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Airtel reiterates commitment to customers in Uganda

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Chancy Namadzunda

Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), a leading global telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, today reiterated its commitment to Uganda and said it will “continue to make investments and offer world-class and affordable services to customers in the country”.

Airtel’s proposed acquisition of Warid Telecom has received approvals from the Uganda Communications Commission. With this, Airtel will further consolidate its position as the second largest mobile operator in Uganda with a combined customer base of over 7.2 million and market share of over 39%.

Warid customers will be able to retain their existing mobile numbers and continue to enjoy benefits such as remaining balances in their SIM and existing services. In addition, Warid customers will benefit from Airtel’s ‘One Network’ across 20 countries and get access to innovative products and roaming benefits on successful completion of integration.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director Mr. V.G. Somasekhar said, “We welcome Warid customers to the Airtel global network and assure them of a world-class experience. This acquisition will create a superior and wider network and we will invest more in key areas such as technological innovation and customer service.

“Further, the existing Warid customer will also be enjoying all Airtel services such as the widest 3G coverage, Blackberry services and superior roaming serviceson successful completion of integration. During this transition, I want to reassure Warid customers of our commitment to providing world-class, affordable services to customers in Uganda. They should also be assured of the security and continuity of Warid Pesa services during this period”.

He added: “After the successful completion of integration, Warid customers will begin to enjoy benefits of the 0ne network with lower roaming rates across Africa and South Asia that other Airtel Customers have been enjoying. It’s a great beginning to a journey with our loyal Uganda customers and for the economy as a whole.”

With presence across 17 African countries, Airtel is the largest telecom service provider across the Continent in terms of geographical reach and had over 62 million customers at the end of quarter ended December 31, 2012. Globally, Airtel is ranked as the 4th largest mobile services provider in terms of customer base.

Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the company ranks amongst the top 4 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers.

In India, the company’s product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services, mobile commerce, fixed line services, high speed DSL broadband, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national & international long distance services to carriers. In the rest of the geographies, it offers 2G, 3G wireless services and mobile commerce. Bharti Airtel had over 271 million customers across its operations at the end of March 2013.

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Base stations’ ‘headlights’ often neglected factor – the right antenna tilt can improve network capacity by up to 20 percent and performance even more

Posted on 09 May 2013 by Africa Business

Bo Jonsson

Senior RF expert

CellMax Technologies

Bo Jonsson is the senior radio frequency expert at CellMax Technologies, a developer of ultra high-efficiency antennas for the global telecom market. Mr. Jonsson has more than 30 years of working experience with radio systems and more than 15 years in R&D designing fast hopping synthesizers, transmitters, receivers, filters etc. Bo Jonsson got his MSCE by 1987 and has held various titles over the years such as: RF-group manager, R&D manager, CTO, Systems expert, project manager and many others. See

We have had antennas since the days of Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian scientist who invented the radio a little over 100 years ago. So by now we should all know how to use antennas. But do we? With data replacing voice as the ‘killer application’ in the networks, antenna tilt – the angle in which the antennas are directed – becomes a serious issue and an area where many base stations today are clearly suboptimized.

The long narrow form of the typical array antennas gives them a fan-shaped radiation pattern, wide in the horizontal direction and relatively narrow in the vertical direction. There is usually a downward beam tilt, or downtilt, so that the base station can more effectively cover its immediate area and not cause radio frequency interference to distant cells. For good coverage and call quality, the signal must be strong in the desired radiation area, but drop of sharply where it is not needed or where it interferes with signals from other base stations.

You can compare with a car’s headlights: you want to see everything as clearly as possible in the direction you are travelling, but don’t want to waste energy by illuminating something irrelevant.

The most common antenna in a three-sector base station is the 18 dBi antenna with 65° of horizontal beamwidth and around 6.5° of vertical beam width. The 15 dBi antennas are still quite common, especially on the lower frequencies, with a vertical beam width of around 14°.

Most of the planning experience and rollout methods for mobile networks are based on these two antenna types. They are built on the assumption that there are interfering signals not in the adjacent cell, but further away. But in 3G and 4G systems, there is the interference mainly coming from the next cell; there are no longer any “transition zone” between service area and “disturbance area”.

So what does that mean in practice? Well, with data surpassing voice in new 3G and 4G mobile networks, interference is different and so must the antennas be to stay effective.

