Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Profile of the Telecoms market in Kenya - part 3

Preamble: After nearly a week of blocking broadcasts of Kenya's leading television stations, Kenyan authorities have relented and allowed most of the broadcasters to resume operations. In this series of articles, we profile the vibrant telecommunications market in Kenya.

See part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6\

SECTION 3——Regulatory activities of Communications Authority of Kenya

In mid-August 2015, Kenya’s Business Daily reported that following a dispute which had already gone on for three years Airtel Kenya had gone to the Kenyan High  Court seeking to block another demand from the CA that it should pay $20.025 million spectrum fees before it could renew its operating licence. The dispute arose from the fact that in 2014 Essar’s YuMobile subsidiary in Kenya left the local mobile market and transferred its subscribers and licence to Airtel Kenya for about $6.9 million. According to Airtel, the CAK at that time promised to merge its operating licence with that of yuMobile, with the deal granting Airtel a lease to operate in the country until January 2025. However, subsequently under pressure from the Kenyan Treasury CAK had reneged on that agreement and come back to Airtel to demand KSh2 billion in licence fees.

The Safaricom row

In late September 2017, following accusations by Raila Odinga that Safaricom had deliberately delayed results of the August 8th presidential election, the CAK national communication regulator denied that there had been any such failures of transmission by any of the Kenyan mobile operators.

In late November 2017, DG Francis Wangusi of the CAK announced that following the failure of an earlier agreement between Kenyan operators to establish a common money transfer infrastructure by July 2017 the regulator now planned to make the interoperable wallet system mandatory in December 2017.

In mid-June 2017, Reuters reported that the Kenyan High Court had overturned a legal amendment that would have denied the right of the CA to manage competition in the sector

At the end of November 2017, Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported that Francis Wangusi  the DG of the CAK regulator was questioning the right of Safaricom to make deliveries of goods sold via its Masoko online e-commerce platform on the grounds that the operator’s existing license did not authorise such activities

On December 19th, 2017, Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper reported that the CA had announced that it was soliciting views from the general public on the minimum standards that should be set for internet devices.

As noted elsewhere the CA decided in January 2018 not to breakup Safaricom into separate telecommunications and financial businesses

In mid-January 2018 it was announced that CAK DG Francis Wangusi had been sent on leave for three months with effect from January 12th while an independent audit is being carried out on the Authority’s “structure, promotions and training” following alleged claims of malpractice in those functions.

This surprising and unexplained move has been interpreted by observers in many different ways. On January 23rd 2015 Wangusi was reappointed as CA DG for a second four year term but since then it seems that his relationships with the Kenyan Ministry of Communisations and the Kenyan government have deteriorated for several reasons. One reason may have been the fact that the CA had been unable to extract an additional licence fee of KSh 280 million from Airtel Kenya which was cash the Kenyan Treasury badly needed; secondly it was argued that the CA had awarded a license to Jamii Telecom to use some 700 MHz frequency far too cheaply and at a more questionable level had exercised extremely tight control on his resources refusing to fund some possibly boondoggle trips to symposia for some members of the Ministry.

However, it was announced that following a legal challenge by two students from the University of Nairobi who argued that the action of the CA Board in sending Wanqusi on involuntary leave was unconstitutional Kenya’s Labour Court had ordered a halt to that decision pending a review of the case originally scheduled for January 29th

CAK licences register lists by name
1. International Gateway Operators.=12
2. Submarine Cable Landing Rights Operators=3
3. Network Facilities Providers Tier 1=3
4. Network Facilities Providers Tier 2=23
5. Network Facilities Providers Tier 3=29
6. Application Service Providers=214
7. Content Service Providers=334
8。Dot KE SubDomain Name Registrar Service Providers=62
9. Business Process Outsourcing Services Providers=26
10. Telecommunication Contractors=533
11. Telecommunication Technical Personnel=509
12. Telecommunications Equipment Providers=526
13. Public Communication Access Centres=14

CAK Telecommunications Statistical Report for Q1 2017/18 ended September 30th 2017
The full 32-page report is available to the general public so the following is merely a summary of its main findings

