Two contrasting news announcements about LTE this week highlight what will become the next front in the struggle between Africa’s mobile incumbents and the insurgent challengers. Vodacom made a surprise announcement that it was launching LTE before MTN in South Africa. A less well-known operator in DRC – Cielux – also signed contracts to buy equipment to roll-out. Russell Southwood looks at how LTE will change the landscape in terms of the Internet market.
The growth of data traffic and Internet and social media users has been the big story over the last two years. But more quietly behind the scenes, Africa has begun to develop a more sophisticated data architecture through a combination of exchange points and data centres. Russell Southwood looks at the progress so far.
One cascade of changes affecting the continent has become very clear. With new, competitive international cables and improved, cheaper fibre access at a national level, wholesale prices in both of these parts of the value chain have dropped.
The global debate about “over-the-top” services (delivered by the Internet) vs the walled garden approach (delivered within apps or the mobile operators’ walled space) is not just some distant developed world issue but crucial for Africa. The current African content deals and the frameworks that support them are broken beyond repair. Russell Southwood looks at why and what happens next.
Africans have a thirst for mobile content and it’s not just for SMS news headlines and football scores. Last week social media content platform biNu announced that its partnership with World Reader had netted it 0.5 million book readers on mobile phones and that the number was growing 30% a month. Russell Southwood spoke to Mark Shoebridge of biNu about this development.
South Sudan’s Juba and Eritrea’s Asmara were the only two African capitals without plans to introduce international fibre links. Now the South Sudan Government is moving towards working out what its plans will be. Russell Southwood looks at plans in the wings and what the options are.
Back in June 2012, Convergence Partners attracted up to US$45 million from the World Bank’s investment arm IFC for its Communications Infrastructure Fund to support the rapid expansion of infrastructure across the continent. Along with this fund and its own investments, Convergence Partners is interested in a range of investment opportunities across the continent. Russell Southwood spoke to Brandon Doyle, CEO, Convergence Partners about what they want to do.
Tanzania’s plans for a national fibre backbone and fibre connections to all of its neighbours is finally being realized. The Government-run NICTBB has completed Phase 2 of its roll-out plans and is connected to all of its neighbours.
There are a number of companies working on producing low CAPEX and OPEX base stations. Africa’s Orun Energy has chosen to focus on power and cooling and makes some bold claims in terms of cost savings. It has just completed indoor and outdoor tests with an Indian operator. Russell Southwood talks to its founder Kwabena Smith.
Smith started the company because he thought that mobile operators in emerging markets would be challenged by the issue of operational costs as ARPUs declined as they had in other large emerging markets like India.
The emerging deal that puts all the CDMA operators into a single pot with a US$200 million capital investment has been represented as the creation of a new mobile voice operator. This rather misses the point of its proposed strategy that will emerge when the deal is finalised. Russell Southwood seeks to look behind the wall to see what’s coming.
Africa’s thirst for social networking seems insatiable and homegrown products to meet this thirst, like MXit and 2go, have really got traction. It’s a mixture of flirting, free messaging and meeting real people that draws people in. With the current numbers, advertisers will begin to use mobile as a media and support their development. Russell Southwood spoke to Marc Herson, 2go about how it will seek to expand.