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ISSUE 3 | www.bus-ex.com


apicta: vodacom sa: telefónica:

Djibouti Telecom:

A gateway

to the world Djibouti Telecom’s progress in becoming a telecommunications gateway

SPECIAL focus: telecoms & ICT in africa

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Chief Executive

be telecoms | 3

Issue No.3

10 Technology

the trouble with server audits The pros and cons of server audits, pitfalls to avoid and tips to best prepare yourself.

16 Technology

the changing definition of security As technology continues to advance with the growth of cloud computing and SaaS, data security needs to be at the forefront of every CIO, CEO and IT manager’s mind.


Africa: 22 Djibouti Telecom

A gateway to the world



4 | BE Telecoms

Technical Support Service Manager for International Business Development, Feisal Aden Darar discusses the progress Djibouti Telecom has made in becoming a telecommunications gateway to the rest of the world.



32 Vodacom SA

Networking the nation

Vodacom continues to make strides to remain a leading network in an increasingly competitive sector.

40 Business Connexion Group

A powerhouse of business solutions Renowned for the provision of high quality, high performance business technology solutions.


48 Spanco: Respondez Answering the call

The Respondez brand is introducing Spanco’s outsourcing solutions to Africa.

58 MWEB Business Virtually perfect


MWEB offers a range of services for enterprises that addresses needs, improves efficiency and saves money.

europe: 70 ceskĂŠ Radiokomunikace Making waves

Providing a full range of voice, data and internet services across the Czech Republic.

80 Finnet Association Fibre for all

Piloting a new concept in home computing that could revolutionise the way we operate.

BE Telecoms | 5

Issue No.3



The connected isle

Iceland has an innovative business and entertainment sector supported by one of the world’s most advanced telecoms corporations.

100 Telefónica

M2M: not just for B2B


This Spanish telecoms giant is taking full advantage of machine to machine (M2M) technology.


Magyar Telekom has been making rapid progress towards sustainability, recently earning an A+ rating from the Global Reporting Initiative.



CEO Daniel Szasz talks about how the company is contributing to the development of Macedonia’s telecommunications industry.


Uniting Asia’s software industry

Each year APICTA recognises the best in innovation from across the Asia Pacific ICT community.

6 | BE Telecoms



140 P@SHA

A passion for P@SHA

How Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES is developing the technology sector in Pakistan.

148 Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL) Performance enhancers


CEO and MD, Sheikh Nisar Ahmed, discusses how the company is looking to capitalise on new opportunities

156 CAT Telecom

Making sense of the future

Leading the way in wireless multimedia services in one of Southeast Asia’s most economically dynamic nations.

164 B-Mobile

Setting the trends


Acting chief executive officer See Wei Kie explains how B-Mobile is at the heart of Brunei’s evolving telecommunication industry.

172 Sri Lanka Telecom Connecting a nation

How the company is helping transform Sri Lanka into an information and telecommunications hotspot.

BE Telecoms | 7

Issue No.3 SPecial focus: Telecoms & ICT in Africa



Working in perfect harmony

How harmonising policies and regulations across Southern Africa can stimulate investment and growth.


Zimbabwe talking

The national regulator overseeing the development of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications network.

200 TELECEL ZIMBABWE Gaining national coverage



CEO Francis Mawindi talks about delivering mobile phone coverage to 90 percent of the population by 2013.

208 AQUIVA WIRELESS Hard data: fast growth

This internet access provider is pushing for growth in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry.

216 LESOTHO COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY Calling across the canyons

How the regulator is meeting the population’s expectations for 21st century communications.

8 | BE Telecoms



224 Harvest FM

Change is in the air

Harvest FM has helped achieve social freedom by forging strong relationships with the government.

230 TCRA


Having overseen revolutions in broadcasting, postal services and telecommunications, today’s revolution is a digital one.

244 Vodacom Tanzania

Bringing technology to Tanzania

How Vodacom Tanzania is continually evolving its product and service offerings in order to remain the country’s leading cellular network.



252 Rural NetCo Ltd. Connecting the dots

The shared mobile broadband network concept that will not only benefit thousands of people in Tanzania, but potentially millions across Africa.


Changing for the better

Director General of ZICTA, discusses the role of the Authority.

BE Telecoms | 9

10 | Be telecoms


The Trouble with

Server Audits The pros and cons of server audits, pitfalls to avoid and tips to best prepare yourself

written by: William Wilson

Be telecoms | 11


he trouble with server audits is that they are incredibly complicated! It is very easy to fall foul of your licensing agreements indeed, many organisations are not even aware that they are not compliant. Most of us have been through a desktop audit so we are a bit more familiar with these. Those of us that have been through a server audit will know just how painful, time consuming and expensive these can be.

requirements are unique for every publisher, for each application by a publisher and even for each version and edition of an application by a publisher – and then this could differ for each customer! If you think how many vendors there are such as Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, HP, IBM etc, and how many products each offer, this means thousands of distinct licensing requirements that standard discovery tools just don’t recognise.

Desktop versus server audits So, what are the differences between these two types of audit? When auditing a desktop or laptop it’s pretty straightforward in that generally one install requires one licence and it’s simple to compare audit data to licence documentation. With a server audit you also need to collect a multitude of server requirement and liability data as well as licence and contract data, but the complications come from the huge amount of different licensing models. For example,

What are the common causes of non-compliance? There are a multitude of issues impacting on the licence terms and agreements such as: what you do in test environments, disaster recovery environments, cross country usage; so the whole situation becomes even more complicated. Even the publisher’s own specialised scripts and tools need expert interpretation. It’s likely that you are in breach of your licensing agreement if any of the situations below apply to your business:

12 | Be telecoms

“Those of us been throug audit will kn painful, time c expensive th

s that have gh a server now just how consuming and hese can be”

Technology • You have bought an application which was country specific but have since moved your datacentre to another Country? It’s possibly not an obvious link between changing location and server compliance – especially if you have had the server licence for years and don’t know all the terms and conditions off the top of your head (who does?) • You have outsourced some of your work to an external company who use your servers and software? This common practice could easily infringe on your licence agreements for many publishers based on your existing licensing terms. Again, you wouldn’t necessarily think about compliance when implementing this change. • You have previously worked alongside subsidiary companies and signed a Universal Agreement to use common server software? Subsequently you legally separated from this group but are still using the same servers and software – you probably won’t be covered on the Universal Agreement

and would need to buy a new licence agreement. • You bought a licence agreement for a certain type of usage –for example, that named users could access and use certain server software. If you then start using the server slightly differently, say, back end data loading and automatically processing the data into the application – you may need a different licence type, such as Processor licences which can cost a significant amount of money! Pressure tactics Of course audit tactics vary from vendor to vendor, and not all are guilty of exploiting server audits, but there are a few notable publishers who will use tactics to squeeze more money out of their customers. There is a lot of mystique surrounding the vendor server audit, and whether intentional or not, the fines are a great way for vendors to earn additional income! Some rely on the customer’s fear, uncertainty and doubt to insist that they are non-compliant, and usually a customer is too

Be telecoms | 13

scared to question them. It’s also not uncommon for vendors to audit a percentage of the business rather than the entire estate, and then audit the company again a year later issuing fines for shortfalls and non-usage – the statistics to back this up are phenomenal. We often see customers breaking relationships with their chosen publishers because of the way they behave in audits – it can get pretty ugly. It’s useful to bear in mind that you are at greater risk of a server audit if you stop

14 | Be telecoms

paying your maintenance fees, it will raise your profile with the vendor and this is often a prompt for them to consider an audit and if you are no longer a customer – why not? Top tips to ensure you are prepared! There are a few ways to get your IT estate in check, but it’s more important to design and implement a system where you can keep on top of your IT assets - and know when you’re likely to risk non-compliance. The key to

successful server software management is: 1. Be fully aware of your licensing agreements, and their terms and conditions. 2. Remember to check your contracts every time you change any aspect of your IT, even if it seems like a small move - this can affect your agreements and you can find that you are no longer compliant. 3. It is very time consuming marrying up licences with


“We often see customers breaking relationships with their publishers because of the way they behave in audits – it can get pretty ugly” servers and ensuring that all areas are in line with vendor contracts – it’s almost an impossible task to do this with a discovery tool alone.

Conditions for every vendor, product, version and edition – you must do your own research and try to keep current.

4. Do remember though that you can’t rely on your discovery tool to know the different Terms and

And finally, you might want to consider outsourcing your Software Asset Management in part or in whole. You can rely on experts to assess your IT estate, – taking the onus off you. They will be able to explain the different terms of your agreements and offer advice when you are thinking of making any changes that may contravene your licence

agreements. Some specialists even offer a managed compliance service where they remain responsible for keeping the business compliant with regular reporting and monitoring – then highlighting any potential issues to your business. At the end of the day server audits are another revenue stream for vendors and you need to be aware that they will be looking closely at all their customers – so it’s only a matter of time before you get that knock on the door.

William Wilson joined Business Continuity Services Ltd (BCS) in 1994. He has over 19 years’ experience in the Software Asset Management (SAM) arena, during which time he has gained hands on knowledge of delivering SAM and Licence compliance services. William’s main role within BCS is managing their SAM consultancy and service delivery whilst also managing BCS’ largest service provider partners and end customer implementations. www.bcsltd.com

Be telecoms | 15

the ch definition o

As technology continues to a cloud computing and SaaS, the forefront of every CIO, C

written by: Qu

16 | Be telecoms


nging of security

advance with the growth of data security needs to be at CEO and IT manager’s mind

uentyn Taylor

Be telecoms | 17


here’s no doubt that the nature of the security i ndu st r y is changing. Recent high profile data losses like LinkedIn’s loss of user data as a result of a security breach (reported by Reuters) and a breach of security systems at Global Payments (reported by the Financial Times) were met with widespread media coverage and speculation on the readiness of the companies involved to combat the threat from hackers. As a result, security is being pushed further up the news agenda. With the European Commission (EC) recommending its mandatory breach disclosure policy, it’s not hard to see why companies are nervous about what the future holds when it comes to security policy. For ma ny yea rs, security meant guarding the perimeter, setting up

firewalls, securing laptops and protecting data as it left the safety of the company, but that’s all changing. As cloud computing and SaaS continue to take over the office, the very definition of security, and what needs to be secured within an office, is changing. It is now data itself that is at risk. From the moment it is created, accessed remotely, emailed and printed, information is at risk throughout its lifecycle from external threats and internal mistakes. We now live in an information-driven age where knowledge is a valuable commodity. If the recommendations within the European Commission’s data protection directive go ahead, a mandatory breach disclosure will be enforced, whereby organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches—potentially within

24 hours. The extent to which this will be feasible is still being debated - but there is a real risk that it could result in businesses being forced to tackle single data breach cases rather than investing in changing the security culture within an organisation, which would have a greater positive impact on the security measures adopted. One recommendation by the EC for businesses with more than 250 employees is the appointment of a dedicated security officer who can implement a more holistic security inf rast r uct ure t hat encompasses all parts of the network. Whether data is passing through a smartphone, printer or laptop, it needs to be protected and a data protection or security officer needs to take a bird’s eye view to see the security needs of the organisation as a whole, rather than

“One recommendation by the EC for businesses with more than 250 employees is the appointment of a dedicated security officer” 18 | Be telecoms




T G J E F1


A recent ICM / Canon study revealed that 47 percent of consumers in Germany thought organisations were doing enough to protect data, compared to just 29 percent of UK respondents. A recent survey by Shred-it Security Tracker found that 59.8 per cent of SMEs said they don’t believe that the loss of data would have any impact on their business. This is a shocking statistic and while small data losses may go unnoticed by most consumers, the catastrophic effect that a major security breach or data loss can have on an organisation can’t be ignored. When it comes to data security, it’s definitely a case of prevention being better than cure. That doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers need to know all the details about the work that goes into preventing data loss. Most consumers only read through the key


relying on a one-size-fits-all approach that puts a fence indiscriminately around the perimeter. Security considerations need to be woven into the structure of a company so that if any issues arise they can be dealt with quickly, effectively and within the deadline. Although many companies may be worried about the impact the proposed EC directive will have on their business, it can be turned into a positive if the data officer is employed well by the company to improve the overall security strategy and is focused on locking in data as it is created, rather than solely catching breaches. In Germany, where it is already more common for companies to have a data protection manager, there is a higher perception that organisations do just the right amount to protect both company and customer data.

parts of security clauses, but overall there is room for improvement when it comes to consumer awareness around the securit y measures organisations are taking already to protect important data. One in three consumers questioned think businesses don’t do enough

“overall security strategy should be focused on locking in data as it is created, rather than solely catching breaches” 20 | Be telecoms



the security processes in place can help consumers to feel that a company is doing enough to protect the data it holds. Whether the European C om m i s sion’s data protection directive comes into force or not, securit y and what it



to protect data from getting lost or misused. The findings of the ICM / Canon research highlight that there is a huge difference between the awareness and knowledge held by consumers around security issues across Europe. For example, in the UK 30 percent of consumers only read the topline parts of security clauses and 37 percent feel that organisations don’t do enough to protect data from getting lost or misused. This shows that even sharing topline information about




AO Y B 59 P U OM RB SU means is changing as the shift to data-led business continues. Whether this translates into security becoming a key purchasing consideration is debatable, but it is clear that data security needs to be at the forefront of every CIO, CEO and IT manager’s mind.

Quentyn Taylor is director of information security for Canon Europe. He has worked in a variety of industries including outsourced service providers, internet service providers as well as dotcom businesses, before moving to Canon in 2000. www.canon-europe.com

Be telecoms | 21

A gateway to the world Technical Support Service Manager for International Business Development, Feisal Aden Darar discusses the progress Djibouti Telecom has made in becoming a telecommunications gateway to the rest of the world

written by: Will Daynes research by: James Boyle

22 | be telecoms

Djibouti Telecom

be telecoms | 23

Djibouti Telecom


ver the course of the last 18 months,” explains Technical Support Service Manager for International Business Development, Feisal Aden Darar, “we have been focusing on local and international trends to materialise our core goals. We have improved our Internet transit solutions by deploying Level 3 PoP, a world class Tier 1 and Saudi Telecommunication Company’s POP, with strong presence in the Middle East. In addition we have upgraded our existing Telecom Italia Sparkle node in terms of capacity and diversity. “As a result of our gradual improvement we have 20 operators from 13 countries in East Africa that are currently transiting through the IP nodes in Djibouti with live traffic volumes of about 10 Gbps. In addition to all these PoPs we have developed Djibouti Telecom‘s Pop that is sourced not only from all these IP transit providers but also from FT and Etisalat. With the combination of these advantages we can deliver premium service over diverse and redundant networks. Djibouti Telecom puts customer satisfaction first by anticipating its need and targeting beyond his expectation. Furthermore, since 2012 we also serve as a restoration path to East African operators during outages due to cables cut or maintenance.” Founded in 1999, Djibouti Telecom’s primary target is to establish itself as a regional hub responsible for delivering a complete portfolio of voice, data/IP and capacity services over state-of-the-art network infrastructure that reaches out to eastern and southern Africa, the Middle East and Europe. This drive for

be telecoms | 25

The General Manager at an international forum

26 | be telecoms

international expansion comes on top of the fact that Djibouti Telecom remains the sole provider of telecommunications services in its home country. Djibouti Telecom is recognised as being the international carrier with the strongest presence in eastern Africa. The company’s customer base consists of telecommunications service providers and multinational organisations including international carriers, mobile and fixed telephony operators, internet service providers and major government and private sector clients. At present the company has a total of five submarine cables running into the East of Africa and, as Feisal goes on to explain, plans are afoot for more infrastructure to be added in the very near future. “We are looking at introducing two additional cables, which we hope to have up and operational by the end of 2014. The presence of these new cables will further provide us with the ability to deliver to our customers the services that they require and to do so on a reliable basis, while also providing optimum availability.” The introduction of the newest cables will further cement Djibouti Telecom as having the highest number in East Africa. They also represent the company’s continued progress towards becoming a gateway from East Africa to the rest of the world. “With the help of our geographical position and intercontinental submarine cable investments,” Feisal says, “we have become the optimum gateway to Europe and Asia. We have a direct connectivity with almost 50 countries from Asia, Europe, Africa, New Zealand and Australia through our regional

Djibouti Telecom

Technical staff

and international infrastructures. Apart from the five international cables landing in Djibouti, two more are expected to be live by the last quarter of 2014, AAE1 and SMW-5. These upcoming cables will be equipped with latest technology and will further improve our diversity and redundancy.” Djibouti is an ideal location for satellite service given the low average rainfall. The Djibouti Telecom Teleport can be found within a five kilometre radius of the country’s US

Army Base, the US Embassy and the DjiboutiAmbouli International airport. Located on Djibouti Telecom’s fiber network the Djibouti fiber system also allows for connectivity to four submarine cable systems, EASSy, SEAME-WE 3, EIG and SEACOM. Both Basic IP connectivity as well as international backhaul services are available from the teleport, while all critical systems are supported by redundant UPS power. The teleport also has redundant generators

“With the help of our geographical position and submarine cable investments, we have become the optimum gateway to Europe and Asia” be telecoms | 27

in the case of power outages. Additionally, an iDirect Chassis has been installed at the teleport and is capable of providing services on both existing antennas. The Teleport also offers both managed and hosting services, including space for hosting line cards. While the company’s own infrastructure has continued to grow and improve, the same cannot be said for several other countries in the East African region and this poses one of the biggest challenges to Djibouti Telecom. Take Djibouti’s neighbour Somalia for example. While it hugs a vast swath of coastline the country still lacks access to submarine cables, primarily due to the on-going political instability. To overcome this issue the company has commenced plans to provide terrestrial interconnectivity to the country, much like it does to landlocked neighbours such as Ethiopia. While terrestrial interconnectivity is much more susceptible to damage or incidents of sabotage, Djibouti Telecom has proven in Ethiopia that it is able to provide a stable service. Furthermore it hopes, in the near future, to roll out a similar offering to South Sudan. Back in December 2012, Djibouti Telecom successfully launched a new 3.5G mobile service in Djibouti, thus augmenting its existing 2G GSM and 2.5G EDGE platforms.

Going live on 27 December 2012, the new 3G+ network offers subscribers access to high speed mobile broadband, mobile as well as voice and SMS/MMS services. Djibouti Telecoms customers are also now able to access broadband on a range of devices including mobile phones, tablets and laptops. From an international perspective the

“Djibouti Telecom is recognised as being the international carrier with the strongest presence in eastern Africa” 28 | be telecoms

Djibouti Telecom

Djibouti Telecom’s Evatis sales agency

company has also recently launched a new tier-three data centre in East Africa to provide direct access to its undersea cable systems. The Djibouti Data Centre (DDC) offers undersea cable head access and backhaul, interconnection, collocation and internet access and is located just metres from the company’s new cable landing station. The DDC offers international telecommunications carriers and content delivery network providers neutral collocation facilities, internet exchange and other connectivity services. “It is part of our long term vision for the DDC,” Feisal continues, “to create a location from which we can provide all of the core services that our customers

require, thus making it a gateway to providing international services across Africa and into Asia and Europe. In doing so we also want to create a system that allows these customers to reduce their own costs while still ensuring the diversity and resiliency of what we provide.” Compared to its neighbours, Djibouti is a relatively small country with limited natural resources and a population of around one million people. As such national companies like Djibouti Telecom have grown up with a determination to help develop an economy that is funded almost exclusively by its port activities and telecommunications capabilities. This obligation, if you will, pushes companies like Djibouti Telecom

be telecoms | 29

to devise better services with the sole aim of attracting more customers to take advantage of the infrastructure that the country has to offer. Demand for Djibouti Telecom’s services continues to increase rapidly and this demand is the core influence behind its push to expand and deploy the amount of resources that are required to cater for the needs of its customers.

“In Ethiopia for instance,” Feisal enthuses, “we expect to experience an exponential demand for the sort of services that we provide as the country grows and becomes more dependent on the services it derives from surrounding countries like Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti. It is a country that is very much looking to diversify its interconnectivity and to do so it will require the assistance of a provider who can provide the most reliable

“Our investment in international infrastructure has played a major role in our success to date”

Backbone network being laid

30 | be telecoms

Djibouti Telecom

Entry of submarine cable

and readily available service and that can drive the most capacity. Not only do we believe that we can provide this, but we are also looking to further develop our premium offerings for this very purpose.” As the continent of Africa continues to develop and more and more nations begin to realise their social and economic potential it stands to reason that an industry as critical as telecommunications will only becoming more competitive in the years to come. “Our investment in international infrastructure has played a major role in our success to date,” Feisal highlights. “Going forward our customers will have even more options when it comes to diversity and restoration from Djibouti and that enables us to be an ideal gateway for East African countries.”

