MTN Nigeria, the country’s leading operator and the leading MTN operator by subscriber numbers, has taken 18 Nigerian banks to court over the alleged unauthorised transfer of ₦22.3 billion ($53.7 million) from an account owned by its recently-licensed mobile money Payment Service Bank (PSB) MoMo.
As reported by a number of local news outlets, MTN Nigeria is alleging that its partner banks have wrongly transferred billions of naira to thousands of accounts maintained by the 18 banks’ customers. Momo is seeking a court declaration that the deposits belong to MTN’s Momo PSB and not to the customers of the banks, although it appears that the sums have already been removed from the accounts of the customers involved.
Transfers from the Momo settlement account were noticed on 24 May. These reached around 700,000 transactions, with credits made into about 8,000 accounts in the 18 banks. MoMo PSB management then shut down the service and is pursuing the banks for refunds.
While MTN Nigeria does not seem to be alleging fraud, it does suggest that the transfers were an error and that refunds are required. MTN’s Momo PSB is also seeking an order from the court directing the 18 banks to account for the sums that went into their customer accounts and wants the banks to provide information about the beneficiaries of the transfers.
As we reported at the time, April saw the approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria of a licence for MTN’s Mobile Money (MoMo) Payment Service Bank in the country.
Source: Developing Telecoms
Digital innovations are transforming every aspect of life on the African continent, from healthcare to agriculture; education to transit and logistics; from finance and commerce to media and entertainment.
As Africa’s trailblazing fintech solutions have already proven, there’s limitless potential to solve intractable socio-economic problems; to leapfrog costly infrastructural development, and start providing services and products to non-consumers. All of this depends on connectivity.
Mobile Connectivity in Africa
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank more than 520 million Africans were connected to the internet by 2021, that’s 40% of all Africans, considerably less than global standards.
Across the vastness of this diverse continent, all things are also not equal. Statista reported in January this year that Morocco enjoys the highest internet penetration with 84.1% of its population connected, while at the other end of the scale just 7.1% of people in the Central African Republic can access the internet.
Only two Sub-Saharan countries feature in the top five countries – Seychelles with a 79% penetration, and South Africa with 68.2% of its population connected. What is striking, however, is that in 2021, over 60% of South Africans accessed the internet using mobile devices.
“Considering the affordability and accessibility of mobile devices, this is not surprising,” says Kegan Peffer, CEO of tech start-up, Adoozy Power, a provider of contactless power bank rental solutions in Africa.
“However, we also have to consider that mobile is leading the way due to the ever-increasing need for consumers to connect, work and transact on the go,” he adds.
“Mobile technologies have the most critical role to play in connecting the unconnected. On a continent where 77% of the population is under thirty-five years of age, the needs and preferences of the digital-native generations, who cannot be separated from their phones, will ensure the ongoing dominance of mobile internet penetration.”
Connecting the Unconnected
Connecting the unconnected is the charter of the Wireless Broadband Alliance which celebrates World Wi-Fi Day on 20 June 2022.
This worldwide initiative brings together countries and cities, government agencies, and Big Tech, as well as fixed and mobile operators and technology solutions providers to address the digital divide, increase access to affordable internet and provide a robust digital ecosystem to support connected governments, businesses, and consumers.
“World Wi-Fi Day reminds us of the transformative power of digital and the way it shapes modern work and play. Our lives are on-the-go – students sit in the public park and participate in their ‘university tutorials; we consult our telehealth practitioner en route to a business meeting; we increasingly shop online from anywhere, consume media while we are out and about, and make bookings at any time that works for us,” Peffer says.
The World Economic Forum estimates that urban populations in Africa could triple by 2050.
As the youngest region of the world, connecting the unconnected is imperative to unlock the incredible potential of the continent.
“The future is bright for Africa as government, NGOs, and private and public organisations race to close the digital divide and keep Africans connected,” concludes Peffer.
Source: IT News Africa
The European General Court essentially decided that procedural irregularities in the initial investigation by the European Commission ‘affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence’, and has moved to annul the hefty fine.
The EC slapped Qualcomm with the €997 million ticket back in 2018 for what it called ‘abuse of dominance’ on the worldwide market for LTE chips chipsets between 2011 and 2016. The investigation opened in July 2015, and in the nutshell the EC’s finding was that Qualcomm directly bribed Apple to keep using its chips in iPhones and iPads.
“Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at the time of the announcement. “Qualcomm paid billions of US dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price – they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm’s baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads.
The Commission asserted that this meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market and that its behaviour ‘denied consumers and other companies more choice and innovation – and this in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies.’
