ALU

MTN South Africa

MTN set to relaunch Mobile Money in South Africa

Two years after pulling the plug on its Mobile Money service in South Africa, MTN Group plans to relaunch the service in South Africa, according to sources close to the matter. Original Link

Cell C customers now roaming on MTN

Cell C said on Tuesday that it has completed the implementation of its roaming agreement with MTN South Africa. Original Link

MTN has best network for video streaming: OpenSignal

MTN South Africa has edged ahead of rival Vodacom in offering the best video streaming experience, according to a new report from OpenSignal. Original Link

MTN denies targeting restrained Vodacom employees

MTN South Africa has denied it using an agreement with a company called Tuum Communications as a “guise” to hire restrained employees away from rival Vodacom. Original Link

Telkom customers won’t get to roam on Rain

Telkom customers will not be able to roam onto Rain’s network as part of the newly announced roaming agreement between Telkom and Vodacom. Original Link

Telkom to switch from MTN to Vodacom for roaming

Telkom mobile users will in future roam on Vodacom’s network, not MTN’s, after the two cellular operators concluded a new, multibillion-rand roaming deal on Wednesday. Original Link

MTN South Africa is losing customers

MTN Group’s financial update for the quarter ending 30 September 2018 shows that its South African operation is losing clients. Original Link

Telkom takes steps to implement new Icasa regulations

A month before communications regulator Icasa is due in court to defend itself against legal action over its new data-expiry rules, Telkom has begun to implement the regulations. Original Link

Our prices will tumble when we get more spectrum: MTN

MTN South Africa’s data prices will tumble when it gets access to new radio frequency spectrum, CEO Godfrey Motsa told the Competition Commission in Pretoria on Thursday. Original Link

SA ranked with war zones in spectrum allocation: MTN

Of the 21 countries in which MTN operates, its South African operation has the least spectrum assigned to it outside countries that face conflict situations. Original Link

Analysis shows impact of MTN pulling plug on free Twitter

The end of MTN’s free Twitter promotion may have led to a huge reduction in the volume of tweets by the users of that service, but it doesn’t seem to have had a significant effect on the volume of activity on the social network in South Africa. Original Link

‘No longer feasible’: MTN pulls plug on free Twitter

MTN South Africa is pulling the plug on its popular zero-rated Twitter offering, saying it is no longer feasible to offer the service without charging for data use. Original Link

MTN launches voice over LTE

MTN South Africa has launched voice over LTE, also known as VoLTE, to customers with certain supported devices. Previously, calls were only carried on the operator’s 2G and 3G infrastructure. Original Link

Amended telecoms bill headed to cabinet

A redrafted version of the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill will be presented to cabinet by the end of next month, a move that could finally take South Africa a meaningful step closer to awarding new spectrum licences. Original Link

MTN affirms full-year dividend target, despite Iran sanctions

MTN Group remains on track to report a total 2018 dividend of R5/share, despite “continued challenges in repatriating funds from MTN Irancell”, it said in notes alongside interim results for the six months to 30 June. Original Link

MTN SA sees good growth, but enterprise segment lags

MTN South Africa has improved profitability on the back of a strong retail consumer business, though its enterprise segment is not turning around as quickly as had been hoped, putting pressure on service revenue growth. Original Link

Vodacom spending big money to beat MTN

Vodacom is pouring money into its network in South Africa in an effort to ensure it stays ahead of crosstown rival MTN when it comes to coverage and performance. Original Link

Cell C fires salvo at MTN after rival hikes WhatsApp prices

Cell C appears to be stepping up to try to take market share from rival MTN by appealing to consumers hungry for cheap access to social media platforms.

Just 10 days after MTN South Africa said it had been “forced” to hike the price of its low-cost 1GB data bundle from R10 to R30 because of the impact on its 3G network, Cell C has introduced a similar product — but offering 1.2GB of data — for R17, and it has thrown access to Facebook into the deal, too.

On 16 August, MTN said it would hike the cost of its popular 1GB WhatsApp bundle, which was introduced in April, by 200% to try to mitigate the impact on its network.

MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30 per 1GB WhatsApp bundle, though selected users would continue to enjoy the R10 deal. The most vulnerable South Africans — those spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month — would be protected from the change in pricing, it said.

Now Cell C appears to be trying to soak up the demand from consumers, introducing three new “ShoutOut” bundles that give users access to Facebook and WhatsApp at aggressive price points.

For R4, they get 80MB of data for use with both WhatsApp and Facebook for 24 hours, while R17 gets 1.2GB for 30 days and R49 gets 4GB, also for 30 days. The bundles are promotional, begin on 30 July and will expire at the end of September, unless Cell C extends them beyond that date.

By launching the bundles on a promotional basis, Cell C will also be able to amend or withdraw them if, like MTN, they have a negative impact on its network.

MTN said it was investing a further R200-million in its 3G network infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”. It said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Cell C fires salvo at MTN after rival hikes WhatsApp prices

Cell C appears to be stepping up to try to take market share from rival MTN by appealing to consumers hungry for cheap access to social media platforms.

Just 10 days after MTN South Africa said it had been “forced” to hike the price of its low-cost 1GB data bundle from R10 to R30 because of the impact on its 3G network, Cell C has introduced a similar product — but offering 1.2GB of data — for R17, and it has thrown access to Facebook into the deal, too.

On 16 August, MTN said it would hike the cost of its popular 1GB WhatsApp bundle, which was introduced in April, by 200% to try to mitigate the impact on its network.

MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30 per 1GB WhatsApp bundle, though selected users would continue to enjoy the R10 deal. The most vulnerable South Africans — those spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month — would be protected from the change in pricing, it said.

Now Cell C appears to be trying to soak up the demand from consumers, introducing three new “ShoutOut” bundles that give users access to Facebook and WhatsApp at aggressive price points.

For R4, they get 80MB of data for use with both WhatsApp and Facebook for 24 hours, while R17 gets 1.2GB for 30 days and R49 gets 4GB, also for 30 days. The bundles are promotional, begin on 30 July and will expire at the end of September, unless Cell C extends them beyond that date.

By launching the bundles on a promotional basis, Cell C will also be able to amend or withdraw them if, like MTN, they have a negative impact on its network.

MTN said it was investing a further R200-million in its 3G network infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”. It said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Cell C fires salvo at MTN after rival hikes WhatsApp prices

Cell C appears to be stepping up to try to take market share from rival MTN by appealing to consumers hungry for cheap access to social media platforms.

Just 10 days after MTN South Africa said it had been “forced” to hike the price of its low-cost 1GB data bundle from R10 to R30 because of the impact on its 3G network, Cell C has introduced a similar product — but offering 1.2GB of data — for R17, and it has thrown access to Facebook into the deal, too.

