Wednesday 29 April 2020

NTT Docomo's Aggressive 5G Expansion Plan

Source: NTT Docomo

NTT Docomo, maybe the largest operator in Japan, however they recently announced a drop in profit and revenue for the past financial year but in response, detailed for the first time a plan to grow their 5G network. There 5G expansion plans are both aggressive and ambitious.

The operator, which launched 5G service last month, said it signed up 14,000 5G users at end-March and targets 2.5 million subs by March 2021 and 20 million three years later.

Coverage is forecast to increase from 500 base stations in 150 locations to 10,000 sites (in about 500 cities) by June 2021 and 20,000 by March 2022. Despite lagging behind the United States and South Korea, which introduced their versions in April last year, the new wireless service  available in the 150 locations in Japan covers 29 of the nation's 47 prefectures.

Their 5G plans for its next fiscal year ending 30 March 2021 include promoting Open RAN technology and deploying millimeter wave, as well as expanding the range of 5G smartphones, which stood at six devices at launch. It also mentioned pursuit of new experience and sensory services, e.g., music, gaming, video, sports, etc and value creation suited to remote‐work society  (medical / education / manufacturing, etc.)

Docomo's 5G plans for its next fiscal year ending 30 March 2021 include promoting O-RAN (see Open RAN terminology) technology and deploying mmWave, as well as expanding the range of 5G smartphones, which stood at six devices at launch.

Source: NTT Docomo

NTT Docomo has delivered Japan's fastest speeds for both downloads and uploads for the last two years. Operators in Japan have received an ideal amount of spectrum for 5G services. NTT Docomo 5G service is achieving a maximum data rate of 3.4 Gbps in downlink currently which is expected to increase to 4.1 Gbps in June. Of course these are theoretical maximum values and no individual user can expect to receive this.

Related Posts:

Sunday 26 April 2020

4G Connectivity in UAE becoming Ubiquitous

Mobile services in the UAE are primarily provided by two mobile operators: Etisalat and du. The country remains is a duopoly with two state-protected providers. Both of them are partly state-owned. Etisalat is the oldest and leading mobile service provider in the region with over half of the total mobile phone service market. Du launched just over a decade ago and has seen phenomenal growth thanks to their flexible plans and by-the-second billing system.

Picture based on Hootsuite / We are Social

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz up to DC-HSPA+. 4G/LTE is on 1800 MHz (B3) and 800 MHz (B20). The coverage of both operators is very good in the cities, populated areas and along the desert highways on 2G, 3G and even 4G/LTE, giving good speed and performance.

Etisalat is the biggest telco operator with 13 million customers and the best mobile 3G and 4G coverage in the UAE. It's partly state owned and more focused on the internal market. Their prepaid SIM called Wasel is open for 4G/LTE, already covering 90% of population. Etisalat quickly opened up stores in tourist areas and now competes with du for prepaid plans.

Etisalat was the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa region to commercially launch 5G service and the device in the UAE. The operator has tied up with Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE to offer the service. Subscribers using the ZTE Axon 10 Pro, the first available 5G device from Etisalat, can now enjoy the blazing speed of the 5G network up to 1Gbps and lower latency around 1 millisecond. However the 5G network will be available for all Etisalat postpaid, prepaid, consumer and business customers using a 5G devices. All customers will be able to use existing data packs on the 5G network.

Du is the second largest mobile network operator in the UAE and 39.5% state owned. They now care for about 9 million users and are preferred by most expats, migrant workers and visitors. Du has also rolled out its 5G network in collaboration with ZTE.

In Open Signal's latest report on the UAE mobile market, Etisalat’s dominance continues to prevail in mobile network experience. It won six out of our eight award categories and also established a new benchmark in Download Speed Experience with speeds averaging above 40 Mbps. In this report its was also observed that users in the UAE are finding it increasingly easier to get a 4G connection as both operators have now passed the 90% 4G Availability mark.

As 4G connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, the country is turning its attention to 5G. In November last year both the operators — Etisalat and du — were allocated frequencies in the 3.3GHz-3.8GHz spectrum range with 100 MHz blocks each to establish their 5G networks, and both operators launched their 5G services in the middle of 2019. Besides the frequencies mentioned above, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is also looking to assign further spectrum in the 24.25GHz-27.5GHz bands for 5G use ahead of the Dubai 2020 Expo, while it could also assign spectrum above 40GHz after 2020.