With that in mind Feisal is aware of what Djibouti Telecom has to do during this time period. “What is going to be fundamental for us going forward is our ability to meet both new and growing trends in the market by providing premium quality services. What we know about our customers is that they are most concerned about quality, availability and cost, and the way we succeed where others do not is by remaining the best provider of these qualities in the marketplace.” For more information about Djibouti Telecom visit: www.djiboutitelecom.dj www.djiboutidatacenter.com

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32 | Be telecoms

Vodacom SA

Networking the nation Vodacom’s most recent quarterly trading statement further highlights the importance of its core SubSaharan markets and, more importantly, the strides the company continues to make in order to remain a leading network in an increasingly competitive sector

written by: Will Daynes research by: Candice Nice

Be telecoms | 33

Vodacom SA


ehind Asia, Africa is the biggest mobile phone market in the world, and the fastest growing anywhere on the planet with the number of subscribers on the continent growing by almost 20 percent year-on-year for the last five years. Analysts estimate that by the end of 2012 there were more than 735 million subscribers across the continent, a figure that is the equivalent of a 65 percent penetration rate. In South Africa mobile phone use has risen from 17 percent of adults in 2000, to 76 percent in 2010, with over 30 million people in the country now thought to use a mobile, more than those that own a radio, a television, a personal computer or indeed a landline phone. Vodacom is a pan-African mobile telecommunications company and the lead cellular network in South Africa. Today the company provides GSM services to around 50 million customers in South Africa, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aided by its release of a series of optimistic advertisements during the early stages of the democratic South Africa, Vodacom quickly grew into one of the leading networks in the country with an estimated market share that today stands at approximately 50 percent. On 6 February 2013, Vodacom Group released its most recent trading statement for the quarter ending 31 December 2012. “This last quarter has been characterised by strong performance in data and our international operations, tempered by some challenges in our South African business,� commented

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Vodacom SA

Vodacom head office in South Africa

Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub. Vodacom make a much more concerted “Group revenue expanded by 4.8 percent year- effort to focus its investment activities on-year and 7.1 percent quarter-on-quarter, on maintaining its network leadership. while group data revenue increased by 23 This was perhaps best demonstrated in its percent and revenue from our international commercial launch of its LTE service, the first of its kind in South Africa. At the time of operations grew by 22 percent.” During the quarter, active customer growth writing, the company’s LTE coverage has now across the Group also remained positive with extended to reach Johannesburg, Pretoria, its international base growing 13 percent Durban and Cape Town, with 542 active sites and counting. and its key South African Vodacom’s quarterly base also increasing by 12 percent. While the number results for South Africa show of customers increased in that in the three months to South Africa, voice revenue the end of December 2012, continued to be impacted by revenue increased by some increased competition in what 2.2 percent to R15.5 billion, Market share held by the company in South Africa is today a softer economy. driven primarily by the Such conditions have seen 27.2 percent growth in


Be telecoms | 37

equipment revenue from smartphone and tablet sales. Meanwhile, when excluding the impact of regulated cuts in MTR’s, service revenue increased by 1.4 percent. One of the factors that influenced these results was the company’s decision to take corrective action to improve its customer base and reduce the volume of one-off usage customers. As expected, this has resulted in higher churn and net disconnections during the quarter, however what it has also resulted in is a reduction in the company’s prepaid acquisition costs and improved profitability in its prepaid customer base. Value offers and network investment saw the number of active customers in South

Inside a Vodacom store

38 | Be telecoms

Africa increase year-on-year by 11.7 percent to 30.6 million, while contract customer numbers increase by 6.0 percent to 5.9 million. This latter figure alone added almost double the net connections that Vodacom reported in each of the two previous quarters to approximately 120,000 customers. At the heart of Vodacom’s integrated plans during the latter part of 2012 was its strategy of offering “much-more-for-more” (MM4M) and its “double your summer” promotions. Meanwhile, the company has continued to see a strong uptake in the integrated voice, SMS and data price plans that it first launched in July 2012, with almost a third of new mobile contract customers that signed on during the

Vodacom SA

“Smartphones remain a key growth driver for Vodacom in South Africa, with active smartphones increasing to 5.8 million devices� last quarter opting for these plans. In what will come as little surprise given global trends, smartphones remained a key strategic growth driver for Vodacom in South Africa during the final few months of 2012, with active smartphones increasing 29.2 percent to 5.8 million devices. Smartphone net additions increased during

the quarter, adding over 500,000 customers to Vodacom’s network, a figure largely supported by its working capital investment in handset financing. Naturally the continued growth in smartphone uptake resulted in the company recording an increased in usage by over 36 percent to 138MB per smartphone customer per month. Indeed one of the more consistent trends that the company has recorded in recent times is that the appetite for data services amongst its customer base remains strong, with active data customers increasing to 13.8 million, representing over 45 percent of its customer base. Another important differentiator for Vodacom continues to be its commitment to network investment. One such investment has seen the company make further strides in improving the speed and coverage of its 3G network, adding 317 base stations in the quarter to take its total to 5,855. In addition, Vodacom continues to invest in increasing the capacity of its voice network to support higher customer usage. For more information about Vodacom SA visit: www.vodacom.co.za

Be telecoms | 39

Business Connexion Group

A powerhouse

of business solutions Renowned for the provision of high quality, high performance business technology solutions, BCX aims to earn 30 percent of its revenue outside South Africa by 2016

written by: Martin Ashcroft research by: Paul Bradley

Be telecoms | 41


ounded in 1979, Business range of IT solutions and services to meet Connexion Group is Africa’s leading all their information and communication black-owned ICT services provider. technology needs, whatever their scale and Renowned for the provision of scope. Its credentials are second to none high quality, high performance across a huge range of services. BCX provides solutions, and for its trademarked slogan solutions to all Tier 1 retailers in South Africa, “connective intelligence”, Business Connexion for example, and generates over 30 percent is a powerhouse of business solutions based on of South Africa’s payslips with its payroll information and communications technology, solution. It has also designed, developed and running mission-critical ICT systems and implemented the South African government’s managing products and services for large payroll system, Persal. corporations, public sector clients and SMEs Business Connexion’s ability to deliver a world-class service owes much to the strong in South Africa and beyond. The company has more data centre capacity relationships it has developed with many of the than any other service world’s leading ICT suppliers. provider in South Africa, and Cisco, for instance, awarded has a network of business BCX the Cisco Services Partner of the Year and Cisco and delivery units, with a Managed Services Partner of dozen offices across South Africa, and others in Kenya, the Year in 2011 for Africa Business Connexion Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, and The Middle East, and Group founded Botswana, Nigeria and the company is also certified Mozambique. Further afield, by SAP as one of only three it also has an international providers in South Africa for presence in London, England and in Dubai SAP Hosting Services and the only provider in the United Arab Emirates. of SAP Cloud Services in South Africa. It also The Business Connexion Services Division has key vendor relationships with Microsoft, is the leading infrastructure and professional HP, IBM, VMware, Citrix, BlackBerry, Oracle services provider in South Africa, providing and Adobe, among others. services to the retail, financial, industrial and At the forefront of cloud computing in commercial sectors, mining and resources Africa, Business Connexion offers the full and petrochemicals as well as the public range of solutions, including Infrastructure sector. The Services Division operates and as a Service, Platform as a Service and manages five major owned or leased data Software as a Service for messaging, centres and 80 client owned data centres payroll, recruitment, point of sale, and or server rooms, all of which are managed talent management. The Business Connexion according to industry best practices. data centre is the benchmark for hosted The company offers clients a comprehensive information systems and information. Its


42 | Be telecoms

Business Connexion Group

Business Connexion has built strong relationships with many of the world’s leading ICT companies

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Business Connexion Group

Business Connexion Group is Africa’s leading black-owned ICT services provider

operational expertise, management skills and web content filtering, proxy management, experience in customer services enables it to firewall management, intrusion prevention management, vulnerability management, deliver cloud services to global clients. Business Connexion also has a and remote access service. The company also comprehensive suite of information security develops and supplies custom cryptographic solutions and services, using its membership products and solutions to protect information of the Information Security Forum to classified as highly confidential, for clients draw upon a rich library of including government entities international good practice. in Africa, the Middle East, Customers can benefit Asia and South America. Business continuity is from Business Connexions’ another string in Business managed security services, including endpoint protection Connexions’ bow, with ICT Target for earnings management, mobile device service continuity processes, from outside South management, anti-spam alternate site recovery Africa by 2016 and e-mail content filtering, hosting and continuity


Be telecoms | 45

management and maintenance. It also has education programs to train clients to manage a crisis using appropriate processes, procedures and plans. Many businesses now see energy use as a critical issue, from an environmental angle as well as financial. Readers will not be surprised to find that Business Connexions operates in this field, too, offering energy audits, assessments, financing and commissioning. BCX is in fact the only current ESKOM-approved JSE listed ICT energy services company. Businesses wishing to print documents without the capital cost and administration involved in owning their own printers can take advantage of Business Connexions’ managed print solutions (MPS). Using Canon equipment, BCX offers low cost, high efficiency document production facilities for customers on a “pay-per-page” basis, delivering convenient, reliable printing and other related services. Fittingly for a company involved in rapidly changing technology, BCX focuses on change in its corporate social responsibility approach. It describes its CSR mission as being “to empower young people to be able to change their lives as well as those of their communities through technology. We see our

responsibility towards the communities where we operate as a business imperative and this forms part of the overall sustainability requirements for the organisation.” The company engages in philanthropic donations, as well as corporate social investment using financial and other resources to address social development needs. In addition there are socio-economic development (SED) initiatives which aim

“We see our responsibility towards the communities where we operate as a business imperative” 46 | Be telecoms

Business Connexion Group

BCG uses the trademarked slogan “connective intelligence”

to create sustainable access to the economy for previously disadvantaged individuals, focusing on education and skills programmes and a school development programme. Under its flagship initiative “letmelearn”, in 2011 the majority of Business Connexion’s CSR funding was allocated to the implementation of IT laboratories in schools, focusing mainly on rural schools in underprivileged communities. The vast majority of schools in South Africa have no access to computers or any other form of information technology. Business Connexion’s investment in these IT laboratories goes beyond providing infrastructure; it also includes a two-year commitment to partner with the schools to ensure full understanding of the technology,

plus the development of metrics for the ongoing sustainability of the investment when Business Connexion reduces its involvement with the school. With a population of one billion people in 54 countries, the African continent represents a key growth opportunity for Business Connexions, and its International Division is responsible for capturing that growth on the continent and beyond. The Group’s key growth strategy is for 30 percent of earnings to come from outside South Africa by 2016. I wouldn’t bet against it! For more information about Business Connexion Group visit: www.bcx.co.za

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48 | Be telecoms

Spanco: Respondez


the call Through the work of its Respondez brand, Spanco Limited has introduced its outsourcing solutions to Africa’s thriving telecommunications sector

written by: Will Daynes research by: Richard Halfhide

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Respondez provides high value, cost effective contact centre outsourcing solutions

Spanco: Respondez


hough still in its relatively leverage its expertise into the dynamic early stages of development, space of international contact centre Africa’s telecommunications management and BPO, thus the Respondez market is lauded as being one brand was created. Combining its voice, live web chat and of the fastest-growing in the world. Throughout the 2000s, mobile email capabilities with the expertise of its telephony across the continent, particularly back office support staff, Respondez is able in sub-Saharan nations, skyrocketed to the to provide customer care, sales and technical point where today it is substantially more support services to improve user satisfaction widespread than its fixed line equivalent. and deliver increased sales, while at the As is the case for many leading businesses, same time reducing operational costs. Respondez has reacted to the rapid growth Committed to migrating and managing its of Africa’s telecoms sector by expanding client’s business processes effectively, the its presence in the region, partnering with company’s presence extends to a variety of some of leading players industries including retail within the field. and e-commerce, financial Established in 2002, services, communications Respondez provides high and entertainment and gaming publishers. va lue, cost ef fec t ive contact centre outsourcing R e s p o n d e z ’ s solutions through its own communications clients Number of worldwide employees mu lt i-l i ng ua l cont ac t represent leading global headquarters. With its providers of satellite and solutions present in core digital cable, wireless, global epicentres including the US, UK dial-up, digital subscriber line and cable and India, Respondez acts as the global internet access, and cellular service and contact centre and international business equipment sales. These clients rely upon it to support their existing customers, while processing brand of Spanco Limited. Since its formation in 1995, Spanco also cross-selling portfolios to deliver higher has grown into one of the leading revenue and attach rates per customer. It was in November 2010 that Spanco telecom systems integration and IT service companies. Employing more than officially announced that it had put in place 7000 people across the world, Spanco is a comprehensive strategy to tap into the an active player in the field of information BPO opportunities present within Africa. and communication technology (ICT), Central to this plan was the leveraging of with dedicated system integration and its segment specific expertise and its deep business process outsourcing (BPO) talent pool of English and French speaking arms. In 2002, the company decided to employees in order to provide high quality


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Spanco: Respondez services to potential African clients. Between 2011 and 2014, Spanco plans to invest around $20 million to create an infrastructure that will cater for the employment of approximately 10,000 people across the continent. Arguably one of the more exciting developments to occur within Spanco’s short history within Africa was the decision taken by Bharti Airtel, India’s leading mobile phone firm, to award call centre contracts for its African operations. The second significant step in replicating Bharti Airtel’s hugely successful

outsourcing model on the continent, the five-year contract is estimated to be worth around $500 million, with Spanco due to earn a significant percentage of this. The contract to provide customer services was the first of its kind to be introduced to Africa where the back-office processing industry is seen to be in the early stages of evolution. Under the agreement, Bharti Airtel, which owns and operates the Zain brand in 16 African countries, will outsource core customer service functions such as

MaaS: A coherent IT strategy for increased customer experience In the current economic world of costoptimisation, organisations face the pressure to implement efficient and effective ways to manage complex delocalised IT environments where 50-60% of workforce have gone mobile and remote offices gets created all over Africa. Connectivity has so far remained a challenge with most of IT costs going into breakfixes and IMACs. It is imperative that CIOs focus on a best practice governance model combining the technology, the people and the processes to cater for asset management, license metering, availability and capacity management, change management, helpdesk services and SLA compliances.

The IT Management as a Service (MaaS) philosophy leverages on shared-tenancy model technologies coupled with on-site shared personnel to bring a completely new business model to organisations allowing them to optimise cost while benefitting from a knowledge base of skills, thus ensuring a faster resolution time and higher adherence to SLAs resulting in an increased customer experience for the end user. Additionally, providing visibility at all times to organisations on their current IT infrastructure and systems performance in real-time (or near real-time) has become of paramount importance to management. www.mara-ison.com

Be telecoms | 53

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Spanco: Respondez

Customer service staff are multi-lingual

call centres and back office operations based on their own unique experiences of as it prepares for the inevitable working with international organisations acceleration in growth throughout the in the communications sector. It is thought by many industry experts region. Currently boasting more than 40 million customers across its African and insiders that the widespread adoption of the BPO model by operations, Bharti Airtel Bharti Airtel across its is looking to increase operations will also bring this figure to 100 million by 2013. tangible benefits to the Bharti Airtel’s decision development of the sector to work with partners like in each country by creating Spanco, IBM and Tech additional job opportunities and developing local talent. Mahindra will enable its mobile customers to enjoy All three partners are also Value of Bharti Airtel’s world class customer committed to providing contract with Spanco and services, while said partners the necessary services its partners introduce best practices and infrastructure in each

$500 million

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“Spanco anticipates its African employee headcount to increase from 2700 to 5000 during the course of the next 12-to-18 months� market that will build and sustain the skills, capabilities and resources that are acquired as a result of the contract. Going forward, Spanco plans to utilise this contact centre contract to secure a larger foothold in the market for itself, through its Respondez brand. In the time

56 | Be telecoms

since the contract was announced the company has entered into talks with at least three other large telecommunications businesses with the aim of providing similar services. Should its plans for the market come to fruition, Spanco anticipates its African employee headcount to increase

Spanco: Respondez

Spanco plans to invest around $20 million in infrastructure

from its current stated commitment of 2700 professionals, as part of its agreement with Bharti Airtel, to 5000 during the course of the next 12-to-18 months. Due to the company seeing Africa as a huge untapped market for BPO work, including customer lifecycle management for telecommunication customers, and collections and credit counselling services for banking clients, Spanco continues to seek out potential employees that it can hire to serve other clients that it signs up with in the months to come. The significant roles that the development of the telecommunications industry and the

work of businesses like Respondez have had when it comes to the success of one of Africa’s more thriving sectors cannot be underplayed. For Respondez alone, the last 4000 employees that it has taken on are based on the continent. Statistics like this reinforce the belief that Africa’s presence on the global telecommunications stage will only go from strength to strength. For more information about Spanco: Respondez visit: www.spancobpo.com www.respondez.com

Be telecoms | 57


perfect South Africa’s MWEB Business offers a range of affordable, tailored services for small and medium enterprises that address individual needs, improve efficiency and help realise cost savings

research by: Jeff Abbott

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MWEB Business

Be telecoms | 59


WEB Business is a different kind of ISP. The company has been around since 1998— effectively the start of the internet era—when its parent company, MWEB, forecast three things. Firstly, that the internet was going to radically change the way business was done; that the connectivity requirements of South Africa’s businesses were going to be very different to those of home users; and that connectivity solutions designed and developed for large corporates would be beyond the reach of most businesses in South Africa. MWEB Business was set up to address all these concerns and requirements. Building on MWEB’s advanced infrastructure, MWEB Business is able to deliver innovative, industrial-strength, quality business solutions at exceptionally competitive rates without compromising on service, security or reliability. “Our solutions cover all aspects of both wired and wireless connectivity; but we also offer hosting services, hosted applications, security and telephony solutions,” explains Andre Joubert, general manager of MWEB Business. “Our capabilities reach right down to the management of internal information between employees as well as between business partners and suppliers. Our vision of what the internet can do for business and our strategy for putting it to work for our customers extends beyond tomorrow. “Because one size never fits all, we have developed the expertise to tailor solutions to each of our customers’ specific needs, ensuring that these add real value and

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General manager Andre Joubert

MWEB Business

insight to their businesses,” he continues. The company has also teamed up with reseller and wholesale partners around the country who work with it to supply end-users with either white-labelled or MWEB Businessbranded products. Connectivity—how to be a winner Broadband is currently available in South Africa at exceptionally affordable prices— which is surely good news for consumers and businesses? “Well, yes and no,” says Joubert. “While the highly competitive environment surrounding uncapped broadband solutions means end-users are paying less for their ADSL connectivity than ever before, there are also huge potential pitfalls—particularly for business users.” That’s because not all uncapped ADSL offerings, not even those labelled ‘business uncapped’, offer the same performance. There is a very real danger that a business could find itself trapped into a contract for an uncapped ADSL solution that is totally unsuited to its business requirements. “MWEB Business advises that when choosing uncapped ADSL services, businesses should clearly understand the limits of the service being offered and match this against their own

requirements. Armed with this knowledge, the business would be better placed to make a more informed decision about the service it wants,” says Joubert. Joubert explains that because MWEB Business’s uncapped ADSL offerings are not only uncapped but also unshaped and unthrottled, customers get the best possible performance at all times. In addition, MWEB Business’s uncapped ADSL offerings are available in four

“Our solutions cover all aspects of both wired and wireless connectivity; but we also offer hosting services, hosted applications, security and telephony solutions” 62 | Be telecoms

MWEB Business

New fibre networks are coming on stream all the time

different speeds—1Mbps, 2Mbps, 4Mbps and 10Mbps—which means that businesses can choose the product that best suits their business requirements and budget. Moving to mainstream Affordable, high speed fibre-optic internet connectivity is rapidly becoming a viable option for South African businesses of all sizes, and is set to become the connectivity option of choice for many within the next few years. Fixed-line, ethernet-based fibre connectivity services provide a highly reliable and continuously available connectivity option with the equivalent of leased line performance, but which scale more easily and affordably should capacity need to increase. With new fibre networks coming on stream

all the time, MWEB Business is partnering with network providers, extending the company’s fibre connectivity offering to businesses across a growing geographical area. For those businesses located in areas in which fibre connectivity is not available— or where the cost of a fibre link is still hard to justify—a bonded ADSL solution remains a viable option. This is where up to four ADSL lines are grouped together to form one logical connection, offering higher speeds and throughput. Driving VPN growth VPN (virtual private network) technology, which has been around for more than a decade, is entering a new boom phase on the back of the rapid uptake of mobile, remote and

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cloud computing services by organisations of all sizes. ADSL VPNs have long found favour among businesses with multiple branches by acting as cost-effective and secure branch connectors. With the advent of uncapped ADSL, VPNs are now uncapped branch connectors. With an ADSL VPN, organisations can establish a secure, encrypted channel through which data can be safely transferred between all locations across the internet. VPNs also

enable crucial business applications such as accounting systems that are designed for use purely in a private network to be used across the public internet. Accessing the corporate database from a public hotspot can be dangerous. In order for employees to gain secure access to servers on the company’s network from home, airport lounges, customers’ offices, hotels or coffee shops anywhere in the world, a VPN is essential. Similarly, as enterprise systems

“Our capabilities reach right down to the management of internal information between employees as well as between business partners and suppliers”

VPN connections are secure and robust

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MWEB Business

The most cost-effective solution for businesses requiring more speed is bonded ADSL

are increasingly hosted on remote cloud servers, and employees work from softwareas-a-service applications, network security will become much more difficult. A VPN considerably reduces security concerns. Joubert points out that a VPN client must be installed on all the devices used by employees to access the internal network— desktops, notebooks and mobile devices—to avoid security breaches. Bonded ADSL The advent of technologies such as fibre has led many to the belief that ADSL has passed its sell-by date and is well due for replacement. “Our contention is that while all connectivity technologies have their place, ADSL broadband will remain the

preferred choice for internet connections for the foreseeable future in South Africa. That’s because, despite its drawbacks, it remains the most affordable, reliable internet access solution for most businesses throughout the country.” However, ADSL doesn’t always deliver the internet connectivity speed required by businesses in today’s fast paced world. “The most cost-effective solution for businesses that require more speed is bonded ADSL, which has the potential to be almost as fast as a leased line but is considerably less expensive.” Barriers to VoIP tumbling Voice over IP, or VoIP, is starting to come into its own in South Africa as the majority of obstacles to widespread VoIP adoption have

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been, or are being addressed. As a result, the uptake of VoIP in South Africa is likely to increase significantly in the next year or two. “With the advent of uncapped, unshaped, unthrottled ADSL, and the rapidly declining cost of quality, high-speed, business-class connectivity, connectivity barriers to VoIP are being addressed,” says Joubert. “Today, we recommend that businesses considering a VoIP solution invest in nothing less than a 4Mbps connection.” Capturing mobility Business mobility has come a long way from the days when it just meant

Server room

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business people remaining in contact with customers, colleagues and suppliers via a cell phone. Any time away from the office can now be highly productive time, thanks to major advances in connectivity technology. “The anywhere, anytime, secure, fast and affordable ADSL connectivity that’s available today from MWEB Business ensures that your office—your server, your data files, your software applications, your email, everything you would normally access from your desk—is right there with you when you need it,” says Joubert. If you don’t have ADSL access, MWEB

MWEB Business

“Businesses should clearly understand the limits of the service being offered and match this against their own requirements” Business’ 3G APN (access point name) offering delivers the freedom of cellular mobility and the security and robustness of a fixed line, virtual private network (VPN) connection in a single, costeffective package. “Your secure mobile connectivity option can be used for email

and to access your company’s local or wide area network and servers as well as your cloud applications, from locations where landline connectivity isn’t available,” explains Joubert. Server savings Servers are at the heart of a business: they run all the business’s applications as well as its website and email. Businesses can protect their servers by housing them in a custom-built secure, fire-proof, flood-proof, climate-controlled, accesscontrolled data centre on their premises. Alternatively, at a fraction of the cost, MWEB Business can host the servers in its purpose-built, ultra-secure data centre that provides a 24/7 guard service, security alarms, security cameras and high-tech access control; a managed firewall; an uninterruptible power supply from multiple UPSs and back-up generators; a climate controlled environment; and sophisticated fire protection, including fire alarms and a fire suppressant system. “You don’t even have to purchase a server if you don’t want to,” affirms Joubert. “We will rent you the latest, most appropriate model for your needs and, with reliable, fast, uncapped ADSL, you no longer have