On 16 August, MTN said it would hike the cost of its popular 1GB WhatsApp bundle, which was introduced in April, by 200% to try to mitigate the impact on its network.

MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30 per 1GB WhatsApp bundle, though selected users would continue to enjoy the R10 deal. The most vulnerable South Africans — those spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month — would be protected from the change in pricing, it said.

Now Cell C appears to be trying to soak up the demand from consumers, introducing three new “ShoutOut” bundles that give users access to Facebook and WhatsApp at aggressive price points.

For R4, they get 80MB of data for use with both WhatsApp and Facebook for 24 hours, while R17 gets 1.2GB for 30 days and R49 gets 4GB, also for 30 days. The bundles are promotional, begin on 30 July and will expire at the end of September, unless Cell C extends them beyond that date.

By launching the bundles on a promotional basis, Cell C will also be able to amend or withdraw them if, like MTN, they have a negative impact on its network.

MTN said it was investing a further R200-million in its 3G network infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”. It said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Cell C fires salvo at MTN after rival hikes WhatsApp prices

Cell C appears to be stepping up to try to take market share from rival MTN by appealing to consumers hungry for cheap access to social media platforms.

Just 10 days after MTN South Africa said it had been “forced” to hike the price of its low-cost 1GB data bundle from R10 to R30 because of the impact on its 3G network, Cell C has introduced a similar product — but offering 1.2GB of data — for R17, and it has thrown access to Facebook into the deal, too.

On 16 August, MTN said it would hike the cost of its popular 1GB WhatsApp bundle, which was introduced in April, by 200% to try to mitigate the impact on its network.

MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30 per 1GB WhatsApp bundle, though selected users would continue to enjoy the R10 deal. The most vulnerable South Africans — those spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month — would be protected from the change in pricing, it said.

Now Cell C appears to be trying to soak up the demand from consumers, introducing three new “ShoutOut” bundles that give users access to Facebook and WhatsApp at aggressive price points.

For R4, they get 80MB of data for use with both WhatsApp and Facebook for 24 hours, while R17 gets 1.2GB for 30 days and R49 gets 4GB, also for 30 days. The bundles are promotional, begin on 30 July and will expire at the end of September, unless Cell C extends them beyond that date.

By launching the bundles on a promotional basis, Cell C will also be able to amend or withdraw them if, like MTN, they have a negative impact on its network.

MTN said it was investing a further R200-million in its 3G network infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”. It said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN hikes WhatsApp bundle price by 200%

Just three months after introducing a low-cost, 1GB WhatsApp data bundle costing only R10, MTN South Africa has hiked the price — for many users, at least — by 200%.

Introduced in April, MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30/bundle, though some users will continue to enjoy the R10 deal.

“The public’s response has been exceptional. WhatsApp usage on the MTN network has increased by 300% in the past two months,” the company said in a statement on Monday. “Millions of South Africans are using WhatsApp on our network and millions more have been buying these bundles.”

However, MTN said the low-cost bundles had led to an “unintended consequence” — an “extraordinary increase in demand on MTN’s 3G network”. As a result, it said it will invest a further R200-million in its 3G infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”.

“MTN’s WhatsApp bundle will be repriced from R10 to R30. However, the most vulnerable South Africans that are currently spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month will be protected from the change in pricing and will still have access to this low-cost WhatsApp bundle.

“These customers, who are primarily using feature phones on our 3G network, will still pay just R10/month for their WhatsApp access, which will be offered to them via MTN’s *142# menu on MyMTNOffers,” the company said.

For all other customers, the price increase takes effect immediately.

MTN said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.

Twitter cap

At the same time, MTN said it will continue to offer zero-rated access to Twitter to all customers, though a data cap has been introduced. Customers do not need to opt in and no minimum balance is required to access free Twitter on MTN, it said.

“A review of customer usage has revealed that 99.1% of all Twitter users on MTN are using substantially less than 500MB every day. Of all the users, 80% are using no more than 10MB of Twitter data per day.”

Users will, however, be capped once they exceed 500MB of Twitter data usage per day. “In the limited instances where we are seeing excessive use, it’s clear that the free Twitter IP (Internet protocol address) is being hacked to stream IPs that are not free, while we are also seeing huge files and videos being transferred, resulting in excessive usage,” MTN said.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN South Africa workers to go on strike

MTN Group workers in South Africa are set to go on strike after a breakdown in wage talks with a key labour group.

The Communications Workers Union sent MTN an intention to strike and 120 protesters gathered outside the company’s Johannesburg offices, MTN spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan said in an e-mailed response to questions on Friday. The dispute is over the extent of salary increases from 1 April this year, she said.

MTN’s operations are “largely unaffected”, O’Sullivan said .

The union move comes in the same week as MTN was forced to shut down offices in Nigeria over violent protests by labor groups. South Africa and Nigeria are two of the company’s three biggest markets.

MTN Group re-opened offices in Nigeria that had been closed since Monday due to violent protests by labour groups.

Staff were assaulted and properties vandalised during the demonstrations, the company said on Friday. The wireless carrier is working with the Nigerian Communications Commission, government ministries and industry groups to reach an “amicable resolution” with unions led by the Nigeria Labour Congress, MTN said.

A spokesman for MTN Nigeria said later on Friday that the offices were back open. He declined to comment on whether a settlement had been reached with the labour groups.

The NLC had been picketing MTN’s offices across Nigeria all this week, accusing the company of refusing to allow workers to be asked whether they want to join a labour union. The company rejected the claim, saying none of its workers took part in the protest.

MTN is the market leader in Nigeria with almost 55 million customers, but has had a troubled relationship with Africa’s most populous country in recent years. In 2015, the company was hit with a regulatory fine that led to more than 18 months of negotiations that eroded the share price. Last year, MTN Nigeria’s headquarters in the capital, Abuja, were vandalised in retaliation for xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

The shares declined 0.2% to R106.67 as of 12.15pm in Johannesburg, extending the year-to-date drop to 21%.  — Reported by Loni Prinsloo and Yinka Ibukun, with assistance from Tope Alake

Original Link

Vodacom ordered to withdraw ‘best network’ claim

A sign at Vodacom’s head office in Johannesburg

In a significant victory for MTN South Africa, rival Vodacom has been told it may no longer claim in marketing and advertising material that it has South Africa’s best mobile network.

In a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority’s Advertising Industry Tribunal, MTN has won an appeal against its rival, overturning an earlier decision by the authority in Vodacom’s favour.

Vodacom has been ordered to withdraw all material that bears the claim with immediate effect.

The genesis of the dispute dates back to late January when Vodacom ran an advertisement in print media claiming it was South Africa’s “best network for three years in a row”. The claim was based on SAcsi, a benchmark of consumer satisfaction of the quality of products and services available to consumers.

