Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Vodafone and Connected Farming in India

After reading several very tragic reports about large numbers of Indian farmers committing suicide. I was intrigued to come across Vodafone's 'Connected Farming in India' report. This report alleges that the mobile services summarised below could enhance 
earnings by an average of US$128 a year for almost two-thirds of Indian farmers, achieving
a material positive impact in communities where the average farming household lives on 
less than $4 a day and many farmers struggle to feed and educate their families.

ndia is one of the world’s largest food producers with more than 200 million people currently estimated to work in agriculture, around 100 million of them farmers and the remainder working as agricultural labourers. In India, around 62% of farmers own less than one hectare of land, significantly increasing their exposure to the effects of crop failure, pests, disease and volatile market pricing.

Vodafone and Accenture Strategy have identified six mobile services with the potential to transform Indian farmers’ lives and livelihoods.

Agricultural information services providing early warning of weather events, information on the best times to harvest and advice on crop techniques to enhance yields. These services could increase an estimated 60 million Indian farmers’ annual incomes by an average of US$89 a year in 2020.

Receipt services to provide greater transparency in daily commodity supply chains, allowing farmers to raise their incomes by improving efficiency and eliminating fraud.

Payments and loans enabling farmers to access simple and secure financial products and services using mobile money payment systems such as Vodafone’s M-Pesa, launched in India in April 2013. Access to highly cost-effective micro-finance and quick and transparent electronic payment systems could provide an annual benefit of US$690 for some farmers in 2020, representing a 39% increase in their average farming income.

Field audit enabling auditors monitoring quality, sustainability and certification requirements to move away from paper records and adopt instead electronic reporting via tablets and mobile data, greatly enhancing efficiency and potentially increasing annual average income by US$612 for some farmers.

Local supply chain enabling small-scale producers to transact with local co-operatives through simple but robust information services and mobile money systems. These could boost some farmers’ annual incomes by US$271 in 2020; a 50% increase on current farming incomes.

Smartphone-enabled services to provide deeper functionality and richer sources of information than is possible using basic SMS and voicemail services. While smartphone penetration is currently low in rural areas in emerging market economies, average device prices continue to fall year-on-year. Advanced and affordable mobile services could lead to an increase in average annual farming incomes of US$675 for more than four million farmers in 2020.

For more information: link to the report. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Indonesia’s operators and ISP make progress with LTE

As of June 2011, the number of mobile phone subscriptions in Indonesia was recorded to be 220 million which corresponds to a penetration rate of 92% over an estimated population of around 237.6 million.

At the end of 2012, The three main operators owned 221 million of the then 278 million mobile subscribers in Indonesia.
  • Telkomsel is undeniably the largest operator, and its user base of 123 million makes it the 7th largest mobile company in the world. 
  • Indosat with 55 million subscribers 
  • XL Axiata with 42 million subscribers
  • 3 (known as Tri in Indonesia), which has 20 million subscribers.

As of December 2014, all three of the biggest telcos, along with ISP Bolt! launched their 4G LTE networks commercially in the country. In order to be able to use the 4G connections in Indonesia, you must use 4G-ready smartphones. To connect to 4G network from operators, users in Indonesia must first exchange the SIM cards in respective service centers, and then subscribe to specific data plans. For Bolt, you can either connect to its 4G modem via a 4G smartphone, or directly use Bolt SIM cards which are only compatible with Bolt’s own smartphones.

Bolt! at the beginning of 2015 it claimed to be the first operator of 4G LTE  to have more than one million customers in Indonesia .
Based on the presentation (embedded below) they are using two carriers and they move users between the frequencies using inter-frequency handover to which ever one is less congested. This process is done automatically as a part of Mobility Load Balancing (MLB) which is a feature of Self-Optimising Network (SON). 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Country Overview: Pakistan

This seemingly struggling nation has one of the highest rates of cell phone usage and penetration in South Asia. Close to 140 million people have a cell phone connection in Pakistan, and they enjoy some of the cheapest service rates in the global market.

  • Of Pakistan’s 180 million people, 68 percent are under 30 (compared to 63 percent in India, 40 percent in the US)
  • Pakistan expects to have 110 million 3G or 4G subscribers by 2019
  • Pakistan has the fourth largest middle class population in developing Asia
  • 30 million internet users
  • 6.8 million smartphone users

Mobile Internet is also widely used in Pakistan, which has led to operators introducing 3G and 4G services in the country. One of these operators, China Mobile’s Zong – the world’s largest mobile network operator – invested $516 million in acquiring 3G and 4G licenses and is currently the only operator providing the latter.

