ON Telecom expands TD-LTE network to five more cities

Brazilian broadband provider ON Telecom has announced the expansion of its 2.6GHz TD-LTE network to five new cities in Sao Paulo state, namely: Americana, Araras, Indaiatuba, Jaguariuna and Santa Barbara d’Oeste. The expansion represents part of ON’s drive to cover 20 cities within the state in the near future. The TD-LTE network launched in Itatiba in March 2013, with coverage later extended to Nova Odessa and Valinhos. Besides offering a fixed internet connection for residential and corporate customers, ON Telecom also provides free connectivity to schools, public libraries and community centres.



TELE Greenland launches 4G in Qaqortoq

TELE Greenland, the country’s incumbent telecoms operator, is poised to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services for PC and tablet users in Qaqortoq, the most populous town in southern Greenland, and the fourth largest settlement in the country. From 30 June, Qaqortoq’s entire population will be able to subscribe to the ‘Mobile Broadband Premium’ service, which provides 20Mbps/5Mbps down/uplink speeds (including a 20GB data allowance) for DKK999 (USD182.68) per month. The new deployment means that the company’s LTE population coverage will stand at 50% at end-June 2014.

Econet to expand 4G, already looking towards 5G

The CEO of Zimbabwe’s mobile market leader Econet Wireless says the company has begun a nationwide expansion of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. Douglas Mboweni says that:

We launched 4G around the time of the UNWTO [United Nations World Tourism Organisation] conference held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Right now the issue we are looking at is expanding it to other areas.’

The executive also hinted that Econet has already begun looking at future upgrades of its wireless networks: ‘Even though there was still a lot of work to be done on 3G, the company will forge ahead exploring new technologies such as 5G to ensure customers continue to enjoy high speed,’ he said. Econet launched LTE in parts of Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls in August 2013, and had signed an estimated 20,000 users by the end of March 2014.

700MHz band off-limits until 2020; Telecom handed trial FD-LTE licence

China’s 700MHz frequencies will not be available for reallocation before 2020, Marbridge Daily cites the director of the Academy of Broadcasting Planning at the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television (GAPPRFT) Jiang Wenbo as saying. The frequency range, prized by mobile operators for its excellent propagation characteristics, is currently used in China for transmitting analogue radio and TV signals. According to Wenbo, the GAPPRFT is aiming to complete the handover from analogue to digital TV and radio by 2020, after which the 700MHz band will be made available for reallocation.

China Telecom has been awarded a trial licence for Frequency Division Long Term Evolution (FD-LTE), allowing the operator to begin constructing the 4G networks in several cities. A full licence is expected to be awarded to the cellco by early 2015


Zain Saudi Arabia inks supply contracts with five vendors

Zain Saudi Arabia has signed telecoms infrastructure supply contracts with equipment vendors Huawei, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), NEC Corporation, Cisco Systems International and Alcatel-Lucent, worth a grand total of SAR4.5 billion (USD1.2 billion). According to a press release published on the Saudi Stock Exchange’s (Tadawul’s) website, the turnkey project will be delivered over a three-year period, and will provide Zain SA with ‘a state of the art modern network to cope with the ever growing demand for data communications’. Under the terms of the agreement, the vendors will deliver the latest 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) and mobile broadband infrastructure including: radio access, transmission, core network, internet protocol (IP) backbone and internet gateway equipment. The purchased assets will enhance and expand Zain’s current network in terms of coverage and capacity for voice and data services. Following the completion of the contracts, Zain SA expects that its network coverage will increase to 96%, while network capacity and performance will be significantly improved. The company has said that it will use its own financial resources to fund the contracts.




Vodafone expands LTE network to nine new locations, raising total to 19

Vodafone Romania has expanded its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to cover nine new cities, namely: Baia Mare, Botosani, Buzau, Braila, Oradea, Pitesti, Ploiesti, Sibiu and Targu Mures. The cellco’s footprint currently covers Bucharest, Arad, Bacau, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Craiova, Iasi, Galati and Timisoara, and Vodafone notes that all 19 cities will boast 100% LTE coverage by the end of July. Giovanni Chiarelli, CTO of Vodafone Romania, commented:

We will continue the gradual expansion of the 4G network, so that in the next two years [we will] cover the whole urban population of the country. The number of 4G terminals in our network has reached 160,000.’


Warid sets sights on H2 2014 LTE launch

Abu Dhabi-backed cellco Warid Telecom has begun testing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology and aims to commercially launch services in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad after Eid (29-31 July), if it receives approval from the regulator in time. Warid has started trials of LTE services in Kot Lakhpat in Lahore and placed orders with its vendors for 4G SIMs. Before the cellco can begin offering LTE on a commercial basis, however, it requires approval from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to use its existing technology-neutral licence to provide the new service. In an effort to expedite the approval process, Warid has begun pressuring the government to take action, a Warid spokesperson told press:

Since the approval is pending with the PTA for quite some time now, the company – at the board level – has started lobbying with the Pakistani government to seek an early approval for the commercial launch of its 4G services.’