The efficiency of a cellular network depends on its correct configuration and adjustment of radiant systems: their transmit and receive antennas. One of the more important system optimizations task is based on correctly adjusted tilts, or the inclination of the antenna in relation to its axis. When the antenna is tilted down, we call it ‘downtilt’, which is the most common use. The tilt is used when operators want to reduce interference and/or coverage in some specific areas, having each cell to meet only its designed area.

With data being the networks’ new “killer application” instead of voice, a high carrier-to-interference ratio (C/I) is the key parameter for efficiency, data rate and general success. Carrier-to-Interference ratio (C/I) is the ratio of desired signal power in an RF carrier to the unwanted interference power in the channel. In voice, it was a waste to have very high C/I. But with data replacing voice in the networks we want to have high data rate all the way to the cell border. Basically, we would like to have a coverage that provides a constant signal level all the way to the cell border and there, suddenly, magically, drop to zero. This is of course not possible, but antennas with sharp roll-off can help us to get a lot closer to that ideal situation.

In most sites a sharper upper roll-off will provide higher C/I and less soft handover load. Both of which will increase performance and release capacity, often by over 10 dB in C/I improvement can be seen if the tilt is properly optimized with an antenna having a sharper roll-off curve and high efficiency.

This sounds too good to be true! Can you really improve network efficiency by just swapping the antennas and tilting them differently? Yes, you can. But it comes at a price. It requires both a very accurate tilt setting and a better understanding of how to use the very sharp cell border that these antennas give. Basically, it means that setting tilt after the scale on the tilt bracket is history. Half a degree makes a lot of difference. So, use a good digital leveler.

The conclusion is that most sectors would benefit significantly from an antenna with higher gain and a sharper upper roll-off curve than the standard 18 dBi can offer. Almost every site can perform better if the tilt is optimized better and more often. That is an easy and inexpensive way to improve the networks’ efficiency.

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MTN Uganda holds a 3 day Internet Expo in Mbarara as part of a drive to increase data usage in the regions

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Africa Business

MTN Uganda has launched Regional Internet Expos in a continued effort to give back to its customers and give them an opportunity to enjoy the best of what mobile telephony has to offer.

The first of a series of planned Regional Internet Expos to be held around the country, was hosted at Agip Motel in Mbarara from 25th to 27th April.

“Until now, most operators have concentrated their data initiatives largely in Kampala. After two years of successful investment in a state of the art data infrastructure, MTN believes this is the opportune time to make data access available to every customer, even in the most remote part of the country. The purpose of this expo is to bring data connectivity to all and demystify data. This expo will provide us a platform to introduce our customers and potential customers to the numerous uses of data and how the use of MTN data services can completely enrich our customers’ lives. These bold steps give testimony to MTN’s leadership and commitment to driving the data revolution in Uganda,” said Shaibu Haruna, General Manager Sales and Distribution.

The event in Mbarara gave MTN customers in the region a hands on experience of MTN’s new digital world in line with the company’s promise of making their customers’ lives much better. Customers who attended the Expo had the opportunity to experience the various data solutions on offer for both business and consumer segments. Customers also had the opportunity to interact with the latest devices and experienced the speed of MTN data services. The toast of visitors was the free wifi, where customers could bring along their devices to experience high speed internet.

Mbarara Mayor Wilson Tumwine opens the MTN Expo in Mbarara Standing left is MTN's head of sales and distribution Shaibu Haruna

Over the last two years, MTN has made major investments to its data infrastructure in Uganda, expanded the mobile distribution foot print, and greatly enhanced the mobile core, radio capacity and Network infrastructure.

“These Expos will give our customers in the regions an opportunity to experience our improved data services,” Shaibu added.

MTN Uganda has just launched its 4G LTE network, making it the first in Uganda and one of the first on the African continent. Whereas MTN’s LTE service will initially be available in greater Kampala, other towns will follow in the very near future. This will further support the drive to push data in the different regions of Uganda and will be supported by MTN’s robust distribution network that provides a dedicated team.

MTN’s vision is to lead the delivery of a bold, new Digital World to our customers. MTN Uganda is embracing this vision through constant enhancements to its Data Network to deliver World-class Internet and make its customers’ lives a whole lot brighter.

Since MTN was launched in Uganda in 1998, it has made major investments in the country. In 2012 alone, its CAPEX investments exceeded USD 80 million. This investment was mainly in expanding the network infrastructure to support the mobile subscriber growth as well as the rollout of new innovative products and digital solutions. MTN Uganda plans to invest an additional USD 70 million in 2013 towards further infrastructure development.

