In Brief:EC launches EIB-backed broadband investment fund 

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have announced the launch of a new fund designed to boost the amounts invested in broadband network infrastructure across underserved areas of Europe. The Connecting Europe Broadband Fund will lead to an investment platform combining private and public commitments, with three state-backed national lenders – KfW Bankengruppe from Germany, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti from Italy and Caisse des depots et consignations from France – announcing their participation in the initiative as anchor investors. The joint project intends to bridge the market gap in less populated or rural areas, where smaller-scale broadband initiatives have so far lacked easy access to funding and EU financial instruments. EU digital economy commissioner Gunther Oettinger described the initiative as "a great step towards a European Gigabit Society for all."

*** Senegal’s Authority of Regulation of Telecommunications and Posts (ARTP) has confirmed that around five million SIMs have been disabled for failing to comply with its revised deadline date to register, 19 November 2016. The head of ARTP, Abdou Karim Sall, said that the regulator could no longer tolerate unidentified SIM cards on the incumbents’ networks, having already given users six months to fall into line. A In May of this year Mr. Sall gave the country’s telecoms operators – Orange Senegal, Tigo Senegal and Sudatel Senegal (Expresso) – six months to complete a mandatory identification of all mobile telecoms subscribers. Starting 10 May, industry players had six months to comply he said, noting that to help ensure the success of the verification process for identifying users, all operators would be given access to government-held national identity files. Ten days after the expiry of the deadline, however, the ARTP official confirmed: ‘We have had to cancel over 2.9 million numbers for Sonatel, more than one million at Tigo and more than 1.73 million numbers for Espresso, making a total of over five million cancelled numbers which have been struck off.’ That being said, Mr. Sall added that customers can still have their locked SIM cards reactivated by going to their service provider and completing the necessary customer identification forms.

*** Airtel Ghana has inked a partnership with AeroMobile to introduce in-flight roaming services for its post-paid customers. The service will enables customers to stay connected on board any plane with AeroMobile connections, anywhere in the world. The novelty service will enable Airtel post-paid customers to make phone calls, text, send multimedia messages and access their favourite social media platforms during their flights.

*** Mozambique’s telecoms regulator, the Instituto Nacional de Comunicacoes de Mocambique (INCM), says it has now deactivated five million unregistered mobile phone accounts following the final deadline for users to log their details with their network provider. The registration process has dragged on for several years, with a number of extensions to the deadline, but Agence Ecofin reports the watchdog as confirming that the latest cut-off date of 30 November was the last date for registration and it has gone ahead and deactivated all ineligible accounts. Mozambique was home to around 18 million mobile users at the end of September, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, with the market served by three players: mCel, Movitel and Vodacom.

*** The Bolivian government is looking to launch a new communications satellite in 2020 or 2021 to complement its existing satellite platform which entered service in 2014 and has been named Tupac Katari. According to a report from local newspaper, authorities are saying that the current satellite has brought in revenues of around USD50 million since April 2014, including around USD25 million in 2016.

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