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to worry about running out of bandwidth capacity or paying exorbitant top-up fees to access your servers.” No more server overload Uncapped ADSL also makes it possible for businesses to opt for sophisticated solutions such as virtual hosted servers. But why would any business want or need a hosted virtual server? Well, what do you do if your server can’t cope with a high volume of transactions; falls over; or simply can’t cope with the strain from the rapid growth of your business? Instead of doing costly hardware upgrades or replacements, MWEB Business’s Virtual Hosting solutions address these issues quickly, easily and cost-effectively. The company’s Virtual Hosting packages work by partitioning several large physical servers (hosted at the secure MWEB Business Data Centre) into multiple virtual servers, each with its own operating software. “One or more of those virtual servers can be yours, doing precisely what you need it to, in just a few days. Your server and all your data are stored securely in the cloud, meaning your files are in an online environment hosted by MWEB Business, but controlled by you,” says Joubert. Joubert explains that each virtual server can be rebooted independently. Clients can access their virtual machines via a control panel and scale their specs up or down according to their needs, and for as long as the changes are required. “Your virtual server can never be stolen or set on fire, and thanks to our superb infrastructure in

68 | Be telecoms

Cloud computing does not require major investment in

MWEB Business the unlikely event of a failure, our failover mechanisms kick in, guaranteeing that you have 99.9 per cent uptime,” states Joubert. “There really is no downside.” Demystifying the cloud If you use Facebook, Skype, internet banking or Gmail, then you are already a cloud computing user. One of the most compelling benefits of cloud computing is the fact that it delivers when-you-need-it, where-you-need-it data and applications, without the need for any major investment in IT infrastructure and skills. MWEB Business operates multiple data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town from where it has delivered a range of hosted services to South African businesses for years, including Microsoft Exchange Email, VM servers, storage, back-up and collaboration tools. Additional cloud services such as hosted PBX voice and video conferencing are also in the pipeline. “The uptake of business cloud services has been slower in South Africa [than internationally]. However, at MWEB Business, we are starting to see a marked increase in interest from businesses of all sizes that recognise the benefits of the cloud in terms of cost savings, efficiencies, security and convenience,” concludes Joubert. For more information about MWEB Business contact us: T. +27 (0)11 340 8400 www.mwebbusiness.co.za IT infrastructure and skills

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CeskĂŠ Radiokomunikace

Making waves A modern broadcasting and telecommunications company with the aim to develop and strengthen its market position by a continual improvement of services

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: David Brogan

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Václav Aulický’s unique telecommunications tower in Prague

eské Radiokomunikace


amil Levinsky has been at the helm of eské Radiokomunikace, the company he joined in 2007, for just over a year. This is an exciting time for the much evolved broadcaster with a strong stake in communications infrastructure, new platforms and constantly changing modes of data interchange – not to mention runof-the-mill developments like the shift from analogue to digital radio and TV currently being implemented in the Czech Republic. eské Radiokomunikace traces its origins back to 1963 when it was the Czechoslovak government department for radio communications. Privatised after the restoration of democracy in 1989, it went through restructuring to become a full service provider of electronic communications and broadcasting services. In 2010 it was acquired by MIRA, a fund management company within the Macquarie Group, now the sole shareholder. One of the largest telecoms organisations in the modern Czech Republic, it has three principal business streams. It provides a broadcasting platform over the airwaves for government and licensed broadcasters; it offers comprehensive voice data and internet services; and since it owns hundreds of structures and buildings throughout the country, including Václav Aulický’s unique telecommunications tower in Prague from which, as from its other assets, it leases space to other telecommunications operators. Twelve digital television and eight radio stations broadcast from the Žižkov Television Tower as well as another six analogue VHF

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60% Czech households receiving digital TV

Top of a broadcasting tower

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radio channels. And eské Radiokomunikace is the operator of three out of four digital TV multiplexes in the Czech Republic—it owns two commercial DVB multiplexes including that of Czech Digital Group acquired in 2010, and operates the multiplex owned by the national broadcaster eské televize. With the switch over from analogue to digital complete, the company is now focusing its efforts on the rollout of DVB-T2, the second generation digital system that is more effective as a carrier of HD (high definition) TV content with the ability to provide pay TV over terrestrial platform. Around 60 percent of Czech households are now receiving digital TV, which launched in 2008, and that number is rising steeply. Cable and satellite remain fairly flat at around 20 percent. In July 2012 the Czech Telecommunication Office gave the go-ahead to eské Radiokomunikace to start experimental DVB-T2 broadcasting from Prague and Plze – in time to show HD coverage of the London Olympics. “We negotiated inclusion into an experimental DVB-T2 multiplex with eská televize, Prima and Barrandov for HD. Since so many Czech households now have widescreen HD sets, migration to higher standard TV broadcasting is a logical and natural step. We are committed to showing the viewers that

eské Radiokomunikace

Multiplex - digital broadcasting technology

terrestrial broadcasting can provide them for free with the same high quality content as via cable TV or satellite.” Radio is still broadcast as an analogue service in the republic, and though radio is a highly diversified field, eské Radiokomunikace broadcasts 98 percent of the stations transmitted domestically, including Radio Prague and the regional stations operated by the national carrier eský Rozhlas. In addition it supports the four competing mobile phone companies Telefónica O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone and

U:fon, offering them space on its 600 towers. “Using our infrastructure in rural areas is a lot more cost effective for mobile operators than building and owning their own towers,” he points out. Control of the infrastructure is an important strategy. “We live or die by our reliability in the market, particularly in corporate data services,” says Levinsky. “We own the city networks and also 2,600 kilometres of fibre and microwave infrastructure.” He goes on to say that this is a 100 percent redundant system. Redundant in the engineering sense

“Since so many Czech households now have widescreen HD sets, migration to higher standard TV broadcasting is a logical and natural step” Be telecoms | 75

TV HEADENDS CONTRIBUTION & DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS • MPEG Compression and Multiplexing in Highest Broadcast Video and Audio Quality • Contribution and Distribution Systems for TV and Radio • Management and Control Advanced Control for Headends and Contribution Networks



Contact us today and put your company in the spotlight!

vincent@bus-ex.com 76 | Be telecoms

that there is always at least one alternative route for any data communication – the client will never detect a failure; a very significant asset for corporate clients for whom security of communication is business critical. However, for these clients the security of their data is just as critical. In 2010 eské Radiokomunikace came to realize that the telephony market was on the decline – at least as far as the fixed network was concerned – and that having established itself as firmly in control of the physical infrastructure it needed to start looking at the future of business communications. It concluded that the path led clearly in the direction of smart cloud services – so it launched Smart Cloud a year ago. Smart Cloud offers business clients the opportunity

eské Radiokomunikace

Microwave radio technology (at Prague tower)

to store, manage and distribute all their eské Radiokomunikace’s data using infrastructure, which has been extended to a data centre based in the Prague Tower. At first, take-up was slow, Levinsky admits. “Though the savings to our clients are truly significant – they typically work out at around 60 percent of their IT spend – businesses are reluctant to lose control, as they see it, of their critical data: but they

don’t lose control of it! When we launched the Smart Cloud services we were the only company in the Czech Republic that could link its ring-fenced virtualized server to its own telecommunications network. It is a completely secure environment for running business applications.” This message is beginning to get though as companies realise that they can get reliable IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service) and

“We live or die by our reliability in the market, particularly in corporate data services” Be telecoms | 77

“It’s only a cloud based system in the sense that it is virtual – the data remains inside a private network”

The 91 metre Ješted broadcasting tower in the north of the Czech Republic

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eské Radiokomunikace flexible data management over powerful servers with data backup and long term archiving. Clients still need a lot of reassurance before they will entrust their data to a third party, but this offers them state of the art outsourcing firmly located in their own backyard – understandably they don’t like the idea of their data being warehoused in Ireland or India. eské Radiokomunikace needed to populate its data centre with servers that delivered virtualization and costefficiencies but were entirely secure, so it deployed the Cisco Unified Computing System, consisting of 30 servers powered by Intel 5600 Xeon processors that provide all the control they could wish for – as Levinsky explains: “Some people are scared off by the name. It’s only a cloud based system in the sense that it is virtual – the data remains inside a private network.” An added advantage for business clients, he adds, is that the service is completely scalable, and if their business is seasonal their fees will contract or expand with their demands. The business has changed radically since Levinsky joined it five years ago. It is financially much more stable, relying less on short term contracts and more on sustained partnerships. “We got out of activities where we didn’t think we could

The 59 metre Radhošt broadcasting tower in the eastern Czech Republic

add value, like retail telecommunications and now we are concentrating on business to business solutions.” Moving into the ICT space and staying ahead in that space is his number one priority as the bread and butter channels become commoditised. Some large government outsourcing contracts are coming up for tender: if eské Radiokomunikace can land these contracts and significantly increase its stake in public sector data and voice services Czech taxpayers will gain the benefit already seen by corporate clients. For more information about Ceské Radiokomunikace visit: www.radiokomunikace.cz

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Fibre for all The Finnish telecommunications organisation Finnet is piloting a new concept in home computing that could revolutionise the way we operate

written by: Gay Sutton research by: David Brogan

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Finnet Association

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Inside the data centre

Finnet Association


inland is in many ways unique. in partnership with some of the biggest It is, for example, the European names in the world of ICT—IBM, HP, Cisco, Union’s most sparsely populated Juniper, Intel and Microsoft—it may well country with just 5.4 million herald the shape of home computing and inhabitants in an area larger than communications for years to come. The vision the UK, which by contrast is home to over is that householders will be able to replace 62 million people. It also has a challenging expensive PCs and laptops with what is climate and terrain. Frozen for part of the known as a thin client: a box that connects year, the countryside is largely low lying and via fast fibre cable to a remote data centre rocky, and characterised by dense forests and where all the computing operations and data a multitude of lakes formed in the last ice age. storage take place. It’s not an easy terrain in which to create It is essentially a cloud-based computing a cable-based telecommunications system. model similar to the one that is expanding rapidly among small and In spite of the significant medium sized companies. challenges involved, the Finnish telecoms organisation Supermatrix, however, will Finnet is about to launch be extending the model to householders. As individuals a new and market leading we are already using cloudservice for householders in Monthly price of Finland called Supermatrix. based computing without Supermatrix service “This is the biggest step we being aware of it. We are have taken since we began storing emails, music, photos replacing our old copper network with fibre and books online through the likes of Google, in 2000,” said Jarmo Matilainen, managing Facebook, Flickr, Spotify, Amazon and so on. This simply takes the concept to its ultimate director of Finnet Association. Finnet is a group of 27 regional companies and individually personalised conclusion. providing telecoms services for over 40 “We are piloting Supermatrix in three of percent of the country and employing some our member companies, with a total of 300 2500 staff. While the regional companies customers,” Matilainen said. “And they are directly sell, supply and manage the currently helping us to define and improve services, Finnet Association provides the the service.” Finnet then plans to launch the member companies with a wide range service through all 27 regional companies in of support services, including strategy spring 2013, and hopes to have around 10,000 and project development, marketing, users by the end of the year. The benefits of government lobbying and negotiating the system are compelling. Finnet will supply volume procurement for the entire group. a thin client box, mice and keyboards to Supermatrix is a visionary project that has participating homes enabling them to run up been four years in preparation. Developed to four PC-equivalent outlets per household.


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“We are piloting Supermatrix in three of our member companies, with a total of 300 customers�

Digging for the fibre cable

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Finnet Association “Our thinking is that this will not completely replace PCs, laptops and Macs. They will always have their place for certain applications,” Matilainen continued. “But Supermatrix will be ideal for the majority of customers who need simple office applications, want access to the web for YouTube and downloads, or want to archive documents and images.” Initially, the service will come with applications such as photo manipulation and drawing, and a basic office package from Libreoffice that includes word processing, Difficult weather conditions spreadsheet and presentation The Supermatrix service has only become tools. “The reason we believe this will be successful is that people are moving away possible because the Finnet group of companies from old Windows-based PCs. Some are has been making a continuous long-term migrating to tablets, smart phones and investment in infrastructure, under the laptops, but many don’t want the expense of strategic management of Finnet Association. purchasing such equipment. We are pricing In 2000, the 27 regional companies began this service at €15 per month, replacing the existing and this includes everything copper telecoms cables with except the screen,” Matilainen the latest fibre optic cable. explained. Home owners can Initially, this began in areas then connect the Supermatrix of higher population density, box to existing screens or to but the aim is to connect their TV screens by HDMI. every household in the Finnet marketplace to the fibre “What this gives you is the equivalent of 4 PCs in your network. Since 2007 over Cost of connecting fibre home with all the software €250 million has been spent optic cable to every household on installing fibre, and by the and processing power you need for just €15 a month.” time the project is completed

€400 million

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in 2020 the final bill is expected to have risen to €400 million. The greatest challenge now is extending coverage to individual homes located in remote outlying areas. “The terrain is our greatest challenge,” Matilainen said. “Finland has a lot of rocks and a lot of lakes. The cable has to be laid over very large distances, and this requires a high level of investment.” Alongside this long-term investment in

fibre network coverage, Finnet has also been constructing a series of data centres strategically located in different areas of Finland. “We currently have 12 data centres and another under construction at Kajaani, a remote location in central Finland.” This newest data centre is being constructed in partnership with IBM and an old paper mill has been chosen for its location. With plenty of space, a good power supply and water for

“People are migrating to tablets, smart phones and laptops, but many don’t want the expense of purchasing such equipment”

Supematrix service

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Finnet Association

Supermatrix devices

cooling, it has excellent connections through the fibre network, and should go into operation next year. “Almost all our data centres will ultimately be able to offer the Supermatrix service,” he continued. “However when we launch the service next year we will begin by operating it from just one.” So far, around €3 million has been invested in the Supermatrix project. Much of the purchasing and strategic management has been done through Finnet Association, while each of the 27 regional companies has contributed towards the costs, spreading the financial burden throughout the group and making it more manageable. “We also expect to invest up to €30 million in data

centres which will be used for private and public sector customer IT services, and for the telecommunications and cable TV businesses. Looking to the future, if Supermatrix proves to be the success Finnet hopes, Matilainen believes there may be opportunities to take the concept beyond Finland. Sweden and Norway, for example, have good fibre networks. There is no doubt that many telecoms companies will be watching the outcome of this project very closely. For more information about Finnet Association visit: www.finnet.fi

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Iceland is no backwater, thanks largely to an innovative and forward looking business and entertainment sector supported by Síminn, one of the world’s most advanced telecommunications corporations

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: David Brogan

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Telecommunications play a vital role in Iceland



celanders are a staunch breed of people, descendants of generations who built the modern state surviving famine, invasion, disease and political turmoil. No wonder that this small nation of a third of a million people on an island only 300 miles wide and 200 miles from north to south at its largest punches above its weight internationally. “We are travellers by nature,” says Anna Björk Bjarnadóttir. “We have had to be, because of our geographical isolation out here in the Atlantic.” Anna is CTO of the country’s principal telecommunications operator Síminn, which has been linking islanders with each other and the outside world since it was founded as the Iceland State Telephone Service in 1906. That was the year Iceland ended its isolation and became linked by a telephone cable with the rest of the world via the Faeroes and Scotland. Today telecommunications play a vital role in Iceland. Despite its limited population, penetration rates for network-related products and services are among the highest in the world. More than 95 percent of Iceland’s households have a computer connected to the internet and demand for internet services is very high. “When it comes to broadband take-up I think we are number one in the world,” says Anna, adding that within the next 18 months 80 percent of households will be reached by fibre optic cable, something other countries can only dream of at present and a really ambitious programme across terrain noted for its seismic activity. Síminn was privatised in 2005, since when it has operated in competition with other

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Síminn telecoms operators while 2mb connection today,” she says. “We have implemented remaining the incumbent, that using a number of with responsibility for the di f ferent tec h n iques: fixed telecoms network, a satellite, DSL and mobile network of more than 700 mobile base stations covering solutions are all used.” the entire country, and Staying in touch with having a public service remit. each other and the rest of A government financed the world is very dear to programme over the last the hearts of Icelanders, two years, for example, she says. “I think I can safely say that telecoms and has seen the provision of Anna Björk Bjarnadóttir connectivity are seen as a a minimum 2 megabits per second (mbps) connection to every commodity here. During the recession it household, however isolated. “Even a farm has been one of the last things they would far away in the west fjords of Iceland has a give up or cut back on when things got

Polystar Polystar is a visionary telecommunications company, providing world-class service management solutions for network performance maximisation. Polystar’s product portfolio enables telecom operators and service providers to monitor increasingly complex networks containing mixed technologies, digest billions of events and bring sense to this data. Polystar has one solution for all mobile and fixed networks that makes it possible to troubleshoot across different technologies. “Siminn had a need to replace an old system, for one that could handle both fixed and mobile services in one solution, which Polystar did,” says Ola Barthelson, Regional Sales Director at Polystar. Polystar’s solutions bring clarity through simplicity and take analytical capabilities to the

next level. The solutions encourage proactive behaviour and inspire new ways of network management. Potential problems can be dealt with before they affect quality of service. By using the innovative visualisation technologies of Jupiter, combined with the monitoring and data-gathering functionality of OSIX, operators gain access to the business intelligence they need to meet market change and remain competitive. “One big advantage with the Polystar solution is the increased cooperation between the fixed and mobile departments since they trouble-shoot in the same system,” says Baldur Baldursson, Director Mobile Networks at Siminn. www.polystar.com

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Show the world what your company has to offer with our tailored packages

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Síminn tight.” That’s reflected in AirTies the high take up of ‘on the AirTies was founded in 2004 by a senior management top’ services like Wi-Fi and and technical team from Silicon Valley, with the strategic VOIP solutions for making intent to become the market leader for the wirelessly calls overseas. With travel connected home. AirTies designs and develops its own in their blood, Icelanders software and hardware, wirelessly streaming high definition have become avid digital video to multiple rooms and screens. The comprehensive product portfolio includes broadband Internet devices and travellers, too, she says. Internet based television set top boxes. Its world awarded “Of course no country is technology enables seamless wireless integration at completely isolated these the touch of a button, as well as 100% internet wireless days but we do need to be coverage in homes. innovative and think out of AirTies has an installed base of over 8 million worldwide. the box a lot of the time just More information is available at. to function out here!” www.airties.com This is reflected in the data revolution that is now sweeping Iceland but which depends on bandwidth to power it. The focus at present is to complete the fibre network being installed, however the Post & Telecoms Administration (PTA) in Iceland is about to issue licences for 4G mobile bandwidth and Síminn is preparing its bid to ensure it retains its nationwide coverage. In fact the jump from 3G to 4G is not as radical as the introduction of 3G a decade ago, which saw the jump from voice-only to mobile data communications. What 4G brings to the party is more mbps and greatly enhanced connection speeds. “You will get more stuff faster than before,” says Anna. This will be of more than incidental value to Icelanders, making it easier for them to pursue their chosen lifestyle of decamping to summer house colonies for long periods and working from home using laptops and Icelanders have become avid digital travellers mobile devices. The flexibility offered by

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tablets and smartphones is only as useful festival which attracts even more people as the infrastructure that supports them, than Airwaves—20,000 visitors come from however. Síminn’s existing 3G provides up all over the world to compete as well as to to 21 mbps currently, but 4G can support buy and sell horses. This is a very different clientele; older and more traditional, up to 100 mbps connectivity, she says. Faster mobile broadband will certainly nevertheless the app was downloaded by make life better for visitors to the country, 2000 users and achieved more than 70,000 many of whom come to the annual Iceland hits during the festival. “Here in Iceland Airwaves music festival, held you have high technology in late October. Airwaves usage among the older population.” has become one of the world’s foremost showcases Last year Síminn took for new and alternative over an entire day’s issue music after it launched in of the country’s oldest Icelandic households 1999. Since 2010 Síminn newspaper Morgunblaðið with a computer has been one of its principal and covered it with QR codes. connected to the internet sponsors, creating a mobile By downloading an app and app that grows year by year. passing a smartphone over With more than 200 bands the paper, readers could and performers taking part there’s a lot of access deeper information on anything from congestion on the ground but the app gives news stories to the weather, giving them an real time information on queuing as well experience and access to technology that as full information about the performers would still look futuristic in many other and schedules. This year the app was countries. At the same time it educated downloaded more than 8000 times, which the business community to the marketing accounts for more than 2 percent of the potential of QR codes; since that exercise population, and in five days it generated codes have been added to sites of interest all more than 1.4 million page views. over the country so that visitors can find out A similar app was developed for the what they need to know and at the same time Landsmót hestamanna international horse get to appreciate the value of having great 3G


“Telecoms and connectivity are seen as a commodity here. During the recession it has been one of the last things they would give up or cut back on” 96 | Be telecoms

SĂ­minn The company provides free communications services to around 30 charities

“I think we have a good culture of treating our employees, colleagues, partners and vendors well” coverage in remote parts of the landscape. Síminn aims to be so good that it is a role model for the entire business community; and that’s not just an aspiration but borne out in countless programmes. Anna Björk Bjarnadóttir is passionate about the

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company’s CSR programmes, and chairs FESTA (the Icelandic Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility), a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2011 to help companies implement their CSR strategies, raise awareness about CSR and encourage


Even a remote farm has a 2mb connection today

related research in cooperation with Icelandic universities. Síminn is in a unique position to lead in this field: “We have specialities and knowledge that other businesses do not have and feel obliged to use that knowledge to support our society.” The company provides free communications services to around 30 charities and not-for-profit businesses that support disadvantaged people. The CSR programme is not just about doing good for the less-well-off; it reflects fairness and equality within the company

too, she says. “I think we have a good culture of treating our employees, colleagues, partners and vendors well. We have some way to go but we believe strongly that our social programme will be good for the company, employees and customers and the whole society.” For more information about Síminn visit: www.siminn.is

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M2M: not just for B2B Digital communications are opening many new opportunities. This Spanish telecoms giant is taking full advantage of machine to machine (M2M) technology

written by: Alan Swaby research by: David Brogan

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Telef贸nica flagship store



n any visit to Spain, it’s impossible not to notice the presence of Telefónica. This is the institutional face of Spain’s principal telecommunications company which is presented to both the business and domestic sectors through the ubiquitous Movistar brand. Since 2006, O2, another of the bigger players in the cellular mobile market, has also been part of the Telefónica family. In fact these days, Telefónica has moved a long way from what was once a purely national operation, set up in 1924 as CTNE with the aid of ITT. At the end of World War II, the business was effectively nationalised with the Spanish government taking 79.6 percent of CTNE shares and by the 1960s, CTNE had become the #1 Spanish enterprise with 32,000 employees. By the time the Spanish government sold its shareholding and Telefónica had returned to completely public hands in 1999, the business was already international with interests principally in South America but also in key markets throughout Europe and the Far East. Today it operates in 25 countries and has a workforce of 287,000, generating revenues of €63 billion. Telefónica is well and truly one of the leading integrated telecommunication providers, ranked 6th largest among terrestrial mobile phone network operators as measured by number of subscribers. As of June 2012, Telefónica’s total number of customers amounted to 311.8 million and of these, more than 75 per cent came from outside its home market.

