Welcome to the Com World Series Blog. As producers of the leading telecoms, media and ICT events for developing markets, we focus on news & views that affect everyone operating in the telecoms ecosystem in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia.

21 Nov 2014

AfricaCom 2014 – Smart Phones, Cheap Phones and even Smarter Cheaper Phones

The mobile ‘phone’ in all its guises, dominated the chatter throughout AfricaCom this year.  The main exhibition hall, keynotes and many of the events were awash with new devices, new operating systems and new services that can be used on mobiles.

Smartphones, cheaper smartphones and even cheaper smarterphones – how to get more phones to more people and offer them something they need and want, and ultimately convert them from feature based devices, to the ever expanding digitally connected world around them. 

But once they have these devices then what?  Content.  Cracking the code on content will determine how successful a product, service or even operator is.  Understanding who people are and, what they want was another common theme dominating many of the sessions and corridor conversations. VAS giants such as Mahindra Comviva to garage developers like I’m Bored and those in between, agree that their business success depends on really getting to know their target audience as an ‘individual,’ and not as part of a mass segment, even as much as collating and tracking 43 personal attributes about a customer to better serve him or her.  Raul Martinez, Commercial Director Africa, Millicom was quoted as saying: “it’s important to know what makes customers tick.”

Paying for these services is also made easier with the many mobile payment methods – traditional and exotic – available to people all across the continent.  Advances in inter-operability payment systems and international remittance via mobile also made an appearance.  These developments will free up trade and add to economic and social progress as they are also tailored to each customer’s payment preference.

This more customer-centric approach is being considered from operators to brands such as BMW’s Connected Drive, which has a captive audience, supplying them with information as and when they need - in the moment.   Technological interfaces are making life easier all round, indicating that the entire digital ecosystem is shifting.  This was also summed up by Dave Coles, Executive Business Development, Platco “We’re going to see a lot of change in the industry, it’s an exciting time.”

However, AfricaCom’s Conference Director, Julie Rey’s comment perhaps best encapsulates what went down here this year: “There has been a palpable buzz across the whole event – all the very different industry players are talking collaboration and next year we look forward to seeing industry embarking on the next phase of its digital transformation.”

18 Nov 2014

AfricaCom Awards 2014 – Winners Announced!

2014 Winners

“The overall quality of the entries this year surpassed expectation,” commented Adam Thompson, Research Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media.  “The innovation taking place in the digital ecosystem across the entire continent is heartening and also world class.  Many are leaders in their fields and pioneers of new technology and services answering the needs of emerging markets that more traditional markets can and should take note of"

Congratulations to all shortlisted entries – the winners for each category in 2014 are:

Best App for Africa

Bharti Airtel- Internet.org App

Best Connectivity Solutions for Africa

WIOCC – Connecting Somalia – closing the final link

Best Cost Efficiency Solutions For Africa

Huawei – Africa’s 1st SDN Innovation

Best Device for Africa

Solarway - Solar Powered Mobile Phone Charging Station

Best Marketing Campaign

Huawei – MTN’s Mandela Birthday‘ 67 Minutes

Best Mobile Money Solution

Bharti Airtel – Airtel Money

Best Network Improvement

WIOCC – Extending WIOCC’s Pan-African Network into Somalia

Best Pan African Initiative
Liquid Telecom – East Africa Fibre Ring

Breakthrough LTE Development

Ericsson – Breakthrough LTE Development – Unitel

Changing Lives Awards

Afrigis - Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC)

Excellence in Customer Experience Management

Orange – ’100% Successful Calls’ Suites of services

Most Innovative Service

Millicom Tanzania TIGO – Tigo Pesa – International Mobile Money Transfer

VSAT Innovation for Africa

Liquid Telecom – Shared MPLS Satellite service

Etisalat Winner Idea

MEMMCOL (Interactive Media Interface Design i.e. IMID)

INTERACTIVE MEDIA INTERFACE DESIGN is a design for Energy Meters, it is specifically tailored towards helping Consumers remotely monitor their energy consumption using their Mobile devices (windows, IOS and the Android Platforms). The user interface is unique, interactive and modeled to look like an energy meter with its keypad and display.