Q4 2016/17
Q1 2017/18
Change %
Mobile subscriptions (mn).                    
Fixed subscriptions
Mobile penetration
Fixed telephone penetration
Number of mobile money subs: (mn).  
Number of MM transactions (mn)
Value of MM transactions (KSh bn)
Data internet subscriptions (mn).          
Of which mobile data (mn)
Of which terrestrial wireless
Of which fixed DSL
Of which fixed fibre optic
Of which fixed cable modem
Of which satellite + other

Available international capacity (Gbit/s)
Used international bandwidth (Gbit/s)
Internet penetration
Broadband penetration
Number of free-to-air TV channels
Number of radio FM stations

to be continued

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

AT&T seeds Akraino project for carrier-scale edge computing

The Linux Foundation will host a new Akraino project to create an open source software stack supporting high-availability cloud services optimized for edge computing systems and applications.

To seed the project, AT&T is contributing code designed for carrier-scale edge computing applications running in virtual machines and containers.

“This project will bring the extensive work AT&T has already done to create low-latency, carrier-grade technology for the edge that address latency and reliability needs,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation. “Akraino complements LF Networking projects like ONAP in automating services from edge to core. We’re pleased to welcome it to The Linux Foundation and invite the participation of others as we work together to form Akraino and establish its governance.”

“Akraino, coupled with ONAP and OpenStack, will help to accelerate progress towards development of next-generation, network-based edge services, fueling a new ecosystem of applications for 5G and IoT,” said Mazin Gilbert, Vice President of Advanced Technology at AT&T Labs.

AT&T to launch mobile #5G in 12 cities this year

AT&T will launch commercial mobile 5G in a dozen cities this year. The first three announced cities are parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, Texas.

The initial mobile 5G deployments this year will be based on 3GPP standards and operate over mmWave spectrum. AT&T has already deployed 5G Evolution technologies. Last fall, the company launched LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LTE-LAA) technologies in parts of Indianapolis and are now live in parts of Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” said Igal Elbaz, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design. “Our mobile 5G firsts will put our customers in the middle of it all.”

AT&T also confirmed that its migration to SDN is on course. The target of virtualizing 55% of network applications in 2017 was achieved and the goal now is to reach 75% by 2020.

To further is progress, AT&T has opened a new 5G lab in Austin, Texas. The facility is hosting an Advanced 5G NR Testbed System (ANTS) for trialing unique and forward-looking features on a simulated 5G network for eventual standardization.

Cisco Crosswork automation promises ruthless simplification

Cisco introduced a new software portfolio to help Service Providers to automate large-scale networks.  The company is promising "ruthless simplification" for networks that to date have been burdened by manual operations leading to inefficiency, complexity and security vulnerabilities.

The new Cisco Crosswork Network Automation software offers a single point of integration with zero-touch telemetry, machine learning intuition, open APIs and automated actions.

The software release targets:

  • Cisco Crosswork Change Automation: Automated operations application that enables large-scale change and closed-loop control
  • Cisco Crosswork Health Insights: Smart sensors, smart alerts and smart remediation to monitor and optimize networks
  • Cisco Crosswork Data Platform: Featuring both an OpenSource and commercial-class data analytics platform
  • Cisco Crosswork Network Insights: Cloud-based analytics solution for solving large-scale routing issues
  • Cisco Crosswork Situation Manager: Machine learning-based event correlation with social operations featuring social tools such as chat functions to solve repair issues quickly 

Cisco said the new software extends capabilities of its Network Services Orchestrator (NSO), offering the industry's most comprehensive closed-loop multi-vendor, multi-domain automation solution, with service orchestration and automation applications that support third-party solutions with open APIs.

"Only Cisco can offer this comprehensive and holistic automation approach to solve challenges of today's mass scale infrastructure," said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Networking, Cisco. "Our primary goal for network automation is to help our customers turn growing pains into growing profit, and streamline operations so they can spend less time on tactical ‘firefighting' and more time on identifying and trialing new revenue streams."

Xtera completes interoperatibilty testing with Infinera

Xtera announced the successful completion of interoperability testing with Infinera, a provider of Intelligent Transport Networks. 

The tests included the transmission performance of Infinera’s XTS-3300 through Xtera’s wideband hybrid Raman-EDFA repeaters using 16-QAM modulation format.

