 million cellular subscribers. However, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay all experienced annual decreases of 5% or more in 2020.

The fastest-growing region was Africa, which saw a 6% increase in subscribers during 2020 to 1.16 billion. This annual growth is on a par with the previous year’s figure.

Of the top 40 fastest growing markets globally in 2020, Africa was home to 29. It was led by South Sudan, which recorded an annual subscriber increase of more than 23%, while larger markets such as Kenya and Nigeria also recorded double-digit growth (up 13% and 12% respectively).

At the other end of the scale, the number of wireless subscribers in Europe has been in decline for the last six years. Of the 41 countries in Europe with a population above 200,000, 27 witnessed a drop in their wireless subscriber bases between December 2019 and December 2020.

Eastern and southeastern Europe saw some of the region’s biggest customer losses, with countries such as Moldova, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece all registering annual declines of more than 5%.

You can read the complete article here.

Hootsuite / We are social also publish annual numbers on Data Reportal. The embedded deck below provides numbers for 2020.

Related Posts

Thursday, 1 April 2021

South Sudan is getting 3G Upgrades and 4G

Following the referendum in 2011, oil-rich South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. 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 lacking. 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. With the civic struggle 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, have placed themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability. Although MTN and Zain reported a significant fall in the number of mobile subscribers in 2017, with a consequent severe decline in revenue, both saw subscriber bases increase in 2018 as they absorbed customers which had migrated from VivaCell after that company was closed down for failing to pay back taxes.

South Sudan has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa. Growth in the sector in coming years is premised on a resolution to the political crisis and a recovery of the country’s economy. The virtually untapped internet and broadband market also depends to a large extent on the country gaining access to international fibre optic cables and on a national backbone network being 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 also have a strong potential once a reliable mobile infrastructure is built.

Currently there are only two mobile operators in South Sudan. They are South African giant MTN and Kuwait-based Zain. The government will provide security to all mobile operators to ensure improved internet service in the country. 


MTN has the largest number of subscribers in South Sudan.  They have invested US$30-million (R430-million) in revitalising and expanding operations since the end of the five-year civil war, reviving transmission sites, upgrading to 3G and adding new coverage.


Zain has also made huge investments and developed  the telecommunications infrastructure of South Sudan.  

They have over 300 third generation (3G) voice and data enabled network sites. The technology being deployed nationwide can easily be upgraded to super-fast 4G LTE.  Zain’s local unit in South Sudan has launched a commercial 4G offering in the capital city Juba. 

According to TeleGeography, as of end-2020 Zain South Sudan had 1.05 million subscribers, putting it in second place behind its sole competitor MTN South Sudan, which has 1.70 million customers. 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

World's Largest Mobile Networks by Data Traffic - March 2021

The analysis firm Tefficient, posted this chart in one of their Tweets. As you can see that China Mobile is the leader, followed by Reliance Jio and then China Unicom, China Telecom, Airtel and Vi (Vodafone Idea). 

As you can see, Bharti Airtel, India and China Telecom are also enjoying huge traffic growth.

Last year, Tefficient had also reported the absolute number up to 1H 2020. Vodafone Group (excluding vi) is the next highest carrier of the data traffic followed by Telkomsel Indonesia, Telenor group, MTS Russia, AIS Thailand, 3 Group Europe, Zain Group, XL Indonesia, Indosat and 3 Indonesia.

Of course not everyone agrees with all the numbers

We will provide updated ranking when it is available. 

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Good 3G/4G coverage has established a foundation for 5G in Jordan

 

Jordan is very much focused on high-speed, reliable, and comprehensive telecoms infrastructure to achieve its digital economy goals. The country already has a highly developed mobile sector, led by three major regional players, and has an extensive LTE network infrastructure.

The launch of LTE services quickly led to substantial growth in data revenue for the MNOs, which continue to expand their data offerings as a key focus area moving forward. The industry is also preparing itself for the next wave of developments relating to 5G and IoT/M2M.

