Wednesday 23 February 2022

Norway is a Global Leader in Opensignal Global Awards 2022


Much like other Scandinavian countries, Norway has a sophisticated telecom market with high broadband and mobile penetration rates and a highly developed digital media sector. Although not a member of the European Union, the country’s telecoms sector is synchronised with relevant EC legislation. Telenor is the dominant operator in all sectors, though there is increasing competition from new entrants. Telia Norway increased its market share by acquiring the operations of Tele2, Phonero and Get.

Norway enjoys near comprehensive LTE coverage, while both Telenor and Telia are looking to close their 3G and 2G networks (by 2020 and 2025 respectively), focussing instead on LTE and 5G technologies. The mobile broadband sector was bolstered by the auction of spectrum in the 700MHz and 21MHz band in June 2019. Additional spectrum in the 700MHz is expected to be auctioned for mobile broadband use (5G) in 2021.

The broadband penetration rate is among the highest in Europe, while in recent years subscribers have been migrated to faster broadband solutions over fibre networks, VDSL and upgraded cable infrastructure. The leading ISPs Telenor and NextGenTel have also deployed services based on technology.

The regulator has called on the government to help fund additional cable infrastructure to reduce the country’s dependence on Telenor’s networks. In late 2019 the government proposed making broadband of at least 20Mb/s a universal service.

Norway currently has three mobile networks: Telenor, Telia (formerly NetCom), now merged with Tele2 (by Network Norway) after being acquired by Telia and (4G/LTE and 5G, no prepaid).

Many public places and public transport are covered by WiFi. For instance, the shuttle bus from Oslo airport to the city centre has free WiFi. Norwegian airline provides free WiFi, many ferries and metro trains as well. So you might not need mobile internet when entering the country.

Populated areas have very good mobile network coverage, even at some remote mountains areas or fjords. The Svalbard archipelago (including its main island Spitsbergen) is covered by all Norwegian providers as well.

The Norwegian providers have shut down their 3G networks in Norway in 2020/21 and plan to re-used the spectrum for their 4G/LTE and 5G networks. From 2021 Norway is on 2G, 4G/LTE and 5G only.

According to the December 2021 OpenSignal report the Norwegian mobile network experience landscape characterized by extreme competition. Out of six awards for the taking, five award categories resulted in a tie between Telenor and Telia, with the remaining one — 5G Games Experience — being the only category featuring an outright winner, Telia. They included the two national operators that had launched 5G commercially before the data collection period — Telenor and Telia — as ICE launched its 5G commercial network afterwards, in November 2021.

Telenor is market leader in Norway with more than 50% of the national users on its network. It has a good coverage and speeds throughout the country: Telenor Coverage map. 4G/LTE is available for prepaid. Starting in 2019 Telenor will gradually shut down their 3G network to be switched off by 2021. For data you need a 4G device now on B3 (1800 MHz), B7 (2600 MHz) or B20 (800 MHz).

Telenor Norway and Ericsson have entered into a joint innovation cooperation to create new 5G-powered opportunities in areas such as entertainment, autonomous transport, smart factories and remote healthcare. According to Ingeborg Øfsthus, CTO of Telenor Norway:

“5G is more than a new network, it is a bridge into the future. 5G will have a strong positive impact on society. Through our innovation collaboration we will pave the way for both services critical for society and commercial services that will drive the digitalization of Norway. Telenor has speeded up our building of the future 5G network in Norway. The full modernization of the mobile network in Norway is an ambitious undertaking, and the new technology will give Norwegians access to products and services that have never before been available. With 5G we get fiber optic speed over the mobile network.” 

Telenor Norwary’s 5G network was commercially launched on 13 March 2020. The 5G service was initially launched in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Sandnes.

Telia Norge, formerly called NetCom is Norway's runner up, owned by Swedish Telia Group. After the merger with Tele2, their coverage has surpassed even Telenor's according to latest network tests in 2021 but Telenor won the latest speed tests.