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$8 Billion Estimated value of M2M market by the end of this year

Entrance to Telefónica’s flagship store

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It’s with this global market very much in mind that Telefónica announced in July this year that it was pressing for the establishment of international collaboration and cooperation in the advancement of cellular M2M technology and had helped form an alliance of like-minded telecoms operators. In itself, there is nothing new about M2M – or machine to machine – communications. The concept has been around in one form or another for decades under numerous titles. Effectively it refers to any technology that allows a remote device to transmit data to an application somewhere else, either by wired systems or wireless. Originally, this invariably meant a remote network of machines relaying information back to a central hub before being re-directed to a PC for the data to be processed. Even cellular M2M has existed for over two decades since Siemens launched a GSM data module based on one of its mobile phones for M2M industrial applications, enabling machines to communicate over wireless networks. Modern M2M communication progressed with the expansion of IP networks across the world, opening new business opportunities. Now Telefónica has teamed up with


Telefónica is known to both the business and domestic sectors through the ubiquitous Movistar brand

leading mobile operators in Europe, the East and Australasia who will discuss ways in which they can provide a seamless solution for the provision of M2M communications to multinational customers. Although the initial grouping consists of seven businesses, Telefónica has stressed that the initiative is open to other operators. The goal is to stimulate the sale of M2M communications across a number of distinct high-potential industries such as consumer electronics, automotive, energy efficiency, etc, enabling the development of new business models, the creation of new products and

services and a reduction in operational costs for these target industries. The Telefónica initiative is based on using an existing platform from Jasper Wireless in the USA—one of the leading exponents of M2M technology. Jasper estimates that the M2M market will be worth $8 billion by the end of this year and by building on its technology, network operators can quickly enter the M2M market. The traditional markets for M2M applications, such as fleet management, vehicle telemetry and energy monitoring smart meters are expected to be joined by

“M2M refers to any technology that allows a remote device to transmit data to an application somewhere else” Be telecoms | 105

other consumer directed offerings, many of which simply haven’t even been thought of yet, but will be once the technology is in place. As the Jasper platform has the advantage of being a cloud based service, both operators and customers should find faster times for products to get to market and continuous innovation. Although Telefónica was a key mover in getting this alliance underway, it is very much a case of equality across partners, enabling all operators to benefit equally in

terms of providing better services at lower costs. The opportunity is there for all to develop partnerships with key regional players rather than expanding individually country by country. And of course, it should never be forgotten that multi-operator schemes such as this are particularly attractive to key corporate customers who also work across global markets and want the simplicity of a compatible system for their communications across borders.

“The goal is to stimulate the sale of M2M communications across a number of distinct high-potential industries”

The CNSO (National Centre for Supervision and Operations) control room

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Telefónica and Mozilla pioneer first open web devices

The above scheme is ideally suited for Telefónica’s global plans but the company is equally keen to develop M2M on the local scene. It has recently jointly invested €3 million in the Barcelona based technology company AddFleet with the aim of promoting the commercialisation of the company’s products worldwide. It has developed a new mobility system based on M2M technology and cloud computing that uses mobile devices to connect vehicles to taxi dispatch centres and to potential taxi users. Taxi dispatch centres are currently managed using analogue radio systems, with the distinct disadvantage of not enabling direct communication between the three

parties: dispatcher, the vehicle and the user. Instead of expensive investments in communications that can only be used in the taxi, AddFleet’s technology allows the driver to receive the same information but via his mobile phone, paying only a small fee on the receipt of each new fare. Telefónica has developed into the global force it is through the timely application of new technology and it expects that the growing interest in cellular M2M will contribute further to the company’s growth. For more information about Telefónica visit: www.telefonica.com

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Magyar Telekom

FROM RED TO GREEN Since Hungary emerged from Soviet control, Magyar Telekom has been making rapid progress towards sustainability, recently earning an A+ rating from the Global Reporting Initiative

written by: Jeff Daniel research by: David Brogan

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Magyar Telekom


Germany’s “T” brand is popular in Hungary

fter more than four decades of Soviet control, the late 1980s saw a whole swathe of Eastern Bloc countries again become the masters of their own destiny. In Hungary, the transition occurred in 1989 and within just a few months, the country’s infrastructure was being modernised. The road to where the communications network is today began when Hungarian Post was split into three and the telephone service hived off as the separate state owned company Matáv Hungarian Telecommunications. In 1993, the service went private and a consortium of two telecommunications companies, Deutsche Telekom and Ameritech International acquired a controlling interest and Magyar Telekom was born. Under the guidance of Deutsche Telecom, the German’s “T” brand was promoted to a Hungarian populace itching to catch up with the rest of the industrialised world. With such a backlog of technological catching up to do, you’d hardly be surprised if observing the niceties wasn’t so high on the agenda. And yet, barely into the first years of operation, Magyar Telekom had already put special emphasis on environmental protection. Under the guidance of Katalin Szomolányi, head of the Corporate Sustainability Centre at Magyar Telekom, the business gained the distinction in 2007 of being awarded Hungary’s first A+ rating, signifying it operates in f ull compliance with the third

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Magyar Telekom generation guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI G3). “The company has had a Group-level Environment Protection Policy since 2003,” she says, “and sustainability has been on the agenda since 2004, meaning that in addition to Sometimes, the most remarkable innovations are environmental considerations, social and the top management team, they have to commit ones we don’t see… Availability, control and security of electrical energy, installing and to implementing it.” themselves economic dimensions also receive special commissioning UPS systems: each day we provide innovative Since 2002, Magyar Telekom has been attention. Our sustainability strategy has solutions to our customers. For nearly a hundred years we’ve built up considerable expertise in been in place since 2005 and notimplementing only them does it issuing regular environmental reports in your operating environments so that the only thing you can see isof the creativity projects… and the quality of its environmental performance, have to be approved by each member theof your describing our services !


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order a taxi without phone call- use smartphone application

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Magyar Telekom a practice that then formed the basis of the subsequent We are not only the biggest taxi company in Budapest but sustainability report. The also the most modern, due to technological developments implication of the higher carried out with our telecommunication partners Bull level of compliance that Hungary and Magyar Telekom. comes with A+ rating is The unique taxi dispatcher programme enables electronic greater transparency and and online payment and facilitates billing. Each vehicle is equipped with a POS terminal, enabling the acceptance of more opportunity for being electronic taxi cards as well as American Express, VISA and judged. MasterCard. We have developed new applications for iPhone, In order to encourage the Android and Windows phone operating systems together same level of commitment with EvoPro for our customers’ convenience. Customers can and performance within now order a taxi using just their smartphone application. its supply chain, Magyar www.radiotaxi.hu Telekom has initiated an annual award to suppliers who demonstrate leadership in their own sustainability endeavours. “It’s known as the Delfin (dolphin) Award,” says Szomolányi, “and is an acronym for the Hungarian name of the initiative, which translates into English as: Prize for a Committed, Sustainable, and Innovative Generation.” From its position as leader of the telecommunication industry, Magyar Telekom is setting examples which it wants others to follow in the harmonisation of business, social and environmental interests and in the process, reward suppliers for their help in achieving its sustainability

RT 5 Taxi Holding Ltd

2,000,000 KM Air and road travel distance saved by audio and video-conferencing Katalin Szomolányi

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Szigma-X is specialised in general construction design, construction management and the resolution of special engineering problems



Szigma-X Tervezõ és Tanácsadó Kft. www.szigmax.hu www.ecopol.hu

Magyar Telekom goals. Applications can be made in one or more of four categories: innovations that have already been completed and which promote positive change in social and environmental effects; the promotion of equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practices; investments and developments aimed at climate protection; and training and education raising awareness about sustainability.

As an example of sustainabilit y projects, aimed at benefitting society as a whole, Szomolányi describes the Digital Bridge initiative. “Certain sectors of society,” she says, “are at risk of being left behind in the technical era. This is not just a function of age or affluence but also location. Digital Bridge is directed towards isolated settlements of less than 3000 inhabitants, teaching people personally how the internet can be

Szigma-X Design and Consulting Ltd Szigma-X Design and Consulting Ltd (founded in 1989) specialises in general construction design, construction management and the resolution of specific engineering problems. Its key focus areas include the design, construction, expansion and safety testing of antenna towers and other telecommunication support structures. More than 1,600 antenna towers have been completed on the basis of our design work. We have designed more than 50 types of tower structures, including lattice, monopole, unique, camouflage, laminatedglued timber, steel mobile, and carbon mobile. Since our inception, we have worked in the Hungarian telecommunication field. Our towers became the type-towers of Hungarian Telekom as well as Vodafone. Based on our unique patented method, we also reinforce existing weak towers using crossbars and fixing ropes. Our new, outstanding product is Ecopol, a

laminated-glued timber tower family, which can be used for electric poles, advertising, lighting, or windmills. The 30 metre high prototypes are already operating as base stations. Our experienced team is now ready for the challenge of producing a 40 metre high wooden pole which blends into the surrounding landscape. 2010 was a successful year for Ecopol, when the Hungarian patented tower was granted design protection. Moreover, it won the Dolphin Award, nominated and awarded by Hungarian Telekom in the category of ‘Innovation Came True’. The project gained recognition for setting an example in the field of sustainable growth by fulfilling all three pillars of sustainability in the environmental, economic and social dimensions. www.szigmax.hu www.ecopol.hu

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tailored for their own personal needs and interests for them to have a more fulfilling way of life. The really rewarding aspect of this programme is that Magyar Telekom’s employees participate on a voluntary basis and since 2004 there have been more than 150 events involving thousands of people.” Since 2008 Magyar Telekom has been holding an annual focus event, in conjunction with a number of NGOs, under the banner ‘Sustainability Day.’ The event has a complex agenda, serving multiple purposes. Interactive panels featuring group discussions on current issues regarding the environment, society and economy are led by prominent and well respected representatives of their related fields. Last year the environmental focus was on water, while poverty and responsible communication were the social and economic issues. The event also discussed how the role of volunteerism could be promoted. The Sustainability Day, despite the fact that it is organized by a large corporation, differs in format and appearance from traditional branded events with the emphasis very much remaining on the topic and substance. The event is becoming more and more successful as years go by with participation doubling each year along with extensive increases in media coverage. From an initial attendance

of 300 in 2008, the number of delegates grew to 3000 last year. In a more commercially oriented programme, specifically aimed at doing business in a greener way—and with very measurable results—Magyar Telekom is encouraging the use of technology to remove the need for travel. In 2009 it installed TelePresence video-conferencing facilities at strategic sites within Hungary and at its

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Magyar Telekom

A Digital Bridge event

international affiliates in In coming years, Magyar Macedonia and Montenegro, Telekom has set itself as well as the majority owner some ambitious targets for Deutsche Telekom. In the first spreading the message, year alone, the group saved understa nding and Number of Digital Bridge 476,410 kilometres of flights application of sustainability, events since 2004 by using this service. In the throughout all levels of the subsequent year it saved organisation and within the 1,368,361 km of international wider community. “We want flights and 164 tons of carbon dioxide. Magyar Telekom,” says Szomolányi, “to At the same time, audio and video- be recognised by the public as the leading conferencing facilities with document advocate of sustainability and to be admired sharing abilities were installed on all for our championing actions.” workstations enabling small groups of three or four staff to communicate without the For more information about need for travel. All in all, Magyar estimates Magyar Telekom visit: that it saved almost 2,000,000 km of air or www.telekom.hu road travel that year alone.


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the dots

Chief executive officer Daniel Szasz talks about how the company is contributing to the development of Macedonia’s telecommunications industry

written by: Will Daynes research by: David Brogan

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Makedonski Telekom

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Makedonski Telekom promotes personal and social networking

Makedonski Telekom


n the years since gaining independence from the former Yugoslavia, Macedonia has undergone considerable economic reform. In fact, its development of an open economy saw the country ranked as the fourth ‘best reformatory state’ out of 178 countries rated by the World Bank in 2009. The economic development of the country has seen the rise of various industry sectors, not least the telecommunications sector. At the end of 2010, Macedonia was estimated to be home to more than 413,000 fixed line telephone customers and a staggering 2,150,000 mobile phone subscribers. Providing innovative solutions with high quality and efficiency Makedonski Telekom plays a defining role in modernising and improving the telecommunications market within the country. A leading national provider of electronic communications, the company offers its customers a range of cutting-edge services and entertainment content. Through the development of industryleading products and services, Makedonski Telekom promotes personal and social networking between the people of Macedonia. It is this networking that is fast influencing the construction of the country’s information society. Prior to 1 January 1997, and operating under the name PTT Macedonia, the predecessor of the company originally provided telecommunication, postal, banking and other services. In accordance with a decision taken by the country’s government in 1996, however, PTT Macedonia was subsequently divided into

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ONE OF THE MOST PROFOUND SHIFTS IN YOUR BUSINESS IN DECADES HAS ARRIVED. AND IT LOOKS LIKE THIS. At first glance, she’s an employee working on a tablet. But she also represents a growing number of people who are working their way— on their favorite devices. It’s good news for companies, considering the significant savings and productivity gains associated with this new way of working. And it’s great for your team members, who can collaborate better than ever, from anywhere—accessing virtual desktops on their laptops or meeting face-to-face via Cisco Jabber™ on their tablets. Now, collaboration is enhanced. Employees are untethered. Security is built in. And at the center of it all is the Cisco® Intelligent Network. Use your favorite device to learn more at cisco.com/go/yourway.

©2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Makedonski Telekom

Makedonski Telekom implements next generation network with Cisco Technology “Three fundamental trends are shaping the world of service providers today: mobility, video and cloud,” says Peter Hajdu, general manager Cisco South East Europe. For the past 14 years, Makedonski Telekom has been working with Cisco, the worldwide leader in networking technologies, to build a state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure for Macedonia and to get prepared for these new trends. A key milestone was the implementation of an endto-end Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) to expand IP-based and broadband services and to create a platform for video, mobile, and for managed and cloud-based services. Cisco technology helped enable Makedonski Telekom to design and build a highly reliable countrywide service delivery network to support the introduction of new, interactive applications such as Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (2003), Voice-over-IP (2005), Point to Point Metro Ethernet (2005), Ethernet in the first mile over copper (2006), Internet Protocol-based TV (2008), Video on Demand (2008), and Fiber-to-the-Home (2009). At the same time, Makedonski Telekom was able to improve the quality of all existing IP services, for example IP/MPLS Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and high speed internet access.

The proven reliability of Cisco networking solutions helps Makedonski Telekom to fulfil its aim of having a core network with 99.999% availability—a milestone for every top service provider worldwide. Most recently, by deploying the Cisco® Carrier Routing System (CRS) family, Makedonski Telekom is preparing its network for an increase in high-speed broadband demand and the launch of advanced IP-based video services. The Cisco IP NGN architecture enables Makedonski Telekom to expand its broadband subscriber base and evolve service offerings from the current triple play and quad play to “any play” services. The close integration of services with T-Mobile and implementation of fixed-mobile convergence will enable customers to fully enjoy the power of mobility and borderless networks. www.cisco.com/go/yourway

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two legal entities, thus dividing postal and telecommunication activities. It was in 2001 that the company formally became part of the international Deutsche Telekom group. Seven years later the current era of Makedonski Telekom began with its adoption of the globally recognised ‘T’ brand. Since 2001, and thanks in part to a brand new custom structure that has allowed it to remain in-step with the latest achievements

in electronic communications, Makedonski Telekom has strived to meet the demands and needs of its customers. One way it has done so is by always using the best practices of the Deutsche Telekom group in order to maximise user benefits. “One of the biggest challenges that the company has had to overcome since it became part of Deutsche Telekom,” explains chief executive officer, Daniel Szasz, “has

“The company has been able to retain a local emphasis, while still enjoying the backing and support of a global telecoms powerhouse”

T-Home employees

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Makedonski Telekom

Customers waiting for the new iPhone

been the task of blending and its next generation its traditional, local values workforce. A programme with the international of heavy investment and branding and reputation a comprehensive training that exist throughout the structure have combined to Named Best Employer in Deutsche Telekom Group. By help bring these two groups a Triple S Group survey successfully overcoming these together under a shared issues, the company has been business philosophy. able to retain a local emphasis, Makedonski Telekom’s while still enjoying the backing and support of commitment towards the wellbeing and a global telecoms powerhouse.� success of its employees has been rightfully Making the transition from being a recognised in recent times, most notably by more traditional, state-run, fixed telecoms the Triple S Group’s anonymous survey of company dealing with landlines to becoming the best employers in Macedonia. The results a competitive mobile operations provider has of the survey, whose participants include also not been without its difficulties. One employees from the cream of the crop of particular challenge has been its need to Macedonian business, identified the company integrate together its long-serving employees as the Best Employer for 2011, in the category


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of companies with over 500 employees. In order to achieve its aims of being recognised universally as a highly esteemed service company, Makedonski Telekom has developed a new company strategy incorporating three main messages, “SustainTransform-Innovate”. This strategy is very much aligned with that of Deutsche Telekom, which is “Fix-Transform-Innovate”. Customers and their demands, as well as market movements, are the main drivers of the changes that have been made to the company’s strategy. In a market

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that is continuously evolving and highly competitive, both private and business customers are increasingly seeking an all-inone service that provides them with constant access to information via various different devices and platforms. “The company is continually looking for opportunities to modernise, invest and diversify to provide new income streams as traditional fixed streams become less relevant,” Szasz continues. At the forefront of the industry today are themes including IPT V technologies, implementing 3G

Makedonski Telekom

Local tariff & product campaign, making the biggest cake for the sweetest promo offer

networks and platforms. The evolution of Macedonia’s communication network and the introduction of new services is clearly the primary focus of the company. Of critical importance is the implementation

of the “fiber to the home” project. This involves the construction of a significantly faster telecommunications net work, providing speeds of up to 100 Mbps to every home.

“Market conditions strongly hint that even-greater opportunities for cooperation with other European telecoms providers lie ahead” Be telecoms | 129

T Day - The Rebranding of Makedonski Telekom

Makedonski Telekom

100 mbps Target speed to every home Makedonski Telekom is a company that is seen as leading the way in the region in terms of the many technological advances being worked on at present. Furthermore, through a mix of local implementation, strong relationships with maintenance service providers and the know-how and support Deutsche Telekom is able to offer, the company has built itself a long, proven track record of handling vital telecommunications projects. Future prospects for the company revolve around exploring the opportunity to expand into other sectors of the industry. These include media advertising, e-payment and mobile payment services and the launching, and hosting, of cloud computing solutions. “Wherever business may take it,” Szasz concludes, “Makedonski Telekom’s immediate focus will remain primarily on the local market. Nevertheless, while there are no direct plans to expand regionally at this time, market conditions strongly hint that even-greater opportunities for cooperation with other European telecoms providers lie ahead.” For more information about Makedonski Telekom visit: www.telekom.mk

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Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA)

Uniting Asia’s tware industry Each year APICTA recognises the best in innovation from across the Asia Pacific ICT community. This year’s event, hosted for the first time by Brunei, promises to break new ground

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: David Brogan

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The coveted APICTA award

Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA)


rganisations across the Asia innovators and entrepreneurs in the region, Pacific region are expanding the program is designed to stimulate ICT fast. As they increasingly innovation and creativity, promote economic rely on technology to drive and trade relations, facilitate technology their businesses, they are transfer, and offer business matching also looking for solutions to help them opportunities via exposure to venture secure their IT environments, mitigate capitalists and investors. business risks, achieve compliance, enhance Sutee has been involved in APICTA user experience, and improve customer since its inception in 2001. It was born, satisfaction. But the software industry in he explains, out of the vision of Malaysia’s South East Asia is fragmented, nations in then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed. this part of the world are linguistically “He believed we should be seeking out the and culturally very diverse, and there is most promising companies in our very no standard political model, as western- different economies, creating creative and organisational networks style democracies, socialist and bringing them to the republics, Islamic states attention of international and absolute monarchies are all to be found. markets.” National, or in some The result has been cases provincial software that while inventiveness, alliances were contacted Member economies technical abilit y and starting with Malaysia’s of APICTA innovation are second Multimedia Development to none, the software Corporation (MDeC) and development sector has the Australia Information remained much smaller in most of the Industry Association (AIIA) but quickly economies round the Pacific Rim than in spreading throughout the region so that Europe or the Americas. “Where Silicon today the 16 member economies of APICTA Valley corporations might have hundreds are Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, or even thousands of people, software India, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, developers in our member states typically Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, employ between 30 and 70 people,” says Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Sutee Satanasathaporn, chairman of the Asia Malaysia hosted the awards for the first Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA). The APICTA two years. Since then it has moved from is an international awards programme country to country till this year, from which aims to increase ICT awareness in December 2 to 5, it will be held in the the community and assist in bridging the smallest economy of all – geographically at digital divide. By providing networking and least. Of course Brunei Darussalam is not a product benchmarking opportunities to ICT poor country but with a population of less


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than half a million it can’t be expected to have a comprehensive software industry, but what it does have is good. In some ways Brunei typifies the problems of the region. “Brunei’s biggest industry is O&G,” says Sutee. “They have very good universities and a few good software companies and they are looking to expand the market for their member companies. Like all of the countries they are looking for partners to augment the gaps in their knowledge and to expand the market for indigenous companies. The Brunei government is very keen to grow its ICT sector and the royal family is a great