Etisalat held onto the 4G Availability award, increasing its score by 3.6 percentage points to reach 93.1% in the past six months . But du also saw its score jump by 3.3 percentage points, as both operators passed the 90% national 4G Availability milestone. Etisalat also won our inaugural 4G Coverage Experience in the country with a score of 9.6 (on a 10-point scale), while du was slightly lower with a score of 9.2 points.

Related posts:

Wednesday 22 April 2020

China Mobile Establishing "5G+" Competitive Advantages

China Mobile is the world's largest mobile operator by subscriber numbers. There is roughly a difference of around 400 million subscribers between them and Vodafone Group, next on the list. According to the latest numbers published in the Interim 2019 report that covers a period of up till June 2019, they had 935 million, of which, the total number of 4G customers reached 734 million. Tefficient reported a total of 942 million subscribers at the end of Feb 2020.

The total number of 4G base stations in the first half of 2019 was 2.71 million including a net addition of 300,000, providing robust support for the development of large volumes of data traffic business. By the end of 2019, China Mobile planned to set up more than 50,000 5G base stations in China and launch 5G commercial services in more than 50 cities.

According to the report, China Mobile is working on implementing the following comprehensive “5G+” plans:

5G+4G. We will drive 5G and 4G technology and resource-sharing, and nurture synergies between the 5G and 4G network coverage and business operations. We will leverage the 4G base station sites and transmission facilities to build out our 5G network in a cost-effective manner. Our plan for this year is to set up more than 50,000 5G base stations in China and launch 5G commercial services in more than 50 cities. At the same time, we will play a more significant role in the next phase of setting international standards for 5G (Release 16). We will coordinate industry efforts to carry out research on fundamental 5G technology in order to ensure the continued advancement of this technology.

5G+AICDE. We will assimilate emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, cloud computing, big data and edge computing into 5G in order to combine connectivity with digital services. In addition, we will build out our service capability in areas including industrial IoT designated network slicing, one-stop cloud network convergence, secure and reliable big data services and telecommunications-grade edge computing. Centred around 5G, we will build a ubiquitous digital infrastructure, launch new capabilities and applications, develop new use cases and nurture more new businesses. Our goal is to become a leading new smart city operator.

5G+Ecology. We will establish an all-encompassing 5G open ecology that nurtures a 5G system by connecting partners throughout the information and communications industry chain, key verticals, innovative powers in society, high-performing technology and research institutes, and other telecommunications operators. Through our 5G Innovation Centre, 5G Device Forerunner Initiative, 5G Industry Digital Alliance and 5G Multi-media Innovation Initiative, we will drive, with our partners, the development of 5G devices, the innovation of 5G applications and the creation of 5G premium content. In addition, we will launch the BEST commercial plan, which aims to reinforce the “Basic service”, provide premium “Enabling services” and strengthen “Specialised services” so that we can march into the “Time of 5G” with our partners.

5G+X. Building on the foundation of the three “5G+” initiatives above, we will develop a “5G+X” strategy, where “X” stands for the wider application of 5G in a plethora of industry sectors and the mass market. On the one hand, we will launch innovative and integrated 5G applications to promote digitisation across sectors such as agriculture, industry, transport, healthcare, city administration, finance and education. On the other hand, for general customers, we will launch 5G ultra high definition videos, games and ring videos to satisfy customers’ appetite for a better digital life. We have accumulated more than 60 use cases of 5G across verticals, such as smart power grids, smart factories, smart ports, autonomous driving in certain designated areas, emergency rescue missions, remote medical treatment, smart campuses and high-definition cloud-based games. The 4G era has already improved people’s lives, and the 5G era will transform our society, bringing opportunities for development that have never been possible before. 5G will become the foundation for all-encompassing smart connections. In this historic moment, we will strive to maintain our competitive advantage and set the benchmark for the global telecommunications industry. We will continue to enhance the value of China Mobile surrounding “5G+”