Telia Norge has confirmed that its 3G network has now been fully shut down – in line with plans announced back in 2018. With the operator having initially switched off its UMTS infrastructure in the Trondelag region and further south, it had retained 3G connectivity in more rural and remote regions to the north. Now, however, in a press release confirming the complete closure of its 3G network, the MNO noted that, having switched off its final 2100MHz 3G base station in June 2021, its last 900MHz 3G base station was confirmed as having been switched off November 2021. 

Telia recently passed the milestone of 1000 5G sites in Norway as Ericsson continues to support the communications service provider in achieving nationwide 5G coverage by 2023.

The strategic partnership, which has already seen successful trials demonstrate the game-changing capabilities of 5G carrier aggregation, enables Telia Norway to be at the forefront of 5G and continue to set the bar high. The next goal is to add to the 1.5 million Norwegians who already have access to 5G and provide half of the country’s population with 5G coverage this year.

Multiple cities and municipalities around Norway have gained access to Telia’s 5G network since May 2020, when the Norwegian service provider’s first 5G network opened in Lillestrøm. Telia Norway’s subscribers with access to the network will be able to reap the benefits of higher speeds, increased capacity, and better coverage as eastern Norway becomes the next planned recipient of Ericsson and Telia’s 5G ambitions.

Ice Group, is the third mobile operator in Norway, said it has captured a 10% share of the mobile market after five years of operation and is targeting a 20% market share in the medium term with the aim of reaching 25% in the long term.

Ice, which gained 4G spectrum in 2013 and acquired Network Norway from Telia in 2015, has been on a mission to break the longstanding duopoly of Telenor and Telia.

Ice had more success in Norway's first 5G auction in 2019, gaining 2x10MHz of 700MHz frequencies and 2x15MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum, spending NOK337 million ($38 million) in total. In May 2020, it then spent NOK1.58 million ($178,905) on new frequencies in the low 10GHz and 38GHz bands.

Ice has decided to accelerate its 5G rollout with the aim of reaching 75% population coverage, although without specifying a timeline. The operator currently has a national roaming agreement with Telia, and is also building their own mobile network. They have added 62 new smartphone base stations, bringing the total to 3,133. Ice has added 246 new smartphone base stations in 2021 to date, with a goal of between 300 and 500 for the year as a whole.

Sunday 20 February 2022

How long must Palestine wait for 4G?


The World Bank recently has called on Israel to allow Palestinians to upgrade their mobile network, saying the potential of the digital economy in the occupied Palestinian territories is not being fully realized.

According to the global ICT Development Index, the West Bank and Gaza are placed below the developing country average in broadband penetration rate. The World Bank report calls on Israeli authorities to allocate the spectrum needed for Palestinian 4G and 5G deployments before 5G deployments are completed in Israel.

Israel is currently upgrading its telecommunications system from a 4G to a 5G network, and are ensuring their illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank are also being upgraded. While Palestinians in Gaza use mostly a 2G system and a 3G one in the West Bank. Israeli restrictions are “among the key impediments to development of the digital economy in the West Bank and Gaza,” says the report.

It highlights a two-tiered system in which Israel is preparing to upgrade its telecommunications system from a 4G to 5G network, while Palestinians in Gaza use mostly a 2G system and a 3G one in the West Bank. The latter was made available to Palestinians only in 2018.

According to the World Bank Israel has “decision-making power over the frequency spectrum, and so far has refused to allocate the necessary spectrum to Palestinian telecom operators to deploy 4G frequencies.

It also has restricted the import of telecommunications equipment and access to infrastructure and transmission sites. Bandwidth is set and sold by Israel, the report noted, adding that Palestinian telecommunication companies are charged a higher price than their Israeli competitors.

The report concludes the Palestinian telecommunication companies can not be competitive with their Israeli counterparts, the adding that these companies are forced to offer more limited services at higher prices.

Those Palestinians who live within range of Israeli 4G systems are more likely to purchase plans through those Israeli companies rather than their now national ones. However  Palestinians who live in rural areas and who rely solely on their cellphones for internet access suffer the most from the limited web capacity.

As a result of all these restrictions, the report said, the “West Bank and Gaza is placed below the developing country average in broadband penetration rate” according to the global Information and Communications Technology Development Index.