IMID will encourage and drive internet usage, promote civilization and be of immense advantage to the energy industry.

Etisalat Winner Product

Exam Mate

Exam Mate is an exam preparatory software, specifically for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board exams (JAMB). The app was developed as an offline product for mobile PC’s to aid usage amongst exam candidates who do not have access to mobile broadband. Presently, the product is available for download at an online market hub for usage on mobile PC’s.

 From an economic point of view, with an average of 1.5 million candidates seating for JAMB examination annually, getting the product at a very affordable rate across to a projected target of 1 million candidates will generate high revenue.

With detailed voiced explanations in various subjects, applied knowledge will be imparted into the candidates which will remain relevant in whichever field they find themselves later in life.

Orange Social Venture Prize 2014

Out of the 452 submitted projects through Starafrica Orange website , the Orange African Social Venture Prize team has selected 10 projects as finalists and 1 favorite internet project.

The three prize-winners for this year have been selected by the Jury after careful analysis of each of the 11 shortlisted projects.  The API prize has also been selected by the Jury.

The short list is below:

    KamerStartup (Cameroon)
    Station Energy (Ivory Coast)
    Mewanko Farm (Cameroon)
    Agzakhana (Egypt)
    Baobab (Senegal)
    Modisar (Botswana)
    Senemar+ (Cameroon)
    Twinklebox (Kenya)
    Abyster (Cameroon)
    Bouquet Pass Santé (Senegal)
    Pubcell (Ivory Coast) – Favourite internet project

The first prize  has been awarded to Modisar, Botswana.

The project is a livestock farm management application (desktop, web & mobile)  that makes it easy for a farmer to manage his\her farm. The mission of Modisar is of resuscitating the livestock industry and cultivating livestock farming interest among the youth by marrying today’s technologies and the nation’s passion for farming, Modisar aims to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the livestock sector, a major contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product in Botswana.

The second prize  has been awarded to Station Energy, Côte d’Ivoire.

Station Energy has developed an innovative retail concept of energy services. Inspired by both the model service stations gasoline and African grocery shop Station Energy is a solution to enable energy access and affordability for all. In Côte d’Ivoire, it is a shop equipped with photovoltaic panels to provide various shared services (rental batteries allowing access to lighting, renting cold spaces, Internet access, sales of low consumption equipment, etc.) in rural or urban areas.

The third prize  has been awarded to Bouquet Pass Santé, Senegal.

This project is a platform that allows the diaspora or persons residing in Senegal, to pay medical consultation for yourself or for a loved one directly online.

The Mewanko Farm project – Cameroon received the Orange Partner API Prize.

This Cameroon project’s concept is to create a digital community platform for small producers who want to sell their products online. The aim is to increase the income of small farmers by helping them develop their markets through ICT, thus improving their living conditions.

This project will improve food safety and human health by educating farmers about the quality of their production on one hand, and by informing and educating the end consumer on the quality of the food they buy on the other hand.

Congratulations to all 2014 AfricaCom Awards winners!

17 Nov 2014

Collaboration, affordability, data, investment – Business is Booming at AfricaCom 2014

Cape Town, 11-13 November 2014 - Apparent in the number of visitors and quality of stands at this year’s show, business is booming in the telecommunications, ICT and digital media ecosystem. 

OTT-operators: collaboration is the order of the day

The conference started on day 1 with a debate on the evolving relationships between mobile operators (represented by Airtel, MTN, Millicom, Orange) and OTT players (represented by facebook and Twitter).