Dr. Chih-Lin I, China Mobile, presented '5G++ the Journey Continues' at 5G World Forum Dresden, 2019 where she paints an immersive picture of what the network looks like from 4G changing lives to 5G changing society. She further discusses the timeline and trials beyond today’s 5G environment, including China’s spectrum status, licensing, standards and the all-encompassing capabilities from entertainment to medical services to open-source architecture, that the cutting edge 5G has to offer. Some of these things may be a bit outdated but there are a lot of insights in the talk

Related Posts:

Friday 17 April 2020

5G Officially Makes a Debut in Japan

Statistics source: We are social

If you follow the 5G developments closely, you may have thought that 5G was available in Japan for a while. NTT Docomo has been talking about 5G for the last 5 years. Finally, 5G has launched commercially in the country.

Three out of four Japanese mobile service providers launched 5G services on three successive days at the end of March 2020. The fourth local player Rakuten Mobile is expected to follow in June 2020.

NTT DoCoMo launched Japan’s first 5G smartphone service on March 25, 2020. The network is live in 150 areas in Japan covering 29 of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Customers can get 1 GB of data at 1,980 JPY (16.8 EUR) or 100GB of data at 7,650 JPY (62 EUR) per month, excluding taxes.

According to the operator, the network will continue to expand throughout June, ultimately reaching 500 cities by March 2021, and will have an initial maximum downlink data rate of 3.4 Gbps, followed by a speed of 4.1 Gbps expected in June. In addition, the uplink will start at a 182 Mbps peak, before increasing to 480 Mbps. NTT Docomo anticipates it will have 10,000 base stations by the end of June 2021, and 20,000 by the end of March 2022.

While KDDI launched 5G mobile services in 15 of Japan’s 47 prefectures on March 26, 2020. The operator said it aims to install 10,000 base transceiver stations by 31 March 2021 and another 10,000 BTS by the end of March 2022. Customers can get unlimited data and 30 GB for tethering at 3,460 JPY (29 EUR) per month, 60 GB for tethering at 4,260 JPY (36 EUR), and 80 GB for tethering at 5,460 JPY (46 EUR). Last plan includes streaming from Netflix, YouTube Premium and Apple Music.

SoftBank turned-on its 5G network on March 27, 2020. 5G mobile services are available in selected areas in seven prefectures across Japan for an additional charge of 1 000 JPY (8 EUR) per month. The operator aims to install over 10,000 5G base stations by the end of March 2023 and expects population coverage to reach 90% by the end of 2021.

KDDI and SoftBank had in 2019 cemented a 5G network sharing agreement, by establishing a joint venture to oversee build-out of the technology in rural areas. In a joint statement, the companies said the 50:50 joint venture 5G Japan would oversee “mutual use” of their existing base stations along with construction design and management of new sites. At time they explained joint trials were being readied in Asahikawa City in Hokkaido, Narita City in Chiba prefecture and Fukuyama City in Hiroshima prefecture.

On its newly inaugurated website, 5G Japan explained the higher frequency bands being used for the next-generation technology, including the 28GHz and 3.7GHz bands, required a long-term commitment to, and large investment in, infrastructure construction.

KDDI and SoftBank committed to “rapidly” construct 5G networks to serve all industries with the aim to raise “Japan’s international competitiveness by contributing to its industrial development, regional revitalisation and national resilience.”

Rakuten, the new operator on the market has already garnered 2.3 million customers on its MVNO network. Rakuten Mobile made a full-scale entry into the mobile phone market on April 8, 2020, when the company turned on its 4G network. The greenfield operator plans to launch its 5G operation in June 2020.

Even as the Japanese operators make significant 5G progress, it cannot be ignored that the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening 5G deployments.

Related post:

Tuesday 14 April 2020

5G makes it debut in Hong Kong

In a previous blog post we discussed the rollout of 5G and the spectrum auction in Hong Kong. Consequently on the 1st April 2020 three of the four operators in Hong Kong introduced 5G services, with HKT, 3 Hong Kong and China Mobile Hong Kong all seeking to claim the title of being first, but offering few details on base station density or population coverage.