MTN had contended that Vodacom’s claim to have the best network had always been in reference to its network performance and understood as such. The SAcsi benchmark does not deal with network performance. Vodacom responded that the “best network” claim did not necessarily relate to performance.

In its ruling, the advertising authority found that consumers “would most likely regard each claim in the context in which it appears” and that Vodacom’s claim was therefore “not misleading or dishonest”.

But the tribunal has overturned that decision following MTN’s appeal. It said Vodacom’s claim is “misleading” and must be withdrawn. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Cell C in multibillion-rand 3G, 4G roaming deal with MTN

In a significant development in South Africa’s telecommunications sector, Cell C has signed a roaming agreement with MTN that will allow its customer’s to roam on the latter’s network.

It’s the first time that Cell C will have access to another operator’s 4G network — its roaming agreement with Vodacom, which will not be terminated, extends only to 2G and 3G services. Though the agreement with Vodacom will continue, it will be mainly for 2G traffic and “limited” 3G traffic. Cell C will “migrate the majority of roaming 3G traffic and all 4G traffic to MTN”.

The agreement will see MTN providing both 3G and 4G services to Cell C in areas where Cell C has chosen to purchase coverage rather than self-build, mainly outside of the main metropolitan areas, the company said in a statement.

“Cell C completed a comprehensive assessment of the wholesale offerings available in the market and based on MTN’s significant network investment in recent times, we concluded that MTN offered the best solution for our business going forward,” said CEO Jose Dos Santos.

“This deal will complement Cell C’s network offering and, with the introduction of roaming 4G services, our customers in those areas will benefit significantly.”

The long-term roaming agreement with MTN is a multibillion-rand deal, Cell C said. It hasn’t attached a specific value to the transaction. Implementation is expected to begin soon.

“The roaming agreement with MTN best meets our needs as a company and we are expecting to complete the implementation in the next few months,” said Dos Santos.

The deal includes seamless handover for customers, which means that if someone is on a call that happens to switch from a Cell C tower to a MTN tower, it won’t be dropped.

Implementation of the national roaming agreement between the operators will begin next month and the bulk of bulk of the services will be transferred within two months, MTN said in a statement.

‘Seamless’

“The transition will be seamless and there will be no disruption to MTN or Cell C customers. No new Sim cards will be required for Cell C’s customers,” MTN said.

Cell C will roam on MTN’s network in the country’s smaller cities and rural areas where MTN currently has additional capacity. Both MTN and Cell C will maintain their own networks in the larger cities.

“MTN is committed to the continued roll-out of our network, across the country, to make sure all South African’s can reap the many benefits of mobile connectivity,” said MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa. “This deal will help fund our ongoing network expansion while also immediately offering more South Africans in peri-urban and rural parts of our country greater connectivity…”

Throughout the development of this deal, MTN and Cell C have maintained a strong focus on compliance, adhering to all necessary regulations and industry guidelines, MTN said. “This agreement is an important infrastructure sharing development within the South African telecoms sector…”  — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Interview: Cell C’s Graham Mackinnon on the MTN roaming deal

Cell C chief legal officer Graham Mackinnon

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod speaks on an Internet call with Cell C chief legal officer Graham Mackinnon about the multibillion-rand 3G and 4G/LTE roaming agreement his company has just signed with MTN South Africa.

Mackinnon explains the mechanics of the deal, what it means for consumers and the impact it could have on data pricing.

He talks about what the agreement means for Cell C’s existing roaming deal with Vodacom, the geographic areas that are covered by the MTN deal and what it means for Cell C’s balance sheet.

How important is seamless handover, which forms part of the deal, for consumers and when can Cell C customers expect to benefit?

Mackinnon answers all these questions and more in the podcast. Don’t miss it!

How to subscribe to TechCentral’s podcasts

There are many ways to enjoy TechCentral’s podcasts, beyond simply streaming them from our website. A good way is by subscribing to them using an app on your phone, allowing you to listen in the car, at the gym or wherever you happen to be.

The TechCentral Podcast RSS feed is available via iono.fm. Note that this is a separate feed to the weekly TalkCentral podcast, the RSS for which is available here. If you’d like both podcasts in one RSS feed, that’s here.

Use the RSS feeds to subscribe to either podcast (or both podcasts) in your favourite reader (we recommend Pocket Casts for Android, iOS and Windows Phone — look for “TechCentral” in its search engine to find both shows).

We are also available through iTunes. Simply open the iTunes app on your iPhone and search for “TechCentral” to find the two podcasts.

TechCentral podcasts are governed by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. This means you may copy and redistribute the material unmodified, but you must provide the appropriate credit to TechCentral, with a link to this page. We also ask that if you’d like to use this podcast on your website or in an electronic newsletter that you use iono.fm’s embedded player. The HTML for this episode’s embedded player is:

<iframe src=”https://embed.iono.fm/epi/564971″ width=”100%” height=”135″ frameborder=”0″><a href=”https://iono.fm/e/564971″>Content hosted by iono.fm</a></iframe>

Original Link

Spectrum-starved MTN to deploy 4G alongside 2G, 3G at 900MHz

Giovanni Chiarelli

MTN South Africa plans to deploy 4G/LTE technology in the 900MHz band, sharing the relatively low-frequency spectrum with its 2G, 3G and Internet of things communications technologies.

The solution, called CloudAir 2.0, is being rolled out in partnership with Chinese telecommunications equipment provider Huawei.

CloudAir 2.0 will help MTN cope with the shortage of new spectrum to deploy 4G, with the company calling the deployment a “global first”. In other countries, where spectrum has been allocated by regulators, operators tend to deploy 4G networks in the 700MHz and 800MHz bands, but in South Africa these frequencies are still being used by analogue television broadcasters because of the delays in the country’s digital migration programme. Spectrum at 900MHz was first allocated to MTN and rival Vodacom in the mid-1990s to allow the companies to deploy 2G networks.

MTN South Africa and Huawei established a joint innovation programme in 2017 to research and trial new technologies. CloudAir 2.0 allows MTN “to make more efficient use of its limited 900MHz spectrum allocation, and achieve a 45% increase in LTE throughput within the band”, it said.

“Spectrum is an extremely precious asset. This new network optimisation technique improves spectral efficiency and gives MTN the ability to deploy LTE within the same 900MHz band alongside GSM, UMTS and narrowband-IoT, while significantly improving LTE coverage and user experience,” said MTN South Africa chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli in a statement.

Edward Deng, president of the wireless network product line at Huawei, said: the solution allows MTN to allocate and adjust spectrum resources according to changes in mobile traffic and avoid legacy radio access technologies from occupying prime spectrum.  — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN South Africa shows margin improvement

MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter

Operational profit margins at MTN South Africa have shown good improvement in the first quarter of 2018, the emerging-markets telecommunications group said on Thursday.

