Hong Kong’s telecoms and broadcasting regulator, the Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA), which replaced the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) on 1 April, has begun a consultation on reassignment strategy for 2×60MHz of 2100MHz band spectrum when existing 3G licences expire in 2016. Three options are proposed: re-auction of all of the spectrum; right of first refusal to be offered to the four incumbent 3G operators (Hutchison , CSL New World Mobility, SmarTone and PCCW [HKT]); or a hybrid option (right of first refusal / spectrum re-auction). Comments will be accepted until 15 June 2012; the regulator plans to issue a second consultation paper by end-2012/early 2013, and make a decision before October 2013.
Canada’s Rogers Communications has expanded its LTE network to two new cities, Calgary in the west and Halifax in the east, which it said brings its LTE footprint to a population of nearly twelve million, as it pursues a plan to cover almost 60% of the Canadian population by the end of the year. Since launching LTE in Ottawa last summer, Rogers has expanded the 4G mobile broadband network to cities including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. As part of its eastern expansion, in addition to Halifax, Rogers recently launched LTE in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In the west, Rogers plans to introduce LTE in Edmonton in the coming months, while it aims to launch LTE in a total of more than 25 additional cities across the country this year.
Rogers’ current LTE device line-up consists of two smartphones, a smartphone-tablet hybrid, two tablets, a USB modem and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. This month, Rogers will launch the first Windows LTE smartphone – the Nokia Lumia 900 – and another LTE-enabled smartphone, the HTC One X.
¬Algeria plans to award 3G licenses, once it has settled an agreement over the ownership of the country’s largest mobile network, Djezzy with its current owner, Vimpelcom/Orascom Telecom.
Algeria’s Minister of Post, Information and Communication Technologies, Moussa Benhamadi told the state radio service that the government expects to secure a deal to buy a 51% stake in Djezzy within the next few weeks.
Once the sale is completed, the Ministry will work on allocating 3G licenses to the country’s three mobile networks.
He also confirmed that there are no plans to award a fourth mobile operator license, saying that the three networks are adequate. There is some doubt as to whether a foreign investor would want to buy a fourth-license anyway due to the way the government has pressured Djezzy over taxes and regulations.
Qualcomm and Mobile Technology Tomorrow (MT2) have announced the signing of an MoU which is in line with both the firms’ interest in expanding the ME pool of software developers.
This partnership is aimed at the availability of new and innovative apps specifically created for the ME consumer. The MoU points out areas where Qualcomm can assist MT2, such as in value-added services and ecosystem management.
Ziad Matar, head of the ME and Central Asia, Qualcomm, said: “Middle East consumers and businesses are eager for applications that appeal to their interests, language and culture. MT2 is engaging this opportunity directly with plans to offer a variety of innovative applications. We are delighted with this opportunity to assist MT2 in extending the reach of their creative applications.”
Naji BouHabib, chairman at MT2, added: “Qualcomm is one of the leading providers of next-generation mobile technology and has taken a leading role in converging the region’s software developers, handset manufacturers, mobile operators and other key ecosystem players. MT2 has many promising upcoming projects and concepts that will enrich and be of high benefit to the telecommunication service industry. In fact, apps2you, our internal mobile apps development firm, are working on several projects using Qualcomm’s developer tools. This timely agreement opens the door to a variety of new opportunities for our companies, the region’s mobile industry and consumers.”
Somaliland based telecoms operator Somtel has expanded its 3G network to Erigavo in the Sanag region and Las-Anod in Sool, SomalilandPress reports. The launch will enable subscribers to access a range of services, including video streaming, as well as surf the internet at increased data transmission rates. Somtel commercially launched operations in Somaliland in March 2010.
Amazon.com has started taking pre-orders for its Kindle Touch 3G e-reader for shipping to customers in over 175 countries. The Kindle Touch 3G comes with free 3G mobile data access for downloading e-books and shopping on Amazon. The e-reader is available in seven languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and American or British English. The Kindle Touch 3G will ship to customers beginning 27 April. The 3G version sells for USD 189/EUR 189/GBP 169 and the Wi-Fi-only Kindle Touch for USD 139/EUR 129/GBP 109. The devices are available for order at www.amazon.com/kindletouch3Gintl or Amazon’s local sites in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
South African-backed MTN Benin has announced that it is the first to receive a 3G mobile operating licence amongst the five GSM operators in the West African country. The Benin government has granted MTN a universal (technology and service neutral) licence allowing 3G, 4G (LTE or mobile WiMAX), public Wi-Fi as well as VoIP services. The company’s CEO Eric Tronel confirmed that MTN Benin was the first in the country to win a 3G/4G licence, adding that the concession ‘presents a great opportunity to improve business communication solutions and other services to our customers, both in the consumer and the corporate sectors. Customers are already eagerly waiting the launch of new services using the new technology, and MTN Benin is working hard to ensure that our customers are not disappointed.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that 3G data services based on CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev A technology are offered in Benin by the Kanakoo division of Benin Telecoms, marketed as a fully mobile internet access service, although the actual extent of 3G-speed mobile coverage is not clearly stated by the state-owned company.
Tunisian wireless operator Tunisiana, which is majority owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel) through Kuwait-based Wataniya, has announced plans to participate in the nation’s upcoming 3G licence auction. According to African Manager, the cellco is hoping to use the concession to augment its existing wireless internet offerings.
ZTE has been selected by Telenor Pakistan to provide an array of equipment to assist in the construction of a turnkey national network upgrade and extension project.
As part of the project, ZTE will provide 18,000 network stations and corresponding core networks, VAS, bearer network, power and supporting facilities.
The project will also swap the existing 7,500 GSM stations for 1,500 new GSM base stations, 7,000 HSPA base stations and 2,000 LTE base stations. Construction will take place between 2012 and 2017.
In 2012, ZTE will begin expanding and enhancing TP’s wireless network with the goal of achieving GSM, UMTS and LTE network upgrades and integration within 5 years.
ZTE will also provide full network operation management and end-to-end service network optimisation services.
Financial terms for the contract were not disclosed.