While market leader HKT detailed plans for its launch a fortnight ago, the other operators apparently decided to to all launch on the same day they released their 3.5GHz spectrum.  Along with SmarTone, the operators acquired 200MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum for HKD1 billion ($129 million) in mid-October 2019.

CMHK announced its 5G network covers over 90% of the main areas of Hong Kong Island. HKT said coverage will initially reach 11 of the territory’s 18 districts. HKT, Hutchison 3 and China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) launched 5G services on April 1, 2020. CMHK announced its 5G network covers over 90% of the main areas of Hong Kong Island. HKT said coverage will initially reach 11 of the territory’s 18 districts.

Hutchison 3’s customers can access the 5G network with a 100 GB data plan costing 388 HKD (46 EUR) per month. CMHK offers 100 GB of data consumption at 438 HKD (52 EUR) per month. HKT’s customers can get 80 GB at 398 HKD (48 EUR) per month.
Fourth player SmarTone has announced they have signed a deal to use Hong Kong Broadband Network’s all-fibre backhaul to connect 5G base stations. In October 2019, along with SmarTone, the operators acquired 200 MHz of 3.5 GHz spectrum for 1 billion HKD (120 million EUR).

Related Posts:

Saturday 11 April 2020

Is Telef贸nica the Greenest Network Operator ?

Telef贸nica is one of the largest telecommunications companies having significant presence in 17 countries and a customer base of over 327 million around the world.

The company has transformed itself into a ‘Digital Telco’ by making a solid commitment to sustainability and formulating a clear strategy in terms of energy efficiency and renewable energy. After approval in 2015 of the global objectives of energy and climate change, Telef贸nica has become a lead operator, contributing to the fight against climate change worldwide.

脕ngel Vil谩, COO of Telef贸nica, has announced at COP25 the company’s new targets to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, commitments that will help limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5潞 C and allow the company to be carbon neutral by 2050.

These new five targets have been set following Telef贸nica’s overcoming of the challenges set for 2020 in terms of energy efficiency, renewable electricity and CO2 emissions two years ahead of schedule. They have set out these new targets:
  1. Reduce our energy consumption per unit of data traffic by 85% in 2025.
  2. Reach 85% of renewable electricity consumption in 2025 and 100% in 2030.
  3. Halve our emissions in 2025, reduce them by 70% in 2030 and become carbon neutral, meaning zero-net emissions, in 2050.
  4. Reduce 30% the emissions per euro purchased of our supply chain by 2025.
  5. And avoid, through our products and services, 10 tons of CO2 for every ton we produce by 2025.

In their Annual Report they list their main achievements in 2019:

  • We launched our first Green Bond, amounting to 1 billion euros.
  • During the COP25, we announced new climate change targets that are aligned with the 1.5 潞C scenario.
  • 100% certified company under ISO standard 14001:2015.
  • We consume 100% renewable electricity in Europe and Brazil.
  • We reduced our carbon emissions by 49.6% compared to 2015 (scope 1+2) and those of our supply chain (scope 3) by 18.5% compared to 2016.
  • We reduced our supply chain carbon emissions per euro of product purchased by 24,6% compared to 2016.
  • With our services, we prevented over 3.2 million tCO2, 3.3 times our carbon footprint.
  • We reduced our energy consumption per traffic unit by 71.8%.
  • We received the maximum 'A' classification by CDP with regard to Climate Change.
  • We recycled 98.4% of our waste.

While they consider their most significant challenges as the following:

  • Avoid 10 tonnes of CO2 for each tonne we generate in 2025
  • Reduce CO2 emissions in our supply chain by 30% per euro purchased by 2025 compared to 2016 (Scope 3).
  • Consume 100% renewable energy in 2030.
  • Reduce our CO2 emissions (Scope 1+2) by 70% in 2030

Telef贸nica already has the greenest telecommunications network on the market, thanks to the migration from copper to optical fibre, with the closure of one copper plant a day and the recycling of all its material as part of its commitment to the circular economy.