In the three months to 31 March 2018, the South African operation lifted its margin, when measured using earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda, a measure of operational performance), by 150 basis points compared to a year ago.

In a quarterly update, MTN said group subscribers rose by 1.9% quarter of quarter, with net additions totalling 4.1m subscribers. Voice traffic increased by 24.2%, while data traffic rose by 56.7%. Group service revenue was up 9.1%, with group data revenue rising by 26.9% on a constant-currency basis.

The South African business recorded year-on-year service revenue growth of 2.5%, supported by data and digital revenue growth — up 12.1% and 17.7% respectively. Outgoing voice revenue fell by 9.2%, while data traffic jumped 49%, supported by a 14% increase in active data users.

MTN South Africa’s Ebitda margin expanded to 35% thanks to cost efficiency programmes and the increase in service revenue. The operation invested R1.7bn in the network in the first quarter, on top of already heavy spending in 2016 and 2017.

The local subsidiary reported 132 000 net post-paid subscriber additions, mainly in the consumer segment. The enterprise business segment “remains challenged”, MTN said, adding that it “now has the leadership team in place” that is “executing on a turnaround plan focused on improving customer retention and acquisition”.

Prepaid net additions in the quarter came in at 536 000.

In prepared remarks, group CEO Rob Shuter said MTN continued in the quarter to focus on “operational execution across our markets, leveraging off the strong network investment of the past few years”.

“This allowed us to deliver an acceleration in service revenue growth to 9.1% (constant currency), led by MTN Nigeria and MTN Ghana.”

He said digital service revenue is a “material opportunity for the group, led by MTN Mobile Money and rich-media services”. Mobile Money revenue increased 52.4% year on year. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN launches low-cost social media, streaming bundles

MTN South Africa has launched a range of new, lower-cost social media data bundles designed specifically to work with apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Twitter.

The plans, which start from R1/day, give customers access to these services without impacting their regular in-bundle data, the company said in a statement.

“The bundles on offer cover daily, weekly and monthly expiry rates, allowing customers to choose bundles best suited for their specific usage needs and their budgets,” it said.

From R1/day, moderate users can stay in touch with family and friends via WhatsApp, while more medium and heavy users can opt for social bundles that retail at R5 and R10, said spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan. The social bundles will send notifications confirming bundle purchase, expiry and depletion.

The table above shows the rates for the new social bundles.  — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

These SA tech companies will absorb the VAT hike

Image: Steve Buissinne

Although the vast majority of South Africa’s telecommunications and technology companies will pass on the 1% increase in the value-added tax rate — from 14% to 15% — from 1 April, some are bucking the trend and absorbing the increase on behalf of their clients.

MTN South Africa said last week that it won’t pass on the higher VAT charges to its prepaid customers — although it is hiking some prepaid prices as part of an “overhaul” of the prepaid portfolio.

MTN significantly increased the per-minute charges on certain “legacy” prepaid calling plans, though the company said the increases will only affect a subset of prepaid users and are in no way related to the VAT increase.

Spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan said the price increase was related to a planned overhaul of the company’s prepaid tariff plans, which will be phased in over the coming months.

“Customers making use of prepaid will not see a simple VAT increase on prepaid products,” O’Sullivan said. “Instead, MTN is sticking with the portfolio overhaul roadmap that was planned ahead of the VAT changes. Our post-paid base, which went through this portfolio transformation in 2018, will see a simple 1% VAT increase (on 1 April).”

Hosting company Hetzner, meanwhile, said on Monday that its customers’ hosting fees won’t be affected by the VAT increase. “After weighing up this important issue, Hetzner has decided to absorb the increase in VAT and not pass it onto our customers, keeping our pricing unchanged for as long as we can,” the company said in a statement.

“We don’t believe that the VAT increase is an adequate trigger for a price increase. There are a number of factors we do take into consideration when reviewing our pricing.”

It warned, however, that as global input costs continue to rise, it “might not be able to avoid price adjustments indefinitely”.

“But we prefer to look at price increases tied to improvements in our service. If an adjustment is required in the future, we will carefully consider the value we offer our customers.”

DStv

MultiChoice will also not hike prices on 1 April because of the increase in the VAT rate, though its regular annual adjustments will kick in on that date. The price increases were announced prior to government revealing that VAT would be rising on the same date.

The price of DStv Premium, MultiChoice’s top-end bouquet, will rise by 2.5% on 1 April 2018 — from R789/month to R809/month. Mid-tier bouquets, however, will see bigger increases, with DStv Compact Plus (formerly Extra) to rise by 4.1% from R489 to R509/month and DStv Compact going up by 5.5% to R385/month from R365 now. The lower-end DStv Family bouquet will see the biggest price increase — 6% — with the monthly fee rising from R235 to R249/month. DStv Access and EasyView remain unchanged at R99 and R29/month respectively.

Telecommunications provider Switch Telecom, meanwhile, said earlier this month that it has decided to reduce the impact of the VAT hike by effectively reducing its service fees.

“Switch Telecom will be reducing our standard monthly services fees and once-off charges by 1% as of 1 April 2018. Our clients will still pay the same VAT-inclusive rate for both standard monthly service fees and once-off charges.”

Call charges will remain at the same VAT-exclusive amount but will be subject to the new rate of 15%, it said. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Big jump in some MTN prepaid call rates

MTN has significantly increased the per-minute charges on certain “legacy” prepaid calling plans, though the company said the increases will only affect a subset of prepaid users and are in no way related to the VAT increase from 14% to 15% taking effect on 1 April.

Those on the MTN Pay Per Second plan will see on-network and off-network calls rise by 25%, from 79c to 99c/minute, effective Friday, 23 March 2018.

MTN South Africa spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan told TechCentral that the price increase is related to a planned overhaul of the company’s prepaid tariff plans, which will be phased in over the coming months. Despite the price increases, other customers are set to benefit from upcoming changes still to be announced, she said. They follow MTN’s overhaul last year of its contract pricing.

“Earlier this month, we introduced new data bundles. We have introduced the MyMTNOffers and we will be rolling out a series of new products over the next three months, all in line with the transformation of our prepaid portfolio,” O’Sullivan said.

“…Different products will be impacted in different ways and we will see new products also being launched,” she added. “In some areas, there will be price decreases, in others there’ll be increases and others will remain the same.

“Our focus is to create a product portfolio that better supports what our customers require from us and allows us to move away from outdated legacy products that no longer meet our customers’ needs.”

She said the changes are aimed at “simplifying the portfolio”. MTN has “analysed customers’ usage behaviour to allow us to tailor personalised offers that will be more relevant to each individual customer”.

