Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Emerging 5G Markets: Azerbaijan


There are three major mobile operators in the Azerbaijan market. Azercell dominates the market. Bakcell and  Nar (Azerofon) account for the majority of the remainder of the market.  Mobile broadband subscribers have grown very rapidly over the past five years supported by widespread rollouts of 4G infrastructure and the release of a growing range of mobile broadband packages by the major mobile operators. Market penetration has increased from 107% in 2013, to over 110% by 2017. Moderate growth is predicted over the next few years to 2023. The mobile broadband market will be driven by increasingly faster speeds offered by the mobile operators as they roll out their 4G and 5G networks and falling prices due to growing competition.

2G/GSM is on 900 MHz with Azercell and Bakcell and 1800 MHz with Nar, 3G is on 2100 MHz with all operators up to DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE was started on all three providers on 1800 MHz (Band 3) fairly recently.

Azercell is Azerbaijan’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, it is still owned by Swedish Telia group and Turkish Turkcell. Currently, 4.8 million subscribers choose Azercell services they control 49% of market share; while its geographical coverage constitutes 99.2% (excluding the occupied territories); and population coverage 99.8%.  But some of them are on 2G. 3G had started in 2011, to be followed by 4G/LTE in Baku and the Absheron Peninsula with 79% coverage of the capital and Absheron in 2017 and new in Ganja, Barda, Shamkir and Lankaran.

Azercell has selected Ericsson to modernise its radio access network (RAN), under a two-year programme including the nationwide supply of multi-standard radio equipment from Ericsson Radio System and a comprehensive set of services. Based on Ericsson’s RAN and services portfolios, Ericsson will evolve Azercell’s mobile network to be 5G-ready.



Bakcell was the first provider in the country established in 2002. It's partly state-owned and today no.2 in the market with a 30% user share.Today, Bakcell has the largest 4G network in the country in terms of coverage area and capacity, covering almost 91 percent of the country’s population and the central parts of all the regions of Azerbaijan (excluding Nakhchivan AR and occupied territories).

With more than 8000 base stations, Bakcell network covers 99 percent of the population and 93 percent of the land area of the country (except for the occupied territories). In 2017, Bakcell network has been recognized as the “Best in Test” in Azerbaijan by P3 Communications, being one of the most trusted independent authorities in mobile benchmarking. Bakcell has been recognized as the Fastest Mobile Network in Azerbaijan. This award, presented by world-famous “Ookla” company, recognizes Bakcell’s commitment to delivering fastest speeds to customers all across Azerbaijan.

Bakcell, recently entered into an agreement with Kazakhstani Transtelecom and KazTransCom to build a fiber-optic cable line stretching over nearly 400 km (249 mi) along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, which will help increase regional capacity and global connectivity. The initiative is a part of the Trans-Caspian ambitious project implemented by AzerTelecom within its “Azerbaijan Digital Hub” program. With the full completion of the Digital Hub program, Azerbaijan will shift from a local center to a regional hub in greater geography that includes the South Caucasus, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia regions, in which 1.8 billion – one-fourth of the world’s population –  lives.



Azerfon launched its activities in 2007 under brand name Nar mobile. Azerfon claims to reach 80% of the territory which is almost all given that some 15% of the territory is 'under occupation'. In certain remote areas Nar is the only provider offering service, but generally coverage is lower. In 2015 4G/LTE was launched in the city of Baku and 3G extended, but they remain at no.3 with a 25% user share. In 2019 they announced to have covered 97.6% of the country’s population by 3G.

Nar continues to expand its high-speed 4G network across the country. As a result of improvement and expansion works, 4G network now covers 91,5% of the population in the country. The mobile operator has successfully installed LTE base stations in 53 districts so far. Currently, every third customer of Nar is an active 4G user, while the total number of 4G users exceeds 850,000.

Nar provides its customers with the high-speed network with over 2740 4G base stations, including 1018 LTE-A type installed in 2019, as well as 2722 3G base stations. Currently, the mobile operator provides high quality service for more than 2,3 subscribers through over 8500 base stations.



