Friday, 30 September 2011

Intel acquires Telmap

Intel acquires Telmap: "As part of the keynote, we announced that we have signed an agreement to acquire Telmap, a leading company in navigation and location-based services, search and content. Telmap will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel. This move is a step towards expanding our mobile software services capabilities as Intel continues to grow in the area of software and services. We are all very excited to have such knowledgeable and respected experts join the company.

Safaricom and Opera Software announce extended Kenyan partnership

Safaricom and Opera Software announce extended Kenyan partnership

Safaricom’s over 17 million customers to benefit from fast mobile browser, Johannesburg, South Africa — September 29, 2011

Kenya’s largest integrated telecoms operator Safaricom, today announced the extension of its existing partnership with Opera Software to deliver the Opera Mini browser solution to its more than 17 million subscribers. This includes the launch of a co-branded version of the Opera Mini mobile browser, which is now available for download across Safaricom’s network in Kenya. This is part of a global agreement between Vodafone and Opera Software.

The deal delivers faster access to websites and easy entry to Safaricom portals. Safaricom subscribers can reach the content they want, with less frustration and expense. With just one click, customers have music, news, games, and information on Safaricom’s products and services at their fingertips.

Kenya has 22 million mobile phone users, which is around 55% of the total population. Safaricom, which is 40% owned by Vodafone, is the only network in Kenya that provides broadband high-speed data to its customers through its 3G network, Wimax and fibre. Kenya is also the third largest market in Africa for Opera Mini.

According to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, the partnership with Opera Software would significantly improve the internet experience of the firm’s growing base of data customers.

“With the launch of the Opera Mini browser, we are leveraging a key partnership to bring our data customers to a new, higher level of experience. This is aligned with our strategy of not just making the internet a mass product in Kenya, but also making it more efficient,” said Collymore.

At least nine out of every ten of the 8 million Kenyans who use the internet regularly do so through the Safaricom network.

Already, 121 million people all over the world have discovered how Opera Mini can revolutionize their mobile web experience. Not only does Opera Mini deliver the Web faster to almost any phone, it also cuts data costs by shrinking the pages down before they are delivered, while retaining all the functionality of a normal webpage.

“Africa is a booming market for us, and this deal with Safaricom will bring the best Internet experience possible to millions of people eager for mobile web access,” said Lars Boilesen, CEO, Opera Software. “Opera believes that Internet access is a universal right, and being part of bringing that to Kenya is key for us. Opera Software has always striven to develop the fastest and technologically most advanced browsers. As a result, the Opera browser is the choice for the majority of mobile web users.”

Research shows that mobile data use in Kenya is predominantly used for social networking, news and job seeking. A key reason for the success of Opera in Africa is its speed: loading Facebook just once on a handheld device will use up more than 200 KB worth of data. With a browser like Opera Mini, which shrinks data down to a fraction of its original size, users can view Facebook 8.5 times using that same 200 KB. At the same time, when the powerful compression technology in the full browser is applied to the Opera Mini browser, the Web is accessible on even the simplest handsets, including those with small screens and limited memory.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Airtel signs agreement with Nokia Siemens Networks for 2G expansion, 3G deployment and managed services in Africa | Nokia Siemens Networks

Airtel signs agreement with Nokia Siemens Networks for 2G expansion, 3G deployment and managed services in Africa

Bharti Airtel (‘Airtel’), a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa, announced today it has entered into an agreement with Nokia Siemens Networks to expand its 2G (GSM/EDGE) networks and deploy 3G networks in seven African countries. Under the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks will manage end-to-end network operations, including planning, designing and implementing the 2G and 3G networks for Airtel. The vendor will provide its energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Stations* to expand network coverage to under-served areas, including smaller towns and villages in the seven countries**.

Manoj Kohli, CEO, (International) and joint managing director, Bharti Airtel, said: “This agreement manifests our commitment to provide world-class, innovative and affordable mobile services to customers in Africa. We believe Nokia Siemens Networks’ global expertise in managed services and compact energy-efficient network equipment are a perfect fit to our long-term goal to be the leading telecommunications provider in the African continent. This partnership will further enable us to rapidly expand our network coverage and provide high-speed wireless internet connectivity to our customers.”

Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer of Nokia Siemens Networks, said: “Subscribers everywhere are increasingly demanding better network quality and superior services. We look forward to working closely with Airtel to expand its network rapidly, and deliver the right innovative products and services to help meet these demands.”

Nokia Siemens Networks will use its FlexiHybrid microwave radio to address growing data traffic and provide the platform for a cost-effective transition to 3G, and potentially 4G networks in the future. The company will also provide its NetAct network management system for effective network monitoring and management.

In addition, Nokia Siemens Networks’ end-to-end managed services will enable Airtel to focus on delivering better customer experience and offer more innovative products and services to customers across markets.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In partnership with Tecnotree, Mattel launches Ringback Tone service in Mauritania / Releases / Investors - Tecnotree

In partnership with Tecnotree, Mattel launches Ringback Tone service in Mauritania

Mattel, a joint venture of Tunisie Telecom group and private Mauritanian investors, has successfully launched Ringback Tone service in Mauritania. Today’s announcement marks a first in Mauritania, allowing mobile subscribers in Mattel’s network to replace the ring tone played for the calling party with a latest music hit, sound clip or other personalised media.

The service is based on Tecnotree’s Ringback Tone product, which is part of the broader range of call completion solutions available in the Tecnotree AgilityTM product suite. These solutions are designed to boost customer lifetime value by maximising the business opportunity around voice with appealing, innovative and complementary messaging solutions.

Tecnotree’s Ringback Tone product can be personalised by the subscriber. For example, the tone can be set to be different for different callers, it may vary depending on the time of the day and it may be different for special occasions. Subscribers can easily manage the ring back tones themselves using simple text messages or an interactive voice response. With this newly launched mobile service Mattel can now offer its subscribers a fun and highly personalised voice experience.

“Mattel is facing an increasingly competitive environment in Mauritania. We are highly motivated to reduce our operational expenses as well as improve our ability to quickly develop and launch new services in response to dynamic market conditions. We achieve these goals by deploying new technologies from Tecnotree. The successful long term cooperation with Tecnotree and the importance of Value-Added Services to differentiate ourselves as well as to tap into new, long-lasting revenue sources, encouraged us to intensify our relationship with Tecnotree into a more solid partnership.” says Stephane Blanc, Chief Marketing Officer, Mattel.

Tecnotree Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Kaius Kotkas adds: “Launching ring back tones with Mattel is an example of latent voice revenue potential we help our service provider customers unlock. Our aim at Tecnotree is to help operators like Mattel to boost customer lifetime value and establish themselves as leaders in their respective markets.”

Altech announces Interim Results

Altech announces Interim Results

JSE listed Allied Technologies Limited (Altech) today announced the Group’s interim results for the six months ended 31 August 2011.

“The first half of the financial year showed results below our expectations, particularly from our operations in East Africa. However, we are pleased to report that nearly all other operations within the Group performed to, or above, expectations and we remain optimistic that the second half of the financial year will show an improvement,” said Craig Venter, Altech CEO.

“Our strong presence across the Telecommunications, Multi-media and Information Technology sectors is unique to the South African environment. I know of no other corporate that has all three divisions within one group. This presence, together with our strong annuity income at 83% of total revenue, our stringent cost controls and capital management, and our positive cash position and Balance Sheet, effectively spreads risk and enables us to take advantage of opportunities as they arise,” continued Venter.

“During the reporting period we introduced a number of innovative new products and services into the market and made some strategic acquisitions, both locally and internationally, that will enable us to take advantage of new market trends as they arise. At the same time, I have a strong executive team in place that will focus on our East African footprint and enhance the profitability that emanates from these businesses,” said Venter.

Financial highlights for the year ended were as follows:

R4.83 billion
R456 million
EBITDA margin
Operating profit before capital items
R296 million
Operating profit margin
Profit before tax (PBT)
R261 million
Adjusted HEPS
181 cents
Return on shareholders' equity
Continued strong balance sheet
The Telecommunications and Wireless Communications Division, which consists of Altech Autopage Cellular, Altech Technology Concepts and Altech Netstar, performed as predicted. This division contributes 71% of group revenue and 76% of group profit.

During the period Altech Autopage Cellular increased its revenue and profits due to an increase in value-added services and pre-paid voucher sales.

“While the mobile market remains exceptionally competitive with aggressive price movements across all product segments, positive signs have appeared with an increase in consumer activity in the various channels,” said Venter.

“Results from Altech Technology Concepts were below expectation, although its Tier-1 network became available to the market in February 2011. While we received excellent customer feedback on this next generation network’s quality, resiliency and back-up capacity; significant costs were incurred and the focus now is to increase revenue by expanding the network’s distribution capacity, both directly and indirectly, over the next two years,” said Venter.

The Altech Netstar Group exceeded its profit expectations for the period, with a significant focus on developing value-added services around the division’s fleet management offering and the launch of the insurance telematics service in association with the world leader Octo.

“Offshore growth within the Netstar Group remains a key objective and we are currently considering various opportunities in Latin America. The opening of a new licensed operation in the Ivory Coast, as well as a joint venture in Mozambique, underscores our commitment to the development of a wider footprint in Africa,” said Venter.

The Converged Services Division, which consists of Altech Alcom Radio Distributors, Altech Fleetcall and Altech Stream East Africa, presented diverse results.

“Within the radio market, Altech Alcom Radio Distributors continued to perform, as we saw an increase in digital mobile radio sales and the division’s unit sales exceeded the same period last year, largely driven by improved pricing strategies and marketing initiatives. At the same time, Altech Fleetcall continued to increase its net billable connections by 8% year-on-year,” said Venter.