VAT

“Customers making use of prepaid will not see a simple VAT increase on prepaid products. Instead, MTN is sticking with the portfolio overhaul roadmap that was planned ahead of the VAT changes. Our post-paid base, which went through this portfolio transformation in 2018, will see a simple 1% VAT increase (on 1 April).”

She said if affected customers want to change their prepaid plan in light of the price increases, they can do so through the normal channels.

Source: MTN

The price changes are effective on 23 March (see table above for more details).

Customers on MTN’s popular Base and Zone prepaid products are not affected.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Strong rand knocks MTN

Rob Shuter

MTN Group delivered good underlying operational results in the 2017 financial year, but the strong rand and several large once-off items dented the numbers.

Before the effects of currency swings and various pro forma adjustments, group service revenue climbed by 7.2%, but the reported number declined by 10.8% to R124.4bn. This was on the back of a 34.2% improvement in data revenue (or 19.4% reported) and 14.2% growth in digital services revenue (-6.9%).

The group reported a sharp swing back into profitability, with headline earnings per share (Heps) — a key performance measure watched by South African investors — of R1.82, from a Heps loss of 77c previously.

Heps were impacted by several once-off and non-cash post-tax items totalling R4.83. The adjustments included costs related to the Nigerian regulatory fine of 46c, hyperinflation adjustments excluding impairments of 96c, net foreign exchange losses of R1.59, a MTN Zakhele Futhi share-based payment expense of 24c and a loss on the derecognition of a loan to an IHS tower subsidiary of R1.58.

The group declared a final dividend of R4.50/share, bringing the total for the year to R7.

“MTN delivered a solid overall performance for the year, with progress on many fronts, despite difficult economic conditions as well as operational and regulatory challenges in certain markets,” CEO Rob Shuter said in a statement.

“MTN Nigeria showed strong constant currency revenue growth and MTN South Africa’s post-paid business displayed encouraging improvements.”

He said the foundation is now in place for the group to deliver “strong growth over the medium term”.

Challenging conditions

Macroeconomic conditions were challenging across several MTN’s key markets, Shuter said. “Nigeria experienced a markedly weaker naira as well as hard currency liquidity challenges earlier in the year, but this showed signs of improvement as the year progressed. Although South Africa entered a technical recession in the first quarter of 2017, growth resumed in the second quarter and the rand strengthened considerably against the US dollar during the latter part of the year. Many of the currencies in our other markets weakened. In Iran, economic growth slowed somewhat and the rial weakened.”

Full-year capital expenditure was R31.5bn, slightly ahead of the R30bn previously guided.

“Over the next few years, we expect to deliver upper-single-digit constant currency service revenue growth for the group, driven by mid-single-digit growth from South Africa and double-digit growth from Nigeria,” Shuter said. “Over the same period, we expect to see an expansion in group Ebitda margins.” Ebitda, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, is a measure of operational profitability.

“We are confident the foundation is now in place for MTN to deliver strong growth in the medium term. Through the continued execution of our strategy, we anticipate improved service revenue and Ebitda growth as well as accelerating free cash flows over this period. Going forward, we will manage our holding company gearing at levels that are appropriate for a business with our corporate structure and risk profile and will adopt a rebased progressive dividend policy.”

MTN said it expects to pay a total dividend of R5/share for 2018, growing at 10% to 20% over the medium term. “The re-basing of the dividend follows the marked changes in currency exchange rates across a number of our markets. This will allow us to ensure that the dividend is funded from operational cash flows over the medium term.” — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

  • TechCentral will be providing full coverage of the results through the course of Thursday

Original Link

Trust the free market, MTN tells government

MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa

Government must trust the free market to drive down prices and not create a new infrastructure monopoly by giving all unassigned broadband spectrum to a new wholesale operator.

That’s the message from MTN South Africa CEO, Godfrey Motsa, who warned officials from the department of telecommunications & postal services at a workshop in Pretoria on Wednesday that the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill could strangle the sector.

He said the mobile operators have delivered access to the vast majority of South Africans. He said MTN’s 2G network coverage now reaches 99% of the population, while 3G is at 98% and 4G/LTE is at 71%. He said a lack of new spectrum is holding back the company from delivering universal 4G coverage.

“With more spectrum, we will improve speeds and sell bigger data at lower prices,” Motsa said. “The main reason prices are high is because we don’t have spectrum.”

Government is threatening to withhold future spectrum assignments from commercial operators, instead directing it to a new, private sector-led wholesale open-access network (Woan), from which the operators will be expected to procure access. Motsa said this will create a new monopoly in the sector to the detriment of the industry and consumers.

Rather than creating an infrastructure monopoly in the proposed Woan, spectrum should be released to the operators with conditions attached. “Put conditions for us to accelerate transformation,” he said. “That’s where the juice is. We are squeezing in the wrong place.”

He emphasised that competition is just as important at the infrastructure level as it is as the services layer. Government wants to encourage competition in services, rather than infrastructure, in an effort to, among other things, reduce duplication. But Motsa said that of MTN’s 11 000 towers, 7 000 are already shared with others.

He said that even in China, the country’s three big mobile operators all compete on an infrastructure level.

No to a monopoly

“A monopoly will never deliver a quality network. We saw that for a long time until 1994. Today, a South African household has better access to the Internet than they do to water or electricity. We cannot introduce a monopoly into this sector and still expect we can deliver quality networks,” he said.

He also decried a plan by government to force operators to open their networks to rivals at cost. “Why would we spend R10bn/year and give that infrastructure to someone at a zero mark-up? Who goes into business to sell things at cost? People just won’t build (networks).”

Motsa blasted a proposal in the bill that operators be forced at some point to hand back their existing spectrum assignments, the ones they have used to build their 2G, 3G and 4G networks. He said government’s approach is that spectrum should be returned as if the operators had somehow “stolen it”.

“Why are we thinking this way? We have spent tens of billions of rand building infrastructure. You take away the spectrum, then the towers, the radio, the fibre, it’s worth nothing.”

He said the amendment bill flies in the face of the National Development Plan, which states that spectrum allocation should be based on competition. “We believe the bill as proposed today is against the NDP.”

Also, the proposed Woan is riddled with “vagueness and ambiguity”, Motsa said. He said there is a place for a Woan-type network, but it should under no circumstances be given a monopoly by assigning it all future spectrum assets. There is sufficient spectrum to allow for infrastructure competition.

“Please trust the market forces, trust competition, for us to be able to solve a lot of these things (government wants to address),” he said.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Telecoms bill is a disaster, MTN warns

Government’s Electronic Communications Amendment Bill is unconstitutional, will create a new infrastructure monopoly in the form of a proposed wholesale open-access network (Woan) and will ultimately be detrimental to consumers.