In 2012, MTN Uganda delivered strong results in a competitive environment with an increase in revenue, customer numbers and market share. Data and Mobile money particularly performed well. As a result, the groundwork was established to increase the contribution of data and mobile money to overall revenues.

“MTN Uganda’s road map for the next two years has positioned Data and Mobile Money as key drivers for MTN. We are committed to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world to our customers and that is precisely why we embarked on this new drive to reach all our customers, where ever they are,” he concluded.

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MTN Uganda successfully launches 4G LTE Network in Uganda making it the first in East Africa

Posted on 27 April 2013 by Africa Business

MTN has become the first operator in Uganda, and one of the very first in the region and on the African continent to successfully launch its 4G LTE network.

Long Term Evolution technology (LTE) is the latest technology in the world with the fastest internet speeds of up to 100Mbps, giving customers the most seamless experience in data services.

Popularly known as 4G, LTE is a ‘standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for data terminals and mobile phones.’ 4G LTE Data Networks provide mobile ultra-broadband internet access.

“We are happy to claim another first in Uganda with this momentous announcement as MTN Uganda successfully launches its 4GLTE network offering World-class internet services to our customers. What is even more pleasing is that we’ve done this ahead of many other advanced economies around the world,” said Ernst Fonternel, MTN Uganda’s Chief Marketing Officer.

The launch of LTE represents a major stride in mobile connectivity capabilities in Uganda. The service offers almost triple the speed of any existing mobile connection available commercially in Uganda and in the region.

“This launch further emphasizes MTN’s commitment in not just transforming its own network but also the businesses of its Corporate and SME customers while contributing positively to the overall development of the ICT sector in Uganda,” Fonternel added.

For the customer this means you can download large files in no time, stream music videos and HD movies without buffering and upload pictures without delay. These services will significantly transform the way you interact with the world.

“The higher LTE speeds will give our customers lower latency which translates into a much more stable user experience. The technology’s impressive speeds create endless possibilities for the user including instantaneous music and picture downloads,” said Fonternel.

“Our challenge isn’t keeping ahead of the other operators. It’s keeping ahead of the tidal wave of data demand both in our country and in the region. Last year we launched our 21.6Mbps Data Network and last month we rolled out our 42Mbps Data Network and now LTE. In all these innovations, we have been the first, and our intention is to continue pushing boundaries so that our customers enjoy World-class internet.”

MTN’s LTE service will initially be available in greater Kampala, with other towns to follow in the very near future. There are currently 20 locations fully integrated onto the LTE network. Furthermore LTE capable dongles will be on sale at selected MTN outlets.

Fonternel said that the commercial launch of LTE is part of a bigger network transformation plan that MTN has been undertaking over the past few years in order to give its customers World-class services.

Over the last two years, MTN has made major investments to its data infrastructure in Uganda, expanded the mobile distribution foot print, and greatly enhanced the mobile core, radio capacity and Network infrastructure.

MTN Uganda launched the first Mobile Money service in Uganda with tremendous success and was recently ranked 2nd in the world-wide sample for the number of active Mobile Money accounts as per GSM Association’s 2012 Survey.

MTN Uganda was also recently named Uganda Number 1 Leading Superbrand and was voted as the Best Mobile Telephone Service provider of the year in the Uganda Responsible Investment Awards 2013. MTN was voted for by the people of Uganda in appreciation and recognition of its contribution towards the promotion of international best practices and standards.

“MTN’s vision is to lead the delivery of a bold, new Digital World to our customers. MTN Uganda is embracing this vision through constant enhancements to our Data Network to deliver World-class Internet and make our customers’ lives a whole lot brighter,” added Fonternel.

Since MTN was launched in Uganda in 1998, it has made major investments in the country. In 2012 alone, its CAPEX investments exceeded USD 80 million. This investment was mainly in expanding the network infrastructure to support the mobile subscriber growth as well as the rollout of new innovative products and digital solutions. MTN Uganda plans to invest an additional USD 70 million in 2013 towards further infrastructure development.

“In terms of Network Infrastructure, MTN Uganda has deployed 2,800km of fibre backbones achieved with multiple layers and rings to protect customer experience across all national regions and provide dedicated business solutions to SMEs and Corporate Enterprises. Another 400km of Fibre is currently under deployment between Mutundwe in Kampala and Kyenjojo district in Western Uganda and should be completed within the coming months,” said Rami Farah, MTN Uganda Chief Technical Officer.

Furthermore, MTN Uganda extended the fibre network backbone and built five regional switching centres in the East, West, North and Central regions. MTN also built a fibre optic cable through Tanzania into Rwanda, providing an alternative data capacity route through Katuna into Uganda.