Historically there has been friction between these two sectors as operators have seen their own subscribers increasingly use OTT services in preference to their own, but at AfricaCom 2014 there were strong signs that we’re entering a new, more collaborative phase. “It was an excellent forum”, Ahmad Farroukh, CEO of MTN SA said. “I came with sharpened weapons, a bit, but I was very happily surprised by Facebook in the way they put things into perspective. I think the approach is completely different now, telcos are not just the pipe – we need to cooperate for our mutual benefit  for three billion people to have more access to the internet”.
Farroukh’s experience was echoed by Arthur Bastings, Executive Vice President Africa at Millicom. “It was a really interesting panel, which featured a more conciliatory stance on the part of the telecoms industry. With players such as facebook, I think historically the relationship has been a bit more fraught, with tension over who gets to participate in what, and how. What I’m seeing is much more realism: as the industry is embracing the realities of the African market, it’s obvious to everyone that facebook in particular is a great entry point to the internet for African customers, so partnerships are in the interest of everyone”. MarcRennard, EVP of Middle East, Africa and Asia at Orange Group, called for more cooperation in investing in networks and services: “we need to work together to target rural areas, to reduce costs, and all stakeholders in the ecosystem must participate in this effort”.

Matthew Reed, Practice Leader, Middle East and Africa at industry analysts Ovum, commented on the discussion: “we are seeing a growing number of partnerships between operators and OTT providers in African markets, but it is still early days in the developments of these new business models, and it is not clear to what extent they will indeed be ‘win-win’”.

Bringing internet to Africa with LTE

The second day of the conference was all about data: how to deliver better and more affordable access to data, what services to introduce, and what devices to support it. The session opened with an inspiring presentation from Fredrik Jejdling, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Ericsson, who said: “we believe it is a basic human need to communicate”.

A panel of operator discussed the importance of LTE in Africa’s digital economy. The panel featured representatives of historic mobeil operators Vodacom and Unitel Angola, alongside new LTE-only operators YooMee, Surfline and Smile.the discussion focused mainly on the advantages LTE offers the region, stressing that bandwidth leads to services, and that mobile broadband is the only internet access most consumers are likely to get. But even if you leave aside the small matter of building the infrastructure, there are a number of other obstacles to be overcome, such as shortage of low-frequency spectrum for rural coverage, and the need to lower prices and simplify tariffs.

Dov Bar-Gera, CEO of YooMee, said “95% of the homes in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have internet access, so there is a huge market potential: having such a platform that is dedicated to a large quantity of data means we can bring entertainment to the home of the consumer. If we want to bring internet to the region we have to make access very low cost, so that people can start to make their own content”.

Debates on LTE developments continued in more details in the 3-da LTE conference taking place at AfricaCom, with operators such as MTN, Safaricom, Neotel as well as major vendors Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and more. There was a great sense of expectation and optimism at the show regarding the the positive impact LTE can have on the region, and companies such as those are working hard to bring as many African people as possible into the digital economy, which can only benefit all concerned.

Investment must be supported by governments and regulators

As African operators embark in a new wave of investment to deliver access to mobile broadband, there was a widespread call for more support from governments and regulators. This was the main point in a panel discussion on broadband on the first day, bringing together operators, investors and carriers

Léon-Charles Ciss, Marketing Director at Orange said “We need huge investment. We can’t do miracles; we have to convince governments and regulatory authorities in Africa to take political decisions about tax and investment”.

Spectrum availability is another crucial point hindering broadband developments across Africa, particularly in the largely underserved rural areas. Andile Mcgaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners, said "When authorities do not release spectrum, we are unable to connect rural people and that costs Africa investments to the tune of about $30 billion a year."

It was noted that the countries who are most successful at promoting broadband developments are those with a clear National Broadband Plan such as Nigeria and Ghana, and panellists called for governments to develop clear strategies to support the industry, including public-private partnerships and lower taxation.

Devices: Affordability and local features are key

Devices are a major part of enabling Africans to access communications services and affordability is crucial, as was discussed in a panel including operators Airtel Africa and Millicom as well as Mozilla (Firefox) and handset manufacturer Tecno. Rick Fant, VP Planning and Ecosystem at Mozilla announced that their $33 data phones should come to all markets including Africa soon. Arif Chowdhury, VP at Tecno also announced the launch of a $30 smartphone in Africa in 2015.
However the key element that will increase smartphone penetration, even more so than cost, is the availability of local features: understanding local customers’ needs and making features and content available in local languages make the biggest impact. Raul Martinez, Commercial Director Africa at operator Millicom (Tigo) said “It’s important to understand what makes customers tick and to help them discover the content and features that are available to them”. Operators in Africa are getting more and more involved in handset strategies. Sagar Darbari, Head of Segments & Devices at Airtel Africa, said the group made a call six months ago to launch an Airtel-branded device: “it was tough for a telco to do, particularly in terms of logistics, but it’s been a revelation”.