The Kingdom of Jordan has three network providers: Zain, Umniah and Orange. 2G/GSM is on 900 MHz on Zain and Umniah and 1800 MHz on Orange, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz on all three operators. 4G/LTE has started on all providers in 2015 on 1800 MHz mainly in Amman, added by 2600 MHz. Many locals own more than only one SIM card.



Zain (a Kuwaiti company) is the market leader in Jordan and the best coverage and speeds in the country. 4G/LTE is has started in 2015 on 1800 Zain Jordan's number of subscribers reached 3.5 million by 31 December 2020  its parent company announced.


Umniah is owned by Bahrain-based Batelco. It's the second provider in the country giving a good coverage.

Umniah has announced that it will shut down its second-generation (2G) network in the near future in order to upgrade and invest in its existing 3G and 4G networks, following the example of a number of international telecommunications companies. This move, which is a first by a telecom in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is directly in line with the company’s strategy to invest innovation in order to enrich and advance the experiences of its customers.

According to Umniah, its 3G and 4G networks are well equipped to provide all its subscribers, those with new smartphones as well as older versions, with the many advantages provided by these technologies, including better quality calls, faster data, smoother transmission between voice and data, better coverage and greater stability of the network in general.


Orange, affiliated to French Télécom, has the smallest network in the Kingdom.

Orange has said their 3G coverage has now reached 98.6% of the population, whilst it 4g footprint stood at 97.4%. The operator did not disclose coverage details for its 4G+ network but claimed that the system was capable of providing download speeds of up to 250Mbps.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Wi-Fi and 5G Status in South Korea


Last year we reported on this blog that South Korean Ministry of Science and Technology Information and Communication is heavily promoting Wi-Fi 6, in 6GHz (a.k.a. Wi-Fi 6E). 

Back in February, South Korea's ICT ministry said that it has made over 15,000 new public Wi-Fi service zones available across the country and in buses last year, bringing the total locations with free public Wi-Fi to over 57,000. Yonhap News Agency revealed:

The Ministry of Science and ICT said the public can access free Wi-Fi in 28,132 public locations, such as bus stations, public facilities and parks, and also in 29,100 buses.

By region, there are 2,529 public Wi-Fi locations in Seoul, with 4,358 locations in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, according to the ICT ministry.

South Korea has recently boosted efforts to expand public Wi-Fi zones that had previously been limited to indoor facilities, such as community centers and traditional markets.

The ICT ministry said it has focused on outdoor locations, installing free Wi-Fi at 7,949 bus stations, 1,286 parks and 320 major streets across the country from 2019 to 2020.

The ministry has also replaced 18,000 aging routers with the latest Wi-Fi 6 equipment, resulting in speeds that are three times faster on average.

The ministry said it plans to establish 15,000 additional public Wi-Fi zones this year.

You can see a video of one such Free WiFi on Bus event here.

Hackaday reported that the government has released the details of the 220,000 WiFi access points to the public. This includes the location, IP address, and RSSI data for use by people and companies wanting to develop location-based services.

Aju Business Daily said Geographical locations, internet protocol addresses and received signal strength indicators (RSSIs) have been collected for emergency response purposes and to pinpoint the location of an AP or to calculate the floating population. RSSI is an estimate of the strength of WiFi signal between an AP and recipient device.

In the mobile news,  Tefficient reported that 4G/LTE traffic has been going down as 5G traffic grows.  February 2019 was the last time monthly 4G traffic was so low (380 PB) in South Korea as it was in January 2021. 4G visibly in decline the past months while 5G traffic grew to 45% of total.

Also as you can see in the other tweet, South Korea's operators net added over 1 million 5G subscribers in January 2021 - the first month over 1 million since the 5G launch. 18% of total mobile subscriber base now 5G.

But not everyone is happy with 5G. The Korea Bizwire reported:

Hundreds of 5G smartphone users in South Korea are banding together to take legal action against the country’s three major telecom operators — SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. — for spotty connection and the poor quality of the latest generation network, industry sources said Thursday.

