A roundup of tower news across MENA

Afghanistan: Consultation process for 4G spectrum begins 

Having awarded 4G licenses to each of the country’s operators, the Afghanistan Telecoms Regulatory Authority has commenced a consultation process to determine how spectrum will be allocated, with a particular focus on the frequencies to be assigned. There are currently five MNOs operating in the Afghan market, Afghan Wireless (AWCC), Roshan, MTN, Etisalat and Afghan Telecom. 

Afghanistan: Etisalat agree to share network with Aftel  

Etisalat Afghanistan has agreed to host state owned MNO Aftel on its infrastructure in Afghanistan, expanding the collaboration beyond the existing 60-70 towers they currently share. Aftel’s market share is less than 5%, but they hope to grow aggressively in Afghanistan through network sharing and cooperation with Etisalat. Towerco Asia Consuntancy Group also offers ~100 towers for co-location in Afghanistan.

Bahrain: Batelco to finalise company structure by early September

Bahrain’s incumbent MNO Batelco has been asked by the TRA (Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) to submit plans for splitting the company into separate retail and wholesale divisions by 6th September 2018. The TRA is asking Batelco to transfer staff and assets into a Separated Entity in order to deploy the National Broadband Network and associated wholesale products and services in order to create fairer competition in a market which has been dominated by Batelco to date.  

Bahrain: New regulations to affect up to 90% of Bahrain towers

In an extensive document produced by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Bahrain, towers and telecoms infrastructure will be scrutinised and must confirm to new standards within 15 years. Affecting the quality and type of materials used, as many as 90% of Bahrain’s 1,500 towers will need to be ‘rectified’ to ensure quality, efficiency and minimal impact on their surroundings through the use of camouflage solutions.  

Egypt: Telecom Egypt and Etisalat agree to share virtual fixed voice services 

Telecom Egypt has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Etisalat Misr to provide the latter with ‘virtual fixed voice services’, covering ‘all the basic terms that shall allow both companies to formalise a commercial agreement in due course’. The deal will enable Etisalat Misr to provide its customers with fixed voice services over the fixed line incumbent’s nationwide network, in a tie-up it represents ‘a major step towards enhancing cooperation between both companies and achieving mutual benefits, which will in turn enrich the Egyptian market with the diversification of offers and services’. Etisalat Misr will benefit by being able to provide its customers with a fixed voice offering, while Telecom Egypt expects to boost revenues generated as a result of the increase for its domestic wholesale business.

Iraq: Zain chooses Ericsson to modernise sites  

Zain Iraq has announced that Ericsson has been chosen to modernise a selection of sites with the Ericsson Radio System, with the aim of providing higher capacity and improving network performance. They have also partnered on IoT deployment, with the aim of accelerating the development of the technology in the region.  

Jordan: Operators criticise tax plans

The Jordanian government has announced plans to increase a tax on telecom services form 24% to 26%, as well as introducing a new 1% ‘solidarity tax’ on net profits for all companies in the country, aimed to support scientific and social initiatives. Spokespeople from all three Jordanian MNOs stated that this increase in already heavy taxes (on top of the 16% General Sales Tax and a levy of 10% of operating revenues) would damage their ability to invest further in network infrastructure and rollout.

Oman: Ooredoo Oman’s SuperNet LTE reaches 95% coverage

Following expansion work in Muscat, Al Batinah, Al Sharqiyah, Al Dakhikyah, Buraimi, Wusta, Musandam, Dhofar and Dhahirah, Ooredoo has reached 95% LTE coverage with its ‘SuperNet’ 4G network, increasing it 50% countrywide since their expansion work began in Q417.

Oman: Regulator to review market 

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is planning to review the telecoms market in order to identify potential constraints to competition, as well as to prevent abuse of dominant position by MNOs. Muscat Daily reports that the regulator is commissioning a consultancy project to assist in a ‘Market Review’, with consultants invited to submit proposals for the subject tender by August 28.

‘The TRA is also cognisant of new concepts (e.g. OTT content, IP interconnection, IoT, cloud computing, IXPs) that directly or indirectly have impact on the market reviews. As such, market definitions and dominant positions may have changed since the last market assessment,’ the TRA said, adding: ‘It may also be noted that the Market Definition and Dominance Decision of 2013 is also due to be revised in 2018, therefore the TRA now intends to review all existing and potential new markets.’

Saudi Arabia: Mobily and Huawei sign MOU for 5G 

Mobily and Huawei have signed an MOU covering a five year “Network 2023” plan which will see the two companies collaborate on designing and deploying a 5G network for the operator in the country.

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