The two Palestinian mobile phone providers Ooredoo and Jawwal say that between them, they have close to four million customers. Analysts explain that when the 4G service arrives, it will lower prices.

Ishaq Seder, the Palestinian Authority’s telecommunications and information technology minister, told The Media Line that providing the Palestinian people with 4G and 5G networks was extremely important and top of the ministry’s priority list.

“It is important for developing work in the fields of information technology, electronic commerce and a variety of other fields, as these networks are tied to several issues related to digital development,” Seder said. He added that the ministry’s goal was to establish multiple services in landline and digital communications.

He confirmed that there was no specific timetable for implementation but said huge efforts were being made to achieve it as soon as possible. 

Seder highlighted the equipment intended for Palestinians that is being held in Israeli ports, and how Israeli telecommunication companies were exploiting their monopoly on 4G service to attract Palestinian consumers. An estimated 400,000 Israeli SIM cards are being used by Palestinians in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials are demand more frequencies to allow a third telecom operator to join Jawwal and Wataniya.

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Thursday 17 February 2022

Finland is on top of the world with 5G and Data Consumption

Finland’s telecommunications market is among the more progressive in Europe, with operators having been at the forefront in deploying technologies and with the regulator being among the first to auction spectrum for 5G use. These efforts have been supported by the government which is working towards its target of providing a broadband service of at least 100Mb/s by 2025. 5G services were available to more than 40% of the population by early 2021, and take-up among subscribers has been strong although most will remain with LTE in the short term.

The country enjoys one of the highest broadband and mobile penetration rates in the region, with customers able to make use of the latest iterations of technologies including DOCSIS3.1, LTE-A, 5G, and GPON fibre infrastructure.

Just as Finland was in the forefront of LTE developments in Europe, so has it emerged as one of the pioneers in 5G. The auction of spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.5GHh bands has enabled network operators to extend the availability of LTE services nationally and to prepare for 5G services. Spectrum in the 2.5GHz band was auctioned in mid-2020 and has since enabled the MNOs to widen their 5G footprint considerably.

Finland has three national network operators: Telia (by the Telia Group, formerly called Sonera), Elisa (prepaid packages under Saunalahti brand) and  DNA (by DNA Oyj, part of Telenor Group)

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 900 and 2100 MHz, 4G/LTE on 700 (B28), 800 (B20), 1800 (B3) and 2600 (B7) MHz. In the less populated northern and eastern parts of the country Telia and DNA share one common network called Yhteisverkko covering more than “half of Finland’s total geographical area" and serving more than "15% of the population". In 2020 all three networks started 5G NR on 3500 MHz (n78) mostly in the cities and is so far only offered on some 5G plans of Telia and Elisa on prepaid. 

All three operators have a very good coverage and high speed at low prices even in remote and rural areas. Because of the heavy data usage in Finland, 5G becomes very important. According to OpenSignal in 2021, 5G was available to about 11% of Finns and had an average download speed of 200 Mbit/s. In 4G availability all three networks are close at around 93% and download speeds of 37 Mbit/s. DNA featured as the fastest mobile network for both average download and upload speeds, while sharing the victory in Voice App Experience. Elisa solely won 4G Availability, while sharing Games Experience, Voice App Experience and 4G Coverage Experience. Telia solely won Video Experience, while sharing the victory in Games Experience, Voice App Experience and 4G Coverage Experience.

All three national mobile operators in Finland are busy deploying their 5G networks in the country, as they all secured the same amount of spectrum in the recent 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz 5G spectrum auctions.

Telia, rebranded from Sonera in 2017, has the most customers in Finland and its coverage on 3G and 4G is equal to Elisa. In 2018 4G/LTE reached 98% of population. Telia has opened its 5G network to some prepaid plans in 2022.

In November 2021, Telia claimed to have launched the Nordic and Baltic regions’ first commercial Standalone 5G core network in partnership with Nokia. 

Nokia noted that the rollout included its cloud packet core and registers, which allow subscriber data to be consolidated into a common repository using a distributed and flexible architecture. Telia Finland is also reportedly using Nokia’s RAN. This network was initially launched in 20 geographical areas across Finland with more rollout in future that will lower latency and include network slicing capabilities. 