Awards ceremony

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supporter of the software industry as well.” Nominees for APICTA awards are drawn from the winners of similar awards programmes in each member economy. They present their solutions before a panel of judges from all the member states. So what are the incentives for taking part? There is no cash prize, but for the winners the value of international recognition is beyond price, he says. “I think the main advantage is probably being able to connect with other software developers. Many entrepreneurial individuals develop smart solutions but sooner or later they need expertise from

Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA)

“The Brunei government is very keen to grow its ICT sector and the royal family is a great supporter of the software industry as well” outside to scale the business: we are able to connect them and help them achieve together the critical mass they need to compete internationally.” The members cover government, private sector and academic interests, it should be

remembered, and the APICTA awards are recognised in all 16 economies so award winners in each of 17 categories can expect high profile coverage. And it’s not just the winners who benefit: all nominees are already national award winners and now that APICTA is entering its 11th year they join a unique database of past participants. “If a Vietnamese company on our books is looking for a partner in Thailand,” he says, “it can search for somebody with the right skills and interests in the right industry sector: our database is a great tool for expanding the software market in the region.” Green and sustainable IT is sure to come under the spotlight in Brunei. For the first time it has its own category, and with fast growing awareness of environmentally friendly practices in all industries, including construction and the oil & gas sector Sutee is convinced the new award will grab the headlines. “Everyone is talking about green and environmental IT and saving energy. I have to say I am very keen to see who will be nominated – and who will win!” Software development is a young industry – everyone knows Facebook was thought up by undergraduates, so the categories judging secondary and undergraduate projects are particularly important and have proved

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fruitful in the past. “Every year we get some very good ideas put forward by university students. They may not have qualified yet but these are much more than just student projects – they are often highly commercial. Entrepreneurship starts early! It is really difficult to judge this category, because the criteria are different; but it is fascinating to watch them progress and grow in subsequent years to meet the criteria for the Start-Ups category or industry-specific awards.” There are many examples, says Sutee, but a good illustration of award progression is Larngear Technology, the Thai pioneer of augmented reality (AR) technology that literally makes 3D images leap from the pages of a book. Larngear has developed interactive classroom materials for studying the physical environment, the earth, solar system and molecular structure. The company’s educational AR products are designed to help instructors explain difficult concepts and make them more understandable, more interesting, and more attractive for young learners. “We strongly believe that AR technology can help leverage education in any part of the world.” Larngear has been a serial winner in APICTA, starting with a Merit for its founders when students at Chulalongkorn University, in

the Tertiary Student Project category in 2006 for their ‘real-time camera positioning and orientation estimation engine’ and going on to win as a company for its R&D in 2007 and 2010. Larngear has won many other awards but APICTA is unique in Asia, the only trans-national organisation that recognises developers. This year APICTA will start looking to its future. Back in 2003 The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced

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Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA)

Students gather for a workshop

the formation of an ASEAN integrated investment area. How do you define Economic Communit y Asia/Pacific anyway? asks (AEC) in 2015. ASEAN was originally conceived in 1967 Sutee. Many members are as a geopolitical union, and today looking towards the ASEAN Economic it is hoped that when the promising markets of the Community will AEC is launched it will help Middle East including Turkey, be formed ASEAN boost its economic Iran and the southern parts compet it iveness a nd of the former Soviet Union. attractiveness to investors inside and outside Wider networks mean wider opportunities, the region. Discussions are under way to find he says, and the next couple of years will see ways of leveraging APICTA’s knowledge and APICTA actively pursuing like minded states extending its influence and thus its value to to extend its community. the national organisations it represents, using the opportunities presented by the AEC as it For more information about focuses on its markets, introducing measures Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) visit: to address non-tariff barriers, liberalization www.apicta2012.com and promoting the attractions of ASEAN as an


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A passion for P@SHA Jehan Ara, president of the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES, talks about the role of P@SHA in developing the technology sector in Pakistan, and in helping to set policy standards for the country

written by: Martin Ashcroft research by: David Brogan

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Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES

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he Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES has a delightful acronym, P@SHA. Now president of the association, Jehan Ara joined about eight years ago, “so I’m not responsible for the name!” she says. P@SHA was founded in 1992 by nine technology companies, but its membership has since grown to include more than 400 of the country’s largest software houses, product development centres, BPO companies,

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animation and new media studios and consulting and system integration companies. As president, Ara is the equivalent of a chief executive. “I run the secretariat and work with member companies; I work on all the events, and I work with government on policy. It’s what you make of it; the role is evolving all the time.” P@SHA’s main objective is to promote and develop the software and services industry in Pakistan and to protect the rights of its


A discussion panel at the P@SHA Annual conference 2012 in October, Lahore, Pakistan

members. One way it does this is by sponsoring annual innovation awards in the technology sector, selecting winners in 15 categories who then go on to represent Pakistan in the annual APICTA event (Asia Pacific ICT Awards). The P@SHA ICT Awards program has been going for nine years and the 2012 event took place in Lahore in October last year. The main APICTA event was held in Brunei Darussalam in December, with Pakistani companies collecting four second place awards. “This

time we didn’t have too many nominations,” says Ara. “We had only seven products competing but four of them got runner up awards. We normally take 15 to 20 but this year I had been ill so we did not have as many as usual.” With 16 countries represented at APICTA, bringing 153 different products to the event, four out of seven is not bad at all. The APICTA judges look at innovation and a range of other factors, including whether the product can be scaled and sold in countries

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other than the country of origin. “They look at how well the product has sold already and whether it has the potential to sell more,” adds Ara. “They also look at marketing, the technology aspect, and what benefit or impact it has in its particular category. If it’s a banking product, for instance, they want to know what kind of implementation there has been, and what benefit there has been to the financial sector because of the product’s use in customer applications. “One of the things we like about the awards is that sometimes our participating companies go on to work with companies from other countries,” she continues. “I see that as more of a benefit than just the award itself. In Asia Pacific there’s a lot of innovation and a lot of talent and the fact that we can collaborate and work together helps the whole tech sector in the region.” P@SHA also has a number of industry and social initiatives in operation. A recent one that Ara is proud of is the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund, set up with a $250,000 grant from Google. “The purpose of the fund is to give grants to young people who develop solutions to community problems using technology,” she says. “We have five initiatives so far and we’re going to be funding another five in the next few weeks.” The fund will provide a grant and

a mentor to help recipients get their solutions off the ground, because the two major factors preventing young people from starting up initiatives for the community are usually lack of money and guidance, she explains. Another key role for P@SHA is to engage with government in the formulation of policy. “I feel that the government in Pakistan does not understand the full potential of the technology sector in the economic

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Delegates make their mark at the P@SHA ICT awards 2012

development of the country,” not only for the technology says Ara. P@SHA worked and business sectors but closely with the Ministry of also to safeguard the Information Technology last interests of consumers,” she year on the development of explains. “We also interact Members of the national ICT policy. “Most with the National Standing P@SHA today of the input for that came Committee on IT, which is a parliamentary group that from P@SHA,” she says. “We more or less drafted the advises the cabinet and the document, but we want it to be a continuous national assembly on legislation, and with process, not something that is written once the Internet Providers Association and the and then implemented. The technology keeps security agencies.” There is often resistance changing so it needs to be a live document to new legislation from the security agencies, that is updated all the time.” she explains, who feel that too much freedom P@SHA is now currently working with on the internet and in the tech sector could government on cybercrime legislation. “All interfere with their work. “We need them the different parties within government to understand that what we do is not going need to be convinced that it’s important impinge on what they do,” she affirms.


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As a predominantly Muslim country, Pakistan can be extremely sensitive to offensive content in the media, especially on the internet. On 17 September 2012, the Government of Pakistan banned all access to YouTube in the country, after an independent film maker posted an antiIslamic video to the site. This was the third time that the Government has restricted access to YouTube in the country, following earlier bans in 2008 and 2010.

“This is the kind of thing we get involved with because it affects our members directly and every other user in the country,” says Ara. A careful approach has to be taken, however, she explains. “We prefer to engage and convince them rather than making a lot of noise,” is her diplomatic explanation. “We don’t want to alienate them, we want them to make changes in policy. It works better for us that way.” At the time of writing, YouTube is still

“The purpose of the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund is to give grants to young people who develop solutions to community problems using technology”

P@SHA Brainstorming session for the social innovation fund

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P@SHA blocked in Pakistan. In November 2012, P@SHA conducted a survey of its members to gauge the effect that the ban was having on their businesses, finding a significant impact on education, research, knowledge creation and overall business in the country. “At the moment the YouTube ban is very difficult because of the religious element,” explains Ara. “YouTube is used by a lot of people here, not only business people but also in education, the entertainment industry and the media. We’ve been trying to tell the government that it has been shooting itself in the foot. The ban is not harming YouTube. It’s just harming us. “We don’t want censorship of the internet,” she continues. “I personally don’t think that is right. I can understand why people are offended but I don’t think they are being forced to look at that content. I try to convince people of that but when religious passions are aroused people are not as reasonable as you would like them to be!” One possible solution would be for Google to provide a local version of YouTube for Pakistan, as it does for Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries, so that specific content could be blocked without disabling everything else. “Personally, I don’t think anything should be blocked,” says Ara. “It’s a question of what people want to see. There is no reason any Muslim would want to see that video, so why would you want to block it? But you can’t explain that to people, so the next best solution is a local version of YouTube, but you need to be very careful. Once you start blocking one thing, where do you stop?”

A picture from P@SHA ICT Awards 2012, president P@SHA extreme left & chairman P@SHA extreme right

P@SHA is discussing this issue with government, encouraging them to avoid a proliferation of unnecessary bans by the creation of a multi-stakeholder group to decide on the issues. “There should be some criteria,” she concludes, “because how do you know they won’t block political content that they don’t like? There should be a process and there should also be a form of redress for content that is blocked that should not have been, and the whole process should be transparent.” I can see a busy year coming up for Jehan Ara and P@SHA in 2013. For more information about P@SHA visit: www.pasha.org.pk

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written by: Will Daynes research by: James Boyle


enhancers MSCL has been providing quality IT solutions for over 12 years. CEO and MD, Sheikh Nisar Ahmed, discusses how the company is looking to capitalise on new opportunities

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Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL)

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Nisar Ahmed Sheikh, CEO

Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL)


n the eyes of the vast majority of people without success. Nevertheless, we were throughout the world we are today able to complete said project and do so on living in what is a new digital age, a time, within budget and in such a way that period of time in which the growth in exceeded all of the business requirements telecommunications, information and demanded by the client. As a result of this other technologies has had an immeasurable we went on to sign three more contracts impact on the ways in which companies with NADRA, supporting its IT operations provide value to their customers. These for a further three years.” companies are increasing utilising technology Since it was founded, MSCL has focused to develop strong, innovative value solutions its efforts on domestic opportunities, on a continuous basis. completing more than 30 projects for Established in August 2000, Millennium customers in the banking, utility and Systems & Consultants (MSCL) is one garment sectors, and for government such company. An information technology departments. However, in March 2012, (IT) company created by a the company took a leap small group of experienced forward in extending its industr y professionals, geographical presence by it specialises in system successfully completing integration, IT consultancy, a project for United Bank project management and UK, formerly known as the Year MSCL was software development. United National Bank of established “It was in August 2000,” London. Since completing explains chief executive its first project for this client officer and managing director, Sheikh in April 2012, United Bank UK has awarded Nisar Ahmed, “that I received a call from MSCL with two more add-on projects in chairman’s office of the Fauji Foundation, what is a clear sign of its satisfaction. inquiring as to whether I would be willing “Demand for our services and remote to assist them on a project of national banking transaction server (RBTS) product,” importance. It was this call that instigated Ahmed enthuses, “has been increasing steadily, both from existing and new clients. the creation of MSCL.” The project Ahmed refers to involved Couple this with our first success in Europe the development of an integrated system and it makes us very keen to expand our for the production and management of business further into the banking sector. It is Computerised National ID Cards (CNID) that for this very reason that we are investing in would be supplied to citizens by Pakistan’s building up the skills of our banking team, National Database and Registration Authority while further maturing our RBTS product (NADRA). “NADRA had previously tried into a complete system that can deliver for two years to implement such a system remote or branchless banking.”


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MSCL’s ability to manage complex IT projects has undoubtedly contributed to its success, but so too have a number of other qualities that differentiate the company from its rivals. “Our employees’ unwavering commitment to success, our management teams’ focus on sharing the rewards of said success and our ability to keep our overheads low are all reasons why we have managed to weather what have been difficult times in the past,” Ahmed states. “Equally as important has been our continued determination to find stimulating work for our people. This has helped us to retain those talented individuals that have contributed so much to MSCL.” MSCL also values its membership status within the Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES, more commonly known as P@SHA, of which it has been a part since its own formation. “There is no doubt,” Ahmed says, “that P@SHA provides an effective platform upon which to promote IT business in Pakistan. One of our strategic aims as part of our corporate reorganisation taking place during the first quarter of 2013 is to increase our participation within the organisation.” There are a number of different case studies and examples of successfully

completed projects that one could use as a way of drawing attention to MSCL’s excellent track record of delivering the results its clients demand. One particular example formed a part of the aforementioned NADR A project. This saw NADRA award MSCL yet another key development and system integration contract to be implemented at more than 300 of NADRA’s district offices, including

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Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL)

The MSCL team celebrating a project completion

its Swif t Registration and other remote banking devices, as well as through Centres (NSRCs). This system helping bring about internet and mobile banking a pioneering change in programmes. Our RBTS the way that government provides communication Domestic projects departments operate in this across all such devices and MSCL has successfully part of the world. systems and has also played completed since The company’s RBTS a major role during Habib it was formed Bank’s three year migration product has been at the phase, during which time heart of several of its both its old and new systems larger undertakings. One particular project involved the upgrading were able to co-exist without any operational of Habib Bank’s banking system. Pakistan’s problems occurring.” second largest bank, Habib Bank operates Looking outside of the banking industry, approximately 1500 branches. “In addition MSCL management has long viewed the to upgrading Habib Bank’s system,” Ahmed health care sector as being a source of reveals, “they also wished to further extend business opportunities. Following a study of services to their customers through ATM the local health care market, the company


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embarked upon providing a cloud computing based solution to small hospitals and clinics. For the purpose of this it developed its MSCLClinic product. “This,” Ahmed continues, “is a clinic management software solution designed to carry out such tasks as managing patient appointments, scheduling patient visits, carrying a patient’s treatment history, providing diagnostics information

as well as handling payments and other administrative tasks.” Another product of growing interest is MSCL’s “Pahrahan”, an ERP system optimised for the garment industry that is able to systematically perform tasks such as taking multiple orders for styles, colors and sizes, and coordinating production resources. MSCL’s Project Management Complete System (PMCS), meanwhile, is a set of

“Over the coming years MSCL expects not only to retain its current revenue growth, but double its annual turnover by the end of 2015”

Launching new MSCL project

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Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL) integrated tools, designed to enhance project team effectiveness. PMCS helps to guide project and business managers in qualifying an identified opportunity, assess initial risks, preparing a quality proposal and helps in preparing a risk f ree contract. PMCS also manages project cost and revenue, while also allowing project managers to evaluate their employee’s performance. MSCL’s Revenue Management Complete System (RMCS), a system developed on ERP principles, is a set of integrated tools specially developed to improve financial performance of the utility companies. Through online connectivity this system can be accessed in a controlled manner at towns, union councils, consumers service centres, call centres and other departments, while its collection module provides bills payment facility through Banks, ATMs, kiosks, call centres and the internet, ensuring timely and accurate recording of bills payments and identifying the defaulters. As we enter a new year, MSCL fully expects to be ready and well placed to address the opportunities it envisions arising as a result of Pakistan’s projected economic revival. “Over the coming years,” Ahmed reveals, “we expect not only to retain our current revenue growth, but double our annual turnover by the end of 2015. We intend to do so be continuing to follow our strategy of sharing our business opportunities with our partners who can add value to our project performance. Meanwhile, we will change our current policy of sharing project profit with project performers, and effective from

Project management workshop for executives

January 2013 project revenue will be shared with the project team.” By the end of 2013, MSCL plan to have increased its core team from 20 members to 35 and in turn it will increase its focus on foreign projects, particularly in the Middle East and European markets. “As we move forward,” Ahmed concludes, “we will seriously consider the possibility of opening a permanent office overseas, while retaining our commitment of investing in our people and finding the most stimulating work for them to undertake.” For more information about Millennium Systems & Consultants Limited (MSCL) visit: www.msclpk.com

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CAT Telecom

Making sense of the future CAT Telecom is striving to lead the way in providing wireless multimedia services in one of Southeast Asia’s most economically dynamic nations

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CAT Tower at Bangrak, Bangkok, with telecommunication facilities suitable for network and service providers

CAT Telecom


ith a GDP worth $602 on transforming itself in order to effectively billion, Thailand is support all services and respond quicker the second largest to changing customer needs. While every economy in Southeast step of development has been carried Asia. Having enjoyed out simultaneously, including network the world’s highest growth rate from 1985 development, the company has also to 1996, during which time it averaged 12.4 launched the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) percent growth annually, the country is today project. A modern international submarine considered to be a newly industrialised, cable system with a capacity of 1.92 terabits emerging economy. per second, this project has greatly helped The world’s 51st-largest country in terms advance the potential of the company’s own of total area, Thailand boasts an advanced CAT Internet Gateway. telecommunications industry that operates Much of the company’s domestic success through an extensive network of telephone derives from its provision of internet services. lines covering the 513,000 As a result of its links with the previous government of square kilometres of the Thailand and its advanced Indochina nation. In recent i n f r a s t r uc t u r e , C AT years, mobile cellular Telecom holds a competitive telephone ownership has grown at a much faster rate advantage over its rivals. This CAT Telecom established advantage is further buoyed than landline ownership. Partly as a result of the by its unique access to the mobile communications price war that country’s fibre optic network. erupted in 2004, which led to prices falling Partnerships with key local and as low as 0.25 Baht per minute, there are international partners have also proved now approximately five times as many mobile invaluable for the company. One such cellular telephones than landlines in use. relationship exists between CAT Telecom Based on the most recent data available, and Hong Kong-based company PCCW more than half of the Thai population owns Limited. In providing PCCW with access to a mobile telephone, with more numbers the Thai telecoms market, CAT Telecom in allocated than number of population. turn receives access to the lucrative Hong Established in August 2003, under the Kong market where PCCW holds interests name of the Communications Authority of in telecommunications, media, IT solutions, Thailand, CAT Telecom exists to provide all property development and investment. categories and forms of telecommunication Not only has the company worked to services, as well as other related solutions, to improve its existing services in line with the customers domestically and internationally. requirements of its customers, and the rapid In recent times CAT Telecom has focused changes in communications technology, but it


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CAT CAT TELECOM Telecom CAT Telecom feature text

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has also strived to create new same time CAT Telecom is to go here......Lorem ipsum et dolore magna aliqua. Ut solutions that bring added increasing the capacity of its dolor sit amet, consectetur enim ad minim veniam, value to the voice, broadband telephone exchange system to adipisicing elit, sed do quis nostrud exercitation and wireless products that its support a growing subscriber ullamco laboris nisi ut eiusmod tempor incididunt users already enjoy. base. aliquip ex ea commodo ut labore et dolore magna In the company’s 2010 In the last two years the consequat. Duis aute irure aliqua. Ut enim ad minim annual report, great detail company has commenced dolor in reprehenderit in veniam, quis nostrud was given regarding a series work on phase two of its voluptate velit esse cillum exercitation ullamco laboris of projects that will help drive Universal Service Obligation dolore eu fugiat nulla nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo business in the months and (USO) project. Phase one pariatur. Excepteur sint consequat. Duis aute irure years to follow. At the top of Opening ceremony of the annual saw it install both fixed line dolor in reprehenderit in This is a caption this is a caption occaecat cupidatat non its agenda was the building CAT Network Showcase 2012 and public telephones in proident, sunt in culpa qui voluptate velit esse cillum of a digital trunked radio some of the more remote dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. system (DTRS) mobile network. This will villages found in Thailand to low income sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur replace the old analog network and further households, schools and health stations, as in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor extend services to areas such as Bangkok’s well as providing phone cards to people with est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. industrial zones, the eastern seaboard of disabilities. consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud To implement the second stage of this the country and its central region. At the

TRUE CORPORATION PLC True Corporation Plc, one of Thailand’s strongest and most recognizable brands, is the country’s only fully-integrated telecommunications operator. True’s strength is its ability to offer the convergence benefits of its networks, products and services. True operates three core businesses: TrueOnline, the largest broadband and fixed-line phone provider in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area, as well as the leading Wi-Fi service provider; TrueMove, Thailand’s third-largest mobile operator, and TrueMove H, which provides nationwide commercial 3G services via HSPA technology on 850 MHz in conjunction with CAT Telecom Public Company Limited (CAT); and TrueVisions, the dominant nationwide pay-TV

operator. Other businesses include TrueMoney which offers payment and booking solutions, and TrueLife which comprises digital content and lifestyle convergence services. True’s mobile business arm was the first to officially launch the iPhone 3 in Thailand, and has quickly over the past five years become the market leader in smartphones covering many operating systems. This leadership is further strengthened by True’s convergence platform and by TrueMove H, the group’s flagship carrier and a reseller of CAT, in rolling out 3G+ services on a 3G (850 MHz) network that delivers the fastest speeds and has the largest nationwide coverage across all 77 provinces in Thailand. www.truemove-h.com

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project CAT Telecom will establish a combined telephone and internet service within the aforementioned communities. Furthermore, it will promote and support technology development in terms of equipment and telecommunications services to facilitate the telecommunication requirements of children, the elderly and the disabled in society. Broadband internet is the central theme behind the majority of the company’s on-going and forthcoming investment plans, particular its CAT-TeleHouse plan, fibre to the

x (FTTx) project, Gulf of Thailand submarine cable network project and its IP core network development programme. The CAT-TeleHouse service is designed to support the growth of ICT business in those telecommunication organisations that own massive amounts of data and wish to have access to a reliable data centre system. Said telecommunication or service providers also want to have the ability to link their main network to either national or international gateways. The FTTx project is a large scale

“CAT Telecom is increasing the capacity of its telephone exchange system to support a growing subscriber base�

CAT Network Showcase 2012, an annual event to show IT & telecoms technology innovation