Those are some of the key arguments in MTN South Africa’s submission to the department of telecommunications & postal services over the contentious bill, which, if enacted in its current form, will likely lead to legal challenges.

The department is set to hold a high-level meeting with the operators and other industry role players in early March to discuss the bill. Interested parties had until 31 January to make submissions to government on the bill.

The draft legislation represents the “most aggressive telecoms legislative intervention into a developed telecoms market anywhere”, MTN warned.

The bill, it said, proposes a “comprehensive U-turn on a model that delivered tens of billions (of rand) of investments, competitive broadband infrastructure, even in rural areas, and world-class choice and innovation, in favour of an untested and extreme regulatory model centred on re-monopolisation of infrastructure, cost-based access and expropriation of property”.

Government is coming under growing pressure withdraw the bill as concerns mount about the potential negative impact it could have on the sector, and on the South African economy more broadly.

The bill, MTN said, violates the property clause in the constitution, fails to meet the rationality requirement imposed by section 1(c) and section 22 of the constitution, and is “impermissibly vague”.

“In an industry characterised by dynamism, all the economic evidence has shown that relying on what will essentially become a single solution infrastructure will undermine South Africa’s engine for economic growth and jobs,” the operator said in its submission.

“This unique, untested and extreme regulatory model has been introduced based on an impact assessment that is entirely qualitative; focused on a list of hypothetical benefits, which appear to be unsupported by the economic literature and market research; and largely unconcerned about its impact on investment and innovation incentives.”

‘Serious constitutional issues’

Even if the “serious constitutional issues” raised by the bill are addressed, the law should not be changed until an “in-depth and quantitative understanding of the balance of costs and benefits for these radical proposals are fully understood and laid out before the legislator”.

Two of the most contentious aspects of the bill are a plan to introduce the government-backed but privately owned Woan, to which most if not all future mobile spectrum will be allocated, and a plan to force “open access” on the commercial operators. This proposed open-access regime will force operators to share their network infrastructure with the Woan and other licensed companies.

“The proposed amendments dealing with the Woan and the open-access regime will not achieve their stated objectives,” MTN warned in its submission. “Appropriate regulation should encourage economic transformation, promote competition, encourage investment, reduce unnecessary costs and remove obstacles for firms to compete. The proposed regulatory interventions in the bill will not do so: on the contrary, they will harm incentives to invest, and will harm competition and consumers, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable consumers.”

On open access, MTN said a reasonable and objective economic rationale (a threshold assessment) must be put in place before the proposed amendment on open access and cost-based pricing is triggered.

“If the latter is not managed properly, unintended consequences are likely to occur, which may give rise to disputes and litigation. Much-needed investment and innovation in the ICT sector will be stifled should this bill be enacted in its current form,” it said.

“Some of the key (objectives) of the bill, such as the promotion of investment, innovation, research and development, cannot possibly be achieved by legislation that adds massive uncertainty and permits the deprivation of property of the mobile network operators,” MTN added. “Moreover, the Woan will not have incentives to invest efficiently, or efficiently to utilise the high-demand (mobile) spectrum that will be licensed to it.

“The bill will directly harm competition among operators and will thereby directly hinder the pursuit of the most important (objectives) of the bill, which are to promote the universal provision of electronic communications networks and electronic communications services and connectivity for all, and to promote the interests of consumers regarding the price, quality and the variety of electronic communications services. Harming competition will also directly harm the efficiency with which radio frequency spectrum is used.”

The company said the planned Woan will be entitled to access commercial operators’ infrastructure based on “cost-based pricing”. This will destroy the operators’ incentives to invest in the maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure, and investment in any further infrastructure, it said.

In addition, the commercial operators could lose their existing spectrum licences, because the bill requires communications regulator Icasa to make recommendations to the minister regarding the “return of spectrum”.

“Investments in network infrastructure are typically made several years in advance, to ensure that network capacity grows faster than network demand. Moreover, investments in network infrastructure are cumulative, and may only be recovered over a period of several years, if ever,” MTN said.

“This provision will severely harm a mobile network operator’s incentive to invest in further infrastructure… The ability to recover infrastructure investments in future is critically dependent on spectrum holdings in those future years. If there is uncertainty over those future spectrum holdings, then this will significantly harm incentives to invest.”

‘Fierce competition’

Competition, the company said, has “served consumers well” and the bill seeks to undermine this. “Fierce competition” has led to “continuous and significant investments that have resulted in nearly universal coverage, the delivery of data volumes that have grown exponentially, network quality that has constantly improved, and pricing that has fallen dramatically year after year.

“After more than a century of monopoly in relation to fixed-line services, Telkom had only reached around four million subscribers by 1994, and that number has not grown since. Indeed, fixed subscribers have fallen in the past few years. By contrast, in 2016, there were a total of 87m active mobile Sims or subscriptions on South Africa’s networks, and 37.5m unique mobile subscribers, a 68% population penetration rate.”

The proposals contained in the bill will “directly harm incentives to invest (and) will harm competition … in particular incentives to compete on continuously investing in improving network infrastructure to meet exponential growth in demand for data connectivity”.

“In the form proposed by the bill, the Woan would be antithetical to the promotion of competition. It would effectively operate as a monopolistic wholesale player and would moreover be created and operate under considerable uncertainty,” MTN said. “The Woan would have no incentives to invest and compete, given the provisions in the bill, which would not provide it with the incentives to invest in infrastructure or to use spectrum efficiently.”

Instead of fostering infrastructure-based competition, government wants to promote competition at the services level. But MTN said this is a bad idea. It would “directly harmful to consumers if service-based competition were to be seen in a vacuum, isolated from infrastructure competition.

“Service-based competition depends on infrastructure competition, which makes available network capacity that can then be sold to subscribers. Obviously, service-based competition can only compete prices down to the level of the available network capabilities that are the result of infrastructure competition, and service-based competition cannot affect the quality or capacity of network infrastructure.

“A selective and restricted focus on service-based competition, while destroying incentives for infrastructure competition, would be directly harmful to consumers. It would be as short-sighted as legislating for a monopoly bread bakery, in the hope that competition between grocery retailers would drive good quality, low prices and widespread availability of bread.”  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN launches 5G trial, gets over 20Gbit/s

Giovanni Chiarelli

MTN has launched the first 5G trial in South Africa — and in the broader Africa — in partnership with networking equipment vendor Ericsson. Last November, the operator’s principal rival, Vodacom, said it would launch a 5G trial in partnership with Nokia, but hasn’t yet provided details of that effort.

MTN Group chief technology and information officer Babak Fouladi said at a press conference at the operator’s Fairland, Johannesburg head office on Monday that its plan is to have everyone in South Africa connected to mobile broadband, including in rural areas. He said MTN will do this by building a ubiquitous 3G network covering the entire country, while offering the latest technologies based on 4G/LTE and — hopefully soon 5G — in urban areas.

