MVNOs have been slow to take off in Africa as mobile operators have been reluctant to let go of any income. They would argue that many markets have not matured to the point where the kind of segmentation MVNOs provide might work. Therefore what’s happening in Cameroon may yet set a precedent for the rest of the continent. This week sees the launch of SMS Mobility which is pitching itself as primarily a data MVNO and it joins voice MVNO Eto’o Telecom. Russell Southwood spoke to Manfred Tubman, CEO of SMS Mobility about the launch.
The recent deal between Nazara Technologies based in Dubai and games publisher Electronic Arts to sell its games portfolio into Africa on mobile puts the spotlight on what will be a growing seam of new content. Russell Southwood spoke to Savio Saldanha, Chief Executive, Middle East and Africa, Nazara Technologies and reviews the progress of some local developers.
Africa Com is Informa’s monster talk-fest that like Topsy just seems to grow and grow. This year it claimed over 8,000 pre-registered attendees, the equivalent of a small town. It is now spread over three days and takes in a growing encampment of nearby subject areas. Weary but not exhausted, Russell Southwood tries to make some sense of what happened to him over the last three days.
Tuluntulu has a technology that can deliver video over EDGE. It ensures that the audio signal remains intact and reduces picture quality with out breaking as the bandwidth goes down. It offers anything from good quality to rough and ready, depending on how much bandwidth is available. Russell Southwood spoke to the entrepreneur behind it, Pierre van der Hoven, last week.
This week’s TV content market DISCOP in Johannesburg saw Neotel and property developer, the Maboneng Project promoting their joint fibre-to-the-home service aimed at attracting high-end media users to this pioneering downtown development. South Africa has found it hard to bridge the cost gap between the curb and the premises and this joint development may yet spark an increase in the roll-out of high-end fibre connections. Russell Southwood looks at what this development might have to do with the rest of Africa.
Umuntu Media started life as a set of country portals but has developed its main product – Mimiboard – out of that experience. It’s now working with media owners to generate traffic and create new sources of online income. Russell Southwood spoke to Jaco Liebenberg, Operations Manager at Umuntu Media about what it’s set out to do.
Senegal has always been the country where competition has a very different meaning. In the Internet sector, Orange-owned Sonatel controls pretty much the whole of the market. There are almost no ISPs or alternative data operators. At a recent event held by Google, there were a number of calls for the Government and regulator to open up the market to competition and innovation.
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.