Monetising services

With better access to data comes the opportunity to deliver more and better services to consumers, be they entertainment, financial services or new revenue streams.

The changing digital ecosystem and collaboration between its stakeholders was once again a major point of debate. Arun Nagar, CEO of VAS platform provider Spice VAS called for the industry to “work together: competition makes the pie bigger for all of us”.  There is still friction between mobile operators and content providers in terms of revenue sharing, as was made clear in the day 3 keynote panel on monetizing content, with representatives from operators Airtel and Vodacom and media groups Ole!, Platco and Apurimac Media.

The consensus was that the industry is going through a transformation and new business models are emerging. Neeraj Gala, Head of Content & Alliances at Airtel Africa, asserted that “The first entertainment device for consumers in Africa is the mobile phone so operators have a strong role to play in building a seamless, uncomplicated ecosystem”, while Herman Singh, Managing Executive at Vodacom eluded the question of revenue sharing by pointing out that “we’re moving to a world of ‘eat as much as you can’ data”. On the content provider side, the focus was more on the changes in the digital ecosystem: Will Green, Founder & CEO of Apurimac Media said “there is a need for a radical shift in the business models”.

Mobile Money still a major opportunity

A two-day event covered the opportunities in Africa's evolving mobile money market, with representatives from mobile operators, regulators, platform providers, banks and alternative players debating new mobile financial services, including mobile bnking for the unbanked.
The debates got off to a philosophical start focusing on what exactly mobile money is and should be. Fredrik Jejdling of Ericsson described banking as a basic human need, and the conference debates concluded that “Mobile money is emotional – it should be quick and easy, turning each individual into an agent, into an ATM”. The debate also covered interoperability and customer service, as well as regulation and cross-border transactions.
New buzz words and acronyms
It wouldn’t be a tech show without acronyms and jargon, and AfricaCom 2014 was no exception.

IoT – the Internet of Things – is the new development of M2M services and was covered in the opening keynote by Ian Kennedy, VP at Cisco as well as in a keynote session on day 3. An entertaining presentation from Edward Makwana, Group Automotive Communications Manager at BMW showcased the features of their ConnectedDrive car, launched in South Africa this year. A panel discussion followed, with representatives of operators (Orange and Vodacom), m-health initiative MAMA, and Google, whose representative Brett StClair gave a live example of the IoT by receiving a call on his Google Glass while on stage.

SDN was another major acronym making an entrance at AfricaCom: software-defined networking was described as the biggest revolution in telecoms since the introduction of IP and offers great opportunities for operators to reduce costs and increase flexibility and time-to–market. The subject is still an emerging topic and will be given more prominence at AfricaCom 2015 with ‘proof of concept’ demos.

A great buzz at the event

AfricaCom’s Conference Director, Julie Rey’s comment perhaps best encapsulates what went down here this year: “There has been a palpable buzz across the whole event. As organisers we are getting the impression that the event has grown to another level. All the very different industry players are talking collaboration and next year we look forward to seeing the industry embarking on the next phase of its digital transformation.”
AfricaCom will return to Cape Town on 17-19 November 2015. For more infrmation visit www.comworldseries.com

12 Nov 2014

Innovative music streaming services: A key area for Africa’s mobile operators to drive data revenues

According to a recent research published by Ovum, Africa is one of the few regions in the world where growth in both mobile connections and service revenue is expected over the next five years*. As the rapid up-take of mobile devices, and in particular smartphones, continues across the continent, competition amongst the mobile operators is increasing, resulting in a rapid decline of pricing for basic telecom services. Africa’s mobile operators have to start exploring alternative channels to facilitate growth.

Amongst Africa’s new smartphone generation, mobile usage patterns are relatively mature and increasing mobile data coverage across the continent is powering consumer demand for new digital services, and by far one of the most popular services is digital music.