MTN Uganda has over the last 6 months rolled out approximately 100 new Base Transmission Sites to new coverage areas while commissioning another batch of capacity sites to enhance the quality of network services. MTN Uganda currently has more than 1,100 network sites across all regions in Uganda.

“The continuous CAPEX investment by MTN is aimed at providing our customers with the best possible user experience across the country. We would like to ensure consistent and reliable network quality for all existing customers and also to enable many more new customers to enjoy the best of what Mobile Technology has to offer,” concluded Farah.

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Director, Product Marketing, Etisalat: “FTTH is necessary for businesses and consumers”

Posted on 02 April 2013 by Africa Business

Ahead of the Broadband MEA 2013 conference, taking place on the 19th-20th March 2013 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE, Dubai, UAE, we speak to Maen Haddad, Director/Product Marketing, Etisalat on the latest broadband developments in the region and his views on issues such as piracy and FTTH deployment.

What major developments have there been for the broadband industry in your region over the past year?

Etisalat has played a key role in Broadband growth in the UAE with the latest fibre optic technology being implemented across the country. This major initiative involved rolling out a fibre network throughout the UAE, providing customers with high-speed internet of up to 300Mbps.

As demand from consumers and businesses for broadband in the MENA region increases, the number of broadband lines is expected to increase exponentially. The UAE has reached a broadband penetration level that is on par with many advanced nations. This is a key indicator for national competitiveness and economic development.

Which would you choose? Investing in coverage or investing in increasing speeds to existing customers?

To be able to provide maximum value to its customer base, Etisalat has adopted a two-pronged approach where both coverage and speed are improved. Conducted in phases, the initial focus was on covering the UAE with a fibre network and later, offering variety of high speeds and bundled services that are designed to suit all customer needs.

To what extent does wifi offload come into your thinking?

As mobile broadband adoption increases rapidly, demand for data traffic has also simultaneously gone up. Therefore, wifi offload is a solution for the industry today not only for data offload but also for voice and messaging, offering a wider opportunity for the usage of wifi within our service portfolio.

Wifi services today are a value-add in our broadband product portfolio. This enables customers to connect to the Internet anywhere and at anytime. Customers choose to use the wifi instead of 3G due to different price structures.

Are curated, operator-managed OTT/IPTV services the best way of reducing piracy?

OTT and IPTV demand will trigger increasing pressure on broadband access to providers to increase delivery speeds and the permissible download volume. Content providers and distributors will have to make major decisions about how consumers will access content to reduce piracy.

In the best case scenario, content providers enjoy greater audience aggregation opportunities, while consumers benefit from more flexible and possibly more diversified access.

Piracy rates can come down when consumers perceive that they can benefit from new options, including the ability to select and pay for specific content rather than having to pay for tiered service containing plenty of undesired content.

Telecom operators in the region face credible threats to core revenue streams and piracy is indeed one growing threat. They have responded by reducing availability of “free” content and enhancing availability of content to paying subscribers. Some incumbents also have resorted to strategies including caps on monthly downloads and new service tiers based on download volume.

OTT and IPTV alone, however, cannot successfully compete and defeat piracy unless more aggressive enforcement tactics are carried out, e.g., suspension and termination of end user subscriptions and blocking access to specific sites.

Is FTTH really necessary for businesses and consumers and what are the stumbling blocks to rolling it out?

FTTH is necessary and very important for businesses and consumers in the UAE, especially since the country ranks the highest in terms of internet penetration in the region. At the same time, the stumbling blocks to FTTH blocks have been:

  • The customer’s availability and willingness to install Optical Network Terminal (ONT) in his/her home.
  • Putting fibre in the relevant areas where it is needed.
  • The ability to monetise from an early stage.

Are there enough services out there to drive adoption of faster speeds and is it up to the operators to get involved?

Yes there are enough services, and there are always more bandwidth-hungry services in the pipeline. Operators have a critical role to get involved. Etisalat is a regional player and based in a country with a high subscriber base so it clearly understands that there is limited opportunity for growth of revenue by only adding new subscribers. The focus is now expected to shift to other areas such as higher mobile data services adoption and value-added services. Mobile data services adoption will be driven by the availability of compatible mobile devices, affordable data plans and the rapidly rising mobile internet user.

Today a high number of ecommerce transactions taking place in the UAE are through mobile devices. With an increasing penetration of OTT-delivered services and multiscreen access to TV and other video, marketing innovation to drive revenues through these growing use models is the winning strategy.

