Friday 16 February 2024

Samoa is Content with 4G/LTE, no Plans for 5G

Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa and until 1997 known as Western Samoa, is a Polynesian island country consisting of two main islands (Savai'i and Upolu); two smaller, inhabited islands (Manono and Apolima); and several smaller, uninhabited islands, including the Aleipata Islands (Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, Fanuatapu and Namua).

Samoa was one of the first Pacific Island countries to establish a regulatory infrastructure and to liberalise its telecom market. In 2006, it became the first country in the region to see the market entrance of Digicel, which has since launched services in other Pacific nations. The advent of competition in the mobile market saw prices fall by around 50% and network coverage increase to more than 90% of the population. Samoa also boasts one of the highest rates of mobile phone coverage in the Pacific region.

LTE is developing on the back of an initial launch of the technology in 2016 by Digicel Samoa, followed by BlueSky Samoa (now Vodafone Samoa) in 2017. Digicel Samoa completed its LTE network in September 2020. 

Digicel Samoa’s financially troubled parent company, Digicel Pacific, had been on the lookout for a potential buyer for several months as it struggled financially. After various Chinese firms registered interest in taking a stake, the Australian government sought to block further Chinese investment in the region by providing financial support for a local buyer. In October 2021, Telstra agreed to acquire Digicel Group’s Pacific operations for around $1.6 billion, with a financial input from the Australian government of around $1.33 billion.

Both operators have 2G/GSM on 900 MHz and 3G/UMTS/HSPA+ on 900 MHz/2100 MHz. 3G/HSPA+ was marketed as a "4G" network, but real 4G/LTE started in 2016 on Digicel using 1800 MHz (B3) band. 

Vodafone Samoa is Samoa’s leading mobile operator and their existing mobile network covers 98.5% of where Samoans live, work and play.

Digicel Samoa as well as Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu markets have all emerged as the winner of the Speedtest Award™ for mobile network speed in the respective countries for the first and second quarters of 2023.

The Speedtest Award™ is a highly esteemed acknowledgement in the telecommunications industry, benchmarking and celebrating the providers who excel in delivering the fastest data speeds and reliable network performance.

Ookla® is a global leader in mobile and broadband network intelligence, testing applications, and technologies. It utilises user-initiated tests completed on Speedtest® to substantiate the award.

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Thursday 8 February 2024

6 Mobile Operators in the Global 100 Ranking of the World’s Most Sustainable Companies

The Global 100 is an annual assessment by Corporate Knights Inc. The 100 most responsible companies in the world were selected based on an assessment of 6,733 international listed companies against 25 metrics for environmental responsibility, social responsibility and good governance.

Their official press release says: 

Since 2005, the Global 100 has been one of the world’s most valued and transparent rules-based sustainability ratings that emphasizes the impact of a company’s core products and services. It is the best-performing global sustainability index (ticker: CKG100), with more than 10 years of history. All publicly traded companies with more than US$1 billion in revenue are assessed across 25 key performance indicators that cover resource management, employee management, financial management, sustainable revenue and sustainable investment, and supplier performance. Companies engaging in “red flag” activities such as blocking climate policy and contributing to deforestation are disqualified.

Telecom TV's morning headlines newsletter produced a nice summary reproduced below:

Seven telecom operators have ended up in the Global 100 ranking of the world’s most sustainable companies, compiled by Canadian sustainable economy magazine Corporate Knights. Bell Canada scored the highest among its telco peers, ranking 51st globally (down from 42nd in 2023). Next of the telecom providers is Finnish operator Elisa (59th), Singaporean telco Singtel (62nd), North American hybrid fibre coaxial cable operator Cogeco Communications (73rd), Brazilian telco Telefônica Brasil (75th), Singaporean operator StarHub (80th, down from 34th last year) and Canadian telco Telus (85th, down from position 37st last year). On the vendor side, Ericsson is recognised as one of the most sustainable companies worldwide, climbing from position 65 in 2023 to 15 this year. Cisco is also present, ranking 64th. Tech giant Apple has climbed a mere two spots to 71st place globally. Corporate Knights explained that the rankings included all public companies with more than US$1bn in revenue, with assessments made across 25 key indicators, including percentage of “sustainable revenue” and “sustainable investment” into green solutions, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, taxes paid, carbon productivity, and racial and gender diversity.

It's great to see MNOs taking initiatives for a sustainable future.