As mobile operators hold a strategic position for the delivery of digital content services as well as the billing relationship with the customer, new innovative digital music services, such as music streaming apps, can be a key differentiator to ensuring revenue growth and market share. Last year alone digital revenues doubled in South Africa, accounting for 14 per cent of a total market worth US$63 million.

However, in a complex, multi-language and multi-device market, mobile operators must deliver a truly optimized digital experience to ensure their music offering stands out from other services such as Simfy, Spinlet, iRoking and Mdundo. But, how can mobile operators deliver new innovative music services quickly and cost effectively?

Mobile operators must work closely with existing service providers who understand the market and have experience of delivering digital and music services to Africa. By doing this mobile operators can alleviate the resource demand for content sourcing, development and service execution, but also leverage the experience of the service provider who are already delivering music services across Africa.

One example of how the partnership approach with a service provider can deliver success is the award-winning, music streaming service, “The Kleek”. The Kleek is a pan-Africa mobile music streaming service, backed by Universal Music, developed by IMImobile. The Kleek is a mobile music streaming app specifically designed and built for the African market. With content managed by IMImobile’s DaVinci Content Management System (CMS), The Kleek offers music lovers a catalogue of artists, tracks, genres, interviews and celebrity playlists, exclusive album previews, artist diaries, charts and other content, all of which can be streamed directly to a user’s mobile device.

Mobile operators have the opportunity to cement their music streaming service offering as the leading service in the market but must work in partnership with key service providers to ensure their share in a rapid changing digital music market.

For more information download IMImobile’s Mobile & Digital Entertainment Services solution overview from http://bit.ly/DigitalMusic_IMI

IMImobile are at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on Stand F10. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision makers from the entire digital ecosystem.


6 Nov 2014

Top 5 Points African Businesses Must Consider While Procuring Technology Solutions

Africa is one of the fastest growing regions today in the world. After the 2008 global recession when
demand for technology products and services in the developed markets went down, technology firms across the world have focused more on Emerging markets like Africa. While this gives African businesses access to technology which helps in their growth, it is important that the technology solutions they are provided with are relevant to the specific needs and requirements of Africa.

Technology Solutions can revolutionize businesses in Africa but there are certain aspects that one needs to keep in mind while procuring technology solutions. Here are the Top 5 aspects to consider:

  1. Africa Deployment Experience: - The best proof of a technology vendor understanding the African market and of having the ability to deliver is the vendor having existing deployments in Africa. That means that the vendor has actual on the ground experience of deploying their solution in Africa, and so has gone through the learning curve already (Preferably many times in different deployments in different parts of Africa).
    This does not mean that the importance of the vendor’s deployment experience in other markets especially in the developed world goes down. That still is a plus point for the vendor as many companies in the developed markets have a very rigorous vendor selection process and monitor the vendor very closely using strict measures to ensure that they deliver the project. The Africa experience of the vendor is important on top of this, to ensure that the vendor knows how to customize their solution and delivery process to still deliver successfully, despite different infrastructure challenges, unique market dynamics, and work culture in Africa.
  2. Regional Focus On Africa: - It is important that the Vendor has a proper Org wide focus on Africa. This is to ensure that the vendor marshals their best resources in terms of technology and people for delivering projects in Africa at the Sales, Deployment, and Post-Deployment stage. That will ensure that the African businesses get the best technology delivered in time and with high quality, and that they continue to get timely technology support for their business. This is important, since the African businesses are already working in tough, dynamic and competitive markets. They would hence want technology and support to be perfect and of highest quality to help their business.
  3. Solution Should Overcome Local Infrastructure Challenges:- In some markets in Africa, IT and Network infrastructure challenges could exist and the African Technology buyer might want to use e.g. Open Source Database to keep the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology lower. The technology vendor’s solution should be able to work in alignment with these needs. E.g. our company Panamax has a Mobile Finance solution called Mobifin which is deployed in 10 countries in Africa, and it very elegantly handles network downtime and network congestion scenarios. The solution has transaction message queues with a retry mechanism, and also sends timely responses to mobile user to let him/her know status of transaction and to prevent multiple transaction attempts by mobile user etc.
  4. Solution Should Be Flexible, Customizable, and Easily Localized: - In many markets in Africa, the regulatory environment is fluid, and so technology solutions should be flexible and customizable to help easily adapt to regulatory changes. Also, many African markets have different languages with their own scripts and also many of the end users cannot read and write, and the technology solutions should be able to address that. That is why our Panamax Telecom and Mobile Finance software solutions are customizable and flexible. Also, our solutions provide Dynamic IVR support to address the market segment which cannot read or write. At Panamax, we have coded our Mobile Finance solution using PHP language to support virtually all language scripts.
  5. Solutions Should have viable commercial models: - While opportunity for business growth is huge in Africa, competition is also tough and like with most other emerging markets funds are also scarce. So African businesses need cost effective solutions provided using favourable and flexible commercial models. So technology providers should like our company Panamax does, provide aggressive pricing to customers in Africa along with the flexibility in commercial model of engagement e.g. We provide both the CAPEX/License Model and the OPEX + Revenue Share Model.