Etisalat has taken a lead in investing in futuristic technologies especially LTE, to meet these increasing demands in the market. With this investment, Etisalat has also continuously launched a great value added services meeting the requirements of consumers as well as enterprises.

Where does fixed wireless come into your planning and if so what technologies will you be using?

Currently Etisalat is using WiMax and is trialling LTE for triple-play services. Due to the portability of the WiMax technology, it has seen high adoption among enterprises in the region. It can be quickly deployed to remote locations. In terms of costs it cuts down investments on the network, when compared to GSM and 3G, enhancing speeds and operability at greater distances.

The commercial offering of Etisalat’s LTE service began in December 2011 with the launch of LTE USB modems that enabled customers to access LTE (4G) super-speeds of up to 150Mbps. To date, Etisalat has integrated hundreds of base stations with complete mobility to the 3G network, covering 80 per cent of the populated area of UAE. In 2012, Etisalat successfully tested the world’s highest 4G LTE speeds of 300 Mbps.

Do you see customer resistance to bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?

Currently Etisalat doesn’t have bandwidth caps on fixed services and at the same time have a fair-usage policy to ensure high quality of service to all customers.

What are the biggest challenges you expect to be facing over the next 12 months?

With the upcoming Bitstream project, we expect the competition to increase leading us to bring to market solutions satisfying the needs and requirements of customers.

Maen Haddad, Director/Product Marketing, Etisalat is speaking in the Customer Experience Improvement Strategy stream at the Broadband MEA conference, taking place on the 19th-20th March 2013 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE, Dubai, UAE.


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Alaska gets Carrier Ethernet 2.0

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Africa Business

Alaska Communications’ CE 2.0 certified services will benefit business, government and consumer markets

Los Angeles: The arrival of Carrier Ethernet (CE 2.0) services, announced today, brings Alaska in step with the best-connected business communities in America, according to Nan Chen, MEF President. He congratulated Alaska Communications for being Alaska’s first provider to achieve the new CE 2.0 certification for both their carrier grade E-Line and E-LAN Ethernet services, now extensively available across the state. 

“This certification puts Alaska Communications among the pioneers of new Ethernet services and it’s a testament to the company’s commitment to the business market” said Nan Chen. “CE 2.0 services help address Alaska’s unique needs and infrastructure challenges, bringing the assurance that Alaska businesses will have the world-class connectivity that places them right at the heart of the US, and global, economy.”

CE 2.0 extends Carrier Ethernet with vital added features, including multiple classes of service, greater manageability and easier interconnect for eight standard service types, enabling new levels of efficiency for mobile backhaul, making it easier for a large number of access providers to join the Carrier Ethernet community and establish Carrier Ethernet as a business class cloud service carrier.

Headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska Communications (Nasdaq: ALSK) delivers wireless, mobile broadband, Internet, local, long-distance and advanced broadband solutions for businesses and consumers. The company’s coverage includes advanced broadband and voice networks and dual submarine fiber links connecting Alaska to Oregon and the contiguous United States. The company offers businesses and consumers wireless service on the largest network in the state, and began providing 4G LTE service late last year.

According to Michael Todd, Alaska Communications’ SVP, Customer Operations: “Our CE 2.0 certification provides our Alaska business customers unparalleled assurance of world-class connectivity when they’re doing business across the state, throughout the country or around the world.”

Alaska Communications’ commitment to Carrier Ethernet reflects the industry’s biggest success story of the past decade. For the first time this year, CE services share of bandwidth exceeded the sum total of all legacy telecoms services across the world, making it the dominant technology in the carrier space, according to Vertical Systems Group. Last year over 1.2 billion new Ethernet ports were shipped (400 million wired and 800 million wireless) according to IDC, and Frost & Sullivan, Vertical Systems and Infonetics predict a near $48+ billion services market by 2015.

About The MEF:
The MEF is a global industry alliance comprising more than 200 organizations including telecommunications service providers, cable MSOs, network equipment/software manufacturers, semiconductors vendors and testing organizations. The MEF’s mission is to accelerate the worldwide adoption of Carrier-class Ethernet networks and services. The MEF develops Carrier Ethernet technical specifications and implementation agreements to promote interoperability and deployment of Carrier Ethernet worldwide.
For more information about the Forum, including a complete listing of all current MEF members, please visit the MEF web site at

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MTN Uganda Doubles internet speeds to 42 Mbps- Another innovative First in Uganda

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

Kampala, Uganda

About MTN Uganda

Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda is the leading telecommunications firm in country with more than 7.7 million customers as of 31 December 2012.