Elisa Saunalahti is Elisa's consumer sub-brand, which has very good coverage and speed in Finland. For 3G it mostly uses the 900 MHz band (in contrast to 2100 MHz in the rest of Europe), but it is still supported by almost all modern devices. In 2017 B28 on 700 MHz was added for LTE in rural areas. 5G was opened in 2022 for some prepaid plans.

In January 2022 Elisa has confirmed that it has doubled its 5G footprint in the twelve months since January 2021, and now covers four million Finns with its fifth-generation infrastructure. As such, 5G connectivity is now available in a total of 153 locations – equivalent to more than 70% of the population.

In a separate announcement, Elisa has highlighted the level of 5G adoption within its user base. Ville Valkama, Elisa’s Business Director for Consumer Customers, revealed: ‘In 2021 5G phones became commonplace in Finland. The share of 5G models in the phones we sell is already approaching 90%.’

DNA is the 3rd operator in Finland, yet it offers comparable coverage and very high speeds at good rates: coverage map. In 2019 the majority of DNA shares were sold to Telenor from Norway. Unlike Telia and Elisa, 5G is not yet offered by DNA for prepaid, only for subscriptions.

DNA has announced that all of its 5G base transceiver stations (BTS) are now connected to a core network that supports Standalone (SA) 5G architecture. Kimmo Liikonen, DNA’s Director of Core and IP Networks, commented: ‘For our customers, the implementation will take place in stages during 2022, as long as the last quality assurance and design work has been done. We are also looking forward to the sale of terminals that fully support the Standalone 5G network, which are not yet widely available.’

In August 2021, DNA announced that it was planning to shut down 3G by the end of 2023 freeing up spectrum for 4G and 5G network connections. Also, in December 2021, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom announced an invitation to submit bids for three spectrum licenses for 700 MHz frequency bands which will be technology-neutral. Although 3G shutdown and technology-neutral spectrum auctions are not directly related to 5G, they are certainly positive steps towards releasing valuable spectrum for 5G deployment.

Telecoms tech developers from Japan and Finland are planning to work collaboratively on the development of 6G technologies, an area becoming increasingly influenced by Chinese companies. The Nikkei writes that Nokia will join the effort and that Japan’s ‘Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium’ will sign the agreement soon with Finnish group ‘6G Flagship’. The accord will be formally announced at the Global Digital Summit 2021, an event the paper has organised with Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

Japan’s Beyond 5G Promotion Consortium aims to commercialise sixth-generation communications technology in the 2030s, and includes the University of Tokyo and domestic telcos NTT Corp, NTT DOCOMO, KDDI (au), SoftBank Corp and Rakuten Mobile. 6G Flagship, meanwhile, is led by Finland’s University of Oulu. Talks are also said to be underway to draw in a US counterpart, with the likes of Cisco Systems and Intel touted as possible candidates.

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Sunday 13 February 2022

Poor Infrastructure is hindering the growth of Mobile Services in The Gambia

In 1664, the United Kingdom established a colony in The Gambia focused on exporting enslaved people across the Atlantic. During the roughly 300 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the UK and other European powers may have exported as many as 3 million people from The Gambia. Today the populations stands between 2.2 and 2.45 million.

The Gambia’s telecom market is dominated by the incumbent operator Gamtel, which retains a monopoly on fixed-line telephony services. There are five mobile network operators providing effective competition, although the most recent Giraffe Telecom was only licensed in January 2022 and is yet to be assigned spectrum. The market leader is Africell, with about 62% of the market, while Comium and QCell compete closely for second and third place. Gamtel’s mobile unit Gamcel is by far the smallest operator, having suffered from underinvestment in recent years. Comium has also suffered from financial difficulties: its failure to pay accumulated fees resulted in the government having sought a temporary suspension of its services in mid-2021.

Mobile penetration is well above the African average, mostly due to the poor condition of the fixed-line infrastructure and the lack of availability of fixed services in many rural areas of the country.

