In Brief: Five to take on Philippines’ telecoms duo 

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has confirmed that no fewer than five firms have expressed an interest in bidding for the frequencies it intends to auction in 2017, with each vying to become a credible third operator to challenge the might of de facto duopoly PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom. NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba publicly declared two of the interested parties – Mel Velarde’s NOW Telecom and local businessman Dennis Uy’s Converge ICT Solutions – but declined to name the other three, who he said were represented by their legal counsel.

*** The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has decided to suspend the implementation of a minimum price for data tariffs that was due to come into force on 1 December. In a press release on its website, the regulator stated that the decision to suspend the directive ‘was taken after due consultation with industry stakeholders and the general complaints by consumers across the country.’On 1 November 2016 the NCC informed mobile operators that they would be required to set data tariffs at no lower than NGN0.90 (USD0.003) per MB from 1 December, in a move aimed at promoting a level playing field for all operators, checking anti-competitive practices by dominant operators and encouraging new entrants. To protect the industry’s smaller players, companies with a limited market share would be exempt from the price regime. However, the NCC has now asked all of the country’s telecoms operators to ‘maintain the status quo’ until the conclusion of study to determine retail prices for broadband and data services in Nigeria.

***Dutch operator KPN has claimed a first in Europe with the start of testing LTE-M, the new 3GPP standard for IoT connections over 4G networks. The tests were conducted with Ericsson and Qualcomm. KPN has rolled out a LoRa network in the Netherlands, and said LTE-M will complement this as well as existing M2M services over its mobile network. LTE-M offers a slightly faster connection than LoRa, suiting applications in need of 50 Kbps to 1 Mbps and frequent communications, such as smart meters, mobile POS terminals and fleet management. LoRa meanwhile works best with applications needing minimum speeds (up to 50 Kbps) and long-life batteries, up to 15 years, while the existing 4G network can serve more demanding applications like infotainment in cars.

*** Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has imposed a number of fines on three operators for unspecified violations of the telecoms legislation, with its decisions upheld by the court of appeals. Saudi Zain Arabia was fined SAR1.79 million (USD470,000) for not enforcing a ruling by the regulator, and an additional SAR500,000 for ignoring another decree. Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) was fined a total of SAR240,000 for overlooking two separate rulings by the CITC, while Saudi Telecom Company (STC) was fined a total of SAR40,000 for two different violations.

LatestNews: **Tunisie Telecom secures €100m loan for network infrastructure
•Deutsche Telekom, Huawei demonstrate E2E 5G network slicing
•DFA automates and virtualises offerings with Ciena
•Juniper platforms added to AWS marketplace
•Equinix works with Lloyds on catastrophe modelling platform
•Tata Communications launches SD-WAN product
•MTN and Huawei launch first African narrow-band IoT solution