Etisalat has launched Apple’s iPhone 3G in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The company will offer the device with various service packages for both the 8Gb model and 16Gb model. According to the company, iPhone 3G combines all the features of iPhone plus 3G networking that is twice as fast, built-in GPS for expanded location-based mobile services, and iPhone 2.2 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs various third party applications available through the Apple App Store. Etisalat will also sell iPhone 3G through its direct business sales teams. Etisalat’s 3G mobile broadband network will offer 3G mobile phones download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and upload speed of 1.9Mbps. Essa Al Haddad, chief marketing officer at Etisalat, said: “iPhone is a perfect blend of advanced functionality and high performance and we are delighted to be one of the first operators in the region to offer this to our customers on the nation’s most advanced high speed network. iPhone 3G is an amazing mobile device and we are sure that our customers are going to enjoy using iPhone 3G to make calls, send emails and surf the web even faster.”
Lebanese investors have launched a new mobile phone network in south Sudan, with the infrastructure to reach 1 million subscribers in the region’s increasingly crowded telecoms market, officials said on Monday. Vivacell is the second active network operating solely in south Sudan, where it will also compete with three nationwide mobile operators.
Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group launched the operation after buying NOW (Network of the World) in 2007, Vivacell officials said. NOW is a south Sudanese company that secured a GSM licence for the region but never launched a working network. The 2007 purchase was not widely publicised at the time. “This is the NOW licence. Vivacell is a commercial name,” said south Sudanese Telecommunications Ministry Undersecretary Stephen Juma. South Sudan was given two mobile phone licences under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war with northern Sudan. One went to NOW, the other to local firm Gemtel. The peace accord also allowed for four nationwide mobile operators and three of them — Kuwait’s Zain, South Africa’s MTN, and Sudan’s own Sudani — have already set up operations in the south.There was a lack of clarity about the ownership of NOW before the 2007 purchase.
South Sudan telecoms ministry officials have in the past said the government had a stake and also stated that NOW was entirely owned by private investors. Gabriel Alaak Garang, finance secretary for the south’s dominant party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said the SPLM had a controlling stake in a company called Wawat Securities Limited, that itself owned a share in the new Vivacell operation. “Fattouch owns 75 percent (of Vivacell) and Wawat 25 percent,” south Sudanese Telecoms Minister Gier Chuang said. Vivacell’s Commercial Director, Khalil Kassab, said he could not give details of the size of the company’s investment or the number of subscribers. Other company officials said its existing infrastructure could reach 1 million subscribers and the company had plans to expand further in the south.South Sudan’s population is not known because of a lack of accurate census data. U.N. estimates have put it at around 10 million.
Aircel, one of the fast growing Pan India telecom operator in the country, on Monday launched its GSM mobile services in Bangalore, With a subscriber base over 16 million, Aircel, the fifth largest service provider, rolled out its 12th circle with Bangalore. Mr Gurdeep Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Aircel said, ‘we will be introducing products and services uniquely tailored to meet the special needs of our Bangalore consumers. To reward high usage in a simple manner there is an inbuilt reduction in tariff on all local calls after the first minute to 50p for all subsequent minutes’. The Bangalore launch augments the next phase of our Pan India rollout. Aircel will be launching a rich bouquet of VAS services with localised content including a WAP portal page in the local language that would work on any GPRS handset, he said. Bangalore, having a strong business corridor with Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Aircel has introduced segment wise tailored offers for its customers. It enables subscribers in Bangalore to make STD calls to Kerala and Tamil Nadu Aircel to Aircel at only Rs 1 per minute. Also in view of the high ILD traffic to the Gulf and US/Canada from Karnataka, to facilitate usage, Aircel has an attractive inbuilt ISD tariff of call to Gulf at Rs 5.99 per minute and calls to US/Canada at 3.99 per minute, Mr Singh said in a release.
ZTE Corporation, a China-based provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has won a commercial contract to roll out all of Outremer Telecom’s new GSM/UMTS networks in the company’s overseas territories in the French regions of the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. Outremer Telecom (OMT) operates in five overseas territories in the French regions of the Caribbean (Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana) and the Indian Ocean (Reunion, Mayotte), supplying services, which include; data and messaging services for residential or business mobile subscribers. Following ZTE’s implementation of OMT’s mobile network in Martinique in 2008, ZTE will roll-out new 3G networks in Guyana and Guadeloupe, while also replace the existing 2G infrastructures for the French operator. This will enable OMT to extend its 2G and 3G networks in use in Mayotte since 2006 and in Reunion since 2007. In accordance with the general conditions of the contract, ZTE is supplying a range of equipment, including: R4 network core equipment, 2G/3G radio stations, prepayment and SMS platforms and centralized multi-equipment supervision. Jean Hegesippe, chairman and managing director of Outremer Telecom Group, said: “The launch of our third generation services forms part of the implementation of our broadband strategy in our overseas territories. We chose to partner with ZTE once again for this project, after rolling out networks in Reunion with the company. The professionalism of the teams and the quality of service offered to us, played a major part in our decision to work with ZTE.”