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CAT Telecom

CAT and Laos service provider, Lao Telecom (LTC), hosted the International Network showcase 2012

telecommunication network development being undertaken by Thailand. For its part, CAT Telecom will build the Lastmile network, an optical fibre network linking providers and clients, giving them access to ultra-high speed broadband internet and other new applications that will be developed in the years ahead. The target areas for this project include Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Phathum Thani. The Gulf of Thailand submarine cable network project meanwhile aims to increase the number of connecting business groups across the Thai Gulf region, providing them with all forms of telecommunication services, from multimedia to broadband internet services. Utilising DWDM technology, the submarine cable will link Chonburi and Songkhla. Lastly, CAT Telecom’s IP core network development project has been established to improve the efficiency of the network in order

to support high-speed data transmissions, as well as expanding the network to cover more zones. The 100 Gbps, IP core network project, the largest of its kind in Thailand, will provide increased benefits for residential clients as well as organisations, educational institutes and multinational companies. Playing a crucial role in the development of Thailand’s telecommunications sector, CAT Telecom is also a provider of 3G mobile services. The company provides a 3G HSPA service, enabling its customers to experience speeds of up to 42 Mbps. This service represents a new milestone for high speed internet that Thai customers can now experience through their mobile phones. For more information about CAT Telecom visit: www.cattelecom.com

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the trends Brunei boasts one of the most advanced telecommunication industries in South East Asia and as acting chief executive officer See Wei Kie explains, B-Mobile is a company at the heart of an evolving sector

written by: Will Daynes research by: David Brogan

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B-Mobile was the first provider to offer 3G mobile services in Brunei Darussalam



o doubt boosted by its own included bundled video calls, minutes and wealth, the South East Asian SMS.” The bundling of 3G handsets with a nation of Brunei was one of the mobile line was unprecedented in Brunei at first countries within the region the time, making B-Mobile the first company to make a concerted effort to introduce handset and wireless broadband to deliver up-to-date telecommunications in attractive, affordable packages. In 2008, B-Mobile made further services to its inhabitants, achieving 100 percent digitalisation in 1995. Today telecommunications history with the launch the country ranks highly in terms of of Brunei’s first 3.5G service, thus highlighting both telecom service penetration and the premium technology that is mobile infrastructure facilities. broadband. Better known in Brunei as ZOOM! Driven by the encouragement of the Broadband, the company’s 3.5G service was government, the citizens of Brunei have introduced alongside packages that included come to be recognised as great consumers of free laptops and modems that were provided telecoms services. In 2001, the to those families and country’s mobile penetration individuals who previously figure stood at what was an could not afford access to already healthy 32 percent. mobile broadband. The In the years since this has success of this programme continued to grow strongly led to the roll out of other Brunei achieved 100 and by the beginning of 2012 plans including Zoom Lite percent digitalisation had reached 120 percent. and Zoom Unlimited. Incorporated in April 2005 “Over the course of our and commercially launched existence,” Wei Kie continues, in September of that year, B-Mobile became “we have strived to introduce innovative, the first provider to offer 3G mobile services in value-added services that complement our Brunei Darussalam. A joint venture between customers’ lifestyles. In doing so we have also Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru) and QAF succeeded in helping the telecommunication Comserve, the company was established as industry in Brunei develop, as per the a challenger brand and through its access government’s own aspirations.” Alongside its extensive portfolio of to resources, expertise, technology and infrastructure it has evolved into a known products and services, B-Mobile has also brand when it comes to telecommunications introduced a range of post-paid and prepaid plans in order to suit the varying needs innovations and discoveries. “We were the first company of our kind,” of its mobile subscribers. “The work we explains acting chief executive officer have done over the last few years,” Wei Kie See Wei Kie, “to introduce and offer a says, “has set an industry benchmark when comprehensive portfolio of services that it comes to finding creative means to serve


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The citizens of Brunei are recognised as great consumers of telecoms services

Brunei’s telecommunication demands.” to maintaining the level of progressiveness B-Mobile puts its success over the years that has long been a staple of this business. down to one core achievement and that is In moving forward, our aspirations revolve its ability to satisfy its customers. “B-Mobile’s around improving the quality of our service primary purpose,” Wei Kie enthuses, “is and continuing to provide the types of to provide its customers with innovative innovative packages and products that services, a range of options and better overall separate us from our competitors.” value. This has been the case since its first Market research has shown that a sizeable day in existence and it remains so to this day.” majority of B-Mobile’s customers are teenagers The biggest challenge to and young adults on pre-paid this now is how B-Mobile is services, users the company able to tap into the shifting would class as being from interests of its customers and the ‘younger generation’. “We how it can continually evolve aim to provide great value as a business in what is an when it comes to our pre-paid The country’s mobile packages,” Wei Kie states, ever-changing industry. “As penetration figure “and often award bonus we always have been,” Wei in 2012 Kie says, “we are committed credits and similar rewards


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to our most active pre-paid users as a way of expressing our thanks.� With B-Mobile targeting young people and professionals as its two main audience demographics, the company recognises that in a world of rapidly evolving technologies, a plethora of opportunities lay ahead for a service provider such as itself. By maintaining a forward-thinking approach to its operations, B-Mobile aims to retain

and attract customers in equal measure by offering products that capitalise on the themes of innovation, choice and delivering new experiences. As a way of growing the business further, B-Mobile has made great strides in recent times to provide its customers with the means to make economical international calls. This strategy first arose when the company identified that the growing number

“We are committed to maintaining the level of progressiveness that has long been a staple of this business�

Young people and professionals are the main audience demographic

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B-Mobile is focused on creating a dynamic brand identity

of foreign workers in Brunei was itself creating a demand for corporate entities to communicate increasingly with their international counterparts. “The vast majority of budget calls,” Wei Kie says, “are currently made through a toll free number and often require access to pay phones or landlines. What we at B-Mobile do is offer cheap international calls through a voice over internet protocol address. This method provides users with the convenience of being able to dial their intended international number from their mobile phone from anywhere, at any time.” On Sunday 4th November 2012, B-Mobile

officially opened its new headquarters in the city of Beribi. This event marks something of a new beginning for the company, with the move being heralded as both a symbolic and strategic undertaking at a time when the focus of B-Mobile now turns to creating a dynamic brand identity, while at the same time gaining more visibility in terms of customer and corporate outreach. For more information about B-Mobile visit: www.bmobile.com.bn

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Connecting a nation

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Sri Lanka Telecom Chief executive officer Greg Young discusses the ways in which the company is helping transform Sri Lanka into an information and telecommunications hotspot

written by: Will Daynes research by: David Brogan

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High speed data fibre metro ethernet

Sri Lanka Telecom


ri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has built over 150 years of goodwill and trust with its valued customers protecting its brand image and company values. SLT‘s role in the continuing development of the Indian Ocean island is perhaps best summed up by its own slogan, “One Country. One Voice.” SLT envisions a not-too-distant future where the citizens of the country are united through the concept of connectivity. From the days when it was a part of Sri Lanka’s Department of Post and Telecommunications through to the present day, the company boasts a long and rich history. Now a fully integrated telecommunications operator, with a customer base of more than five million that include multinational corporations, public sector firms, and retail and domestic users, SLT today has achieved recognition as one of the most respected entities in the country. “We provide triple-play services to our customers through fixed wire line (Megaline), public switched telephone networks (PSTN), asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) broadband access and our IPTV pay television service (PeoTV),” explains chief executive officer, Greg Young. By owning and operating an extensive, national, optical transmission network connecting all parts of the country, SLT is able to meet the needs of both its fixed business customers and those of its fully owned mobile subsidiary Mobitel. In addition, the company has ownership in four submarine cables that leave Sri Lanka and connect up to South East Asia, the Middle East, Western

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Europe and surrounding nations such as India and the Maldives. The telecommunications market in Sri Lanka has experienced rapid growth over the last six-to-seven years, driven by competition in the marketplace and the adoption of mobile telephony by the masses. Today, it is the Sri Lankan government’s intention to build upon this growth and establish the country as an information and communication technology hub, with one specific strategy being to drive broadband penetration and availability. “As the national telecommunications provider, it is heavily incumbent upon us that we support these national growth objectives,” Young continues. “We take our

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Sri Lanka Telecom

SLT’s PeoTV controlling panel observe quality of feeds before IP multicasting via SLT broadband

role in this very seriously and thus have geared both our long-term strategy and short-term investment plans to ensure we deliver against these targets.” One of the most important ways in which SLT is supporting the government to achieve its aims is through its flagship i-Sri Lanka project, which is geared towards driving nationwide network modernisation.

“Since 2011,” Young says, “we have embarked on our most ambitious and capitally intensive expansion programme over the last decade in order to bring improved service quality and innovative products to customers. Augmenting the existing copper-based network through fibre-to-the-node technology, i-Sri Lanka will revolutionise broadband

“SLT‘s role in the continuing development of the Indian Ocean island is best summed up by its own slogan, ‘One Country. One Voice’.” Be telecoms | 177

access across the country.” The target of i-Sri Lanka is to achieve broadband speeds of up to 20 megabits per second for more than 90 percent of fixed customers by mid-2013. “With triple play,” Young enthuses, “this introduces a world of entertainment options through PeoTV to more than one million fixedline customers through the SLT Megaline connection, together with an enhanced broadband experience.” Sitting behind the benefits that this fibre-to-the-node programme will bring to its customers are the advantages it will provide SLT. “Reducing the length of the copper cables significantly reduces maintenance costs, reduces the propensity for damage from lightning and replaces a lot of the decades old, aging copper that has become less reliable,” Young says. “In turn this improves reliability and performance, and delivers an all-round better quality of service.” SLT embarked on the transformation programme a number of years ago, laying the foundation for the favourable results of today. “Having laid the groundwork and infrastructure, and refocusing our plans,” Young elaborates, “we are well prepared for the changing demand for

MSAN deployment

telecommunication solutions. We have taken our role as a strategic partner in this future journey very seriously. Our strategies now focus on customer centricity which is primary and remains at the axis of our objectives. Innovation, responsiveness, teamwork, business processes, increased productivity, prudent cost management, strategic investment, governance and best practices, values, ethics, transparency and

“Augmenting the existing copper-based network through fibre-to-the-node technology, i-Sri Lanka will revolutionise broadband access across the country” 178 | Be telecoms

Sri Lanka Telecom

t and optical fibre laying by SLT technical staff, achieving pre-set goals of the ongoing flagship i-Sri Lanka project

technological advancement and modernisation of the have all been addressed network. “This is being evidenced through projects in our comprehensive such as i-Sri Lanka, the Tr a n s f o r m a t i o n Programme.” Nationwide Optical Fibre Year-on-year increase in Through what it describes Backbone Network (NBN), group profits for the first as ‘prudent and disciplined’ international submarine half of 2012 financial management, SLT capacity, FTTN to drive has managed to deliver broadband penetration and ICT enablement, as well as significant profit growth over the past two years. Before tax profit expansion of mobile broadband and voice for 2011 has shown itself to be three times coverage. A group investment exceeding Rs. that of 2009, while results from the first 25 billion in 2012, which is more than double half of 2012 show a 15 percent year-on-year the annual average over the past decade, is increase in group operating profit. also planned.” Young asserts that this strong financial “On the mobile side of our business,” Young performance is being leveraged to fund says, “we are experiencing the same trends heavy capital investment into expansion being seen around the globe, specifically


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SLT Technology Experience Centre facilitates customised communication requirements for small, medium and large enterprises

Sri Lanka Telecom

150+ Years spent serving its customers the rapid uptake of smart phones, mobile broadband and tablet devices. Meanwhile, from a fixed perspective, we are gearing heavily towards providing the best possible high speed broadband and IPTV services to our customers.” As it stands at present, broadband penetration within Sri Lanka falls under seven percent, yet SLT expects this to increase dramatically over the next five years. One of the challenges that it must face head on, is how to service this demand in a cost effective manner. “Household and per capita income in Sri Lanka is much lower than that of other developing nations, and therefore delivering services in an affordable way is a challenge we take very seriously,” Young concludes. “While we already boast voice call rates that are among the lowest in the world, we recognise the importance of being able to re-engineer our networks in order to provide quality fixed and mobile broadband to our customers. That is exactly where we are making great strides and will continue to do so.” For more information about Sri Lanka Telecom visit: www.slt.lk

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Working in perfect harm Bridget Linzie talks about how harmonising policies and regulations across the region can stimulate investment and growth

written by: Gay Sutton research by: David Brogan

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CRASA’s remit has been expanded to include the Postal sector



ne of the cornerstones of social and economic development in today’s competitive global marketplace is collaboration. In 1997 the national ICT regulators in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) came together to form a joint body, the Communication Regulator’s Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), whose remit was to facilitate harmonisation of regulatory frameworks across the region, for the benefit of SADC Citizens. Today, CRASA’s remit has been expanded to include the closely related Postal sector, following a merger in June 2011 with the postal regulators’ association, Southern Africa Postal Regulatory Association (SAPRA). “There are huge opportunities in the SADC countries for investment and growth in the ICT and postal sectors,” explained CRASA Acting Executive Secretary, Bridget Linzie. “By harmonising the regulatory environment across the region we hope to make it much more attractive for investors to enter and operate in any of the SADC countries and therefore accelerate the region’s social and economic growth.” While CRASA has its headquarters in Botswana, 13 of the 15 countries in the SADC are active members, namely Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “Our strength as an organisation is that we are one of the implementing agency of SADC. We were created under the Protocol of Transport,

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Communications and Meteorology, so to digital technology, both in terms of we have strong links Ministerial Annual fibre telecommunications networks and Meetings and have influence on the broadcasting technology. development of policies and regulations for “We have made significant progress from the ICT and Postal sectors. Advocacy is one this perspective,” said Linzie. “We now have of our core strategies for ensuring the region six submarine cables coming to the region reach consensus,” she said. providing adequate international bandwidth CRASA liaises with other regional and for global communications. The current international organisations in Africa, status of ICTs in the region shows that one of the main problems is Europe, America and Asia and benchmark its activities that although most of the to ensure that it is advising underlying infrastructure is the SADC regulators on the in place, it is not efficiently latest technologies and best used. Landlocked SADC practice. Currently one of Member States still pay more The year that CRASA to get to the coast or to the its primary objectives is was established rest of Africa than they do to support the migration


CRASA are making significant progress in the switch to digital technology

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“CRASA benchmarks its activities to ensure that it is advising the S ADC regulators on the latest technologies and best practice” to get from the coast to Europe, the US or Asia”. CRASA, therefore, is looking at how the region can address the issue of ensuring cost effective access to the submarine cables especially for the landlocked countries. Another major issue in the SADC region is that roaming tariffs for mobile telecommunications are still unacceptably high, even though the mobile operators in the region have initiatives to reduce the tariffs. “If we are to open up this region to trade, we are going to need cost based roaming prices. So we are currently exploring on how we can work further with the operators, regulators and government officials to agree on a mechanism for reducing the roaming tariffs to the benefits of our citizens and visitors,” she commented. From the broadcasting perspective, CRASA is collaborating with all its member states to help promote the migration to digital broadcasting technology. As part of the initial decision making process, ministers have recently debated whether the region should base its technology on American, Japanese, Brazilian or European standards, and have decided on the European model. Even though the initial target of the switch off date for the region of 31 December 2013 is not likely to be met, CRASA is working

with the SADC Secretariat and governments to ensure the foundations for the switch are harmonised, and that all countries will be able to complete the migration by the internationally recognised deadline of June 2015. This past year CRASA has had the additional challenge of integrating the needs of postal sector regulators into its organisational

Bridget Linzie, Acting Executive Secretary, CRASA

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structure and operational strategy. “Because the subject is new to us, most of our activities and achievements so far have been on the topic of ICT,” said Linzie. “However, as most regulators across SADC are what we call converged, that is they are already regulating communications, broadcasting and postal services, the merger has not had a disruptive

influence on our business plans. We are largely dealing with the same regulators, which will ultimately make it much easier for us to push forward market reforms to the postal services.” There is undoubtedly much still to do, and there are many issues on the horizon that will require ongoing roundtable discussion

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CRASA will base its broadcasting technology on European standards

and the mediating skills of CRASA. Many countries have no framework of policies for dealing with cyber security, and it will take a joint effort to achieve regional consensus to address the issue. Meanwhile, there is a role to play for the communications, broadcasting and postal sectors in order to bring awareness of sustainable development and social responsibility especially on issue regarding the environment. Once harmonisation has been achieved across SADC, Linzie believes CRASA will continue to have a key role to play for regulators and governments in the region. The ICT sector, for example, will continue to be intensely dynamic. “We must make

sure our plans for the region are always forward looking and that we are always ready for change as it happens,” she said. “That’s why CRASA is so important. It gives the regulators a forum where they can talk about the challenges and learn from each other and other regions; a forum into which we can bring expertise from Africa, Europe, America and Asia, and where we can explore how our colleagues are tackling the regulatory issues.” For more information about CRASA visit: www.crasa.org

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Zimbabwe ta

POTRAZ: The national regulator overseeing the develo of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications network

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: David Brogan

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Sites built under the Universal Service Fund are generally not on the national power grid, so POTRAZ has opted for environmental friendly solar power

hen it comes to telecoms Zimbabwe faces many of the problems common to African countries. Though it has a better legacy in terms of fixed infrastructure than many of its neighbours, it covers a large territory and its 12 million population is scattered widely. Inevitably the cities were the best served populations, driven by business and government demand: until quite recently the rural areas saw very little service at all. This has all started to change rapidly upon ‘dollarisation’ in 2009, when the power-sharing government officially adopted the US dollar for all its transactions. This move had a dramatic effect on Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry, raising confidence and giving the three main mobile operators, Econet, NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe, confidence to invest in network expansion. Prior to dollarisation access to telecommunications, especially mobile, was limited to only a privileged few and was seen as a status symbol, with less than 20 percent penetration. Today it has risen to 90 percent, while only three percent of households are connected to the fixed line network, and twelve percent to the internet via broadband or GSM. Overlooking this change is the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the government body that licences all operators within the country and a key member of the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA). POTRAZ is charged with promoting the development of the industry in an equitable manner.

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Not surprisingly most of the investment is currently going into funding the fast growing and technically dynamic mobile networks. TelOne, the company formed after the government disbanded the former telecoms utility the Post and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), still holds a de-facto monopoly on fixed-line services in Zimbabwe, though the government plans to privatise up to 60 percent of both TelOne and its mobile arm NetOne, either through an IPO or a strategic partnership with a foreign investor. Despite having been granted its operating licence ahead of its two rivals, NetOne is third in terms of subscriber numbers, with Econet the market leader. As at the end of September 2012, telecommunications in the form of either fixed or mobile services covered nearly 80 percent of the country (excluding national parks and game reserves), a very positive reflection of the work that has been done in recent years, says deputy director general of POTRAZ Alfred Marisa. However there are still significant parts of the country that are underserved because they are not a commercial proposition for the mobile operators, and addressing this is an important part of the regulator’s remit. POTRAZ administers the Universal Service Fund (USF), to which all

telecoms operators are obliged to contribute two percent of their revenues. “I think it was wise of government to put these funds into our hands,” says Marisa. “If it had been left in the hands of the Treasury the government might have ended up doing other things with the money but this way we can ensure it goes to improving the network, especially to remote rural areas.” POTRAZ identifies sites in consultation with

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The Universal Service Fund helps improve the network in remote rural areas

the commercial operators. If of 2013. The first phase consisted of sites at Chidodo, they don’t have plans to roll out a service, POTRAZ will Pfungwe, Neuso, Chilo, use its USF resources to build Chiodza, Malipati, Manama base station towers/masts and Dhlamini plus three Access to that it will then assign to the repeater stations. All the first telecommunications existing operators, but only phase sites are already on in Zimbabwe on condition that they share air. “Though the immediate benefit is felt by the people the resource with the others. Many of the older existing who wouldn’t otherwise have towers were not designed to support shared been connected, it’s in the operators’ interest operation, says Marisa. “They are owned by to be pushed into expanding the network,” one but shared by all. Of course the operator says Marisa. “Some of them object to the that owns the site may charge a fee for levy but we will probably be able to reduce operational and maintenance costs.” that next year. Meanwhile they are starting Under the scheme eleven base stations to appreciate the encouragement to invest in have already been built using USF funds and areas they would have otherwise neglected.” a further 43 will be completed over the course This is not purely a social investment,


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Eleven base stations have already been built using USF funds

Forty three b

“We want to see growth in the ITC sector and play our facilitatory role in encouraging operators to invest” he adds. Greater connectivity will drive business growth and regional prosperity— consequently traffic, and with it the operators’ revenues, will grow in the long term. As a regulator, Marisa realises that this growth will come not so much from voice as from

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data communications, which in an African context really means mobile broadband. Econet and Telecel have been active in developing their offering in this field, with the government owned NetOne taking up the rear, but POTRAZ is encouraging its


base stations are planned in 2013

POTRAZ exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF)

operators to take the long view. “It is not just about taking the old base stations from town and siting them somewhere else; they need to put the most advanced technology out there. These areas are still virgin land in terms of those operators!” POTRAZ has been listening to the operators as well as haranguing them. One of the restrictions on telecoms growth, it recognises, has been the complexity of the licensing landscape with different licences for different services. “We want to get quickly to a point where we can offer technology neutral licences, or converged licences that

will allow an operator to provide any service which they see fit. I think that as a regulator we have done our best to get a culture of professionalism into the sector; we want to see growth in the ITC sector and play our facilitatory role in encouraging operators to invest.” Converged licences should be available in 2013. They will cut red tape and cost since each service currently requires a separate fee and application process. In turn this will draw more services into the market and encourage innovation, he believes. And POTRAZ is in the process of coming up with a forward-looking costing model called

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USF resourced base station towers and masts must be shared with other operators


2013 Converged licences should be available in Zimbabwe Long Run Incremental Cost (LRIC) which will be used for tariff determination. “We have already done some consultative workshops with various stakeholders including consumer groups, industry, operators and academia to come up with common positions on how the model should be developed, taking into account the various concerns of these stakeholders.” Alfred Marisa’s priority is the end consumer, however. One of POTRAZ’ key functions is to monitor quality and make sure operators are offering acceptable and value for money services—and services that match the needs of the consumers whether in business or individually. “The regulatory environment we have created promotes innovation by our operators, always improving the service offering and encouraging them to introduce new services to the market. That is why we are encouraging our mobile operators to go into mobile broadband, expecting them to optimise their internet data offerings. The truth is that voice is already on the decline. So for our operators to continue to cling on to that voice platform is not sustainable.” For more information about POTRAZ visit: www.potraz.gov.zw