Zong is Pakistan’s fourth biggest mobile telco.

In March 2014 Zong surpassed 25 million customers, out of a total of 125 million mobile subscribers in Pakistan. Mobiilink remains number one with over 38 million subscribers, Telenor is second with 33 million, and Ufone is third with 26 million. Warid is down in fifth with 13 million.

Mobile subscribers in Pakistan - to January 2014

Friday, 24 October 2014

Country Overview: The Philippines


With the second-largest population in South-east Asia after Indonesia, the Philippines has a large consumer base for its mobile market. Penetration in 2012 reached 106%, or 102.3m subscribers, according to a report by PwC. Filipinos are also among the world’s most prolific texters, accounting for 10% of global SMS messages.

The two major network operators for mobile internet in the Philippines are Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, which combine to make a total of 83 percent of the market share. Sun Cellular is a distant third.

3G services
The roll out of the 3G network began in 2005 when the government opened bidding on five new 3G licences. Despite having five licences on offer, the NTC ultimately granted only four, as it argued that the remaining applicants lacked the capacity to effectively provide 3G services. The four successful companies included Globe Telecom, Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise (CURE), Smart Communications (owned by PLDT), and Sun Cellular. Smart Communications, having acquired CURE in 2008, was itself acquired by PLDT in 2011. As a condition of the latter deal, PLDT agreed to relinquish its CURE licence.

Delays in spectrum allocation have been a drag on the region’s 3G uptake, which has been relatively slow. Low penetration of smartphones that are equipped for mobile broadband have also dampened growth.
All the same, growing data demand and the introduction of low-cost smartphones, such as the Nokia Lumina series unveiled in the Philippines in March 2014, paint a bright picture for the future of the industry.
Smart Communications was one of the first operators to introduce 4G LTE services in the Philippines. In August 2012, it launched LTE service at bands of 850 MHz and 2600 MHz, adding additional capacity at 1800 MHz the following month. These services are already available in larger cities such as Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Quezon City, San Juan, and Valenzuela, according to Telegeography, a telecoms research firm.
The company is also set to expand this service further. In March 2014, it unveiled plans to extend its 4G LTE network to all major cities by the end of 2014 – areas including Bohol, Bacolod, Davao del Sur, Tagaytay and Ilocos Norte – thus reaching 50% of the population. In addition, the P32bn ($714m) of planned capital expenditures for 2014 will include expanding Smart Communications’ 3G coverage from its current coverage of 71% of the population to 100%.
Globe Telecom, too, is widening its networks. In November 2011, it launched a $790m programme to modernise its services, including the roll-out of a 4G LTE network in Makati, Manila, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Mandaluyong, Cebu City, Boracay and Quezon City. The company’s president and CEO, Ernest Cu, told OBG that the existing network infrastructure in the Philippines was built primarily to handle SMS traffic, which requires considerably less backbone capacity than data-intensive services. Now, in addition to expanding the company’s fibre optic network, Globe Telecom is seeking to standardise the communications protocols used for voice, SMS and data in order to further improve network capacity and help in future proofing the system. In 2014, capital investment in excess of $200m has been earmarked to further expand the data network and build additional capacity, which is becoming more important given high-end customers' growing mobile data needs.

Globe narrowly leads for LTE download speed, with an average speed of 6.1Mbps., slightly faster than Smart's 5.9Mbps. Internationally, however, both speeds are comparatively slow – with Australia ranked as the fastest country for LTE in the world, averaging 24.5Mbps earlier this year.

For upload speed the results are again very close, with Smart edging ahead of Globe with speeds of 7.2 Mbps. With speeds this close, as with the close download speeds above, most mobile users will not notice a significant difference unless they are downloading particularly large files, or using some other data-intensive service.


Smartphone penetration

The smartphone penetration rate in the Philippines is still at a low fifteen percent according to a recent study by On Device Research. That pales in comparison to the total mobile penetration in the country of 101 percent.Smartphone penetration in the Philippines is also the lowest of all the countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia (80 percent), Thailand (49 percent), and Indonesia (23 percent).

Smartphone penetration is expected to more than triple to 50 percent by 2015. Another positive: 88 percent of the total mobile internet population is below the age of 34. 

The battle for smartphone supremacy will be fought (and won) largely on price, given that 20 percent of the population lives on less than US$1.25 a day (54 PhP). For example, local brands Cherry Mobile, My Phone, and Star Mobile offer Android phones priced between US$50 and US$250 (2191 PhP to 10,958 PhP). This range is expected to be the sweet spot that will drive further adoption of smartphones.