Vijay Krishnan Gopalakrishnan has a keen interest in writing about Telecom Technology and MFS
solutions. His wide experience of working with several clients in Africa has provided him the stimulus for penning down this blog post. He is currently working at Panamax Inc. as a Regional Head for Middle-East & Africa.

Panamax Inc. is the technology solutions arm of the USD 180 Million Bankai Group. We have a great focus on Africa as a region with Panamax software solutions deployed or under deployment in more than 10 countries in the region, and with our parent company Bankai which is one of the world’s biggest wholesale voice player working with telecom service providers across Africa since 2 decades.

Panamax has the following world class software solutions for the Telecom and Finance Industries: (i) End-To-End Carrier Wholesale Needs including billing, routing, and mediation, (ii) Class 4 B2B IP Soft switch with Billing and Routing capabilities, (iii) Class 5 B2C IP Soft Switches, and (iv) A Comprehensive Mobile Finance and Payments Solution.

Panamax Inc. will be at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on Stand B18. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision makers from the entire digital ecosystem.

Click here to register now!

Satellite Expands Horizons Over Africa

Africa’s digital landscape, much like the continent’s physical landscape, can best be described as one that is both vast and expansive. Improving economic conditions over the last few years have led to fast growth rates in telecom, which in turn helps create opportunities that impact all aspects, both socially and professionally.

According to Deloitte, on average, mobile subscription penetration has reached 72% across Africa (with penetration rates varying by country). Further growth in subscriber levels will be driven by better network coverage in rural areas and operating models adapted to serving such remote connectivity needs and mobile data connectivity, among other factors.

This speaks well to the growing opportunities for satellite communication in Africa. Up to this point, improvements in satellite connectivity have helped lower the cost and bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world. But coming innovations could mean that satellite’s most prominent role is still on the horizon.

While the majority of satellite capacity demand across Africa remains allocated to media and direct-to-home, opportunities in enterprise connectivity continue to take shape across the continent. This is driven in part by a growth across multiple segments like finance, health, offshore oil and gas and mining along with changing market dynamics for traditional satellite markets like mobile backhaul. Taking oil and gas, for example, VSAT connections have become an ideal technology in these markets for sending large data files such as seismic images and supporting greater use of video, among other bandwidth-intensive applications.

Add in the ongoing role that government is playing in adopting digital communications and the influx of mobile applications, including mobile banking, mobile health and even various agricultural-based solutions and the need for capacity in Africa is accelerating.

The coming of high throughput satellites (HTS) should help to meet this accelerated demand for bandwidth that is building across Africa. Statistics from NSR project the Middle East and North Africa region to be among the more diverse markets for HTS applications with 50 Gbps of demand by 2023, 16 Gbps of which will be driven by enterprise. In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, 95% of HTS throughput utilized will be enterprise and broadband access.

And while the coming of HTS helps to handle this influx of demand, an important piece will be associated with the wireless transport of such data in a reliable and cost-effective manner. As such, mobile backhaul remains one of the most significant of growth markets on the horizon. Satellite with its unique capabilities of ubiquitous coverage, high reliability, fast installation combined with new wireless infrastructure capabilities utilizing small cells create a more cost effective solution for connecting remote and rural areas throughout Africa.