The companies said the trials demonstrated the ability of Xtera’s Virtual Fiber Gateway (VFG) to allow multiple vendors’ equipment to independently share spectrum and proved the resilience of XTS-3300 to strong Line Monitoring Equipment (LME) signals.

“Today’s customers are looking for systems which combine the most advanced technology available; the move towards provision of disaggregated subsea solutions demonstrates this," explains Keith Henderson, Xtera’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer.  “The success of these interoperability tests will give customers comfort that selecting Xtera technology for their wet plant can provide them with a proven end-to-end solution using industry leading SLTE platforms.”

“Infinera is continually enhancing our solutions to deliver the best capacity-reach performance, and we lead the way in Open SLTE solutions,” adds Scott Jackson, Vice President, Subsea Business Group, Infinera.  “Adding compatibility with Xtera’s advanced line systems further illustrates our commitment to Open Systems and shows how Open SLTEs can eliminate risk while delivering the best system solutions for our customers.”

Qualcomm raises its bid for NXP to $127.50 per share in cash

Qualcomm increased its bid to acquires all outstanding shares of NXP Semiconductors to $127.50 per share in cash.

The previous price was $110.

Qualcomm also announced binding agreements with nine NXP stockholders who collectively own more than 28% of NXP’s outstanding shares (excluding additional economic interests through derivatives) to tender their shares at $127.50 per share.  These stockholders include funds affiliated with Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited and Soroban Capital Partners LP.

“Qualcomm’s leading SoC capabilities and technology roadmap, coupled with NXP’s differentiated position in Automotive, Security and IoT, offers a compelling value proposition.  We remain highly confident in our fiscal 2019 Non-GAAP EPS target of $6.75-$7.50, which includes $1.50 per share accretion from the acquisition of NXP.  With only one regulatory approval remaining, we are working hard to complete this transaction expeditiously.  Our integration planning is on track and we expect to realize the full benefits of this transaction for our customers, employees and stockholders,” stated Steve Mollenkopf, Chief Executive Officer of Qualcomm.

Broadcom rethinks its options with Qualcomm

Broadcom is evaluating its options following Qualcomm's decision to raise its offer price for NXP Semiconductors to $127.50 per share.

Broadcom said the price increase "demonstrates the Qualcomm board's disregard for its fiduciary duty to maximize value for Qualcomm stockholders" and that it transfer $6.2 billion of value from Qualcomm shareholders to NXP shareholders.                       

Coriant names Hossein Moiin as Strategic Executive Advisor

Coriant announced the appointment of Dr. Hossein Moiin as Strategic Executive Advisor.

Dr. Hossein Moiin is the former Executive Vice President, Chief Technology (and Strategy) Officer of Nokia and Nokia Siemens Solutions. He holds several degrees including a Ph.D., M.S. and B.S. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Electrical and Computer Engineering. In addition to his role at Nokia, Dr. Moiin had leadership roles at BT, T-Mobile International, and Sun Microsystems.

Sweden’s Eastern Light deploys Ciena's GeoMesh

Sweden’s Eastern Light, which is building a series of new, international, submarine fiber-optic cable routes in northern Europe, will deploy Ciena’s GeoMesh solution.

Eastern Light is currently building the initial stretch of its network between Sweden (Stockholm) and Finland (Hanko, Helsinki and Kotka), providing the first new submarine fiber optic cable between the two Nordic capitals in more than a decade. The cable route is both geographically separated from and shorter than existing cables.

Ciena’s GeoMesh submarine network solution, an open architecture that integrates hardware, software and professional services, will be featured as a part of Eastern Light’s dark fiber product.

“Together with Eastern Light, we will provide key interconnection points for the Nordics that will help facilitate movement of global internet traffic in and out of the region. Ciena’s GeoMesh and optical innovations will give Eastern Light a new approach to support a smarter, faster and more adaptive network,” stated Keri Gilder, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA, Ciena.

Profile of the Telecoms market in Kenya - part 2

Preamble: After nearly a week of blocking broadcasts of Kenya's leading television stations, Kenyan authorities have relented and allowed most of the broadcasters to resume operations. In this series of articles, we profile the vibrant telecommunications market in Kenya.