International brands are also getting in on the action. Chinese brands Oppo and Xiaomi plan to expand into the Philippines, while Huawei is already offering their Ascend G6 to Filipinos. Priced at US$228 (9,994 PhP), which is half the cost of the previous model known as the P6, the Ascend G6 represents the Chinese firm’s bid to capture 10 percent of the market for mid-priced smartphones.

The race to be the cell phone brand that dominates the Philippine market is wide open. At the moment, Samsung leads at 43 percent. No other cell phone manufacturer has larger than a 10 percent market share. Sony and Cherry Mobile each have seven percent, Lenovo has five percent, and LG, Alcatel, and MyPhone each have three percent.


The rising prevalence of smartphones will likely be the main driver of mobile revenues going forward, as consumers alter their preferences by reducing voice and SMS usage and increasing reliance on alternatives such Skype and instant messaging. While this may cause revenue losses with respect to these more traditional offerings, the wider range of data-driven services, such as applications, video-streaming and mobile gaming, will likely compensate over the longer term.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bangladesh Mobile Operator Overview


Brig Gen Md Wahid-Uz-Zaman, director general of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), said only 3 percent of Bangladeshi mobile users use high-end handsets and only around 10 percent of the handsets are 3G-enabled.
The LTE technology can offer far more data speed than 3G. The government issued LTE licences to three WiMax operators last year, but they are yet to launch the service.


Banglalink, the country's second largest mobile phone operator in terms of subscribers, has crossed the landmark of three crore active subscribers on Thursday.
Ziad Shatara, chief executive officer and managing director of Banglalink, confirmed the news to the Dhaka Tribune yesterday, saying: “Banglalink is proud to have reached this coveted milestone. We have made mobile telephony affordable to the people of Bangladesh.”
Only Grameenphone – which currently has 4.94 crore subscribers – had previously achieved the landmark.
According to the BTRC, the country currently has 12.68 crore active SIMs with Banglalink having 25.46% market share.
Grameenphone is the market leader with 42.33% market share, while Robi is third with 2.43 crore subscribers, which is a market share of 20.72%.
Banglalink started its operation in February 2005, when Egypt-based Orascom Telecom Holding (currently Global Telecom Holding) acquired the then Seba Telecom, which had only around 50,000 active subscribers. In 2012, Banglalink's majority share was bought by Netherland-based VimpleCom, the sixth largest mobile network operator in the world.

See also:  http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/09/20/57053

Friday, 19 September 2014

Chinese carriers dominate global operator ranking as M&A deals shake up US market

All three Chinese mobile operators feature in the top ten in GSMA Intelligence’s latest ranking of mobile operator groups, underlying China’s status as the world’s largest mobile market.
The study ranks global operators using a model based on reported mobile connections and mobile revenue (see methodology below). China Mobile was comfortably the largest group by both measures, reaching 790.6 million mobile connections and recording annualised revenue of £66.4 billion for the period to Q2 2014. China Mobile’s two domestic rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom, are ranked third and tenth, respectively.
The remaining positions in the top ten were filled predominantly by operator groups with substantial global footprints across multiple markets, including Vodafone, Telefónica, América Móvil, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and VimpelCom.
Notes on methodology
Subsidiaries are included within a parent group as per reported consolidation. Minority holdings (less than 50 percent plus one share) are included where a group does so within its audited financial statements.
Data for connections is shown as the period-ending value, excluding customers from any subsidiaries that have been divested over the course of the year. Revenue data is annualised, such that revenue attributed to any qualifying subsidiary is included on a quarterly basis over the four quarters provided the subsidiary meets the rules for consolidation in the respective quarter.
The ranking gives equal weighting to period-ending connections and annualised mobile revenue in determining final positions. The ranking by connections and revenue is combined to give an overall ‘score’, with a lower combined score ranking higher. For example, Vodafone is ranked second by connections and fifth by revenue, giving it a combined score of 7 (2+5). This ranks the group second behind China Mobile, which scores 2 (1+1), as it the largest group by both connections and revenue. Where scores are tied, the rank by connections is used as the deciding factor.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Location based services - why operators hold all the cards

Donald Stuart, CEO of Brainstorm, explains why mobile operators are well placed to take advantage of the revenue streams opened up by location technologies.

LBS – what’s the hype?