Visit us at;; and

About the MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 31 December 2012, MTN recorded almost 190 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at and

MTN Uganda has upgraded its internet speeds to 42Mbps from 21.6Mbps, making it the first company in Uganda and one of the very first in Africa to launch this innovation. This announcement was made on Wednesday 13th March 2013 as the company also announced its successful annual results for the period ending December 2012.

42Mbps is the fastest speed achievable on a 3G+ network, giving MTN customers twice the speed and power to browse the internet.


“This is double the speed that any other mobile operator in Uganda provides and it is the reason we will be considered the data provider of choice in 2013 and beyond,” said Ernst Fonternel, Chief Marketing Officer MTN Uganda.

Fonternel explained that 42Mbps means MTN customers can now do more in less time, allowing them to download movies in less time, send high volume files in an instant, use video chat applications without breaks and stream videos without buffering.

“These benefits translate into an improvement in e-commerce, e-governance, e-learning and on line collaboration,” said Fonternel.

Over the last two years, MTN has made major investments to its data infrastructure in Uganda. MTN Uganda launched the first mobile money service in Uganda with tremendous success, introduced 3G+, expanded the mobile distribution foot print, and greatly enhanced the mobile core, radio capacity and infrastructure technology.


Furthermore, it extended the fibre network backbone and built five regional switching centres in the East, West, North and Central regions. MTN also built a fibre optic line through Katuna into Rwanda, providing an alternative data capacity route into Uganda.


“MTN’s vision is to lead the delivery of a bold, new Digital World to our customers. MTN Uganda is embracing this vision through constant enhancements to our Data Network to deliver World-class Internet and make their lives a whole lot brighter.” said Fonternel.

MTN continues to invest in the latest technologies to provide World-class Internet, everywhere you go. MTN reconfirmed their plans to launch its 4G LTE Network in the coming months.




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Airtel rolls out mobile HD voice service in Africa

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

Bharti Airtel Limited ( is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the company ranks amongst the top 4 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers. In India, the company’s product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services, mobile commerce, fixed line services, high speed DSL broadband, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national & international long distance services to carriers. In the rest of the geographies, it offers 2G, 3G wireless services and mobile commerce. Bharti Airtel had over 262 million customers across its operations at the end of January 2013.


Mobile HD voice offers crystal clear audio quality and will enhance user experience on Airtel mobile networks

NAIROBI, Kenya, March, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/

•    High quality voice services to be available to consumers in Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi and Nigeria

•    Will complement the company’s state-of-the-art high speed data networks and take user experience to the next level

Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), a leading telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, has announced the launch of the mobile HD voice service for its subscribers in Africa. The development comes as the first step in Airtel’s ambition to make mobile HD voice accessible in all its operations across the continent.

HD voice is the most significant improvement in voice communications in the past two decades. Mobile HD voice offers crystal clear audio quality and will enhance user experience on Airtel mobile networks. “Surveys confirm that customers place a high value on HD Voice”, explains Andre Beyers, the Chief Marketing Officer, Airtel Africa. “The new service will enrich end-user experience for Airtel subscribers”.

Mobile HD Voice enables high-quality voice calls because it reduces background noise often heard on a regular call. Airtel customers on 3G networks will experience a significant improvement in their voice communications as the new service will enable them to hear better in noisy environments.

To enjoy the maximum benefits of this new technology, both the calling and the called party need an HD-Voice compatible mobile phone. However, improvements in call quality are also perceived when using an HD voice-enabled phone to call a non-HD Voice phone.

Mobile HD Voice based on AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate) Wideband technology (W-AMR) operates with nine different bit rates, providing high-quality voice calls. Compared to the current narrowband speech codec, the W-AMR speech-compression algorithm doubles voice bandwidth and produces better results.

After years of trials, HD Voice services were launched in 2009 and they are now available in 35 countries around the world. According to the results of a recent survey, 96% of customers are satisfied with HD Voice calls, hence the rapid pace of commercialization of the services across the globe.

Airtel becomes the third operator to launch a mobile HD voice service in Africa. The telecommunications company aims to make HD voice a reality on the continent. Further launches will be scheduled in 2013.



Bharti Airtel Limited

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Technology for Technicians: 2013 Trends

Posted on 21 February 2013 by Africa Business


By Dale Kyle, President, Handheld US

Dale Kyle is President of Handheld US. The Handheld Group is a worldwide supplier of rugged mobile computers, PDAs and smartphones. Mr. Kyle has more than 20 years of experience from rugged handheld devices and the field of GPS.