Qualcomm subsequently fought the decision, and it came out in the wash that the European Court of Justice clearly didn’t like the way EC went about its investigation, and said in an announcement of the annulled fine:
By today’s judgment, the General Court annuls, in its entirety, the Commission decision. The General Court bases its conclusions on, first, the finding of a number of procedural irregularities which affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence, and, second, an analysis of the anticompetitive effects of the incentive payments.
The Commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors in order to obtain supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015.
The court action is specific to the situation between Qualcomm and Apple, made murkier because of some overlapping legal fracas between the two of them. However it can also be seen in the context of the EU’s escalating legal action against all sorts of Silicon Valley firms, or Big Tech as they have more generally come to be known. Each case will take its own path based on the particulars involved, but no doubt the battalions of lawyers amassed on either side of these legal skirmishes will take notice of today’s decision by the General Court.
MyBroadband asked Switch Telecom and Euphoria Telecom for insight. Switch Telecom’s spokesperson said the company has seen its Hosted Switchboard solution grow substantially over the past three to four years.
“I can’t speak to the PBX industry as a whole, but we’ve definitely experienced huge growth of our Hosted Switchboard solution over the last 3 to 4 years,” they said.
They noted that Switch Telecom saw an increase in the uptake of Hosted Switchboard solutions before the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
They also said that Switch Telecom expects this growth to continue, as it offers significant benefits over older technologies.
“With the cost of doing business continually increasing, companies are constantly looking for ways to cut costs and streamline their operations,” they stated.
“We have also noticed that a lot of companies are moving from their in-house PBX solution to our Hosted Switchboard platform.”
“It’s for all these reasons we are confident that we’ll continue to see an increase in the uptake of our Hosted Switchboard Solution,” they added.
Euphoria Telecom’s chief technology officer Nic Laschinger told MyBroadband that while recent figures for South Africa are unavailable, it expects that the local market would have shown similar growth to the global markets.
“IDC data indicates the global unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) market grew 29% year on year to $13.1 bn [R203 billion] by Q4 2020,” he said.
“While recent figures for South Africa are not available, we expect that the local market for cloud-based PBX, and unified communications and collaboration services as a whole, is showing similar growth,” he added.
Switch Telecom said it deployed 20% more Hosted Switchboards in 2021 than it had in 2022 and is on track to achieve a 25% increase at the end of 2022.
They also said that Icasa introducing non-geographic number portability in March this year allowed more clients to adopt Switch Tel’s hosted platform.
The benefits of Cloud PBX
One of the most significant benefits of Cloud PBX over traditional services is lower costs compared to traditional PBX services.
“Before the advent of the Cloud PBX, companies were forced to pay exorbitant amounts for a switchboard, both for the hardware and the installation,” Switch Telecom’s spokesperson said.
Companies would often have to finance PBX equipment over several years, and Cloud PBX offers an equally — if not more — capable solution for as little as R250 a month.
“For as little as R250 a month, you can get a fully supported PBX solution with all, if not more, of the features and functions of a traditional PBX,” the spokesperson said.
Customers that adopt a Cloud PBX service need not even purchase phones for their company, as providers often offer browser-based softphone solutions.
Laschinger told MyBroadband that another significant benefit of Cloud PBX was that cloud-based VoIP PBXs are accessible anywhere you have Internet.
“Cloud-based VoIP PBXs are accessible from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection and credentials, which means businesses are not tied to their physical locations for their telephony, and their teams can work remotely, on-site or a mix of the two and always be as contactable as if they were at their desks,” he said.
Speaking at the 2022 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Ntshavheni said the ban would help South Africa shut down its 2G and 3G networks by 2025.
This is to enable a robust programme to modernise South Africa’s networks, Ntshavheni stated.
She said South Africa’s mobile network operators would fully deploy 4G and 5G networks by 2025.
The minister explained that these moves complement SA Connect, South Africa’s broadband connectivity drive.
“The goal of SA Connect is to ensure that all South Africans have access to the internet by 2024,” said Ntshavheni, adding that the programme is driven through four initiatives.
Among these is satellite communication, with Ntshavheni announcing that South Africa is ready to launch its own satellite.
“The satellite will address both media and broadband connectivity objectives and will entrench our technology and data sovereignty,” she said.
SA Connect’s other three initiatives all centre around connectivity at publicly-owned facilities.
First, South Africa has imposed social obligations on mobile network operators to connect all public schools, health facilities, public libraries, government service centres, and traditional authorities by end-June 2025.
These obligations are attached to spectrum licences that the operators bid on in the March spectrum auction, which raised close to R14.5 billion for South Africa’s national fiscus.
Second, SA Connect aims to connect all remaining government sites by end-March 2024.
“This target is critical for our programme to digitalise government,” Ntshavheni stated.