Vodafone Group Plc, the world’s largest mobile-phone company, plans to cut hundreds of jobs in the U.K. to reduce costs and protect earnings amid the economic slowdown, two people with direct knowledge of the plan said. The company aims to announce the measures tomorrow, said the people, who declined to be identified because the plans are confidential. The jobs will be eliminated at Vodafone’s U.K. operations, the people said, declining to give a precise number. Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao, the 47- year-old former McKinsey & Co. partner who took over in July, is pushing managers to eke out more profit from existing operations. Earlier this month, he agreed to merge an Australian unit with Hutchison Telecommunications Ltd.’s operation in that country, where growth prospects are slim. “Companies, even if their business models are broadly speaking robust, are taking the opportunity to trim their cost basis,” Jeremy Batstone-Carr, an equity strategist at Charles Stanley & Co., said in an interview today when asked why Vodafone is cutting costs. “It’s good business practice to make sure that your cost base is appropriate for operating conditions.” Vodafone shares were little changed at 126.2 pence in London trading. The shares have declined 22 percent in the past year, cutting the company’s market value to 66.2 billion pounds.
On Feb. 3, Colao said Vodafone was making progress on its plan to reduce costs by 1 billion pounds ($1.45 billion) by March 2011 to protect earnings. The measures will have “some impact on headcount,” he said at the time, declining to say how many jobs may be affected. The cuts would include “network rationalization” and lower spending in areas such as logistics and advertising, he said. The company may say tomorrow that besides the job cuts, it will also hire new people to bolster online and new media units, said the people familiar with the plans. The measures will lead to an overall net loss of “hundreds of jobs” in the U.K. Simon Gordon, a Vodafone spokesman, declined to comment. Vodafone on Nov. 11 cut its full-year sales forecast for the second time in four months, while keeping its profit forecast, raising the full-year free cash flow prediction and increasing the dividend payment. “Telecommunication companies represent a nice place to be in these market conditions, largely because of the reliability of the dividend payouts,” Charles Stanley’s Batstone-Carr said. Vodafone’s U.K. unit had a margin on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 23.2 percent in the six months ended Sept. 30. In Germany, Vodafone’s biggest market, the margin was 44 percent and in Italy 44.9 percent.
Indian mobile operator BSNL has unveiled pricing for its new 3G mobile services, initially available in Chennai. The state-owned operator and its sister company MTNL have been granted spectrum to test 3G services in major cities, prior to the auction of 3G spectrum for private mobile operators. The 3G service currently offers download speeds of 144 Kbps, which the operator hopes to soon ugrade to 2 Mbps, MD Kuldeep Goyal said at a press conference for the launch. In addition to services such as video calls and multimedia services, the operator also plans to use the 3G network for mobile banking.
BSNL’s 3G voice prepaid plans include the Super 1350, the Super 650 and the Super 350. The local on-net call charges for these plans range from INR 0.30 to INR 0.40 per minute, while the local off-net call charges range from INR 0.60 to INR 0.70 per minute. The STD on-net and off-net call tariff is INR 1 per minute for all the voice prepaid plans. The data usage charges range from INR 2 to INR 3 per MB. The 3G voice postpaid plan includes the Unlimited 2500, the Full value 1000, the Full value 800 and the Full value 500. The local on-net call charges for these plans range from INR 0 to INR 0.30 per minute, while the local off-net call charges range from INR 0.30 to INR 0.60 per minute. The STD on-net call tariff is between INR 0 to INR 1 per minute and off-net call tariff is between INR 0.50 to INR 1 per minute. The data usage charges range from INR 2 to INR 3 per MB for the postpaid voice plans. The 3G data plans for prepaid users include the MBV 250, the MBV 400, the MBV 650, the MBV 1000 and the MBV 3001. The data charges for these plans are INR 2 per MB. The 3G data plans for postpaid users include the MB 250, the MB 400, the MB 650, the MB 1000 and the MB 3000. The data charges beyond the free limit for these plans are INR 2 per MB.
Mobile push synchronisation platform and service provider Visto has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Good Technology from Motorola. Via this acquisition, Visto plans to deliver a full range of secure, mobile messaging services for corporate customers through mobile operators and OEM handset manufacturers. Good Technology currently offers wireless messaging, mobile VPN data access, device management and handheld security for enterprise customers worldwide. The transaction is scheduled for completion by end-February. No financial details of the transaction were released.