The group launched the 5G trial “in recent days”, said MTN South Africa spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan at Monday’s event. It follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Ericsson at AfricaCom, an industry event in Cape Town, in late 2017 to collaborate on the roll-out of 5G.

The 5G trial has achieved download speeds of more than 20Gbit/s with latency (network round-trip time) of just five milliseconds. 20Gbit/s is significantly faster than fastest connection speeds available to South African consumers over fixed fibre-optic lines, where speeds top out at 1Gbit/s.

“This is the highest achieved on a mobile network in Africa,” MTN said in a statement.

The 5G trial is based on commercially available baseband hardware and 5G mobility is supported, the group said.

“MTN has tested a range of 5G use cases and applications in its test lab proof of concept in South Africa, which will lead to commercial deployment in the near future,” it said.

However, MTN South Africa chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli emphasised that the operator is hamstrung in its roll-out plans until it can get access to additional radio frequency spectrum.

Regulator Icasa has still not formally allocated spectrum to local operators to deploy 4G infrastructure, forcing the companies to reallocate 2G and 3G spectrum for 4G technology.

Spectrum

“There is no doubt that 5G will offer the consumer higher speeds and lower latency, but to achieve this we need the capacity that comes with additional spectrum. Thus, once again, we call on the government to urgently release the much needed spectrum that is required in South Africa, to lower the cost of data and drive growth and development for all South Africans,” Chiarelli said. “We are talking about blocks of hundreds of megahertz, or even gigahertz.”

Chiarelli said 5G delivers at least 100 times the throughput of 4G. He said it will prove to be a significant challenger to fixed fibre alternatives. He said latency is 10 times better than on 4G, with results typically of between one millisecond and 5ms. That compares well with fibre.

For the trial, MTN is using 800MHz of spectrum in the 15GHz band. The spectrum was licensed to MTN on a test basis by Icasa. It may not be used to launch commercial services.

MTN rival Vodacom late last year said it would trial 5G technology in South Africa with Nokia, a competitor of Ericsson’s. Working with Vodacom in a series of workshops and trials, Nokia would test how 5G technology could be used to meet demand in South Africa, the mobile operator, which is majority owned by the UK-headquartered Vodafone, said at the time.

The companies would focus on the delivery of ultra-high-definition and virtual reality video using the enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency capabilities of 5G, they said in a statement in November 2017.

Nokia would leverage expertise from its Bell Labs Consulting arm to work with Vodacom and identify where, when and how to evolve its network to 5G.

Vodacom chief technology officer Andries Delport said 5G would have applications in big data analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of things.

The companies did not say when their trial would begin.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN slashes out-of-bundle data rates

MTN South Africa has cut out-of-bundle data rates to 29c/MB for the poor and all other users will in future pay a maximum of 60c/MB, provided they opt in. The reductions offer savings of up to 80%, MTN said.

The first of two new pricing tiers will see customers who use 5MB or less of out-of-bundle data a month pay 29c/MB for that data.

“We see that lower-income users tend to use data for simple messaging, using over-the-top platforms such as WhatsApp, and that usage is often below 5MB/month,” said MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa.

“The digital divide affects poor South Africans the most and we want to make it cheaper for this economically marginalised section of our nation to communicate, which is why we’re implementing the 29c/MB rate for customers using 5MB or less of out-of-bundle date per month.”

The 29c pricing will be offered to all customers who have consistently used 5MB or less per month for three consecutive months. Should these customers use more than 5MB of out-of-bundle data, they will be charged 60c/MB for the remainder of the month.

Customers eligible for the new 60c/MB out-of-bundle rate (in other words, those using more than 5MB/month) must opt in to benefit from the lower rate using the USSD code *130*1#. The lower rates are effective from Friday, 1 December. Some customers who have not moved off older packages will see their out-of-bundle rate fall from R2/MB to 60c.

Motsa said the opt-in process is once-off, after which customers will never be charged more than 60c/MB. The opt-in mechanism is needed to ensure all customers have consented to the new 60c pricing, he explained.

1GB bundle for R50

Meanwhile, MTN has also launched a new, lower-priced 1GB data bundle on promotion (meaning it’s not a permanent tariff filed with communications regulator Icasa). The 1GB bundle will cost R50, down from the R160 MTN has charged for 1GB in the past. The bundle is available exclusively through the MyMTN smartphone app.

“We have made these data pricing reductions despite the spectrum crunch that continues to hamper our industry, but there is absolutely no doubt that the release of spectrum will allow us to continue dropping the price of data,” Motsa said.

He called on telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele to release spectrum to the mobile operators as soon as possible.

Motsa has been highly critical of the telecoms department’s Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, which was approved by cabinet earlier in November. This proposed legislation, to govern the ICT sector in South Africa, raises “extensive and significant” risks for the industry.

Motsa, speaking to journalists in Johannesburg on Thursday, also announced that MTN has hired Ster-Kinekor CEO Wanda Matandela to be the new head of the operator’s enterprise unit.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN introducing biometrics to fight identity theft

MTN South Africa is introducing a biometric fingerprint scanning system in an effort to crack down on identity theft in its retail stores.

The mobile operator said it has strengthened its security with the system ahead of the busy festive season, when crime rises.

“The biometrics will be used to authenticate the identity of post-paid subscribers when they undertake a range of transactions, including applying for a new contract or an additional Sim, performing an upgrade or Sim swap, and loading of chargeable value-added services,” MTN said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Furthermore, the system links to the credit bureaus’ expansive consumer database and can easily match customer’s fingerprints with their identity number.”

The company’s corporate affairs executive, Jacqui O’Sullivan, said: “So many South Africans have become victims of identity theft and a first stop for these criminals is often the retail environment. Our fingerprint biometric solution will go a long way in enhancing the experience of our customers and protecting subscribers from the scourge of identity theft.”

The fingerprint biometric system is being rolled out to all MTN stores and plans are in place to deploy this solution to the sales channels as well, O’Sullivan said.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN promises 5G trial in SA early next year

Giovanni Chiarelli

Two days after Vodacom said it would begin trialling 5G services in South Africa on a limited basis, MTN has also jumped on the bandwagon, saying in a statement on Thursday morning that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ericsson to be “the first” with a 5G trial in the first quarter of 2018.

Vodacom and MTN will now no doubt be racing to be first to launch limited test of 5G, the standards for which are still being bedded down internationally. Ironically, both may be beaten to the punch by Comsol, a much smaller telecommunications operator that said recently that it will launch the country’s first 5G trial this month and that its trial will involve live customers.