Africell is the operator with the largest user share. It gives the best coverage in 2G and 3G, but can suffer from slow speeds due to overcrowding. It is recommended, if you go outside of the centers and don't need the highest speeds.

In January 2018 Africell has announced the commercial launch of 4G/LTE network services, joining rival QCell which introduced Gambia’s first LTE mobile service in 2017. They have posted a series of promotional YouTube videos showing live LTE network speed tests with download/upload rates exceeding 68Mbps/20Mbps.

Africell Gambia has recently implemented ‘its biggest network footprint expansion in 15 years’ despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their executives highlighted new ‘smart’ rural cell sites using advanced solar-powered technology, giving remote communities access to telecoms services ‘without creating a negative environmental footprint’. Africell Gambia boasts 93% territorial coverage and continues to lead the local cellular market with ‘over 1.6 million subscribers’, according to its management.

QCell was the first provider to introduce 3G in 2012. It is the only operator offering HSPA called 3G+. Their 3G is has expanded rapidly in the last years and covers 86% of the population in 2016 to reach nationwide coverage by end of 2017. In 2017 it started FD-LTE on an undisclosed frequency in the Greater Banjul area. 

QCell mostly offers faster speeds than Africell, but still a slightly lower overall coverage and no fall back to 2G. They care for 17% of the users and are considered the premium provider in the country.

Gamcel is run by the state-owned Gambia Telecommunications Company Ltd., or in short Gamtel. It has proven to be quite unreliable with a low coverage and almost non-existent 3G. Their company is notoriously cash-stricken and service has been bad in the past. This provider is not recommended for travellers.

In late June 2019, Gamtel, in collaboration with Chinese technology firm Huawei, launched the National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative to expand internet speed and access across the country. Gamtel reportedly owes Gambian dalasi 1.25 billion ($24.3 million) in loans for the project as of January 2021. While broadband installation is still ongoing, accessibility and speed remain a significant challenge. In 2020, the government approved a national broadband policy which aims to provide “at least 75 percent of homes to have affordable access to high speed internet connectivity by 2022,” defined as an upload and download rate of at least 5 Mbps. Gamtel owns the fiber-optic cable that runs across the country and thus controls the country’s connection to the international internet via the ACE submarine cable system.

In February 2019, it was reported that the government had agreed to restructure Gamtel and Gamcel, such that Gamcel operates under independent management, and to divest shares in Gamcel. No further developments have been reported.

Comium recently had its services suspended for a month in October 2021 for non-payment of fees they claim they are ‘committed’ to paying their dues in full with the help of a new UK-based investor. The Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) has demanded that Comium pay GMD69.1 million (USD1.3 million) to settle overdue licensing, spectrum and international gateway fees, and local press reported that Comium has already pledged to pay GMD14 million and indicated it will hand over the remainder if PURA lifts the suspension.

At the press conference Comium highlighted that it is owed GMD21 million by state-owned operator Gamtel, while declaring that it has signed an agreement with a new international investor with the objective of resolving all current financial and network issues, and with the ambition of launching 4G and 5G services at a later stage.

Gambia’s telecoms minister Ebrima Sillah has confirmed that the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) has issued the country’s fifth GSM mobile network operating licence to a start-up company named Giraffe Telecom, The Voice newspaper reported yesterday. Minister Sillah stated that ‘there is a space for a fifth operator’, adding that heightened competition would be ‘good for the Gambian customers’. Regarding availability of mobile frequencies, Sillah disclosed: ‘PURA [Public Utility Regulatory Authority] some months ago did a consultancy on usage of spectrum and it’s a fact that almost 75% or more of the entire spectrum of the country is in the hands of two operators and sometimes not being used. So, the spectrum alignment consultancy was meant to ensure that you keep what you pay for and what you use and the rest should return back to the state and ensure it’s reused or for other purposes.’ Regarding Giraffe’s ownership, the minister noted that ‘between 60% and 70%’ of the new company is owned by ‘ordinary Gambians who are doing business in this country.’