Vil谩 highlighted how:
 “thanks to the transformation of our networks, and our investments in cutting edge technologies, the energy consumption per unit of data traffic has decreased significantly: it has been cut to one third over a 3 year period, even though our networks are carrying 3 times more data traffic”.
In an increasingly connected world, digitisation is an excellent lever for accelerating many of the changes required to halt climate change. Fibre and 5G will allow for double the speed and capacity of the network each year, reducing energy consumption as a result of efficiency and renewable energies. In this regard, digital technologies can help to reduce global carbon emissions by at least 15% by means of solutions for the energy, transport and construction sectors, among many others.

Telef贸nica’s greatest contribution to the environment is its digitalization, reducing the company’s impact while helping other sectors and accompanying its customers in their own decarbonisation processes. For example, teleworking, fleet management services and solutions such as Smart Agro, Smart Lighting, and Smart Waste are making a positive contribution to curbing climate change by improving specific consumption metrics by between 15% and 85%.

In addition, Telef贸nica is already working with its suppliers on a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions in its supply chain per Euro purchased in 2025 compared to 2016, as they are its key allies when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint and boosting the circular economy.

All the above allowed Telef贸nica at the beginning of 2019 to successfully launch the sector’s first green bond, worth 1,000 million Euro. It has also given it recognition as a company prepared to address the challenges and opportunities arising from climate change. Telef贸nica is one of the seven leading telecommunications companies present in the prestigious and independent CDP.

Related posts:

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Zain Achieves Goal of 5G Leadership in Middle East & Africa Region

Zain is a leading mobile voice and data services operator with a commercial footprint in 8 Middle Eastern and African countries with a workforce of over 6,000 providing a comprehensive range of mobile voice and data services to over 49.5 million active individual and business customers as of Dec 31, 2019.

Some observations from its 2019 Annual Report:

Described as their flagship operation Kuwait maintained its market leadership, with its customer base growing 7% during the course of a highly productive year that saw Zain Kuwait invest USD 209 million representing 19% of its revenue in CAPEX during 2019. As the first operator to launch commercial 5G services in the country in June 2019, Zain Kuwait triumphantly rolled out numerous innovative digital services to enterprises and individual customers, attaining the largest market share of 5G customers in Kuwait.

In Saudi Arabia Zain serves 7.6 million customers and has recorded  its highest ever financial results since its establishment. The rollout of the largest commercial 5G network in the region combined with expansion of Fiber to the Home services and the launch of numerous data monetization initiatives were instrumental to its successful turnaround. The operator made significant CAPEX
investments of USD 512 million, representing 23% of its revenues during the year, aimed at
perpetuating the successful digital transformation process underway in the Kingdom.

In Iraq the operator’s focus on customer experience, services expansion across the country and
cost transformation, combined with growth of data and digital revenue and customer loyalty initiatives serve 15.7 million customers. Discussions are ongoing regarding the granting of 4G spectrum, and Zain are hopeful and ready to rollout 4G services to the Iraqi consumers, to help the country's socioeconomic development.

Despite the country’s many socio-economic issues during 2019 including currency devaluation, Zain Sudan continued to perform well. The operation serves the largest customer base in the Group with 15.9 million customers, growing 9% over the year, making it the largest within the Group. It was very pleasing to see Zain Sudan report net profit growth in USD terms during 2019, it is hoped that the currency stabilizes so further growth is reported in USD terms.

The operation in Jordan is maintaining its market leadership serving 3.6 million customers with stable revenues and improved net income that grew 5% during 2019. Zain Jordan invested USD 43 million in CAPEX during 2019 predominantly on its nuclear grade data center, named ‘The Bunker’ as well
as 4G and Fiber to the Home expansion. They are planning the rollout of 5G commercial services, once the spectrum is attained.


Zain Group announced that its Zain Drone subsidiary has become the first drone services provider in the region to receive the internationally recognized ISO 9001:2015 certification with respect to its quality management system (QMS).

ISO 9001 specifies requirements for a QMS standard reached by organizations to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide services that meet customer and regulatory requirements, and to create operational efficiencies by aligning and streamlining processes throughout the organization.

The certification is seen as the next step in Zain establishing itself as a leading drone-as-a-service provider in the Middle East region. This is a potentially important new business area for telecommunications providers as, among other opportunities, it could allow them to help organizations to benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT) and, by extension, to leverage 5G rollout for their drone services.