Further Reading:

Monday, 21 October 2019

Tanzania has a Wide Choice of Operators


Tanzania, east Africa’s third-biggest economy has 6 mobile network operators: Airtel, Halotel, Tigo, TTCL, Vodacom, and Zantel. The latest MNO to enter Tanzanian was Halotel in October 2015.



Vodacom is the largest mobile operator with 14,392,174 subscriptions June 2019 (14,143,657 in December 2018), followed by Tigo with 11,675,809 (12,583,640), and Airtel with 11,538,358 subscriptions (10,954,621). Together these three mobile operators accounted for 37,606,341 mobile subscriptions or 86.1% of all the subscriptions, while the other smaller operator accounted for the rest.

Vodacom, jointly owned by Vodafone and South African Telekom, is the market leader and has the widest coverage in the country for the highest rates. In 2016 4G/LTE was started in Dar es Salaam on 1800 MHz (Band 3), now spread to a few more places. In 2018 it won spectrum on 700 MHz (B28) for 4G with the obligation to cover 60% by 2021 and 90% by 2024.

Vodacom  also intend to roll out 4G services  on the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in 2020.



Tigo has become the 2nd provider in Tanzania by market shares when it overtook Airtel in 2016. It's run by the Millcom Group that acquired the 4th provider Zantel  in 2015, but markets both brands separately. It was the first to start 4G/LTE on 800 MHz (B 20) in Dar es Salaam and is available for prepaid (coverage map) in Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tanga, Arusha with plans to extend connectivity to Mwanza, Zanzibar (Stone Town) and Kilimanjaro (Moshi). By 2017 it has been spread to 23 towns so far.

Airtel by

Halotel backed by Vietnamese Viettel entered the market in 2015. It's their 4th venture in Africa after Mozambique, Cameroon and Burundi under different brand names. Halotel covered more than 95% of the population in 26 provinces by 2500 antenna towers on 2G or 3G in 2017. They've reached a market share of 10% now and are planning to launch 4G/LTE.



Zantel used to be the local provider on the island of Zanzibar. That's why it has a good coverage there, but had almost no coverage on the mainland. It used to belong mostly to UAE-owned Etisalad, but was sold in 2015 to Millicom who runs Tigo. In 2016 it underwent a massive network overhaul. All clients can now roam on the Tigo network for free giving it a good coverage on the mainland. 4G/LTE started in Zanzibar on 1800 MHz (B 3) and roaming on Tigo on the continent.



Indian Bharti Airtel has falllen back as 3rd provider in the country. It has now a market share of 26% and a lower coverage than Vodacom, at slightly lower rates. Their coverage in Northern Tanzania, particularly Ngorongoro and Serengeti,  is superior to that of the other carriers. 4G/LTE is still in testing phase and not yet commercially launched.



TTCL for Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd. is the state-owned monopoly landline provider in the country. TTCL launched its 4G/LTE mobile data network in 2015 with a five-year rollout plan to cover all regions and main roads in the country called T-Connect. It started in Dar es Salaam on 1800 MHz FD-LTE (band 3) and 2300 MHz TD-LTE (band 40).

In 2016 they announced to deploy 4G/LTE services countrywide by 2018, as they intend to accelerate coverage. A number of regions that will benefit from the initiative in phase one: Arusha, Iringa, Mbeya, Dodoma, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Tanga, Kilimanjaro and Unguja. Their products are more directed to home users in lack of a stable landline connection than to mobile internet users.

Recently the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has threatened to disconnect over 39 million mobile phone subscribers who fail to register their SIM cards via the country's mandatory biometric system by 31 December 2019.

According to the regulator, to date only 5.2 million mobile phone users (12%) of the total number of subscribers have complied.

Vodacom Tanzania managing director Hisham Hendi has warned that the directive could negatively impact the company's operations, with the company so far having managed to register 2 million of the 14 million customers currently on its network.

Related Posts:

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Telefonica: Smart Energy Solution


The evolution of the Internet Of Things (IoT) and the rise in industrial automation are helping provide Smart Energy Solutions that can be applied to our everyday lives and industry.

Telefonica has launched a Smart Energy Solution for companies which aims to yield a deep understanding of energy usage in any building or location and to give advice of the actions to be taken.



