News in Brief 

US telco AT&T has confirmed that it has signed a landmark mobile roaming deal in Iran, enabling US visitors to use their cell phones in the Middle East country for the first time. According to a report from the New York Times, AT&T partnered with Iranian cellco Rightel earlier this year to offer voice and data roaming services, but the deal has only just been made public. The agreement is a sign of a thaw in relations between the two countries following the lifting of international economic and trade sanctions against Iran in January 2016.

***The Philippines’new president Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Roa Duterte has warned the country’s two dominant telecoms providers – Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) and Globe Telecom – to improve their services or he will bring in competitors from China. In his speech during the National Banana Congress, Duterte mentioned prominent businessman Manny Pangilinan (chairman and CEO of PLDT and Smart) and Ayala Corp (major stakeholders in Globe). ‘If you do not do it right, you wait, I’m going to China. I’ll open up everything for competition. I’ll just open up everything,’ the president warned.Duterte’s statement comes in the wake of persistent criticism of the Philippines’ slow and expensive internet services – a fact that has repeatedly been attributed to their de facto duopoly status.

***The newly rebranded Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), which combines the operations of fixed line operator BTCL and wireless operator beMobile, says it has set aside BWP90 million (USD8.6 million) to roll out 4G LTE equipment at 105 sites. Mmegi Online reports that the telco has already commissioned eight LTE sites in the capital Gaborone and the first users are now involved in trials of 4G services. Larger rivals Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana both launched 4G services in February 2015.

***Masmovil has completed the €612 million purchase of Spanish mobile operator Yoigo from Telia Company.Including its recent acquisition of Pepephone, which closed in September, Masmovil now boasts a 4G network that covers 85% of the population, and fixed infrastructure covering 80%.The merged entity has 4.2 million mobile customers and 70,000 fixed broadband customers. Pro forma revenue for 2015 was €1.07 billion, while EBITDA was €108 million, and operating cash flow was €50 million.

***The sale of Polish mobile operator Play has been cancelled after bids from private equity firms failed to meet its parents' expectations.Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners, Cinven, and Warburg Pincus all made non-binding offers for the mobile operator. The private equity firms' offers valued Play at approximately €3.5 billion.The bids reportedly fell short of Play's owners' expectations.Greek investment fund Tollerton, which owns 50.3% of the company that the sale process had been cancelled.
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