“The digitalisation programme aims to have 80% of our citizen-facing services to be online by 2025, with government planning to go paperless by end March 2023.”
Thirdly, the government aims to roll out 33,000 community Wi-Fi hotspots to provide Internet connectivity to over 5.8 million households.
“With the rapid growth of Wi-Fi in complementing and offloading mobile data traffic from fixed broadband, there is a growing need for the ITU to consider more protection of spectrum use for Wi-Fi services, including possible licensing of Wi-Fi spectrum,” Ntshavheni said.
The World Telecommunication Development Conference is held by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
“The broadband connectivity programme will be implemented through emerging and Small and Medium Enterprises such as Internet service providers, wireless access providers, and mobile virtual network operators,” said Ntshavheni.
“Our intention is to create a new technology industry. For this programme, the South African government will invest over R2.5 billion over a 36 months period.”
Switching off 2G and 3G no small task
MTN has said that it will likely switch off its 3G network before it can decommission 2G. Its 2G network remains in wide use for machine-to-machine applications.
Vodacom previously announced plans to turn off its 2G network by 2024.
However, Cell C has said the prices of 4G and 5G-compatible devices were a significant barrier to switching off older network technologies.
In 2021, Vodacom called for regulatory intervention to stop the sale of cheap 2G-only cellphones in South Africa.
These devices are sold through independent retail chains such as PEP, Ackermans, and Mr Price.
This week, Mr Price announced that its telecoms segment revenue exceeded a billion rand for the first time — growing 34% year-on-year to R1.2 billion.
Government’s crackdown on 2G devices in South Africa could significantly impact the performance of these successful independent cellular retailers.
Under the agreement, IHS Towers is also providing power management services to MTN SA on approximately 13,000 sites, including the acquisition portfolio.
Cash consideration for the Transaction is R6.4 billion, IHS stated. This excludes lease liabilities estimated to be R4.6 billion.
The acquired assets, and the power management services agreement are expected to deliver revenue and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $192 million (R3 billion) and $85 million (R1.3 billion), respectively, in the first full year of operations.
This revenue includes power pass-through on acquired sites that will take time to materialise, IHS stated.
“Note that revenue has been adjusted down when compared to our initial announcement last November as we will only be providing power pass-through on the towers being acquired, and not on those owned by third parties,” the company said.
The transaction has received the necessary regulatory approval from the South African Competition Commission.
IHS Towers will own 70% of the South African Towers business with the remaining 30% to be owned by a B-BBEE consortium.
With this acquisition, IHS said it now has an operational footprint in eleven emerging markets with seven in Africa, in addition to four in Latin America and the Middle East, with a global tower count of nearly 39,000 towers.
South African mobile contract subscribers can cancel their agreement with the operator if they are dissatisfied with the service, device, or customer service.
However, you should consider the fees associated with cancelling, as they can be pretty steep.
Telkom determines its contract cancellation charges at the point of cancellation based on several factors, including:
The remaining duration of the contract;
The monthly subscription fee; and
An applicable cancellation admin fee and any outstanding balances.
“The cancellation fee value is predominantly made up of the remaining device fees, and this depends on the remaining time on the contract and original device,” Telkom told MyBroadband.
“Telkom has to charge device fees as we have already incurred the costs and therefore have to recoup our investment.”
A Telkom customer service agent confirmed that customers would pay a cancellation admin fee of R809 and the remaining value of the contract.
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) stipulates that mobile operators should be given 20 days’ notice for the cancellation of a contract.
However, Telkom customers are contractually obligated to give the mobile operator 30 days’ notice, regardless of whether it extends beyond the agreed contract period.
The CPA also outlines several amounts to consider when calculating a “reasonable” fee for cancelling a contract, including:
Any amounts still outstanding, up to the date when cancelling the agreement.
The value of transactions up to the cancellation date.
The cost of the goods that the customer keeps.
The value of the products returned to the supplier.
The agreed duration of the contract.
Losses suffered or benefits enjoyed by the customer as a result of entering into the contract.
The length of notice of cancellation you provide.
General industry practice — in telecoms, this will include all amounts owed for airtime, SMS, and data bundles that have already been used.
Telkom does not allow for devices to be returned. The termination of the contract aligns with the 30-day notice period, it said.
“The final bill will take an additional 30 days to accommodate for any out-of-bundle usage which may occur during the notice period which cannot be accounted for in advance when the termination fees are calculated,” Telkom previously told MyBroadband.
“Where a third-party ISP is involved in the provisioning of services, there may be additional delays due to the associated processes beyond the control of Telkom.”
