Sunday 29 June 2014

Togo’s 3rd mobile operator to boost mobile penetration

Togo does not only have one of the smallest populations in West Africa (close to six million), but it also boasts one of the lowest mobile penetrations (54%) in this part of the continent.
Mobile penetration’s average in West Africa is 75%.

The government announced the entry of a new mobile operator on June 12, and launched a tender the following week, sending a huge relief down experts’ spine and drawing scenes of joy in many parts of the country.

“To have a small population does not in any way means that there is a shortage of people to buy sim cards, airtime or data,” technology analyst John-Osei Seidu said.
“The third operator will undoubtedly add another flavour to the market, both in terms of quality of services and price. So, there’ll be people who’ll be attracted to the new network if these two aspects are much better than the others,” he added.

Togo’s mobile market is currently dominated by Togo Cellulaire – Togocell, a subsidiary of government-controlled Togotelecom – which leads by 73%, trailed by Moov (Etisalat Group) with 27%.
Togo’s mobile sector prices (local and international calls, SMS, data, among others) also appear to be higher than many countries in the region.

The mobile industry in Africa contributes US$56 billion to the economy, equivalent to 3.5% of total GDP, the GSMA’s African Mobile Observatory said, adding that there remains a huge untapped potential in Africa - 36% of Africans - within the 25 largest African mobile markets who still have no access to mobile services.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Estonia Mobile Operator Overview

Earlier this month, Estonia's largest mobile operator, EMT, announced that it had covered 95 percent of the country with its 4G LTE network.

According to EMT chief executive Valdo Kalm, Estonia is the first country in Europe, and the third in the world, to reach the milestone.

"Sweden and Denmark are the countries competing for the second and third place in Europe with about 50 percent of their territory covered with 4G LTE," he said, 
adding that globally only Estonia, Singapore and South Korea have passed the 95 percent mark.

EMT — which is owned by TeliaSonera, the Swedish telecommunications company that launched the world's first commercial 4G network in 2009 — opened Estonia's first 
4G network in February 2010, when it was the 11th such network globally at the time.

The second operator to come to the local 4G market was Tele2, the country's third-largest operator, which launched its network in November 2012. It was followed 
some months later by second-largest operator Elisa, which launched its LTE network in February this year.

Three of Estonia's mobile operators are preparing to offer LTE-Advanced connectivity later this year in the country's capital, Tallinn. Next year, they hope to extend coverage to bigger towns and more densely-populated areas across the country.

According to the CTO of Tele2 Estonia, Ervins Kampans, during the recent upgrade work on mobile infrastructure in the Baltic states, the company rolled out LTE-Advanced tech capable of offering download speeds of up to 300Mbps.  With LTE-A already in place, the company is now waiting for end-user devices to enter the market before opening up the network to the public.

"In the areas where we do have 4G now, we actually have built in LTE-Advanced as well, but it isn't switched on yet. The hardware is ready and to light up the 
LTE-Advanced network; we only need to switch on software and adjust it according to the end-user devices," he said.

"The most important question for us now is, when will the end-user devices be ready for commercial use? We are expecting LTE-Advanced internet dongles to arrive first and
 then Cat 6 [LTE-category 6 connectivity with download speeds of up to 300Mbps] mobile phones."

Tele2 is the last of the three operators in Estonia to fully cover the country with 4G, having been awarded an 800MHz licence during the country's spectrum auctions only last year.
The operator hopes to achieve 95 percent LTE coverage during the summer months.

EMT, the biggest mobile operator in Estonia, has also started testing LTE-Advanced technology and, according to a spokesperson for the operator,
it's likely to be commercially available to consumers by the end of this year.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

China Mobile massively increases 4G growth rate

Chinese telco drives TD-LTE market as customer numbers exceed 8 million; China Telecom still reporting subscriber losses.
China Mobile had a 4G customer base of 8.11 million at the end of May having added over 3 million new users in just one month.

The telco, the world's biggest mobile operator and a key driver of the TD-LTE 4G standard, recorded 3.31 million 4G net additions last month, 
compared with just over 2 million in April. China Mobile launched its 4G service in December.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association, there are 300 LTE networks in commercial operation worldwide, of which 36 run on the TDD variant.

14 of those 36 are in the Asia-Pacific region, nine in the Middle East and Africa, and eight in Europe (see chart).
"Dozens more" LTE TDD networks are either in deployment or in the planning stages, the GSA notes.

In total, China Mobile had 787.3 million customers at the end of May, up by 2.7 million on the previous month and by just over 20 million since the start of the year.

It's a different story for China Telecom though, which is still suffering customer losses.

The smallest of the three Chinese operators saw its overall customer base decline by 950,000 in May to 181.2 million; 
it has lost 4.36 million since the start of the year. The telco has had a statement on its Website for the past few months attributing the decline to increased competition as a result of the launch of LTE services in China as well as strong marketing from its rivals.

