Friday Network News: February 3

Capacity brings you the latest network news. If you have network developments you’d like us to share, please email or tweet us @capacitymag.

Virgin Mobile is planning to launch MVNO services in Argentina this year, according to local sources. The British company, owned by Sir Richard Branson, is awaiting authorisation from the country’s communications ministry, Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom), to begin providing services. The company is also looking to sign an MVNO agreement which would allow it to operate over the infrastructure of Argentina’s three operators, Movistar, Personal and Claro.

Vimpelcom has had its proposed merger of seven of its Russian regional subsidiaries approved following a shareholder meeting on January 31 2012. The plans had previously been approved by regulator, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in November but needed approval from the company’s boardroom before they could go ahead. The companies to be merged are listed as Altaigrif, Agentstvo Delovoy Svyazi, Informtechnology , Belgorodskiye Tsifroviye Magistrali, SeverransCom, PolarCom and Eltel.

Local sources report that América Móvil’s Brazilian arm, Embratel Participacoes, will buy Brazilian broadcaster Globo Comunicacao e Participacoes’ shares in cable-co, Net Serviços de Comunicação, securing control of the company. Permission for the deal was granted by Brazilian regulator Anatel, following a change in the country’s law. Before the change, AM held 92% of Net’s equity but only wielded 49% of voting rights in the company. For the article click here.

Mexican operator Alestra has announced network enhancement and expansion plans to meet increasing demand for converged services. A total investment of $92 million is planned for 2012 with more than half to be spent on infrastructure projects. Work on the upgrades will begin in April and continue to the end of the year. The company’s network will be extended to reach 17,000km across the country covering 50 cities.

Globe Telecom has announced a five-year network modernisation plan, following a $90 million loan facility from China Banking Corp. The company’s plan will cost an estimated $790 million in total, $640 million of which will be spent during 2012 and 2013. Globe claims that the upgrade will boost voice and data capacity in anticipation of the growing demand for broadband and mobile data use. The company said in a statement that it “looks at its broadband and data business as key focus areas that will sustain its growth momentum for the year”. For the article click here.

Thai telco AIS has launched two LTE trial networks in central Bangkok and Maha Sarakham province. The Bangkok network is a 2.3GHz TD-LTE network with 20 base stations and will run in its first test phase until May this year. The network is billed as a broadband wireless access initiative. The Maha Sarakham network, in the North East of the country, is a 1800MHz FD-LTE network with eight base stations. The network uses GSM 1800 spectrum owned by state telco CAT Telecom, which is under concession to DPC, an AIS subsidiary. The Maha Sarakham network test phase will run until March 2012.

Ericsson has been selected to upgrade the mobile backhaul networks of KPN International’s subsidiaries, E-Plus Group in Germany and KPN Group Belgium, over the next three years. The upgrade work is being undertaken to ensure that KPN’s mobile networks are as efficient as possible and can meet growing demand from mobile users. Work relating to the contract has already begun. Ericsson will install more than 15,000 MINI-LINK transmission node links in the countries before the end of 2013 and will also change the TDM backhaul networks of both operators to packet-based mobile backhaul networks. For the article click here.

US Cellular is planning to go live with its 4G LTE network in six US states, by March 2012. The company’s rollout will begin in Iowa, Wisonsin, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma with download speeds up to ten times faster than 3G. Approximately 25% of the carrier’s 5.9 million customers will be covered by the LTE network at launch.

Telstra is to expand its Western Australian mobile phone coverage after winning a contract with the local authority to build the Regional Mobile Communication Project (RMCP). The Western Australian state government has invested $39.2 million through the Royalties for Regions programme with Telstra to deliver a total return of $106 million in value to Western Australia. Construction of mobile sites has already begun, with 113 sites expected to be built over the next three years, increasing coverage in regional and rural areas of the state. For the article click here.

Swisscom and utility company Aziende Municipalizzate di Bellinzona (AMB) have agreed to collaborate on the construction of a fibre-optic network to serve homes and businesses in the Swiss city of Bellinzona. Swisscom will be creating 10,000 connections in Bellinzona, while AMB will be expanding the network in bordering communities. The agreement with AMB is the 12th cooperation agreement Swisscom has signed in the country with utility companies.

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