As an example of Telkom’s cancellation costs, we calculated what you would pay to cancel a 36- and 24-month iPhone 13 contract on a FreeMe 1.5GB plan at different intervals.
The results are summarised in the table below. The percentage of the total value of the contract is included in brackets.
Early contract cancellation comparison for Telkom: iPhone 13 FreeMe 1.5GB
Contract duration 36 months 24 months
Total value of contract R20,844 R19,176
Cancellation fee: 3 months in R19,916 (96%) R17,588 (92%)
Cancellation fee: 6 months in R18,179 (87%) R14,382 (75%)
Cancellation fee: 9 months in R16,442 (79%) R12,794 (67%)
Cancellation fee: 12 months in R14,705 (71%) R10,397 (54%)
Cancellation fee: 18 months in R11,231 (54%) R5,603 (29%)
Kenyan mobile market leader Safaricom has been allocated spectrum in the 2600MHz band from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), reports The Daily Nation. The operator has been allocated 60MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band, which was previously used by security agencies but has been freed up following a change in the technology that they use, an unnamed senior source was quoted as saying. The source did not disclose how much Safaricom paid for the spectrum, which is expected to be used for its 5G network rollout. The CA is also currently preparing to reallocate spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which was previously assigned for fixed wireless access (FWA) networks in Kenya but will be refarmed for 5G by 30 June 2022.
Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Safaricom, Mobile, 5G
A committee in question is called the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which is set up to scrutinise the work of the government and is not to be confused with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, though it helpfully has almost the same acronym and concerns itself with similar things.
The DCMSC published a letter from its chair Julian Knight to Elon Musk on Twitter, headed ‘invitation to speak to UK MPs following the Twitter acquisition.’
The invite references various UK specific reports and legislation regarding social media and suggests that following his successful bid to buy Twitter, speaking before the committee would give Musk a chance to ‘address any critiques in public.’
The Tesla and Space X founder had his offer to buy Twitter outright for $44 million initially met with resistance from the board. Within a few days however the offer was accepted, though it’s not locked in yet.
It’s a bit silly to suggest that Musk, who can barely seem to help himself from airing his thoughts to his 90 million followers on Twitter, would need a UK parliamentary committee – which a lot of people in this country won’t be familiar with – as a platform to publicly address his critics.
This mismatching of posturing with reality is starting to define the UK government’s stance towards multinational technology companies, the most significant of which are all based in other countries. Why stop at Musk? There are plenty of mergers and acquisitions that go on in tech, many of which could be argued to have societal effects of some sort. Will this UK committee be summoning any more Silicon Valley execs to its offices to explain what it is they think they’re up to?
There’s just something in the way the DCMS in particular carries itself in open discourse that tries to suggest it has much more power than it really does. You can see this in the announcement yesterday, in which it openly pondered whether it will enforce a new code of practice on app stores, such as those from Apple and Google, which would mean millions of apps would need to abide by new rules presumably defined by some UK MPs.
The EU and the US are both engaged in some aggressive legal manoeuvres towards big tech at the moment, but they have the weight of 27 member nations and the world’s largest economy behind them respectively. They have heft in other words that the UK acting alone objectively does not command – you don’t have to be riddled with post-Brexit malaise to identify this. But the UK politicians interfacing with the tech industry carry on sometimes as if they do not see this distinction.
It might be that they have specific concerns, such as how any changes to Twitter would effect the Online Safety Bill, for example. It could also be seen as fairly shallow grandstanding from a parliament who wouldn’t mind projecting the image that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the EU and US when it comes to facing down big tech – it was after all done entirely publicly. Who knows if they genuinely expect Musk to turn up.
That being said, the UK is of course a major economy and if Musk does indeed see Twitter as the modern town square, fundamental to society and capable of altering things significantly for better or worse, it wouldn’t do his case any harm to lay out exactly what it is he intends to change, and how it will make everything better. For example, there are rumblings from Twitter’s open-source offshoot Bluesky with regards to decentralized social network protocols, which if adopted could change the nature of Twitter by making its algorithms more open sourced.
Whether he chooses to go through all this directly with an MP called Julian Knight in a London meeting room, is another question
Airtel Tanzania has so far upgraded over 80% of its mobile sites to LTE-A technology, after launching the new high speed ‘Supa 4G’ network in February last year, reports IPP Media. The network, which utilises spectrum in the 700MHz and 2100MHz bands, support speeds of more than 40Mbps and is being rolled out nationwide. ‘We have also significantly increased our coverage by increasing the number of sites in rural areas as our commitment to provide affordable mobile services to all Tanzanians,’ commented the firm’s Managing Director Dinesh Balsingh. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel is the country’s second largest mobile operator with 14.70 million subscriptions at the end of 2021, representing a market share of 27.2%.