EE completes migration to national IP/MPLS network

US-based vendor Juniper Networks has announced that the UK’s largest cellco by subscribers, EE, has completed the migration to its new national IP/MPLS core network. In revealing the development, Juniper noted that the new infrastructure underpins the delivery of 4G services by using its MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers.

EE’s 4G coverage now reaches 72% of the UK population, while 3G coverage is said to stand at 98%. Meanwhile, having signed up around 3.6 million 4G subscribers in the 19 months since introducing commercial LTE-based services, such swift customer adoption is said to have prompted the cellco to have underpinned its network with an MPLS platform capable of providing carrier-class high-performance at scale, in order to deliver ‘a consistently excellent end user experience’.

Commenting on the development, Peter O’Donnell, EE’s head of Transport Network Design and Planning, was cited as saying:

As the first mobile operator to launch LTE in the UK, EE had to ensure that the quality of the 4G service was of the highest standard. 


Orange tops Arcep’s QoS survey in 1Q14

Orange France, the country’s leading cellco in terms of subscribers, has topped the quality of service (QoS) survey conducted by domestic telecoms watchdog the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) in the first quarter of 2014. The regular survey is carried out in order to assess the performance of the four domestic cellcos – Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free Mobile – in the retail market. Arcep said that the results are based on more than 90,000 measurements of calling, texting and mobile data services, taken across the whole of mainland France (indoor and outdoor), in metropolitan areas and, for the first time, in several hundred rural communities. Most of the QoS measurements were taken on 2G/3G networks, although the regulator pointed out that metrics for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks were taken on a trial basis in Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseilles, Strasbourg, Nantes, Toulouse, Toulon, Saint-Etienne and Montpellier. However, Arcep said that the next QoS survey will include detailed LTE findings on an operator-by-operator basis.

According to the survey results, Orange France performed above the average for a large number of indicators (213 out of a total of 258 indicators), followed by Bouygues Telecom (75), SFR (38) and Free Mobile (two). In terms of data services over 3G networks, Orange France topped the pile for transmission speeds with average downlink/uplink of 9.3Mbps/1.8Mbps, while Bouygues Telecom trailed behind with 5.7Mbps/1.3Mbps, SFR(4.2Mbps/1.2Mbps) and Free Mobile (4Mbps/1.4Mbps). Over a comparable geographical area, the speed of the operators’ 3G service has increased by around 30% since the previous survey. Orange also had the largest proportion of high flow rate (43% of the measurements exceeded 8Mbps downlink and 1.5Mbps uplink); in comparison Bouygues Telecom showcased 28% (downlink above 8Mbps) and 36% (uplink above 1.5Mbps),SFR – 19% (8Mbps, downlink) and 25% (1.5Mbps, uplink), and Free Mobile – 12% (8Mbps) and 32% (1.5Mbps).

Meanwhile, Arcep pointed out that the tests reveal that 4G throughput is substantially higher than with 2G/3G: the median download speeds over 4G networks are 17.9Mbps, compared to 7.2Mbps (2G/3G), while upload speeds increase from 1.5Mbps (3G) to 5.5Mbps over LTE. Although the regulator said that

‘there continue to be tremendous disparities between operators’ 4G services’, no LTE data has been published on an operator-by-operator basis.

NTT DOCOMO introduces VoLTE in Japan

Japanese equipment vendor NEC Corporation has contributed to the launch of NTT DOCOMO’s Voice-over-Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) services by providing core network and wireless base station devices. NEC has provided NTT DOCOMO with video call and Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) functions for existing IMS core network devices, as well as the provision of software updates for EPC core network devices already used in LTE services, making the devices compatible with VoLTE services. The vendor also disclosed that it was selected to develop NTT DOCOMO’s LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) base stations. Further, NEC Corporation CEO Shunichiro Tejima said: 

NEC will continue to work with NTT DOCOMO in developing 5G and other next-generation mobile communications technologies as part of contributing to the overall advancement of communications infrastructure.’

NTT DOCOMO announced in May 2014 that it will introduce VoLTE technology in late June. The operator said that users would likely benefit from download speeds of up to 150Mbps during VoLTE voice calls, while the service would also provide subscribers with ‘Area Mail’ disaster-information notifications while they are making calls. Four smartphones and two tablets in DOCOMO’s summer line-up will be compatible with the VoLTE service after a software update in late June. Further, the operator has revealed that additional data charges for the VoLTE service will be waived until September 2015.


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