Thursday 10 February 2022

Nordics are Winning the Mobile Networks Experience Race

As an outsider, it is always confusing as to which countries are Nordic and which are Scandinavian. Tripsavvy nicely explains this as: In short, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are all Nordic countries with Scandinavian roots, but typically, you will only find Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish people referring to themselves as Scandinavian. In the mobile industry though, Iceland doesn't seem to be included in Nordic countries while reporting speeds, etc. 

Opensignal recently announced "Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2022". As can be seen in the chart in the Tweet below, quite a few entries from the Nordic operators.

Back in January, Tefficient nicely showed how the four Nordic countries compare over population and 5G population coverage with Venn diagrams.

There is definitely a lot of work that still needs to be done but it's interesting to see how Nordics are punching well above their weight.

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Sunday 6 February 2022

Chad is waiting for Reliable 4G LTE coverage

Chad remains one of the least developed on the African continent, recent economic difficulties have been exacerbated by civil unrest and by an influx of refugees from neighbouring countries. While telecom infrastructure is particularly poor, with penetration rates in all sectors – fixed, mobile and internet – well below African averages. Nevertheless, despite difficult operating conditions, large scale poverty and low spending power, Chad’s telecom market offers some potential for investors to develop services given the low starting base.

The two main operators Tigo (now Moov) Chad and Airtel Chad have invested in infrastructure and have become the main providers of voice and data services. However, the difficult economic conditions of the country, compounded by taxes on telecom services which have adversely affected customer spend and operator revenue, encouraged these players to consider exiting the market. 

The tax on mobile operators has been increased in stages in recent years, from 4% in 2014 to 7% in 2016. In January 2018 it was increased again, to 9%. Of this, the Treasury received 4%, the regulator 2.5%, the Information and Communication Technologies Development Agency (ADETIC) 1.5%, the National School of Information and Communication Technologies (ENASTIC) 0.6% and ANSCIE 0.4%. In addition to this tax an 18% excise duty was introduced in 2016 on telecom services, which resulted in lower usage among subscribers and consequently a negative impact on operator revenue. This tax was removed under the 2020 Finance Act

Chad finally gained access to international fibre bandwidth in 2012, but it still lacks a national backbone infrastructure to support efficient broadband services. However, the World Bank-funded Central African Backbone (CAB) project has made progress, and Chad is also party to a Trans-Saharan Backbone project which will link a fibre cable to Nigeria and Algeria.

The mobile sector has developed steadily under the auspices of Airtel Chad and Tigo Chad which together accounted for 99% of the users, while the national telco and fixed-line operator, Sotel Tchad (ST) operates the country’s third mobile network, as Salam Mobile. The latter is mainly focused on voice services, because it solely relies on 2G and offers only basic mobile data services. That's why it's not mentioned any further.

Mobile broadband networks started in 2014 and are still in their infancy. So far internet counts only for 10% of revenue and internet usage is the lowest among countries with comparable GDP per capita. In a survey 86% of the users considered internet access as slow, 6% as satisfactory and 8% as fast.

The difficult economic conditions of the country, compounded by several hikes of the tax on telecom services (9% in Jan. 2018) which has adversely affected customer spending and operator revenue, have encouraged the two major players to consider exiting the market. In 2017 Millicom was reported to be in discussions with the Orange Group regarding a potential sale, while Bharti Airtel announced that Chad was one of its regional markets which it considered offloading. The Chadian government has launched a tender in 2018 for the award of a fourth mobile licence and has invited interested parties to submit offers.

Maintaining cellular networks in Chad is difficult and expensive due to harsh weather conditions and erratic electricity.  The market for handsets and tablets has not kept up with growing demand. Inexpensive handsets from Asia sold on the informal market are most common.

3G/4G coverage of population is around 25% with Tigo and Airtel, 4G/LTE is only available in major towns. According to the regulator towns are covered by 2G, and mostly 3G, rural areas and roads have long uncovered stretches. General GSM coverage of population is only around 85% by both providers equal to about 30-35% of the countries surface. In tests Tigo is a bit faster for data compared with Airtel.

Tigo by Luxembourg-based Millicom started its operations in 2005 and had become the market leader in Chad with a 56% share. It was the only provider that has launched 4G/LTE so far back in 2014 on 2600 MHz (B7) in the capital N’Djamena only. 