In all, this speaks to the role that we in the satellite industry must continue to play ensuring the infrastructure is built in the most cost-effective and reliable manner. The industry is changing and new innovations are coming.

iDirect continues to be laser focused on developing satellite infrastructure that enables satellite operators and service providers to deliver the most reliable, cost efficient connectivity solutions to the market. The iDirect intelligent platform including our universal hub, single network management system and portfolio of remote terminals enables connectivity in Africa and around the globe.


iDirect will be at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on stand B23. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development – no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem.

Click here to register now!

5 Nov 2014

Digital Africa Analyzer Tool: Connectivity empowers Africa’s digital transformation

This year Ovum has published a report especially for AfricaCom 2014, the Digital Africa Analyzer Tool: Connectivity empowers Africa’s digital transformation. Downloadhere for more information on this service, which contains data-sets from Ovum’s World Cellular Information Service, World Broadband Information Service and Broadband Development Index, as well as results from Ovum’s Digital Africa 2014 survey.

We are pleased to ahve Ovum as the Official Research Partner for AfricaCom 2014.

For last minute tickets to AfricaCom, please click here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/

Wi-Fi Calling and Venue Wi-Fi: Two Big Trends for 2015

By Johan Terve, VP Marketing, Aptilo Networks

AfricaCom will be buzzing with two of the hottest trends for 2015: Wi-Fi Calling and Venue Wi-Fi. These trends are crucial for carriers looking to monetize Wi-Fi.

While the ability to make voice calls over Wi-Fi has been around for some time, next-generation Wi-Fi Calling has come of age thanks to some bold moves in our industry. Next-gen Wi-Fi Calling uses any Wi-Fi network for transporting voice calls that would normally go over cellular networks. All of a sudden mobile operators can offer coverage for their voice services everywhere people are connected to Wi-Fi.

Don’t mix this up with the Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) solutions, with third-party clients in the device, that have been available for many years. This is a next-generation Wi-Fi Calling with VoWiFi and VoLTE support natively integrated in the smartphone dialer, which offers a totally seamless user experience (will also work for GSM).

The Aptilo Wi-Fi calling solution, with our advanced 3GPP AAA, performs the critical functions of authenticating users and applying any necessary policies for the Wi-Fi calling service and provides some innovative features to make it all work in real-world deployments.

With Wi-Fi Calling mobile operators can take care of 100% of their subscribers’ need for voice – a significant customer retention opportunity.  They can do this without deploying a single Wi-Fi access point. However, there are at least two very good reasons why mobile operators should deploy Wi-Fi:

  • According to a recent study by Mobidia, without Wi-Fi footprint mobile operators will potentially end up taking care of just 10-20% of their subscribers’ data traffic. This will have a significant impact on churn.
  • They will get better control of quality of service (QoS) for Wi-Fi Calling in their own Wi-Fi networks.

Another big trend for 2015 is Venue Wi-Fi, and Aptilo SMP bridges the gap between Carrier Wi-Fi and the kind of Wi-Fi one would find in, for example, a sports stadium. Carrier Wi-Fi is focused on providing a secure, automatic login of users while venue Wi-Fi requires user interaction for branding and advertising. By combining the benefits of Carrier and Venue Wi-Fi, operators can offer venue owners Wi-Fi services to deliver an engaging end-user experience that will keep users coming back for more.
They can do this while providing a secure carrier-class service with automatic authentication flows for selected user groups.

For instance, Wi-Fi can be integrated with various types of applications and information to engage with consumers, drive social media exposure and learn about users/guests to provide more relevant services. Custom-branded Wi-Fi portals can anchor site- and event-specific advertising and marketing initiatives. Wi-Fi landing pages and login pages and advertising can be branded to reflect the venue, teams, sporting events, and even sponsors. These branded opportunities reach guests in a unique and memorable way.

Visit Aptilo Networks at stand B3 at AfricaCom to learn how we can help you to Step Up Your Wi-Fi which is our theme for this year’s event. Register for your AfricaCom pass here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/