The smart solution allows the remote and centralised measurement, control and management of high energy consumption equipment in any installation. The service especially focuses on high consumption points such as air conditioning, heating and lighting, providing control of a whole building or set of buildings.  Here is an example:


Some benefits of such a smart energy solution:

  • Lower energy consumption and bill, by providing valuable information on critical points of consumption and possible improvements.
  • Improved efficiency and obtain operational improvements by managing your energy infrastructure.
  • Make better investment decisions based on data (return on investment).
  • Centralised access to energy consumption informtion from all the infrastructures
  • Reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
  • Improved energy operations due to a better knowledge of the functioning status of the facilities.
  • Adapt the use of energy facilities to business needs by remote management and control of the equipment.
  • Optimise the performance of the facilities by automating operations.

This service is geared to customers that have high energy consumption, especially three sectors; Industry, utilities and services (e.g. banking, hotels, retail, shopping centres). The service provides every required tool for building managers to lower energy consumption and achieve savings.




Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Telia Norway and Ericsson team up for 5G



Telia Norway and Ericsson have announced a four-year 5G network deal that includes deployment of the Swedish vendor’s spectrum sharing technology.

Ericsson is providing 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software from its Radio System portfolio, and was chosen as the sole radio access network (RAN) vendor for Telia’s next-generation network in Norway. Ericsson is helping upgrade Telia’s 2G and 4G networks, with 5G rollouts expected to start in 2020 and extend through 2023.

Ericsson’s dynamic spectrum sharing solution, which enables operators to utilize the same spectrum for both 4G and 5G, is set to become commercially available in December, but it’s unclear how soon Telia plans to deploy it. In a release, Telia said its network modernization project will happen “gradually” over the four-year timeframe.



For Telia’s 5G rollout in Norway, the operator plans to use low-band spectrum. In June 2019 Telia Company secured access to 2x10 MHz in the 700 MHz band which will be a key enabler for roll-out of 5G in Norway. The band will be available from November 1, 2019.  Telia called this band a “key enabler” for the 5G deployment in Norway.

In addition to enhanced mobile broadband, Telia Norway is exploring 5G for IoT applications, industrial uses, smart cities and in-home uses, according to Ericsson.

The pair have already teamed up on a 5G pilot network in Trondheim, Norway, that involves smart transportation, automation and artificial intelligence.

To date, Ericsson has distributed two-thirds of the world's commercial 5G network.

An important part of Telia's social mission is to build critical national infrastructure that facilitates digitalisation for individuals, businesses, public companies and all sectors of society. Telia takes this responsibility very seriously. Telia was the first in the world to turn on 4G in Norway and Sweden, and in partnership with Ericsson will lead the innovation and technology development of 5G.

A point worth noting is that the current 4G network is supplied by Huawei. As part of 5G, Ericsson will also be replacing the 4G Huawei equipment with their own. Some analysts have sighted this as the main reason why 5G rollout will take 4 years.


Further Reading:

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Portugal: Demystifying 5G



The mobile market is dominated by the incumbent Portugal Telecom, owned by Altice Group and operating as Meo, followed by Vodafone and NOS.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G is on 2100 MHz with MEO and NOS and on 900 MHz with Vodafone. 4G/LTE was launched in 2012 on all three networks on the 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz bands. It already reaches the majority of population and is open for prepaid on all network providers.

MEO now owned by Dutch Altice Group is the market leader with a 40% share. However the market share held by Meo has fallen steadily in recent years. Altice Labs began working with Ericsson to develop 5G services and applications in 2017.

They recently hosted an event (see video below) which was staged using an experimental network, in collaboration with Ericsson, and simulated a car crash to demonstrate how 5G’s lower latency, higher bandwidth and faster speeds can support emergency workers.

This demonstrated how 5G can support drone footage from accident sites and the delivery of vital information about victims and their condition in real-time.This event also marked the launch of the 5G experimental network for the City of Aveiro, which is aiming to be fully covered by 5G by 2020.