It is a great time to be a technician using technology. Work done in the field is getting easier, more efficient and more accurate as the tools we use get smaller, faster and more precise. And we can perform new functions in ways we might not have imagined five years ago. Asset tracking, inventory and cloud computing are three of the strongest application trends in 2013.


When it comes to technology, predicting very far into the future is a dicey proposition. But in the short term, it is possible to look into 2013 and see what is coming – and it is exciting stuff. Here is what I think will be some of the leading technological developments in the coming year.

The next level of applying technology

While there are holdouts in the working world still using pen and paper to work in the field, more and more organizations are already using mobile technology – and many of them are in their second or even third phase of deploying advanced levels. Initially they focused on the obvious gains technology provides – like field techs not having to do data-entry back in the office at the end of a shift – but now that they are comfortable with the tools and the technology, they are looking around for what else they can accomplish with it.


I think the biggest opportunity is the multi-functional capability of newer mobile devices. People started with simple handheld computers that let them jot notes or enter basic data; that is like learning to use a screwdriver. But now a single device offers an entire toolbox full of capability.


In 2013 users will explore what more they can do with that toolbox. Today you can easily find a handheld device that offers WiFi, GPS, barcode scanning, RFID and a really good camera. When people understand those functions and take some time thinking about how they can be used for their tasks, the horizon is going to get very wide.


Here are some examples that many leading companies have deployed and others will add soon:


  • Asset tracking – Techs take pictures of the condition of any asset, write up a maintenance or repair report and transmit the photos and report back to the main office instantly, using WiFi. Or a field tech can use RFID or a barcode scanner to identify the asset and then send an associated report.


  • Inventory – Real-time tracking is a huge advantage; when someone in the field consumes a part or other asset, a real-time report and inventory update can go back to the central office, which can react automatically by ordering a replacement.


  • GPS – Advanced GPS functionality can be used for exact location information of workers or equipment, or for efficiency improvements such as route optimization.


  • Wireless networks – Most devices are already solid in offering 3G-level wireless speed and access; when 4G modems come out, they will quickly be integrated into the mobile form factors. That will allow for faster transmission of bigger files in both directions. 4G is coming, and the leading products will have it.


Other developments to watch – Cloud computing (software as a service) lets users deploy new functions quickly and at a low initial cost, because there is no upfront expense of buying software. Machine-to-machine communication, where remote sensors on field assets can communicate with a field tech’s handheld device, will let a tech know what to expect in advance, offering all sorts of efficiency improvements. And for retail operations and other functions that involve payment processes, several mobile payment companies are making it easier to take credit card payments on the fly.


These are just a few of the advanced capabilities that are available now and will be adopted more in the year ahead.

Smartphones are the new computers


Another interesting development is that more people are doing their jobs with their cellphones. There is a generation of workers coming up that thinks nothing of running their lives on a little phone; their logic is, why not use it for their jobs, too? I see more and more demand for devices like small rugged handheld  devices or rugged smartphones. So besides seeing a move toward the larger tablet form, we may also see a surge at the opposite end – to devices even smaller than traditional handheld computers.


In the world of wireless, the capabilities that 4G networks make possible are going to change the way field techs work. The speed will let you do everything wireless faster, and the quantity of information you can send will be so much larger. Things that would have taken too long to send before – database files, schematic, maps, photos – now will not slow you down.

You can even extend this scenario to streaming video and other rich media – there is a wide variety of ways you can communicate to troubleshoot or solve a problem no matter how far it is between the problem and the answer.


The role of collaboration in workflow


Applications called enterprise-collaboration tools – essentially, social media within an organization – offer the ability to connect employees across all levels of an organization. These tools will be used much more widely in 2013. Field technicians could discuss problems with colleagues not only with words but also with photos, internet links, videos, chat functions etc.


In essence, these types of collaborative tools will capture the collective knowledge of every single person in your organization and make it available to everyone, virtually anytime. And their capabilities can extend beyond inter-organization communication. Smart outfits will find ways to use these applications to engage directly with customers – how do you think customers would react to real-time updates on appointment times?


Bringing it all together


One of the biggest challenges of all these new technological functions and capabilities will be to get all the pieces to work together effectively. What you will need is a combination of devices, networks, application and overall integration. The burden here will fall on your organization’s IT department to connect it all effectively.