Tigo Chad was acquired by Maroc Telecom, the largest telecommunications operator in Morocco, in 2019. The acquisition is part of Maroc Telecom’s plan to expand its operations in the region. It was rebranded as Moov.

Moov Africa Chad have announced plans to expand its mobile network and install fibre infrastructure in the capital to address growing demand for broadband access. Moov is set to increase the number of 3G and 4G sites on its network to 720 by the end of 2021, compared to 659 at end-2020 and will roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) across N’Djamena in 2022. They are planning to 'make big investments to ensure that transmission is reliable across the country'.

Airtel (previously called Zain) and now owned by Indian Bharti Airtel is the 2nd mobile provider in the country with 43% of all users. 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz.

4G/LTE has started in N’Djamena, Bongor, Moundou, Sarh, Tine and Amdjarass.

The finance ministry of Chad has decreed that equipment related to telecom and internet services, including network equipment, devices, modems and routers, are exempt from import duties and taxes for the next five years.

The tax break is aimed at stimulating uptake of digital services by reducing the cost barrier to the public and thereby fostering a more active digital economy. TeleGeography reports that the high cost of mobile devices is frequently cited as a factor behind the low penetration rates of digital services in Chad and much of Africa.

Thursday 3 February 2022

Is Japan an undisputed 4G/LTE Leader?

A recent survey conducted by ICT Research Institute, Inc., Japan, came to a conclusion that the quality of communication across Japan was at a very high level when compared to other developed nation while at the same time the costs were very reasonable and much lower than other countries. 

The following is an extract from the press release (in Japanese, translated by Google translate):

In the summer of 2018, the government pointed out that there is room for a 40% price cut, giving the impression that mobile phone charges in Japan are high, but after that, mobile phone operators have introduced new rate plans one after another. It seems that the new rate system of Japanese MNOs (mobile network operators) has taken root in the past year, including online-only plans.

The purpose of this survey was to understand the current state of communication charges in Japan, including a comparison with "communication quality," which is emphasized as an important core infrastructure.

The subjects of the survey were his MNOs in six countries, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and South Korea, and the smartphone charges for each country were as of December 1, 2021. In December 2021, we conducted a web questionnaire survey for Japanese mobile phone users. This survey is positioned as a sequel to a similar survey announced by the Company in July 2020.

As a result of the survey, the average monthly smartphone charges for the six countries as of December 1, 2021 are 3,538 yen, 5GB 3,895 yen, 20GB 4,614 yen, and unlimited 7,097 yen for a data capacity of 2GB. Overall, fares in Japan and the United Kingdom were low, and fares in the United States and Germany were high.

Japan has the lowest monthly charge of 2GB (1,477 yen) and 20GB (2,445 yen) among the six countries, and the United Kingdom has the lowest monthly charge of 5GB (2,222 yen) and unlimited (3,777 yen) among the six countries. .. Japan is second only to the cheapest data capacity category, and the United Kingdom is second only to the cheapest data capacity category.

The United States is the highest among the six countries in the 2GB, 5GB, and 20G categories, and Germany is at a high level overall, exceeding the average rate of the six countries in all data capacity categories.

In the previous survey (announced in July 2020), Japan's tariffs were "medium level" among the six countries, but in this survey they have dropped significantly to the lowest level among the six countries. It turned out that there was.

In this survey, we referred to the survey data of Agoop Co., Ltd. in order to compare the communication quality of each country. According to this network connection rate result, Japan has the highest 4G connection rate of 99.4% among the six countries. South Korea was followed by 96.0% and the United States at 93.1%.

Not only is Japan the top 4G connection rate, but the 3G connection rate is also 0.3%. The ratio of "out of service / timeout" is only 0.3%, and it can be said that the communication quality is the highest among the six countries.

The results of the three European countries have lower 4G connection rates than the three countries of Japan, the United States and South Korea. About 10% are connected by 2G or 3G communication method, and the ratio of "out of service / timeout" is also relatively high.

The press release here has more details and graphs.

It should be kept in mind that this is a very small sample of countries and most importantly it is missing China, which would make some of these comparisons very tricky.

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