Weekly Telecom Report: Batelco-KHC pulls out of $950 million Zain Saudi deal, Amazon Kindles a Fire in low-cost tab market

Following up with the triple-launch of LTE services in
Saudi Arabia at the end of last week by Zain Saudi, Mobiliy and STC, telecom
major Etisalat announced the launch of its LTE-FDD mobile broadband network,
bringing speeds of up to 100Mbps to the UAE. With over 700 base stations
covering 70 percent of the UAE’s urban areas, Etisalat has plans to add 1000
active LTE cell sites by the year end to other areas. Du also plans to launch
its 4G network in the second half of the year, after completing field trials
for LTE this May.




In other important news in the UAE, while Batelco
and KHC – a venture of Saudi Prince, Alwaleed bin Talal announced their plans
to drop the 25 percent stake buyout of cash-strapped Zain Saudi for $950
million, due to disagreements on final terms and conditions, Zain Iraq
announced its plans to start its IPO, listing 25 percent of its shares on the
Iraq Stock Exchange, despite its passing the deadline of August 31 to list
itself on the ISX.




Heeding the example of other countries that have been
successful in launching MNP, the UAE, also had plans to launch the same, but is
now facing technical snags relating to the UAE’s two mobile operators not being
in a position to launch the service. The deadline for rolling out MNP has now
been postponed in that region indefinitely, though the earlier deadline for the
launch was September-end.




In India, the biggest news of the week was TRAI’s
clamping down heavily on telemarketers’, by restricting outgoing SMSes to 100
per day from September 27, for all. However, the regulator has made some
exceptions to this legislation, in the form of waiving the same for national
emergencies, festivals, and for certain service providers, including dealers of
telecom operators, e-ticketing agencies and social networking sites, as well as
agencies providing directory services, such as Just dial, Zatse, Callezee,
Getit and Askme. Subscribers now have an option of totally blocking spam calls
and messages by registering for ‘fully blocked’ or ‘partially blocked’
categories, where for the latter, subscribers can opt-in for receiving certain
service calls and messages. The move follows an earlier attempt to block
unwanted calls and messages from telemarketers’ by opting for a -Do Not
Disturb’ scheme, which fell through.




In the follow-up to proceedings for the 2G
scam, the Center and the CBI now have differences of opinion on whether or not
home minister, P Chidambaram oversaw the proposal to pass the controversial 2G
licenses given out in 2008, and have not come to any firm conclusion on the



Telecom tribunal TDSAT stayed the DoT’s
decision to cancel Qualcomm’s BWA license. TDSAT also stayed the government
order to forfeiting Qualcomm’s bid amount of Rs 4,900 crore for the BWA
spectrum last year.



Huawei set up a new enterprise unit in India,
looking at increasing sales and demand from emerging nations. The company
expects the newly launched enterprise unit to add $1 billion annually to
Huawei’s kitty in India by 2015.



State-run operator, BSNL also launched its first-ever apps store in India, offering
over 4,500 free and paid apps in 25 categories to its 2G and 3G subscribers,
starting at 16 cents or Rs 8. The telco will now compete in the apps space with
private telecom operators in India.



In Africa, while 17 firms have submitted bids
for LTE network running on open access, out of which are eight international
telecom equipment vendors. Essar Telecom Kenya has partnered with Tata
Communications to provide Kenyan yuMobile subscribers to make international
calls on the Tata network. This will also enhance Tata’s voice infrastructure
in the region.



Meanwhile, Airtel Africa has partnered with
NSN to expand its 2G and 3G infrastructure in seven countries in the continent.
Under the agreement, NSN will manage end-to-end network operations for 2G and
3G networks for Airtel, using its FlexiHybrid microwave radio, which in the
future could be extended to provide LTE in the region as well.



In other big news, Nokia also underwent a
major re-structuring operation, dropping 3,500 employees in Europe and the US,
and shutting down its Romanian manufacturing plant.



The week also saw Amazon launch its Amazon
Kindle Fire tablet – a 7-inch improvement on the Kindle e-reader,
which also includes computing capabilities, as well as 3G at a first-ever price
of just $199. The tablet will pack books, magazines, TV shows, films and more
and is expected to boost Amazon’s falling sales by 32 percent to reach
approximately $64.6 billion by 2012. According to reports, Apple’s iPhone 5 is
also set to release publicly on October 4.



By Beryl M


[email protected]