From my point of view, the key here will be to choose your technology products wisely, keeping in mind this need to integrate everything effectively. With the complexity of today’s technology configurations, the cost of deployment and downtime is so high if something breaks down on you – that makes it all the more important that your upfront planning and product choices be forward-thinking. You want devices and applications that are rugged and reliable; buy good tough products the first time.


It is impossible to see too far into the future of technology. But I hope that I have been able to at least give you a glimpse of what to expect in 2013. Happy field work!



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Fibre Cells business making its mark in the field

Posted on 23 January 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Here’s South Africa’s version of technological innovation.

Gary Williams Head of Pre-Sales Engineering explains, “Even though, the most significant challenge for Mobile Operators in South Africa is the need to formalize the national broadband policy to free up the much-needed spectrum 800MHz and 2.6GHz ranges for LTE/4G. Cellular Operators are needing to bolster their networks capacity and better use of existing spectrum resources. Whether it be 3G or 4G due to the amount of Cellular devise needing bandwidth to connect to a network.
Cell towers are becoming grossly over contended all sharing the same available bandwidth.

Furthermore, “To do this, Cellular operators are looking to deploy lots and lots of small cells (picocells and microcells) in key locations within high traffic built up areas. These small cells work similar to the Wi-Fi routers that we use in our homes, however, these operate within the 3G/4G LTE licenced spectrum with current reach distances covering between 10-to-200 meters.  The biggest challenges in deploying small cells for the cellular operator… is figuring out how to cost-effectively backhaul the LTE traffic from numerous small cell sites over fibre? Even though, you can backhaul between Small Cells over Radio… with Fibre, the bandwidth is much greater!!”

Being that Metrofibre saturates high traffic (built-up) business areas with Access Fibre, meaning that we place a break-out point between every business premise we pass on the street/route with MEF compliant Carrier Ethernet service connections.”

The Metrofibre network is ideally situated to service this small cell backhaul Mobile requirement cost effectively.  Also, the Metrofibre’s Access fibre network has more than 22 Service provider partners already sharing it!

On when and why the business came into being, Williams had this to say, “We started the business back in April 2010, realizing the need in South Africa to connect South Africa’s business’s to a world class highly-managed Carrier Ethernet “Open Access Fibre network. To do this we needed to join the MEF (that we did, before we even had fibre in the ground) and built our Open Access Carrier Ethernet network services based on the MEF global standards and compliances. It’s very important to build a network base on standards…if you  don’t it’s very difficult to integrate with others!! We now integrate and have over 22 Service Provider Partners all using our Carrier Compliant Access fibre network!

While Malcolm Kirby, CEO added,  “With regards to MFN, we have been working very closely with our Service Provider partners to ensure that we roll out our Fibre Access Infrastructure into their areas of demand.  To date we have completely saturated four commercial areas with access networks and have established a comprehensive presence in an additional fourteen commercial areas.  As we grow, with demand from our partners our infrastructure will continue growing in these targeted areas.  Currently it is all about Gauteng, however we have just concluded trials, with BBI, on 1Gbps long-haul links between Jo’burg, Durban and Cape Town.  This service is planned to go live and will be on offer to our partners early in the new year.


Malcolm Kirby 2 CEO MFN

On the way forward Kirby shared, “Durban and Cape Town are becoming areas of priority and our partners are requesting that we open up these areas as soon as possible. Our planning team is assessing the viability of certain areas in these regions and we expect to start deploying fibre by the 2nd quarter of 2013.  in Gauteng, as our footprint grows in partnership with our partners, we will also start preparing for the Small Cell Backhaul solutions which we expect to start taking off, especially in the commercial areas where we have an established presence.  We also see a growing demand for Fibre Channel connections, so these services will also come on line early in 2013.

Their two biggest challenges is speed of deployment and customer education.

“With regards to deployment, we have regulatory issues that are not standardised so each area or region has its own specific approval requirements which tends to delay the process.  from a customer point of view, customers are not sure what to expect from the “new” access technology and are sometimes hesitant to move from their current service, albeit inferior.  We are however targeting our marketing effort to the end user, as well as to our partners the Service Providers and in many areas have seen a surge in take up, especially with the larger bandwidth users.

On the success stories and achievements to date Williams added, “Within only 2 years… our Gauteng MFN Carrier Ethernet Access network covers more than 1200 potential business premises, with over 22 Service provider partners already sharing it! We have also successfully tested a MEF complaint Carrier Ethernet Core Network between Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg with one of our partners.

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