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Thursday 18 January 2024

Türkiye is Still Waiting for 5G but 4.5G (LTE-Advanced) is Working Great

Couple of years back, Turkey officially changed its name to Türkiye and as such we will refer to them by their new name. 

Türkiye continues to develop its capabilities within its telecom sector, becoming one of the relatively few countries able to build and develop its own communications satellites. With the successful launch of the Turksat 5A and 5B satellites in 2021, the country has vastly increased its bandwidth capacity. These satellites will be joined by the Turksat 6A in early 2023.

In addition to these technological breakthroughs, the country’s operators have invested in fibre infrastructure, with Vodafone Türkiye having trialled a 1Tb/s service in late 2021 to support its 5G network backhaul and improve the quality of its fixed infrastructure.

Deployment of fibre-based broadband networks are well established, with fibre accounting for 26.7% of all fixed broadband connections as of early 2022. The DSL sector still dominates, accounting for about 63% of connections, but its share is steadily declining, year-on-year, while the number of fibre connections has grown strongly.

Improved fixed and mobile infrastructure is underpinning the country’s initiatives relating to Smart City concepts, which have become a key area of focus for the emerging digital economy and the transformation to a knowledge-based economy. Türkiye's National Smart Cities Strategy and Action Plan runs through to 2023.

There are three network operators in Türkiye : Turkcell, Vodafone and Türk Telekom (formerly called Avea).  

In 2015 the Turkish regulator auctioned off licenses on 800, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz bands for 4G/LTE (Bands 3, 8, 1 and 20) . All three providers launched 4G/LTE in 2016. It has been marketed from the start as "4.5G", otherwise known as LTE+ or LTE Advanced, accelerated by carrier aggregation where available in major cities in all 81 provinces from the start. Coverage is generally quite good: Turkcell has the best, followed by Vodafone and Türk Telecom with the least.

The Turkish Government sought to be an early adopter of 5G, but plans have stalled and 5G spectrum has not even been auctioned at the time of writing this blog. European Commission's Türkiye 2023 Report notes that there was no progress reported in the procurement of 5G. Türkiye still needs to allocate additional frequencies for the development and predictability of the sector. In 2022, 94.1% of households had access to the internet, increasing from 92% the previous year.

In Opensignal's latest Türkiye Mobile Network Experience report, Turkcell wins five awards outright out of eight recognitions available, it retains both speed awards and Video Experience, while it also claims two newly introduced awards Live Video Experience and Coverage Experience. Türk Telekom turns two joint wins for Games Experience and Availability into outright victories, as Turkcell slips off the podium for both of these metrics. On top of these two wins, Türk Telekom is the sole recipient of Consistent Quality. For the third time in a row, Vodafone wins no awards, either outright or jointly.

Turkcell is the biggest operator in the country with the best coverage nationwide. 2G is on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz. In 2015 Turkcell’s population coverage was at 99.8% in 2G and 95% in 3G.

Turkcell launched their "4.5G" LTE in 2016 using tri-band aggregation of 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz frequency bands. 4G/LTE is free to prepaid. Turkcell is known to have the best coverage in the countryside.  

According to Statista, as of the second quarter of 2022, Turkcell’s mobile business had a market share of 41.3%, ahead of Vodafone at 30.4 %, and Turk Telecom at 28.3%. According to the company’s own figures, it had 42 million subscribers across fixed and mobile in Q2 2023; the mobile subscriber base reached 37.6 million in the same quarter.

In 2016 Türk Telekom rebranded its mobile network from Avea, but you see their old sign still sometimes. It's the smallest provider in Turkey in terms of coverage, but they have still good speeds in the cities and a fair coverage in the countryside.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz, 4G/LTE was launched in 2016. It still has the lowest coverage in the countryside, but is strong in cities.  

Türk Telekom serves more than 15 million broadband and 25.6 million mobile subscribers. As the company plays a critical role in leading Turkey's digital transformation, they sought to modernize their infrastructure supporting business-critical systems, including core billing and charging applications and databases.

Vodafone is the 2nd operator in terms of coverage. 2G on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz, 4G/LTE was launched in 2016. It has a good coverage in the country, slightly worse than Turkcell, but better than Türk Telekom.

The number of Vodafone Turkiye's mobile subscribers reached 25.4 million, by November 2023, the total number of mobile subscribers including M2M (Machine Inter-Machine Communication) reached 29.3 million . The company increased the number of postpaid subscribers to 19.1 million. While having 1.4 million fixed broadband subscribers.

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