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Gaining national coverage Chief executive officer Francis Mawindi explains how Telecel Zimbabwe plans to deliver mobile phone coverage to 90 percent of the population by 2013

written by: Will Daynes research by: James Boyle

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Telecel Zimbabwe

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Telecel Zimbabwe is the country’s second largest mobile telecommunications provider in terms of subscriber numbers

Telecel Zimbabwe


cross Africa, the winds of network capacity in those areas with change are b e i n g increased demand, and by introducing new felt t h roughout t he products and services to the marketplace.” Being an important player within the telecommunications sector. These winds are being driven industry, Telecel Zimbabwe’s contributions by the rapid movement consumers have towards the development of the country’s been making away from basic telephony telecommunications sector have proven to services to data services. In response to this, be significant. “What we have been doing operators have had to capacitate their data during the course of this year,” Mawindi service provision capabilities in order to cater continues, “is expanding our coverage to to the changing needs of their customers. ensure that the majority of Zimbabweans Aided by the high literacy rate of its people, have access to our services. At present, our Zimbabwe is one such country experiencing coverage stands at close to 80 percent of high levels of demand for data services. In the population and we intend to increase fact, with an estimated 58 this to 90 percent by the end of 2013.” percent of Zimbabweans accessing the internet today In addition to increasing through their mobile phones, coverage, Telecel Zimbabwe the country ranks within the has made a concerted top ten African nations as it effort to price its products relates to this trend. and services aggressively One of the companies to ensure that they are Current subscriber base leading the way in affordable to almost responding to the changing everyone, including those requirements, and dynamic needs and situated in rural areas. “The vast majority demands of Zimbabweans is Telecel. With a of our promotions,” Mawindi says, “have sizable market share of around 29 percent, succeeded in bringing and delivering value as recorded at the end of September 2012, to our subscribers. We were the first operator Telecel Zimbabwe is the country’s second to reduce the price of our SIM to just $1, largest mobile telecommunications provider when others’ prices still averaged close to in terms of subscriber numbers, boasting a $20, and we continue to offer best-of-breed subscriber base of over 2.3 million users. voice and data bundle rates, the latter going “As a business on a growth trajectory,” for as low as $0.04 per megabit.” While boasting some of the most competitive explains chief executive officer, Francis Mawindi, “we have been growing rapidly prices available in the marketplace, the over the last 16 months. This has coincided company also prides itself on its strong with our ability to capacitate our network by customer centric focus and its prudent cost expanding 2G and 3G coverage, enhancing management systems. “Our customer focus,”



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Mawindi enthuses, “has seen us taking home various national awards in recent years, including the Customer Service Excellence award from the Zimbabwe Institute of Management in 2011, to this year’s Call Centre Association of Zimbabwe, Best Call Centre Award. Meanwhile, our embracing of cost management and cost leadership strategies has enabled us to optimise our subscription prices and thus offer great value for money.” One of the significant and notable developments at the heart of Telecel Zimbabwe’s operations today is an extensive network expansion programme. The central theme of this programme is to enable the company to develop sufficient scale and this will be facilitated through the acquisition of more than 575 physical sites across the country by the end of 2012, with an additional 100 to follow in 2013. It is this phase of expansion that will allow the company to achieve its goal of delivering coverage to 90 percent of the population. “Another thing we are doing,” Mawindi states, “is enhancing our 3G coverage to the extent where we hope to have around 275 sites located countrywide. To date, the rollout programme is on track and proceeding well, with all the major cities, towns, rural service centres and highway corridors being covered, and efforts are under way

to cover a sizable number of mining and commercial farming areas, which were previously not serviced. Nonetheless, we still believe that, even within some of the major urban and metropolitan centres, there is a need to optimise coverage and target those black holes that still exist and in the process improve network availability and quality of service.” Recently, the company has been re-certified as ISO 9001 compliant and remains the only certified mobile operator

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Telecel Zimbabwe

Telecel Zimbabwe pursues the vision of total customer delight

active within Zimbabwe. Telecel has the confidence Naturally this is a very and assurance that it has its customers at heart. It is important achievement, also important to point out and indeed a significant milestone for the business, that the time is near when National coverage and is one that is tied to no significant differentiation planned by the will exist between mobile t he sy stem of best end of 2013 operating practices that it network operator offerings; operates under. the difference will primarily “Our re-certification,” be on how we do business.” Mawindi says, “is a clear testimony that our This ISO 9001 status allows Telecel to company is unequivocally and irrevocably eliminate waste and duplication, while at committed to achieving excellence in the same time controlling its operating costs. products, services and business processes by This added value is then passed on to its actively pursuing continuous improvement subscribers through lower pricing. and sharing the vision of total customer “We are currently in the process of delight. In addition the attainment of this putting the finishing touches to enable status has meant that, as a corporate body, the technical deployment of a new AYAYA


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Call Centre system,” Mawindi adds. “Once complete, this will drastically improve upon our ability to manage customer relations. This will inevitably result in better customer service delivery, while generating greater customer value.” Challenges, however, do still remain for the company, the major one being that of capitalisation of the company’s mobile network. For some time the country risk for

Zimbabwe has remained high, though now the political landscape has changed with the new coalition government, in addition to the promising economic fundamentals, which have triggered international organisations and the global investing community to show greater interest in the country. For Telecel Zimbabwe, the company has been boldly resilient for quite some time, even in difficult times characterised by economic

“The biggest opportunity for us going forward will be in the provisioning of national backbone broadband infrastructure”

Telecel is continuously expanding its network coverage and capacity

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Telecel Zimbabwe

Telecel has won awards for customer service

contraction, hyperinf lation, liquidity challenges and inadequate investments. These factors in the past put enormous pressure on the company’s capacity and capability to capitalise on market growth opportunities. However, once economic stability returned, Telecel was quick to rise to the challenge and take advantage of the new opportunities this presented. “We have managed to secure vendor financing for our network expansion programme,” Mawindi says, “with the bulk of the guarantees coming from our principals.” Despite some of the challenges that it faces in its industry, Telecel’s future is certainly brighter. “We are continuously expanding our network coverage and capacity,” Mawindi concludes. “Our subscriber

growth and revenue performance are both healthy, and we believe that we are in a good space in the market. The biggest opportunity for us going forward will be in the provisioning of national backbone broadband infrastructure, utilising fibre technology to connect and gain access to submarine cables coming into and leaving the country. This will allow us to further reduce mobile broadband connectivity costs and improve penetration rates, thus ensuring an affordable universal service to all Zimbabweans.” For more information about Telecel Zimbabwe visit: www.telecel.co.zw

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Hard data: fast growth

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Aquiva Wireless

Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry can only be described as frenetic, as its economy makes up for lost time. Harare-based internet access provider Aquiva Wireless is grasping the nettle of 4G technology to push that growth forward

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: Will Kirby

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Aquiva men installing a mast

Aquiva Wireless


quiva Wireless is a company communications to the entire population. on the move, appropriately By 2010 Aquiva had secured its licence since its core competency is to to operate from the regulator POTRAZ provide Zimbabwe with the and today is able to offer services over all high speed communications platforms including VoIP, VSAT, WiMax and it needs to compete internationally and fibre optic. “Right now the majority of our grow its domestic infrastructure. That customers are businesses,” says Maphosa, infrastructure is coming along well, with “but over the next five years we believe there 90 percent of the country now having will be a significant consumer market in mobile coverage and with a functioning Zimbabwe for value-added internet services fixed line network linking the country’s like e-commerce and other services that rely main business centres. on high volume data transfer whether for But the take-up of these services is games, banking, social networking or music. lagging. Only three percent of households We are keen to capture that market too.” are connected to the fixed Of its business customers, the majority will be found line network, and twelve among Zimbabwe’s small percent to the internet via and medium enterprises broadband. The growth of business outside of the capital (SMEs). Global companies Harare has been limited tend to have global by difficulties in getting networking solutions, but Aquiva Wireless founded connected to the internet growing businesses are and advanced data transfer set to be the backbone services via fibre optic cable, of Zimbabwe’s economic ADSL or ISDN. Harare is now connected to recovery following ‘dollarisation’ in 2009. It’s the rest of the world by fibre via the EASSy a competitive environment, he admits, with and SEACOM link that serves the whole of fourteen licensed IAPs and many players eastern and Southern Africa, but even here entering the market including the major the technical expertise needed to get the telcos such as Econet, TelOne and Telecel. most out of the existing infrastructure has However, Aquiva is not biting off more than been thin on the ground. it can chew. “Where we come out strongly Enter Aquiva Wireless. The company is in customer service: we offer a highly founded in 2007 by three Zimbabwean personalised service, and it’s an advantage entrepreneurs, CEO Brian Maphosa, COO that we are not too big to do that.” And Artwell Mataranyika and CTO Blessing Aquiva has taken great pains to ensure its Mutenga, is above all an internet access licence is comprehensive, allowing it to give provider (IAP) pledged to bringing an end-to-end service from infrastructure faster online, satellite and fixed line installation of base stations or ‘last mile’


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$80 million Investment planned by Aquiva over the next three years

Aquiva Wireless men at work

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fibre to retail and the provision of custom built exchanges. For a new company it has achieved an impressive track record in a short time. It is already offering fibre optic connection to businesses in Harare, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Gweru and Mutare and installed 4G WiMax and VSAT base stations across the country from BeitBridge on the border with South Africa to the south to Chirundu on the northern border with Zambia and from Mutare in the east to Victoria Falls in the west. Telecoms technology can be hard to keep up with but Africa, which has never had the luxury of reliable fixed line networks, has enthusiastically adopted the newest alternatives, in many cases leapfrogging through demand the imported technologies. VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is a case in point, and in April this year Aquiva launched its service following protracted negotiations with the mobile operator, Econet and the fixed line provider TelOne. Using VoIP services enables business to cut their phone bills by as much as a half, claims Maphosa, while ensuring a much clearer and more dependable connection. And VoIP has taken Aquiva into the global market by enabling

Aquiva Wireless

Training and development plays a pivotal role

companies doing business with Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans living abroad to contact their associates or family member using a number provided by Aquiva. Once you have bought a single number, calls within the network in Zimbabwe are free. This industry is all about change and innovation says Maphosa. “One really has to keep at the forefront of technical development, and that is what we are looking at over the next three years. We do not intend

to be just another African telecoms brand; rather we want to be recognised as one of the leaders in virtual private networks and enterprise solutions for business and high speed high volume connectivity for families and individuals as well as the dominant player in VoIP.” He is already looking forward beyond WiMax, sometimes described as Wi-Fi on steroids and enabled by 4G technology now being rolled out by the mobile networks

“The majority of our customers are businesses, but over the next five years we believe there will be a significant consumer market in Zimbabwe” Be telecoms | 213

in Zimbabwe with the encouragement of POTRAZ. The next enabling technology will be LTE – long term evolution, a new standard for wireless data communications technology that is only available across 4G radio wavelengths, but offers much greater speed and capacity. Data rather than voice will undoubtedly dominate the way people and businesses conduct their affairs, says Maphosa: “I don’t think we have a choice about going for LTE in this country, which is why Aquiva proposes to make an impact in that space.” The speed of LTE rollout will depend on the realities of this market, the level of broadband penetration and last mile connectivity – as soon as the infrastructure limitations have been overcome Aquiva will be ready to bring LTE services to its customers, he promises. Meanwhile the 30-plus staff are busy installing metro fibre, a rapidly expanding network in all major business centres. Metro fibre is a term for networking a number of buildings or separate business parks in a city, analogous to the network within a modern office block. With speeds up to 1,000 Mbps it enables faster access to internet and data transfer for clients who, once they have experienced it, can’t imagine how they ever managed on traditional bandwidth.

For more remote businesses where a fibre connection is not available satellite technology is advancing rapidly. Aquiva has signed an agreement to be able to connect its clients to the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) using Immarsat to provide global coverage. BGAN offers cheaper satellite connection in the more remote areas and has the advantage of being portable and cheaper than the traditional VSAT connection and

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Aquiva Wireless

Harare is hungry for data solutions

unlike other satellite internet services which require bulky and heavy satellite dishes to connect, a BGAN terminal is no bigger than a laptop and so can be carried easily. BGAN, WiMax and LTE are in the future while Aquiva focuses on its priority task of satisfying demand in the high population density areas like Harare and Bulawayo, but the future of communications in Zimbabwe will soon depend heavily on these technologies, he believes. “There are opportunities in every sector. Energy, infrastructure, health, retail, manufacturing are all poised to expand and they all face the same challenges. In this country we have barely scratched the surface with e-commerce, let alone e-tourism, e-banking, e-health, e-education

and e- everything else! If you look at the statistics Zimbabwe is one of the top ten countries in Africa in terms of data penetration, but only a small percentage of the population is using the internet at the moment.� Aquiva has customers in all these sectors, all keen to expand. Over the next three years it will be investing up to $80 million in establishing a truly nationwide presence, expanding its service and leveraging new technology. By then, Brian Maphosa hints, the company may be ready for an IPO. For more information about Aquiva Wireless visit: www.aquiva.co.zw

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

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Lesotho Communications Authority

Calling across

the canyons

CEO Monehela Posholi talks about the regulator’s responsibility and challenges in meeting the population’s expectations for 21st century communications

written by: Alan Swaby research by: David Brogan

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Lesotho is sometimes described as the Switzerland of Africa

Lesotho Communications Authority


esotho is sometimes described as To add to Lesotho’s geographical the Switzerland of Africa – and challenges, the country has one of the lowest in part, for good reason. Both population densities in the world, meaning are small countries, entirely that its people are both widespread and landlocked and extremely thinly spread. As such, to ensure complete mountainous. In fact, Lesotho has the coverage across all forms of communications distinction of being the only independent – broadband, telecoms, broadcast media and state in the world that lies entirely postal services – amounts to the greatest 1,000 metres above sea-level and over single challenge facing LCA. 80 percent of its 35,000 km2 rises to 1,800 A key strategy in overcoming this challenge metres or more. There is even a skiing is to incentivise the various operators to industry in Lesotho. extend their coverage. “We have set up what But from there, though, the comparison is known as the Universal Service Fund,” says begins to differ. Against a GDP of Posholi. “All regulated operators are obliged to contribute one percent of $81,000 per capita in their net operating income Switzerland, Lesotho must into the fund while LCA get by on a GDP of under $1,500 per head. would add 25 percent of any Statistics such as these end-of-year surplus. With these funds we aim to fill in are important because they have a direct bearing the gaps needed to provide Per capita GDP in Lesotho countrywide coverage.” on the work of the Lesotho Projects, particularly from Communications Authority 2009 to the present time, (LCA), which started out in 2000 as the Lesotho Telecommunication include the development of 12 mobile Authority but lost the Tele in order to hub sites to ensure coverage across the reflect its extended mandate to cover ten districts that make up Lesotho (at broadcasting and postal communications least one site per district), with five more as well as telecoms. currently under development. All these According to CEO Monehela Posholi, “the developments are aimed at reaching LCA is here to regulate the communications the LCA’s key mandate of ensuring total industry in Lesotho with a view to promoting coverage. It is envisaged that this would fair competition. At the same time we want be achieved by 2014, as part of the Fund’s consumers to feel empowered and protected. five year plan that started in 2009. Ours is a wide remit, from the granting A second major project has been and administration of licences, approval of undertaken to lessen Lesotho’s dependence tariffs to the allocation of the radio frequency on South Africa. “We are completely spectrum and vetting of terminal equipment.” surrounded by our neighbour,” says Posholi,


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2014 Target for countrywide coverage


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“and until recently all internet traffic had to be channelled through facilities in South Africa. Since the creation of an Internet Exchange Point (LIXP), we can now ensure that all internal internet traffic is handled internally within Lesotho.” Such a desire to be independent in some aspects of communications is understandable and the LIXP project has helped address the issue of connectivity with the international bandwidth challenges. To help in this respect, LCA has a partnership with Afrinique in the establishment of LIXP. Lesotho is also part of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy). The membership of Lesotho in the EASSy project is aimed at affording Lesotho an opportunity of access to internet bandwidth at competitive rates. Nevertheless, it’s likely that Lesotho will always be dependent, to some degree, on South Africa and strives to maintain good working relations with operators to overcome some of the international traffic challenges it faces. Lesotho – through LCA – is both a founding and active member of CRASA – a collection of ten organisations forming the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa. The structure of CRASA was reshaped last year to include the same

Lesotho Communications Authority

Rural telecoms

wide spectrum of communication activivities for which LCA is responsible, while in April this year, the Lesotho government strengthened LCA’s regulatory position by clarifying its powers and giving it real authority as a regulator, as well as providing it with an extended mandate through the new Communications Act 2012. Lesotho is mirroring what is happening in so many African countries by leap-frogging over an inadequate fixed telephone service and relying almost entirely on mobile

telecommunications. In a population of just over 2 million, fixed service subscribers have flat-lined for the past decade. In 2000, just one percent of the population had access to a phone. Since mobile telephones were introduced in 2001, tele-density has shot up to around 80 percent, of which only 2 percent is fixed. Lesotho is largely using new and old technologies alongside each other. However, the number of telephones that dial into the ISP numbers are fast decreasing while

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ADSL connections are increasing and thus reflecting the move among internet cafés and users in general to technologies with higher data-carrying capacity. The mobile market is moving at a rapid rate with subscribers jumping by 30 percent from last year to 1,311,725 while an additional 49 base transceiver stations were built. In the same period, the number of tele-bureaux went down by 13 percent

from 15,645 to a total of 13,690. Lesotho currently has two mobile telecoms providers – Econet Telecom Lesotho and Vodacom Lesotho. Both provide a similar level of 2G and 3G voice coverage. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices has made the rollout of 7.2Mbs 3G coverage by both operators a mandatory development route. The Universal Service Fund mentioned above has improved

“Since the creation of an Internet Exchange Point (LIXP), we can now ensure that all internal internet traffic is handled internally within Lesotho”


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Lesotho Communications Authority

St. Peter’s primary school

coverage by completing 12 network coverage infrastructure projects that added a further 18 base transmission stations. Broadcast media retains an important role in disseminating information within this mountainous country. The next year will be busy for Lesotho Television. As a member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Lesotho had undertaken to switch over from analogue television broadcasting to digital terrestrial television broadcasting by the middle of 2015. However, member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have subsequently agreed to complete the digital switchover by the end of December 2013. Noting the progress to-date, it remains doubtful whether the 2013 deadline imposed by SADC would be achieved.

A small, widely dispersed population certainly doesn’t contribute the best conditions for a cutting edge communications systems but the LCA is not without ambition. International consultants have been engaged to carry out a feasibility study on the viability of Lesotho having a call centre industry. The objective of the study is to identify the factors that need to be considered for attracting investment in this lucrative area – one of which will undoubtedly be robust and premised on fast communication connections. For more information about Lesotho Communications Authority visit: www.lca.org.ls

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Change is in the air

Malichaba Lekhoaba explains how Harvest FM has helped achieve social freedom by exposing corruption, forging a strong working relationship with the incoming government and fighting for local communities

written by: gay sutton research by: james boyle

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Harvest FM

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Malichaba Lekhoaba broadcasting to the nation

Harvest FM


arvest FM has been broadcasting understanding that not only would the topical to the citizens of Lesotho content attract increased advertising revenue since May 2003. Registered in but that the station could have an important November 2002 as a charity by role to play in bringing political and social the current station manager issues to the public, and informing them. Malichaba Lekhoaba, Harvest broadcasts It was a brave move, and one that has had 24 hours a day producing a mixture of a formative effect on the country’s political spiritual and current affairs programmes landscape. At the time, Lesotho was going that rigorously tackle the nation’s leading through a period of what Lekhoaba describes social and political issues. Since 2007 as political instability. “We had really hard Harvest has earned international respect talk on some of these programmes, much of for its courage in daring to highlight and it about political corruption,” she explained. eradicate corruption in all its forms, and has As a result of this new content the received the prestigious PMR Africa award listenership increased dramatically and for best radio station three advertising revenue rose years running. correspondingly, but the “We have based the radio relationship with Government station on Christian principles,” and the national regulator, Lekhoaba explained, “and our Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), deteriorated vision for Harvest is to inform Year Harvest FM people about the Christian rapidly. “The ruling party at began broadcasting that time was not comfortable faith, and their rights as citizens of this country.” with what we said about The station currently employs 19 salaried them, and they complained to the LCA.” staff, a mixture of journalists, presenters and The station was repeatedly shut down for a administrative workers. However, the road to few days in 2007, and then in 2008 Harvest such stability and success has not been easy. was suspended for a 12 month period. It was “We have been through some very difficult a catastrophic event. Advertising revenue, periods,” Lekhoaba continued. Launching the the station’s only source of income, ceased station was a triumph of determination and abruptly. Staff had to be sent home without dedication in itself. With no funding to cover pay. However the suspension was reduced expenses, she had to rely on the services of to 3 months on the understanding that the a group of volunteers to run the station, and station would not commit similar ‘offences’ worked to build up a portfolio of advertisers within the 12 month period. “Effectively we were closed for three to cover running costs. In 2007, following a review of the station’s months and during that time we lost our financial performance, she began to introduce listeners and advertisers. But that didn’t stop a series of current affairs programmes, us,” Lekhoaba asserted. “When we came


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back on air we worked very hard to win back our listenership and our advertisers, and we made it through.” Between 2009 and early this year Harvest has had a difficult tightrope to walk, bringing out programmes that highlighted and discussed important social and political issues, and yet did so in such a way that did not incur suspension. The station’s editorial policy demands that all stories are balanced, and yet there was such a climate of fear that the public were afraid to express opinions about Government, and the ruling party refused to provide information to journalists or the public. Throughout this period the Government consistently refused permission for Harvest

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to place its transmitters in the national network of transmission towers and as a result the programmes only reached people in the capital and a few outlying areas. However, the impact of those hard hitting programmes has been enormous. In the general election in early 2012 the old government was overturned. “And it was in the capital, where people were informed about the corruption, that the ruling party lost the election,” she said. In the regions – outside Harvest’s transmission footprint the ruling party continued to receive high numbers of votes. Today, the old regime has been replaced by a new one that is not only more media savvy but is running the country differently. Much

Harvest FM

“Today, the old regime has been replaced by a new one that is not only more media savvy but is running the country differently” has changed for Harvest. “We are able to talk freely about Government officials, and when we find evidence of corruption their doors are open for discussion,” Lekhoaba said. A great example of this is Harvest’s outreach programme, where journalists and presenters meet with communities and interview the public on local issues. “We tried this under the previous Government but people were too scared to talk. Now they are free to say what they want. And in many cases Government officials listen to the programme, respond on air and take action.” The relationship with LCA, which is no longer under political pressure to restrain Harvest, has also improved dramatically and is now fair and positive. “We do get complaints,” Lekhoaba admitted, although this is bound to happen with any media organisation that sets out to challenge the standards and performance of those in power. “But the complaints no longer come from LCA, they come through lawyers.” One of Harvest’s big challenges now is to extend its transmission footprint across the entire country, and it is currently in talks with Government to use the national transmission network. Lekhoaba also aims to establish an independent Harvest TV station and is in the process of applying for a licence.