China Unicom, meanwhile, added 2.7 million customers in May to take its total base to 293.3 million.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

New Zealand Mobile Operator Overview

As of March 2011, the penetration rate in New Zealand was estimated at 124.326% over a population estimate of around 4.3 million.
Vodafone and NZ incumbent, Telecom, have announced recently announced their mid-year subscriber figures and industry researcher IDC estimates that the country has now officially passed the 100% penetration mark to reach 101%, or 4.25 million mobile subscribers. This means that growth for the country's only two mobile phone carriers is reduced to stealing customers from each other - or as has happened in the past year - convince people they need a phone on both networks.
"The New Zealand mobile market is reasonably unique with a high level of maturity and above 100% penetration, yet only two operators present. Interestingly, we've hit 100% mobile penetration before Australia has. Last year, New Zealand saw an upheaval in the Internet sector, with the mobile space looking set to be next," said IDC telecommunications analyst, Darian Bird.
Let's not forget 2degrees. New Zealand's third mobile carrier possibly already has more customers than Telecom NZ. It is currently positioned as the low-cost alternative. If 2degrees does nothing else, it puts price pressure on Vodafone and Telecom NZ.
But it does do something else. Something important. While 2degrees is playing catch-up in areas like 4G, it has been innovative in finding new ways to sell wireless services. The company's carryover plans and ability to share data between accounts have helped reshape the market.
So why is the mobile market flowering now? The arrival of a third carrier in the shape of 2degrees made much of the difference. Once it reached critical mass, Vodafone and Telecom NZ had to lift their games. All New Zealand mobile customers owe 2degrees founder Tex Edwards a debt for making that possible.
Telecom Corp., New Zealand's second-biggest mobile phone operator, has been cleared to buy the final lot of 700 megahertz radio spectrum, flagged for fourth-generation mobile use, after proposed government allocations made it unlikely Two Degrees Mobile would gain any benefit if it managed to acquire the spectrum.
Telecom chief executive Simon Moutter said the clearance means the country's biggest telecommunications company will benefit its customers with faster speeds and more capacity on its 4G network.
"This fourth lot puts Telecom in the best position in the market to deliver a very high-performance 4G mobile network for New Zealand, including in less densely populated areas," Moutter said in a statement.
Telecom bought the fourth 2x5 MHz for $83 million in the second round of a government auction, having secured three lots of 2x15 MHz spectrum for $66 million in the first round. Vodafone missed out on the fourth lot, having bought three 2x15 MHz lots for $66 million in the first round, while 2degrees bought two lots of 2x10 MHz spectrum for $44 million.
While some 4G capability is already available on higher MHz spectrum, the 700MHz range is especially well-suited to pushing fast mobile broadband into rural areas because it requires fewer repeater stations to achieve coverage and into densely populated urban settings, such as commercial buildings.
As part of the auction’s conditions, the mobile phone operators will have to upgrade existing rural cell sites to 4G capability within five years and continue to expand their coverage. That’s to ensure at least 90 percent of the country has access to a 4G network within five years.

Black+White launched with much fanfare but has almost vanished since then. CallPlus and Orcon –both big-name brands in the ISP space – have mobile offerings but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone using them. The plans seem uninspired somehow and certainly can’t compete with the big names, Vodafone and Telecom, despite using their networks.
In Australia MVNOs account for 13% of the market, yet in New Zealand the total for all MVNO offerings is probably in single figures.
I think I can see why – MVNOs in New Zealand are on account only, and New Zealand is predominantly a prepay market. Immediately, most of New Zealand’s customers are unable to consider switching to an MVNO provider because there is no prepay option.

Friday 13 June 2014

Malaysia Mobile Operator Overview

As of March 2011, the penetration rate in Malaysia was estimated at 117.635% over a population estimate of around 29 million.


Malaysia has 12 MVNOs and counting. Source.

In Malaysia, an interesting trend observed is that smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)  have been steadily eroding prepaid market share from the Big Three cellular providers Maxis Bhd (Maxis),  Celcom Axiata Bhd (Celcom) and DiGi.Com Bhd (DiGi).

Malaysia’s rate of 140 per cent exceeds that of developed markets such as South Korea with 111 per cent and Taiwan’s rate of 127 per cent, and is among the highest in Asia.

In fact, it pointed out that Malaysia is closing fast on the gap with Hong Kong (230 per cent), Singapore (152 per cent) and Vietnam (149 per cent), the only three countries which have higher mobile penetration.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Sri Lanka Mobile Operator Overview

As of December 2013, the penetration rate in Sri Lanka was estimated at 99.2% over a population estimate of over around 20.3 million.
The country's telecom regulator is the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).

Around 45-50% of people in Sri Lanka own a mobile phone now. Although this is higher
in comparison to South Asia (30%) and the developing world (40%), mobile ownership in

Sri Lanka is well below that in mature markets which typically see rates of 60-80%.


Wednesday 11 June 2014

Nigeria: Mobile Operators Overview

In September 2013 the penetration rate was estimated at 70% over a population estimate of 168.8 million. 

21.59 million subscribers at the end of June 2013.


Nigeria has 120 million mobile subscribers for 69% mobile penetration rate per capita (according to latest stats by Ericsson) and Nigerian smartphone population is 27 million (Ericsson) so about 23% of Nigerians who have a mobile account, are using a smartphone. Thus 77% of Nigerian mobile subscribers still use a 'dumbphone' or featurephone. Or if targeting featurephone technical abilities (SMS, voice, USSD, MMS, WAP) you reach more than 4 times larger audience than doing all smartphone platforms - combined (which in Africa includes large portion of Symbian still).

About 80% of Nigerian handsets are on 2G (source: Etisalat) and thus only 20% on 3G or faster, again the very basic services such as SMS, voice, WAP, USSD are part of the normal serices mix in the Nigerian (and other African) market(s). About 8.5% of the total GDP of Nigeria comes from the telecoms sector and before you say 'fixed' - landline fixed connections are less than 1% of total Nigerian telecoms. So yes, well over 8% of the total Nigerian economy is driven by mobile.