As of Thursday, around 1,000 5G smartphone users have expressed intent to take part in the collective lawsuit to seek at least 1 million won (US$890) in compensation per user from the three mobile carriers over their 5G network quality that fall short of expectations, despite their costlier pay plans, according to Kim Jin-wook, a lawyer at law firm Joowon, which is spearheading the legal action.

Kim argues that 5G network quality is not a discernible improvement from previous 4G LTE networks and has drawbacks, such as limited availability.

The three telecom operators had deployed 166,250 5G base stations as of November last year, which is just 19 percent of the number of 4G base stations, according to industry tracker Opensignal.

South Korea’s 5G coverage centers around major urban areas, such as Seoul, with carriers aiming for nationwide coverage by next year.

Carriers also initially advertised 5G download speeds as being 20 times faster than 4G LTE, but a government report last year found that average 5G download speeds were around four times faster than those of 4G.

“Considering that monthly 5G plans are around 50,000 won more expensive than 4G LTE plans, we expect around 1 million won in compensation for users subscribed to two-year plans,” said Kim.

He added that the lawsuit will be filed in May after gathering more participants.

This may be the catalyst the Korean operators need to massively improve the 5G user experience for the end users.

Related Posts:

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Suriname may be Small but it has all Gs, including 5G

 

Suriname is the smallest of the nations on the South American continent, with about 580,000 inhabitants. The only Dutch-speaking nation in South America, it has close affinities with the Caribbean, and is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

The state-owned incumbent telco, Telesur, is the only provider of fixed-line and fixed broadband services in Suriname. The country’s fixed-line infrastructure is reasonably reliable in the more populated coastal region, though poor in the interior. Telesur started building out a fibre network in Paramaribo in 2013, and in June 2018, the company started with the rollout of the National Broadband Project (TNBP), which was completed in 2019.

Fixed teledensity and broadband penetration are slightly lower than average for Latin America and the Caribbean, while mobile penetration is significantly above the regional average and much higher than would be expected given the country’s relatively low GDP per capita.

Many Surinamese have up to three mobile lines with different providers, which has pushed up penetration figures although the number of subscribers has fallen in recent years as consumers have responded to economic pressures. The mobile market supports only two players: Telesur (trading as TeleG), and Digicel (part of Digicel Group, a significant operator across the Caribbean and Pacific regions). In early 2015 Digicel acquired the only other operator, Uniqa, which only had about 5,000 subscribers. In January 2017 Digicel signed a deal to host the MVNO Transatel, which operates in a number of markets across the Caribbean and Latin America.

There are two mobile network operators in Suriname: Telesur (TeleG) and Digicel. 3G coverage is still labeled "4G" by Digicel and real 4G/LTE by Telesur available only in the population centers. There is almost no mobile reception in more remote and less densely populated parts of Suriname like the vast Sipaliwini District. One exception is Upper Suriname and Gran Rio where there is at least 2G coverage.

Telesur the state-owned operator in Suriname is currently running a 450 MHz CDMA (incompatible to GSM), 900 MHz and 1800 MHz GSM and a 2100 MHz 3G HSDPA network, the latter available only in Paramaribo and Commewijne. This Coverage Map is available. In 2016 real 4G/LTE started on 700 MHz and 1800 MHz (bands 3 and 28).

Telesur has launched a new range of ‘Big Data’ high-volume mobile data packages aimed at high-end 4G LTE and 5G device owners, as well as business customers using 5G modems. Telesur switched on its 5G network in downtown Paramaribo nearly a year ago, in December 2019, but has kept its 5G marketing low-key until this month, whilst it also implemented high speed LTE-A upgrades in selected areas in late-2019.

The operator’s commercial 5G network has been live in the nation’s capital of Paramaribo since December 2019, but Telesur has not heavily promoted this until recently as it was deploying LTE-A upgrades in strategic locations to complement the offering.

 

Digicel Suriname is part of the Digicel Group operating in 32 countries in Central-America and Asia-Pacific areas. They have been operating in Suriname since 2007. Besides being present in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz 2G bands, they operate on a "4G" labeled 3G-based HSPA+ network on 850 MHz covering major populated areas in Suriname and allowing speeds of up to 2 Mbps.