Altice Labs insist technology has no meaning if it is not for improving people's lives and they wish want to demystify 5G. The intense deployment of fibre optics and the modernisation of base stations in recent years across the country puts Meo in a more comfortable position in the evolution to 5G.

 


Vodafone Portugal is the major competitor of MEO in the country with a 33% share and according to Open Signal the best coverage and highest speeds on both 3G and 4G. It lets prepaid customers join their 4G network as part as an ongoing promotion for free. Also on top of 2100 MHz they also have 3G on 900 MHz allowing for better indoor coverage which is rare in Europe and not carried by all devices.




NOS, previously called Optimus, has the smallest network with a 20% share, but still gives a good performance.Vodafone and NOS recently signed an agreement to share fibre infrastructure, which pushed Vodafone’s addressable market to some four million premises. As a result of these efforts DSL is no longer the dominant platform for broadband access.



Related Posts:

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Emerging 5G Markets: Kazakhstan

There are three mobile operators in the Kazakhstan market following the merger of Tele2 and Altel. The number one and two providers by market share, GSM-Kazakhstan (K'Cell) and Beeline dominate the mobile market. Kazakhstan's mobile market has reached saturation point. The number of fixed telephone lines in Kazakhstan, is slowly declining as the mobile segment continues to expand.

2G is up to EDGE on 900 MHz on all networks. 3G up to DC-HSPA+ on 2100 MHz on all networks. 4G/LTE started on Altel (now Tele2) in 2013 on 1800 MHz and covers about 56% of the population in 2015. All of Kazakhstan’s cellular operators have launched 4G/LTE on 800 (band 20), 1800 MHz (band 3) or 2100 MHz (band 1) in every regional capital and expanded services to most cities by the end of 2017.

Kcell is the leading mobile provider in the country caring for 41% of mobile users. It's operated by GSM Kazakhstan Ltd. under the Kcell and Activ trademarks. It's partly owned by Swedish TeliaSonera and has the best coverage. Kcell’s 2G network covers 96% of the population and 47% of the territory, while its 3G services are available to around 70% of the people: Coverage map by region. Kcell launched 4G/LTE in 2016 in Almaty, Atyrau, Aktau and Shymkent and through network sharing with Beeline in further 9 towns, open for prepaid. It's on 800 MHz (band 20) and 1800 MHz (band 3).



Beeline is run by Kar-Tel under the license of Veon in Kazakhstan. Beeline charges lower prices than Kcell while it's network is almost as good as Kcell's. In 2016 it launched 4G/LTE in the cities of Almaty, Aksay, Uralsk and Astana on 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz (Bands 1, 3, 20) opened for all users. Customers need to have one of the new 4G-enabled USIMs for LTE. By the end of 2017 they had covered 47% of population by 4G.




Tele2 used to be an operator solely owned by the Swedish Tele2 Group. It had about 4000 base stations covering 85% of population making it one of the smaller networks in the country. In 2015 they agreed to a merger with Kazakhtelecom, owner of the Altel network. The new company is now a joint venture of Tele2 and Kazakhtelecom.

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Kazakhstan is one of the most advanced telecoms sectors in Central Asia. Their mobile market remains highly competitive, but rather than a focus only on growth in subscribers the market has shifted to value-added. All Kazakhstan’s major mobile operators are well on the path towards launching 5G services.

In mid 2017 the Kazakh government announced it will launch its Digital Kazakhstan program between 2017 and 2021, which aims to strengthen the national digital infrastructure and drive economic growth and competitiveness. The scheme is intended to raise internet penetration by 2021 and see the ICT sector contributing significantly to annual GDP by that time.

International Internet bandwidth capacity increased dramatically between 2014 and 2015, almost doubling to 850,000 Mb/s. The market is predicted to continue to grow strongly over the next five years to 2022.

Kazakhstan may become the first country in the Caspian region to launch fifth generation, or “5G,” wireless services. Bringing wireless, high-speed internet and mobile services to the vast plains of what is the world’s ninth largest country isn’t easy. Communications specialists will launch a pilot project later this year in the capital city of Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana), as well as in the southern city of Shymkent and in Almaty – Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city.
The goal is to digitize housing and public utilities, along with sectors like agriculture and health.


Further reading: