Displaying items by tag: Smart

Africa needs regulatory stability for operators to grow

Written on Sunday, 01 October 2017 10:36

The main challenge facing telecom operators in Africa is competition and regulatory stability, according to Mr. Abdellatif Bouziani, CEO of telecom provider Smart East Africa Group serving Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. Speaking to Telecom Review, Mr. Bouziani said governments in Africa have sold too many operating licenses which have forced prices down, but operating costs remain the same.

Competition is high in the African telecom market, said Mr. Bouziani. With governments selling up to 6-7 telecom operating licenses, operators are forced to lower their prices, but operating costs remain the same, so they must cut spending to survive. But by reducing spending, operators aren’t able to experience growth. When there’s less cash going into countries, big players suffer, and smaller players suffer even more, he said.

Governments in Africa are the big winners in the equation, Mr. Bouziani explained, because they generate revenue from selling the licenses and collecting taxes and fines from the operators. But that puts pressure on emerging players like Smart East Africa which began operating four years ago. Big operators are suffering because they have big costs, and smaller operators are suffering because they cannot grow.

“We have to do business differently now,” Mr. Bouziani told Telecom Review. “We cannot do it the same way we did 5-10 years ago.” Voice is no longer primary, he explained, therefore the industry needs to get closer to the OTT (over-the-top) players to benefit more from them utilizing operators’ networks. Operators need to be a part of the change rather than taking a back seat and watching it happen, he said.

Smart East Africa launched in Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in 2014 under Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya, which in turn is part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The operator was launched in the three markets to drive innovation in the market and focus more on the youth segment, Mr. Bouziani said.

AKFED is the sole for-profit agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and works in partnership with international organizations and governments to stimulate the private sectors of developing economies, with the aim of generating capital for investment into long-lasting and sustainable development initiatives.

The organization is essentially a development and investment agency, Mr. Bouziani explained. AKDN holds a 51 percent stake in Smart East Africa while Timeturns, the previous owner of Smart, owns a 49 percent stake.

To stand out in the market, the company implemented an “innovation-friendly” environment to foster knowledge and new ideas. Mr. Bouziani said: “We have to take into account how much telecoms has changed with the introduction of OTT, increasing data usage and value added services. We must ask ourselves: how can we play around with all these things to come up with a business model that allows us to survive in this non-conventional industry?”

In 2014, Smart announced plans to invest US$300 million over the course of five years to expand its telecoms networks and services. The company faces stiff competition, with 17 rival operators combined across Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi. The company offers free roaming across the three countries.

Published in Interviews

Nokia and Smart, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PLDT, have achieved 5G speeds of 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) using 100 MHz with latency of just 1 millisecond for the first time in the Philippines over a 'live' network. With its capability to deliver extremely high speeds coupled with low latency, 5G opens up exciting possibilities for Internet of Things (IoT) applications for Filipinos, particularly in healthcare and smart cities.

Nokia Manila Technology Center and Smart's innovation team will collaborate to conduct joint 5G research for the development of 5G technology. The 5G demo was conducted at Nokia Manila Technology Center in Quezon City, one of its global Research and Development powerhouses for 5G technology. Nokia is at the forefront of 5G research and standardization, and its R&D centers across the globe including the Manila facility, are helping to bring the company's 5G vision closer to reality.

With extremely low latency, 5G will enable a huge number of new use cases, such as remote surgery, real-time responsive robots for automated industrial production, virtual and augmented reality and autonomous driving. Utilizing content created with the Nokia OZO virtual reality (VR) camera, the demo showcased the possibilities enabled through the broadcast of rich, immersive 3D 360 VR content.

The demo also leveraged the Nokia AirFrame Data Center platform to support high performance and low latency requirements. Smart has a proven record of investing in the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine applications, and 5G will be critical in realizing their full vision.

Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of PLDT and Smart, said: "We are excited to work with Nokia in conducting cutting-edge research and development for 5G. This is a key part of our efforts to transform the PLDT and Smart network into the country's most future-ready data infrastructure delivering a wide range of gigabit digital solutions."

Joachim Horn, chief technology and information advisor at PLDT and Smart, said: "Smart is committed to enriching the lives of Filipinos by bringing them the best-possible technology. This live demo is part of our initiative to develop 5G capabilities by 2020. We look forward to working with Nokia and taking advantage of its leadership and proven expertise in the 5G space. The demo also underlines our commitment to provide the most relevant services and the best experience to our customers."

Published in Telecom Vendors

Smart Axiata Co., Ltd. (Smart), the leading mobile telecommunications operator in Cambodia, has partnered with 365squared, an international managed services provider specialized in revenue assurance and managed solutions, to remove the effects of spam for Smart’s subscribers and monetize its application-to-person (A2P) SMS traffic through the 365secure service. This service was successfully deployed for Smart in Cambodia in October 2016 to help deliver a better service for more than 8 million Smart subscribers and provide new revenue opportunities.

Fraudulent SMS messages delivered through grey routes damage mobile network operators’ (MNOs) reputation by delivering spam messages to end user subscribers. The innovative 365secure service monitors and filters SMS traffic from any source on a 24/7 basis.
365secure ensures that Smart has peace of mind that SMS traffic is under control, subscribers are fully protected and that monetization of SMS traffic terminating on the network is guaranteed.

“The addition of Smart to our client portfolio is proof that 365squared’s managed solutions guarantee mobile network operators monetization of SMS traffic terminating on the network,” commented Tonio Ellul, CEO, 365squared. “This partnership highlights our strong organic growth as a key player in the market, especially in Asia. We are very excited to be working with Smart.”

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata said: “Spam messages are disliked by everyone. The partnership with 365squared stands on our desire to strengthen customer relationships based on trust. By filtering intrusive and uninvited messages we provide to our customers peace of mind and therewith step up our customer experience efforts further.”

The fully comprehensive 24/7 managed service provided by 365squared ensures that Smart subscribers are fully protected from unwanted spam and potential security threatening application-to-person (A2P) messages. The 365secure service also provides Smart with detailed traffic analytics and reporting thanks to the proprietary 365analytics software.

Published in Telecom Operators