Altech East Africa experienced a tough trading period with financial performance below expectations and a concerted effort is being made to correct this under-performance. This has resulted in Altech changing the ongoing management team responsible for these particular activities.

“East Africa presented us with a number of challenges, not least of which was our exposure to foreign exchange currency fluctuations. While we have reduced our exposure to these fluctuations, we have also implemented a number of turnaround strategies to correct the underperformance of our operations in the region. New management has been appointed and while there will be a strong focus on resolving the existing operational and financial challenges, there will also be a number of actions to strategically strengthen the positioning of the businesses in the region. The opportunities for growth remain; execution is now the clear imperative,” said Venter.

The Multi-media and Electronics Division, which consists of Altech UEC and Arrow Altech Distribution, met all financial expectations for the period.

While the country awaits more movement on the part of Government with regard to digital migration, Altech UEC continues to export terrestrial set-top boxes (STBs) to African and Australian markets and is gearing up to meet local demand for STBs with the recent opening of its new hightechnology STB manufacturing facility. An African digital technology manufacturing first, the 13 500m2 state-of-the-art facility will enable Altech UEC to produce more than 300 000 STB units per month.

“The building of the factory was not only to gear up for the anticipated demand for locally produced STBs, but also as part of a wider strategy to enable Altech UEC to extend its manufacturing capabilities and remain a world class digital set-top box manufacturing and software solutions operation,” said Venter.

“Coupled with this, our recent 100% acquisition of SetOne GmbH, a German-based distribution, logistics, STB repair and servicing business, unlocks synergies with Altech Multimedia and enhances our ability to diversify Altech Multimedia’s income streams by growing its international business footprint and reducing its reliance on locally generated business. This is in line with the Altech Group’s strategy to increase non-SA revenue and profits,” said Venter.

The Information Technology Division, which consists of Altech ISIS, Altech West Africa, Altech Card Solutions and Altech NuPay, showed satisfactory results, with the South African businesses showing good results, while the West African business underperformed due to delayed deliveries and a temporarily overstocked position at a key customer.

“Our focus for West Africa remains on driving cost efficiencies. In addition, we are expanding the division’s product lines to include the supply of initialised and personalised chip-card products to the Nigerian telecommunications network operators and financial service providers. We expect to see an improved performance as we assist in the Nigerian government’s drive to transition the banking and retailing market segments from a cash-based transacting model to a card-based model,” said Venter.

Commenting on the way forward, Venter said that the second six months’ performance would be an improvement on the first half, as certain adverse factors which were specific to the period will not recur and due to the fact that a number of interventions had been put into place to ensure profitability from all operations.

“As a whole, the majority of our operations in South Africa are performing well ahead of our profit expectations, despite the continuing adverse economic conditions. Of concern are our operations in East Africa where we have not performed to the standards that were originally set by ourselves. We have subsequently implemented a number of strategic initiatives, as well as management changes, at both Group and divisional level to address these issues and we expect to see their positive impact in the months to come,” he said.

“Our objectives remain the same – we will continue to defend our revenues and margins in all our existing businesses; we will continue to transform our business model to capture growth opportunities; we will continue to improve our customer orientation and commercial focus; and we will ensure strong top management involvement in all our operations,” concluded Venter.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Jinny Software Enables Mobile Advertising at Zain Sudan

DUBLIN, September 26 , 2011- Jinny Software, a leading global supplier of messaging, call completion and mobile advertising solutions to wireless carriers, has won a highly competitive pitch to supply Zain Sudan with an innovative mobile advertising platform. The Jinny Mobile Advertising Platform (JMAP) is a powerful system on which operators can implement mobile marketing and advertising campaigns. It includes a wide array of advertising channels, simple campaign design and deployment, profiled opt-in and opt-out for subscribers and integrated reporting.

Zain Sudan (formerly Mobitel) is the pioneer of GSM services in Sudan, being the first to offer mobile operations back in February 1997. Today it serves the largest base of mobile customers in the country with more than 10 million active customers.

“We chose Jinny for our mobile advertising solution because of their experience, both globally and regionally with our sister company Zain Jordan. We are also very excited about the huge potential for mobile advertising in our market,” says Magdi Taha, IT Director of Zain Sudan. “A further compelling reason was the fact that our core VAS platform is from Jinny, which means seamless integration and a rapid turnaround time for market launch.”

Mobile marketing and advertising has been experiencing extensive growth in recent years and offers lucrative revenue potential for mobile operators. According to Analysts Gartner, worldwide mobile advertising revenue is forecast to rapidly grow from USD$3.3 billion in 2011 to $20.6 billion by 2015. According to independent mobile ad network InMobi’s Mobile Insights Report, mobile advertising in the Africa region has already grown by 21% this year.

“With this launch Zain Sudan are reaffirming their credentials as market innovators, supporting and empowering local businesses to promote and grow their business,” says Richard Choi, Jinny Chief Commercial Officer. “Mobile advertising is taking off in Africa, and we aim to support Zain Sudan in driving that trend.”