Friday Network News: June 8

08 June 2012 |

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

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and mobile service provider FRiENDI Group have announced a strategic partnership to merge their regional assets in the Middle East and Africa. Virgin is the majority shareholder in Virgin Mobile South Africa, while FRiENDI Group is the largest MVNO in the Middle East. The combined entity will be called Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa, and will develop and operate businesses across the region. The new group also plans to launch in more markets across the Middle East and Africa, and aims to have five million subscribers across both brands by 2015.

Verizon has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire Hughes Telematics, a specialist in M2M communications technologies, for $612 million. The transaction will enhance Verizon’s enterprise offering with capabilities in the automotive industry and other emerging M2M services. Verizon plans to retain the existing management team of the company and operate the new unit as a subsidiary within Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Its headquarters will remain in Atlanta. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012.

Batelco has signed a multi-million agreement with Gulf Bridge International (GBI) to connect Bahrain with the Gulf and Europe. As part of an agreement signed between the two companies Batelco will be the landing party for the new cable system. Batelco Bahrain CEO, Rashid Abdulla, said that Batelco was entering into deal to provide Bahrain with better connectivity to the rest of the world and to ensure that sufficient capacity is available to cater to the future growth in data connectivity.

African mobile operator Smile Telecom, has launched a 4G LTE network in Tanzania, in partnership with Alcatel-Lucent. The network, which is claimed to be Africa’s first to provide LTE services in the 800MHz frequency, was launched in several districts of Dar es Salaam, including Mikocheni, Massani Peninsula, Oysterbay and Sinza. Access to the service is being provided via broadband routers which have been installed in homes, offices and public places.

US mobile operator Clearwire has announced a wholesale agreement with prepaid wireless provider Jolt Mobile, to provide customers with mobile broadband services using Clearwire’s 4G network. Both companies said that they expected to pursue an agreement to offer users even faster speeds on the network in the future. Clearwire’s LTE network is still under construction after the carrier previously opted for WiMAX technology.

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has reached an agreement to double its stake in Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell to 60% at a total cost of $1.47 billion. The company will initially increase its ownership in Asiacell to 53.9% with any further increase subject to Iraqi government and regulatory approval. Qtel had expressed an interest in investment company MerchantBridge & Co’s 19% stake in Asiacell in January but it is unclear whether these talks were successful or form part of the latest stake increase. Qtel said that the transaction will be financed from existing funds.

Saudi Arabian mobile operator Zain KSA has selected Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) as its mobile broadband infrastructure and services vendor in the country’s second largest city Jeddah. Zain plans to refarm its 1800MHz GSM spectrum in the city to offer 4G services. NSN will manage the 4G network as well as the operators existing GSM and 3G networks in the city.

Cypriot telco Cablenet Communications Systems is deploying Ekinops’ Single Fibre Transport solution to increase the capacity of its optical network. The solution is claimed to allow bidirectional transport over a single fibre, optimising the company’s fibre infrastructure. Cablenet was originally a cable TV provider but moved into fixed telephony and internet access services to offer triple play packages to islanders.

Telkom South Africa has selected Huawei to migrate its national fixed network to a fibre-based broadband network. The upgrade is being conducted to enhance Telkom’s access bandwidth and enable the company to offer improved voice and data services. Huawei claims that by deploying its SingleFAN solution the network will achieve a downlink rate of up to 100Mbps per user.

Telefónica (O2) and Vodafone have announced plans to strengthen their mobile network collaboration in the UK. The companies will combine their basic network infrastructure to form one national grid of 18,500 sites. Both will continue to run independent spectrum and competing services, with separate intelligent core networks and customer data. By collaborating, Telefónica and Vodafone are expected to be able to roll out 4G services far more quickly than if they acted on their own. Vodafone also claims that it will allow both operators to achieve 2G and 3G indoor coverage of 98% up to two years before the anticipated regulatory deadline of 2017.

BICS has signed an agreement to provide roaming hubs for African telecoms company Expresso Group. The hub agreement is claimed to allow Expresso to deliver better value and service to customers than one to one roaming relationships. “We are very proud to have been selected as Expresso’s partner to provide them with the necessary global reach; and allow their subscribers to call and text their families, friends and business associates abroad,” said Daniel Kurgan, CEO of BICS.