The multiple uses of drones include gathering and assessment of image data, automated stock-taking, and replacing physical inspections with digital inspections, thus reducing human error and, in the case of drone-based oil rig inspections for example, reducing the chance of human injury.

Zain has achieved its goal to be the first operator in the region to launch a commercial 5G network. The operator has a commitment to providing a state-of-the-art network offering advanced mobile services and better customer experience, during 2019 Zain rolled out thousands of 5G sites across Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Bahrain began rolling out 5G sites in December 2019. Zain is keen to benefit from the advantages driven by 5G, including massive machine-to-machine communication (mMTC) and ultra-reliable low latency communications. Zain Group launched 5G services in the 3.5 GHz band, which is part of the global 5G  frequency standard, leveraging advanced technology in Massive MIMO Active Antenna, backhauled capacity of 10Gbps Fiber Optics, and advanced E-band links, supported by virtual core functions to provide high throughput enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) services  to customers.

During 2019, Zain acquired or renewed over 600 MHz of the frequency spectrum across markets in various bands at an acquisition commitment price of nearly USD 300 million. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, the allocation of these spectrum bands has facilitated the launch of 5G services as is the case with Bahrain that will soon launch 5G. They were the first operator in the region to offer 5G roaming between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia back in November 2019.

Also in 2019, Zain focused intensively on launching 5G Core (Non-Standalone), which is the first step towards a Next Generation Core. The company started to deploy new solutions that will cater to 5G services in the coming years. Multi-Access Edge Computing is an example of such deployments, where the traffic can now be moved to the edge of the network, closer to the consumer, rather than the earlier approach where it was kept centralized. This will significantly minimize latency, which will better serve future 5G services that require very low latency. Preparations are also ongoing for the Next Generation Core based on Standalone technology, which will also allow network slicing, which will be essential for enterprises.

The adoption of 5G continues to grow at an impressive rate of over 50% month-on-month, Zain operations are able to monitor and improve the quality of service to customers based on data usage patterns, habits and experience to ensure effective network rollout.

Related Posts:

Sunday 5 April 2020

Mauritius: The Most Mature Telecoms Market in Africa

The island nation of Mauritius has long been a pioneer in the telecom sector. It was the first market in the greater Africa region to launch mobile telecom networks (in 1989), the first to provide a 3G service (2004), the first in the world to develop a nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network (2005), and one of the first to launch IPTV services (2006). LTE and fibre broadband services are nationally available, while the government has also supported the building of a national Wi-Fi network, with additional funds set aside in the 2017-18 Budget.

The incumbent telco, Mauritius Telecom, has been partially privatised and benefits from the scale and technical prowess of Orange Group, which holds a 40% interest in the operator. All sectors of the market are open to competition. The country is a hub for submarine cables providing international connectivity, with the first stage of laying the IOX Cable underway and expected to be ready for service in 2019. The LION3 cable provides additional capacity and is helping make Mauritius a regional hub for cable connectivity.

Mauritius is successfully pursuing a policy to make telecommunications a pillar of economic growth, and to have a fully digital-based infrastructure,

The mobile market, with penetration at 143% by late 2018, is migrating from voice to data services. There are three network operators –Mauritius Telecom (in partnership with Orange Group), Emtel (operated by the Currimjee Jeewanjee Group and Bharti Enterprises), and Mahanagar (a subsidiary of MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology). These operators have steadily increased the reach of their LTE infrastructure to support growing demand for mobile data services.

Mauritius remains the most mature African country when it comes to telecoms, according to the 2019 Africa Telecoms Maturity Index by BuddeComm.

According to the index, in Mauritius, the thriving tourism market has stimulated the broadband sector. The island nation has extensive DSL infrastructure and operators have deployed fiber-based services in a number of locations.

There are three mobile operators on Mauritius:

my.t (formerly Orange)
MTML (Chili)

All MNOs offer 2G on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and started 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz. 4G/LTE is available for prepaid. On the outlying islands, Rodrigues has 4G/LTE coverage with the networks of Emtel and my.t and on Agalega there is 4G/LTE coverage only from my.t.