The area of Location based services (LBS) has been getting a lot of attention of late, and it’s no wonder, Juniper Research has highlighted that the Mobile Context and Location Services market is expected to generate revenue of $43.4 billion (£26.2 billion) by 2019, up from $12.2 billion in 2014. With this in mind it is clear why businesses within the OTT, telecoms and media space are vying to get their piece of this promising revenue stream.

Mobile marketing campaigns have now moved beyond offering mass indiscriminate communications, to focus instead on delivering carefully targeted personalised messages. This transition is in turn driving a higher ROI on marketing campaigns as the tools are now available to automate the slicing and dicing of audiences in a seemingly limitless array of permutations. Yet the addition of a further dimension; that of location; adds a powerful new trigger to deliver messages linked to your location at a given moment in time, the use of which has seen response rates surpassing those of standard generic campaigns by as much as 75%. It is this additional location capability which, when married with customer demographic and buyer behaviour information, is causing such a stir amongst the marketing populace driving both mobile operators, OTT service providers and mobile device manufacturers to consider ways to monetise the location network assets they hold, and their profile-rich subscriber database. After all, the marketing mantra of delivering the ‘right message to the right person at the right time’ still holds water but should perhaps now be amended to include ‘in the right place’.

The commercial opportunities offered by the addition of ‘location’ to the marketing mix, have not been lost on mobile network operators who have been busy developing a package of location services to sell to brands & retailers. They are quickly beginning to appreciate the value of the location information that they already possess. By combining this location intelligence with the subscriber data which they also hold in abundance, they have a winning combination for businesses seeking to tailor communications campaigns to hyper-targeted recipients at the time and location when they are most likely to be responsive.

The Importance of Opt-in

According to Cisco 47% of us are willing to receive vouchers to our mobile phone when we are at or near a retail store. This brings us to another important point which is in respecting the wishes of subscribers themselves and operators are working hard to develop ways to convince subscribers of the value of opting-in to receive personalised offers thereby ensuring a win/win arrangement for all parties concerned. What’s particularly impressive is that rather than conceding the upper hand to OTT players like WhatsApp and Viber as they did in the battle for SMS supremacy, MNOs have been quick to recognise the value of location based intelligence to enterprises. We have also seen an industry first in the UK where mobile operators have set aside their competitive instincts to form Weve, an affiliation that has sprung up between MNOs enabling them to capitalise on this thirst for hyper-targeted information so brands can target all their subscribers regardless of the mobile network owner. Far from dragging their feet, mobile operators are now at the forefront in offering innovative smart technology which can turn location data into a powerful business tool.

Separating GSM from GPS

There are a lot of location services already in operation – ranging from those that use GPS satellites to WiFi and even Bluetooth, used to provide location through Beacons; it’s creating some exciting engagements across multiple sectors from travel to retail. However these technologies all rely on ticking a number of boxes namely: the consumer having a smartphone, downloading an app and actively logging in or checking in to ask the app to ‘find my nearest’ of whatever service or product they are looking for.

While these location technologies are reliant on actively checking in, think Foursquare, GSM location data is passively collected by your mobile network operator along with lots of other ‘events’ that they collect every time you do something with your phone – turn it on, send a message, etc and by unlocking these location events, an MNO can effectively create highly-targeted location based engagement opportunities. According to a Morgan Stanley study, 91% of adults keep their smartphones within arm’s reach for 14 hours a day. The fact is that our smartphone knows more about our daily routines, likes and dislikes, than most of our family members. The data gathered by GSM is extremely valuable to operators who can build ever-greater detailed pictures of subscribers which can be leveraged to provide hyper-personalised, real-time communications, with greater ROI.

Why MNOs hold all the cards

So whilst the technology exists to create personalised messages for marketing campaigns the potential uses for location based technology goes way beyond pure marketing applications to include a myriad of other potential opportunities to enrich customer service activities, aid fleet management, logistics and even help to find missing children. The use of GSM location technology gives operators the opportunity to offer feature-rich, valuable services, above and beyond the data gathered by other location technologies. This is where operators are much better placed to execute smart engagement. GSM is more effective than say GPS, WiFi or Beacons for applications that rely on passively monitoring large volumes of user data without relying on a user to do anything other than opting into the service. Therefore services like fraud management and ‘lost children tracking’ are better suited to GSM services which are the domain of the operator. Get these triggers right and operators can ensure location based services not only become an unbeatable marketing tool, but have the potential to integrate themselves into the everyday lives of their subscriber base to create innovative services that add value for both consumer and marketer. Operators are in a unique position to leverage their golden pots of customer data to provide services which OTT players have no access to, which will inevitably lead to enhanced loyalty, reduced churn and growing revenue.