The organisation continues to be run as a charity and all profits are reinvested into the community. Harvest has a range of ongoing community support programmes including sponsoring vulnerable children and orphans through high school. The latest community campaign has been to examine the management and financing of orphanages, to root out corruption and the misuse of funds. “We don’t want government to close these homes,” she pointed out. “We want to encourage them to run the homes properly and fairly. At the moment, it’s the children who are suffering.” Much has changed this year for Harvest. Journalists can now do their job freely, the relationship with Government and LCA is very good, and the station is no longer under threat. But Lekhoaba is aware that with this freedom comes great responsibility. “Now we have the freedom, we must ensure that we are always improving the way we work. We must continue doing our job without favour, and support the people of this country according to our Christian principles.” For more information about Harvest FM contact: mlekhoaba@harvestfm.co.ls

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:


OF TEN The TCRA has overseen revolutions in broadcasting, postal services and telecommunications over the last decade, today’s revolution is a digital one

written by: John O’Hanlon research by: David Brogan

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Aerial view of Dar es Salaam



ccording to the most recent World Bank economic update published late in 2012, “Tanzania stands out as a model of sound economic performance with a growth rate of over six percent in 2011 and 2012.” Tanzania’s economic prospects look positive over the period for 2012-14, the report goes on to say, when its GDP is forecast to grow at a rate of 6.5 to 7 percent. In economic terms Tanzania was a rock of stability in 2011/12, recording solid growth and strengthened fiscal discipline despite increases in the rate of inflation. A rock of stability, a model of sound economic performance, and politically stable to boot – Tanzania’s situation is a tribute to the great governance it has enjoyed since independence and thanks in no small measure to the wisdom of the late Julius Nyerere. Whatever you think of his brand of Ujamaa socialism it has given Tanzania a level of stability that is the envy of its neighbours. It’s true that the country developed slowly and that its growth has largely failed to impact those who make up 80 percent of the country’s poorest people. As the World Bank puts it: “Tanzania’s macroeconomic success has not been felt by the majority of the rural population that is still living in extreme poverty.” But this just serves to emphasise the potential for giving these citizens access to the agricultural commercialisation, diversification and urbanisation that has so far barely started to happen. If you had to choose a single factor driving social and economic change in Tanzania it

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Mobile users in Tanzania are fast adopting mobile money services

might well be communications. Prof John Tanzania so it can further grow its telecoms Nkoma certainly thinks so. A physicist might and realise its full potential. “As a by profession Dr Nkoma spent most of his regulatory body we ensure that licenses are career abroad doing research in the UK and of reasonable duration and regulations are Botswana where he held the chair of physics enforceable. We use the funds we receive at the University of Botswana. However he responsibly – so I tell them to come and invest returned to Tanzania in 2004 to head up in Tanzania’s thriving telecoms industry.” He the newly founded TCRA, successor to two also believes that electronic communications former bodies, the Tanzania Communications of all kinds, now united under his overview, Commission (TCC), which formerly regulated must be allowed to play their full part in telecoms and the Tanzania Broadcasting education and healthcare. If you want to talk to Commission (TBC) which regulated broadcasting. someone in Tanzania, get Professor N koma their mobile number or their believes that developing the e-mail address or use a VOIP telecommunications network connection like Skype. The has been vital to Tanzania’s number of wire connections Tanzania’s current economy and encourages in the country is small, fibre network investors to partner with and has remained largely

7,500 KM

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Half the population of Tanzania is under 15

“I tell them to come and invest in Tanzania’s thriving telecoms industry” constant over the last decade. Compare that to the number of mobile subscribers, which, from fewer than a million ten years ago, has now topped 26 million – that in a country with a total population of 45 million, half of them under 15! The mobile phone serves a different purpose in Africa than in other communities where the bulk of consumers use it for tweeting, chatting and finding a restaurant. Here it is a tool. Financial services are the most talked about, Nkoma agrees, and Vodacom’s wellknown M-Pesa is paralleled by the other

major players. Tigo has Tigo Pesa; AirTel offers airtel money and ZanTel Ezy Pesa. Each of these allows users to transfer without the need for a bank account, which so many people wouldn’t qualify for. The fees are typically low. To transfer up to the equivalent of $600 Ezy Pesa charges just 12c. Tanzanians have been among the fastest adopters of mobile money services in the world, just behind Kenya. In agriculture, a growing number of agricultural information service providers offer technical advice and market information to farmers through

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The Dar es Salaam waterfront

bulk SMS, call centres we have 3G networks therefore data transfer is becoming very or specialised apps. In important.” However when it the health sector, mobile comes to stimulating business phones have opened up growth, the regulator can opportunities for remote leave much of the development diagnosis so that health workers in remote facilities to the ingenuity of the private mobile providers. Larger are supported to treat their Tanzanian mobile capital projects require patients by medical experts subscribers more attention. Tanzania’s further away via telephone. This can potentially improve principal city Dar es Salaam is service delivery in light of understaffing in fortunate in being the landing point for three international fibre optic ‘pipes’, the East African rural health centres. Facilitating these services is just one of the Submarine Cable System (EASSy), Seacom things TCRA is interested in doing. “We have and Teams. To create an inland network seen exponential growth in subscriptions, Tanzania borrowed $170 million from China and that has been paralleled by the growth in and raised a further $80 million to build a services – in the earliest years there were just vast fibre-optic cable network, stretching simple platforms, basically just voice; but now 7,500 kilometres in a ring around the country.



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The fibre-optic network cost $250 million to create

Actually, there are three rings radiating out of Dar es Salaam and managed by the incumbent fixed network operator Tanzania Telecommunications Co Ltd (TTCL) Nkoma explains. The eastern ring links Dar with Arusha and Moshi to the north, and thence to Kenya; the western ring takes the network into Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the eastern DRC, while a southern ring goes into Malawi and Zambia. “For this part of the world fibre optic is a necessity – it is doing what the copper network did many years ago, and so much more, bringing fast broadband to populations that need it to develop business as well as healthcare and education.” Long term evolution (LTE) will eventually

allow remote access to high speed mobile broadband but it will never challenge fibre optic, he thinks. In any case any 4G spectrum offering is some way ahead. Meanwhile he is pleased with the spectrum management programme that TCRA has been able to deliver to date. Much of TCRA’s effort recently has been in managing a broadcasting revolution – the roll out of digital TV. The analogue signal was switched off in Dar es Salaam on December 31 last year, in Dodoma and Tanga at the end of January, in Mwanza in February followed by Moshi and Arusha in March. The switch-off in Mbeya on April 30 will mark the completion of Phase one digitalisation.

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TCRA Phase two will repeat the process as the remaining population centres are equipped with digital transmitters. “The cost of set-top boxes has not been a major problem, as the government waived tax on that equipment,” says Nkoma. An entry level STB costs around 40,000 shillings – about $25’ While most of TCRA’s work is concerned with electronic communications, it regulates postal services as well. Here the big project has been to introduce postcodes throughout the country. Tanzania leads the continent in introducing postcodes: “We have completed the basic planning, and have already compiled the postcode database for the whole country. Now it is just a question of implementation.” TCRA is coming up to its tenth anniversary. Prof Nkoma takes a broad view of its achievements, pointing to its part in ensuring a sound and credible legislative framework for communications platforms in Tanzania, with. This, he emphasises, is vital to attract inward investment. “Investors need to feel protected against unfair competition.” Following the passing of the 2010 Electronic and Postal Communications Act, new regulations published in 2011 brought in an up to date regime for the long term. “We now have a well articulated structural strategic plan which spells out our vision, our mission, strategic goals and core values of the organisation,” he concludes. For more information about TCRA visit: www.tcra.go.tz

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The digital revolution is now approaching phase two

Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Bringing technology to Tanzania Vodacom managing director for Tanzania, Rene Meza, discusses how Vodacom Tanzania is continually evolving its product and service offerings in order to remain the country’s leading cellular network

written by: Will Daynes research by: Dave Brogan

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Vodacom Tanzania

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t was in 1993 that, with the passing of the Communications Act, the government of Tanzania began to plot a course to liberalise the communications sector within the country. In the years since competition has gradually increased in the fields of mobile cellular services, radio paging, internet and data communication services, helping to affirm the communications sector as one of pillars of Tanzania’s social and economic development. Today the title of leading cellular network in the country belongs to Vodacom Tanzania, a subsidiary of the Vodacom Group that was created in the aftermath of Vodacom securing the winning bid to operate a GSM cellular network and provide Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) services in December 1999. Having gone live on 14 August, 2000, the company had connected 50,000 subscribers with its first four months of operation, before taking this number past the one million mark by the end of September 2004. In January 2007, Vodacom Tanzania reached another milestone when it brought its connected subscriber base up to three million, becoming the first mobile network in the country to do so. Today, it serves more than 10 million customers and counting. As the company has grown, so too has its commitment to supporting the community in which it does business. The Vodacom Foundation has supported over 120 projects in the country in the areas of health, education and social welfare. From building classrooms to spearheading the fight to eradicate fistula, a complication of child birth, in Tanzania by 2016, Vodacom Tanzania is committed to

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Vodacom Tanzania

using its technology to augment government efforts to achieve its Millennium Development Goals so as create a better life for all. “In recent years,” explains Vodacom managing director for Tanzania, Rene Meza, “the telecommunications sector in Tanzania has been driven by a gradual merging of technology. Not long ago, a fixed line telephone was a luxury item enjoyed by the vast minority of people and this too was the

case when it came to mobile phones. Fastforward to today and the mobile phone has completely transcended the action of simply making and receiving calls, allowing users to carry out financial transactions, access the internet, watch movies and so forth.” In order to meet this ever growing list of consumer demands and requirements, Vodacom Tanzania has brought a number of innovations and first to the market. Perhaps

“The Vodacom Foundation has supported over 120 projects in the country in the areas of health, education and social welfare”

Head of Vodacom Foundation, Yessaya Mwakifulefule (right) hands over medicines to Dr. Haruna Mhina, the Chief Medical Officer at Nyamisati Medical Center, Rufiji District, Pwani Region

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Vodacom Tanzania

Salim Mwalim, External Affairs Manager, Vodacom Tanzania (right) speaks to bank customers in Dar es Salaam recently, when Vodacom conducted an M-Pesa education day

the service that stands out the comfort of their homes. Today we have 40,000 active most is its M-PESA money transfer service. agents and 4.5 million active “This is a total payment M-PESA users, while more than 200 organizations accept solution,” Meza continues, bill payment via M-PESA” “which does not require users to have bank accounts. Given the vast majority’s This was an important inability to meet banking Active M-PESA users in the country today consideration when it comes condition in Tanzania, mobile money transfer is a major to Tanzania as it is home to literally millions of people driver of the sector. A youthful who do not operate bank accounts and can and educated population which is constantly barely meet the minimum qualifications seeking to be at par with the rest of the world to open account. With M-PESA, Vodacom demands services that will enable it to get there. Indeed, Vodacom Tanzania sees itself customers can deposit up to TSH 5m/- for free, send and receive money and withdraw today as being much more than simply a cash from any agent in the country. They mobile phone company, transforming itself can also access their bank accounts from over the years into a total solutions provider.



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Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director, Rene Meza, addresses guests during the launch of LTE trial in Dar es Salaam recently

Kelvin Twissa, Head of Brand receives certificate at 20

“Vodacom customers can meet all of their communication requirements with a single service provider” In an effort to cater for ever growing corporate needs in the country, Vodacom recently established its Vodacom Business division, a leading provider of converged communication solutions that are customercentric, technology-driven, cost-effective, and innovative and generate sustainable value. “Vodacom customers,” Meza says, “can now meet all their communication requirements,

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from mobile telephony through internet access to hosted applications, with a single service provider. Through the division, we are able to offer a comprehensive portfolio of access technologies and data solutions to help organisations of all sizes achieve the agility they need to compete successfully in a connected world. Despite the considerable progress that the

Vodacom Tanzania

d Marketing and Communication, 012’s Employer of the Year Awards

Vodacom Tanzania is opening up customer shops across the country in order to serve its customers effectively

company has made in Tanzania, challenges do still remain. Limited spectrum resources, for example, continues to hinder the implementation of certain technologies that require the use of spectrum in specific bands. This often results in delays in, or failure to, implement innovative services or programmes that are seen as very much needed in order to place Tanzania on par with other countries in terms of technology. Nevertheless, Vodacom Tanzania is buoyed by the fact that the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), through various administrative actions, has been able to minimise the impact of this challenge and is continuing in its efforts to optimise the utilisation of spectrum resources.

As he looks to the immediate future, Meza has a pretty good idea of where the industry is heading and the role Vodacom Tanzania has to play. “I believe that we will continue to see a merging of technologies driving market trends and growth, with virtually anything that can be connected, being connected via Vodacom technology. With the distinction between communication services and broadcasting for example becoming increasingly blurred, this is certainly an exciting time for this industry.� For more information about Vodacom Tanzania visit: www.vodacom.co.tz

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:


the dots

The mobile broadband network that will not only benefit thousands of people in Tanzania, but potentially millions across Africa

written by: Will Daynes research by: James Boyle

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Rural NetCo Ltd.

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Rural NetCo Ltd.


echnology today moves at such a fast pace that it is easy for us to sometimes take for granted what we have now compared to what we had only a few years ago. Take for instance the fact, in a world where one can download a whole movie in a matter of minutes, that before the first cable modem was introduced in 1997 it would have taken the average computer user over 28 hours to download the same sized file using a dial-up internet connection. As with most new technologies, mobile broadband was initially something of a luxury item, yet within a matter of years prices had stabilised to make it affordable to the masses in developed economies throughout the world. Nevertheless, while people in these economies have grown to accept super-fast internet speeds as the norm, significant work continues to be undertaken to bring this technology to rural, and underserviced, areas and their populations. Rural NetCo is a Tanzanian based communications company, working to implement a high speed mobile broadband access network, on which the other mobile operators in the country can connect in order to provide and affordable end-to-end service in areas that thus far have not been covered by such service. The Rural NetCo business model can be best described with the word “wholesaler�. This is because the company is only selling the capacity of its network to the other mobile operators who will be responsible for providing the service to their customers as they do today. This is a new business model, which in all likelihood will go on to attract considerable

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demand from other African countries looking to enable future ICT development in rural and underserviced areas. “While such a concept does exist in several developed nations across the world,” explains managing director, Frode Dyrdal, “the idea of a shared broadband network represents a completely new way of doing business in Africa, and one that has taken a great amount of time and effort to conceive and establish. It is through this hard work and commitment that we are now in a position where we believe we have a business model and a solution that will enable operators to extend the reach of their internet offering much further than had previously been possible on a purely commercial basis.” This hard work has allowed Rural NetCo to successfully negotiate the regulatory environment of Tanzania. “From the authority’s point of view,” states chairman, Pekka Kokko, “this is truly a fantastic concept in the sense that by utilising shared infrastructure it will reduce the cost base, both in terms of capital expenditure and operational cost, encountered by the operators and provide them with a more efficient way of doing business. From an operator’s perspective, it will allow them to refocus more of their efforts on their core business

which is providing added value services to their customers, instead of building and managing their own infrastructure in the underserviced areas. This concept is also environmentally friendly because by sharing and/or re-using towers the impact on the environment is significantly reduced.” In bringing this concept to life the company has received a great deal of assistance and support from the Tanzania Communications

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Rural NetCo Ltd.

Reg ulator y Aut hor it y Vodacom, the largest in the country. Rural NetCo is very (TCRA). “TCRA has been satisfied with the current very forward looking by strongly supporting the idea volume of traffic that is of sharing for many years passing through the network Regions in rural Tanzania and the management of the now,” Kokko says, “and we that Rural NetCo now are proud that we are able to company is confident that provides coverage to business continues to develop help bring it to fruition.” Kokko is equally keen to well. Since the plan is for this praise the assistance provided to be a shared network the by Ericsson. “They are very much the know- company is now embarking on a mission to how partner, in that they initially conceived get other operators on board. Negotiations the concept and supplied the technology that are currently at an advanced stage to the makes the network possible. Their assistance extent that the company has been carrying throughout our existence has been nothing out a series of interconnection tests while also short of invaluable.” discussing various commercial agreements. Thus far the company has launched “From a technical point of view,” Dyrdal commercially with one operator, that being continues, “what we are focusing on is


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Rural NetCo Ltd. providing consistently high quality broadband coverage in order to create the best possible end user experience. By utilising shared, existing infrastructure between operators we hope to provide coverage to people based in locations where it would previously have been unobtainable or uneconomical. That is the core objective of our work, generating greater levels of service that what currently exists in these rural or underserviced areas.” The short-term target for Rural NetCo, particularly over the course of the next 12 months, is to roll out, and in some cases tighten up, its shared broadband network concept throughout the regions of Tanzania in which it is present. In doing so it aims to double its network in terms of size in order to provide more service opportunities for the operators, which will inevitably result in greater broadband access to subscribers. “Rather than being exclusively tailored for use within Tanzania,” Kokko concludes, “we view this as being very much a universally applicable concept and one that will hopefully go on to fit into a number of different countries throughout Africa that possess similar geographical and demographic features, or indeed shortcomings that need to be remedied. It is an idea that has continued to meet our initial goals and that means having the ability to save everybody money in the long run and ultimately provide cheaper internet access, and more value added services, to the masses.” For more information about Rural NetCo Ltd. visit: www.ruralnetco.com

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Telecoms & ICT in AFrica:

Changing the for better Director General of ZICTA, Margaret K ChalweMudenda discusses the role the Authority has played during this exciting period of change

written by: Will Daynes research by: David Brogan

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t was in 1994 that the Telecommunications Act gave rise to what was at the time dubbed the Communications Authority of Zambia. While it was mandated to regulate and monitor almost every aspect of the country’s telecommunication sector, the Authority was somewhat hampered by the restrictiveness of the Telecommunications Act, which did not give it the power to regulate competition amongst telecoms operators, provide cyber security regulations or even regulate the postal sector. This situation would remain the same until 2009, when the passing of three Acts, the Postal Services, the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) and the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Act numbers 22, 21 and 15 of 2009 respectively, brought about monumental changes to the sector as whole. The events of 2009 also saw the Communications Authority of Zambia renamed the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA). “The fundamental idea behind the passing of the three Acts in 2009, and the rebranding of ZICTA,” explains Director General, Margaret K Chalwe-Mudenda, “was to broaden the Authority’s scope of work to encompass all elements of ICT, ECT and the postal sector.” Today, ZICTA’s strategic goals include promoting competition within the market, being the catalyst for delivering universal access, being the source of protection for consumers, ensuring that operators, and the nation at large, efficiently manage scarce resources and that ZICTA itself

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Zambia’s internet penetration is in a stage of steady growth

continues to enhance its developments that mean that as of today the country own capacity to deliver what it is mandated to do. has three mobile operators, “As a result of the Acts that one fixed-line service were passed in 2009, and the provide and approximately Mobile penetration subsequent efforts that have 18 registered Internet Service rate in Zambia been made by those within Providers (ISP’s) operating ZICTA,” Chalwe-Mudenda within its borders. continues, “what we are “Our most recent mobile in 2013 is a more empowered body that data,” Chalwe-Mudenda states, “suggest possesses greater powers to regulate the that there are over ten million registered sector, to penalise and prosecute those that SIM cards today in Zambia, a figure which abuse their positions and monopoly power, we believe equates to a mobile penetration and to negotiate, mentor and arbitrate.” rate of around 55 percent in a country of When the Authority began life back in almost 13.5 million people. Nevertheless, 1994, it is estimated that there were less than with internet penetration still as low as 100,000 mobile and telephone subscribers two percent, the country is clearly still very present in Zambia. The near two decades that much in a phase of gradual growth.” followed have played host to a myriad of major One of ZICTA’s most important undertakings


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came in 2010 when it released an extensive Cost of Service Study, the results of which brought about a landmark shift in how tariffs were regulated in Zambia. “In the lead up to 2010,” Chalwe-Mudenda says, “we brought in an independent consultant to conduct a highly detailed study focusing on the tariff rates that operators were charging consumers for voice services for the telecommunications market as a whole.” What this consultant found was a clear trend that saw operators setting prices at a much higher rate than they could rightly justify. “Based on the results we received,” Chalwe-Mudenda reveals, “we were able to use the powers we have as set in law to introduce a proposed range of pricing options for the operators, while also installing a price cap which no tariff can exceed.” The result of these actions soon became clear, with the cost of making a call dropping dramatically. This in turn meant that owning a cell-phone was no longer seen as a luxury afforded only by the privileged few. Perhaps just as importantly it also helped spur real competition in the marketplace with rival operators battling to offer the cheapest call rates and the most attractive promotions to entice subscribers. In addition to discussing the work of

ZICTA, Chalwe-Mudenda also takes the time to highlight the importance of the Authority’s membership status with The Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA). “The creation of CRASA really helped us as regulators by giving us a forum in which we could come together and share common experiences and resolve issues such as cross border roaming. We see CRASA as being a neat family of industry bodies

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A farmer on the phone

Satellite dish in a remote village

who are working to remove on is developing a scenario the barriers between where the ICT industry can reach a point where it is one countries and make things of the top contributors to this better for the region as a whole from a communications country’s GDP and a leading perspective.” source of employment, To a great many people, technological progress and Registered SIM cards innovation. While there will Africa represents the next today in Zambia always be things that we can’t frontier for business and predict, I can personally see economic prosperity and a lot of progress being made this is a statement that Chalwe-Mudenda very much agrees with. here and it makes me excited that there are “The continent of Africa to this day retains a lots of good things to come in the future.” great deal of unexploited value and potential, potential that we can capitalise on if we all For more information about work together to ensure that no sector or ZICTA visit: regulator is left behind. When it comes to www.zicta.zm Zambia specifically, what we are working



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Issue No.3


Issue No.3