My.t is the incumbent provider owned by Mauritius Telecom with the best coverage and most customers on the island. In October 2017 it rebranded its products and services from Orange label to the name of my.t. Despite MT no longer using Orange branding, the French telecoms group still owns the majority 40% stake in the Mauritius operator.

Their 4G/LTE has the largest coverage on the island(s) so far. On the outlying islands of Rodrigues and Agalega only my.t has a 4G/LTE coverage. Mauritius Telecom has partnered with Huawei who they are aiming for the deployment of the 5G network in Mauritius sometime in 2020. Although this may be delayed now.

Emtel is the second provider on Mauritius. Its 3G coverage is equal to my.t, but its 4G/LTE is not so widespread. Their rates are slightly lower than my.t's.

Chili is the mobile label owned by Mahanagar Telephone Mauritius Ltd., the Mauritian mobile unit of an Indian conglomerate. It's the 3rd operator on the island with the lowest rates. 3G/HSPA+ dubbed as "4G" started in 2015. MTML also runs a GSM-incompatible CDMA network, which is not marketed as Chili. It has the lowest coverage on the islands so far without any 4G/LTE.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Rise of Russian MVNOs

Russia has the largest mobile market in Europe, with the number of subscriptions standing at about 231 million at the beginning of 2020. Mobile SIM card penetration is high, at around 158%, although actual mobile user penetration is lower due to the popularity of multiple SIM card use. There is pressure on operator revenue from the poor economic climate, lower pricing resulting from intense competition, and regulatory measures introduced in 2018 which saw the end of roaming charges.

As we discussed in our blog post last year, several mobile network operators are active, although the market is dominated by four major operators (MTS, VEON, Tele2 Russia/Rostelecom and MegaFon). These have expanded their footprints widely through the acquisition of smaller regional service providers. Tele2 Russia has undergone several changes of ownership in recent years. It became a significant player following its merger with Rostelecom, which it hosted as an MVNO. In late 2019 Rostelecom acquired the 55% stake in Tele2 Russia which it did not already own.

Competition in the key markets of Moscow and St Petersburg is particularly fierce, due to the size of the cities’ populations and the higher concentration of wealth there.

The extensive deployment of LTE infrastructure has supported growth opportunities through mobile broadband and data services, which make up a growing proportion of overall mobile revenue. Investments in carrier aggregation and LTE-A technologies have further boosted network capabilities, while operators are also partnering with vendors to prepare for 5G later in 2020.

According to Telecompaper the Russian MVNO subscriber base was set to grow 40% in 2019. The figure was expected to reach 9.9 million. The country's mobile subscriber base as a whole will have grown by less than 1 percent in 2019.

The 10 million MVNO subscriber threshold is expected to be exceeded in January-February of 2020. According to the preliminary data collected by TMT Consulting, MVNO customers will make up almost 4 percent of the entire Russian subscriber base this year, up from was less than 3 percent a year earlier.

At the end of the third quarter 2019, there were 9.3 million MVNO users in Russia. The market share of MVNO projects run by telecommunications operators was around 75 percent, and MVNOs owned by banks accounted for 15 percent of all MVNO subscribers at the end of September 2019.

The largest MVNO market player is Yota, which saw its market share decline by 10pp to 57%, as banking players such as Tinkoff Mobile of TCS Group and SberMobile of Sberbank expanded their share of the market to 9% and 5%, respectively at Yota’s expense. Another large player with 16% share is the MVNO of state integrated telecom major Rostelecom that controls Tele2.

The corporate subscriber base was 800,000 in the MVNO segment at the end of September. Rostelecom's MVNO serves 56 percent of all B2B customers and Yota accounts for 24 percent.

The Russian MVNO market was dormant until 2016, when Tele2 decided to take a leap into the world of MVNOs and open up its network to MVNOs. The focus of banks on MVNOs is the result of mobile operators aggressively nudging themselves into the mobile market; two of the biggest MNOs in Russia have established themselves as banks with full licences, and they heavily promote their banking services to subscribers.

Now Yandex is considering expanding into mobile telephony with an MVNO based on the Tele2 network. It could offer services integrated into the Yandex.Plus subscription (such as access to Yandex.Music and discounts to Yandex's other services).