MTN said in its statement that Ericsson will provide it with “end-to-end 5G capacity support” and both will identify 5G use cases and applications for the digital transformation of industry verticals such as mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and utilities”.

“MTN will trial a range of 5G use cases and applications in its test bed laboratory proof of concept in South Africa, leading to commercial deployment in the future,” it said.

“In collaboration with Ericsson, we are continuously testing, learning and pushing the boundaries of how 5G can meet the diverse needs of our customers in the future. We’re developing 5G technology based on real business needs,” said MTN South Africa chief technology and information officer Giovanni Chiarelli in the statement.

Vodacom said on Tuesday that it would work with Nokia on its planned trials. The companies will focus on the delivery of ultra-high-definition and virtual reality video using the enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency capabilities of 5G, it said.

“Vodacom and Nokia will also collaborate to understand how 5G can drive continued economic growth in industries important to South Africa including manufacturing, mining, healthcare, media, energy and transportation,” the companies said in a statement.

Who will be first?

Vodacom chief technology officer Andries Delport said 5G would have applications in big data analytics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of things.

The companies did not say when the trials would begin.

Last month, TechCentral reported exclusively that Comsol, a telecoms company backed by Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation and Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners, would launch the first 5G network in South Africa in November.

The company, based in Midrand in Johannesburg, will launch a trial 5G network, with live customers, in partnership with Internet service providers with a view to launching a commercial 5G network thereafter. Several high sites will be used for the trial.  — © 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Spectrum release would cut data prices: MTN

MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa has implored government to release spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, saying the move could cut the price of a 1GB data bundle to R50 overnight.

Motsa, who was speaking to an audience in Midrand on Thursday, said more needs to be done to speed up the allocation of the 2.6GHz band, which is well suited for delivering 4G/LTE mobile broadband services.

“One gigabyte of data can cost R50 tomorrow if the currently dormant 2.6GHz spectrum is released immediately,” he said.

He warned that the mobile industry “cannot continue to subsidise the spectrum crunch, which negatively impacts on the poorest members of society”.

He added that the democratisation of the Internet, which includes improved coverage, reduced prices, relevant digital content and enhanced customer experience, should not be the “sole burden of mobile operators”.

“We cannot do this alone. The implementation of a well-considered and reasonable policy and regulation framework is the stimulus that will ignite the further dynamic development of the South African telecommunications space,” Motsa said.

His remarks come in the same week that national treasury, in its medium-term budget policy statement, punted the idea of a spectrum auction to allocate scarce radio frequency spectrum, potentially putting finance minister Malusi Gigaba at odds with his colleague in telecommunications & postal services, Siyabonga Cwele.

In the statement, treasury said the delay in allocating spectrum has had the effect of constraining growth across the economy.

“Lack of radio frequency limits the ability of businesses to deploy new technologies and contributes to the high cost of broadband,” the statement said.

Spectrum auction

“A well-designed spectrum auction can promote transformation and improve competition as new participants enter the market. Universal service conditions can improve access for low-income households. And a competitive auction can sharply reduce data costs.”

Communications regulator Icasa is pushing ahead with plans to auction the spectrum, but Cwele is challenging this in court.

The telecoms minister does not favour a spectrum auction. Instead, he wants to reserve a big chunk of spectrum for a new wholesale open-access network, a plan that has been met with sharp criticism. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

Currencies hit MTN, but group making progress

Rob Shuter

Fluctuating exchange rates have hit MTN’s numbers for the third quarter hard, with reported group total revenue and group service revenue reducing by 13.4% and 14% respectively year on year. However, in constant currency terms, the Johannesburg-headquartered telecommunications provider is showing signs of operational improvement.

On a constant currency basis, group total revenue increased by 6.9%, with service revenue up 7.4%. Data revenue increased by 31.4% and digital revenue was up 19.6%.

However, subscriber numbers declined by 0.7% quarter on quarter to 230.2m, mainly as a result of lower reported subscribers in Nigeria and Uganda. This is due to a refinement in active subscriber definitions in Nigeria and Sim-card registration regulations in Uganda.

Voice traffic (billable minutes) increased by 9% and data traffic continued to grow strongly, up by 125% year on year, MTN said in a note to shareholders published before markets opened on Tuesday. Year-to-date capital expenditure came in at R18bn, up just over 1% on a year ago.

Active MTN Mobile Money customers increased by 10.6% over the second quarter to reach 19.8m.

Group CEO Rob Shuter said network investments in South Africa and Nigeria are “showing encouraging improvements in network quality and Net Promoter Scores”.

“In South Africa, the prepaid business performed well and progress is being made in the post-paid segment, particularly in consumer post-paid where we now have positive net adds year to date,” Shuter said.

“In Nigeria, our month-on-month gross connections have increased, and we experienced stable subscriber market share over the quarter while driving increased value share.”

On track

He said MTN is on track to meet its full-year guidance “despite continued challenging economic growth across our markets”.

In South Africa, subscriber numbers declined by 1% to 30.9m, driven lower by prepaid, where there was higher churn following the withdrawal of a promotion in the second quarter. Post-paid subscriber numbers were stable.

“The post-paid consumer segment recorded positive net additions in the quarter, demonstrating a continued encouraging recovery in this segment,” MTN said. “This was supported by improvements made in customer value management, increased channel footprint and enhanced churn management.”

MTN Nigeria grew revenue by 11.2% (in constant currency terms), supported by a 5.4% growth in voice revenue and a 72.1% growth in data revenue. Subscriber numbers in this market declined by 5.2% to 50.3m due to “modernisation of subscriber definitions”.

“On a like-for-like basis, MTN Nigeria reported positive net additions and continued to gain value share in the quarter,” the group said. “To further drive subscriber growth, increasing the Sim registration footprint remains a priority.”

MTN Irancell, in which MTN has a 49% stake, performed well thanks to a 64.5% growth in data revenue. The operation’s subscriber base expanded by 1% in the quarter.  — © 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link

MTN launches cheaper on-net voice bundles

MTN South Africa has launched a range of low-cost on-network voice bundles, it said on Monday. The plans offer deals with calls priced as low as 10c/minute.

The voice bundles, called MTN WOW, have daily, weekly and monthly validity periods depending on the size purchased.

They range from R3 for seven minutes of talktime (valid until midnight of the same day) up to R300 for 3 000 minutes with one-month validity (see table below).

“The WOW voice bundles provide value as they will ensure that our customers stay connected for longer at discounted prices,” said Mapula Bodibe, executive at MTN South Africa’s customer business unit.

Image: Supplied

“The diverse options that are available give our customers the ability to purchase bundles that suit their needs, usage and budget.”

The WOW bundles are available to MTN prepaid customers, except those customers on the pay-per-second price plan.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

Original Link