See part 1part 2part 3part 4

SECTION 2——Kenyan connection to international cable systems

Kenya is already well-served by international backbone cable systems such as EASSy, LION-2, SEACOM and TEAMS with at least two more (PEACE and DARE)in the planning or early construction stage. The east coast of Africa has relatively much fewer major landing points than the west coast, the most important ones being Mtunzini, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania: Mombasa, Kenya; and Djibouti.

SEACOM —— This very early 17,000 km East Africa, Europe, and India cable system costing around $650 million and over 75% privately owned by African investors went live in July 2009 with African landing points in Mtunzini, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Mombasa, Kenya; and Djibouti; and connections in Mumbai, India and Marseille, France. The company has consistently upgraded its theoretical capacity to reportedly 12.8 Tbit/s and has also expanded its network via agreements with local and regional fibre and business partners in Europe and Africa, as well as with backhaul terrestrial networks from its landing points in Africa. It is also a supplier of business services using IP/MPLS, as well as Private Line, VPN, Internet Access and Cloud. In early September 2017, SEACOM CEO Byron Clatterbuck announced the appointment of Tony Tugee, previously head of Enterprise Sales and Retention at Safaricom, as head of the company’s business services in Kenya and also responsible for these activities in Rwanda and Uganda.

EASSy (East Africa Submarine cable System) —- This is a 10,000km, 10 Tbit/s fibre-pair submarine fibre-optic cable system based on Alcatel 100G technology. It links South Africa with Sudan via landing points in Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. It went live in Kenya in July 2010. The system is owned and operated by a group of 16 African (92%) and international (8%) telecommunications operators and service providers including Telkom Kenya. Investors in the EASSy system have also built terrestrial fibre backhauls to link the land-locked countries of the region to the cable.

LION 2 (=Lower Indian Ocean Network 2) -- This 3,000 km, 1.28 Tbit/s, $79 million cable links Mombasa (Nyali) to the 1,000km LION-1 network that connects Mayotte, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius to the rest of the world. It was laid by France Telecom together with its subsidiaries Mauritius Telecom and Orange Madagascar, in partnership with Telcom Kenya. It went live in Kenya in Q1 2012. This cable was also designed to link to the 330 Gbit/s, SAT-3/WASC (=South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable) going west to Europe via the Cape of Good Hope and to the 440 Gbit/s SAFE (South Africa Far East) cable going east to Penang Malaysia and thus provide an alternate route for secure broadband transmissions through Europe and Asia for all of the African countries in which the Group is located.

TEAMS (=The East Africa Marine System) -- This 5,000km, 120 Gbit/s fibre optic marine cable (design capacity=1,280Gbit/s), funded by the Government of Kenya and Kenyan operators who together own 85%(which is split roughly Safaricom =32.5%, Telkom Kenya=23%, Government of Kenya=20%, Kenya Data Networks=10%, Wananchi Group=6% and BCS Group=1.2%) and UAE-based operator Etisalat, which owns 15%. It links Mombasa to the tiny Emirate of Fujairah in the UAE and went live on October 1st 2009. TEAMS is connected to the Kenya national fiber backbone network and other major backhaul providers, thus extending the gigabit submarine capacity to the rest of the East African countries: Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania through cross-border connectivity arrangements and in Fujairah, a major international cable hub linking Africa, Europe and Asia it can interchange with 15 other global cables including FLAG, Africa 1, SEA-ME-WE 3,4 and 5 and others

Other projects whose status is unclear include:

AFRICA-1 -- In mid-April 2016, MTN Group, PCCW Global, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Telecom Egypt (TE) and Telkom South Africa signed a MoU for the construction of a 3 fibre-pair core, 12,000km (plus up to 5,000km branches) submarine cable system designed to connect Africa with the Middle East and South Central Asia and provide onward connectivity to Europe with connections planned in South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Yemen, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India . (NB This cable was originally proposed to be ready for service by late 2017 but this RFS date is now being quoted as Q4/2018 and so far not much more has been heard about this proposal)

LIQUID SEA High capacity SA/Middle East/Europe -- This cable project was announced December 2015 by Liquid Telecom. (See below)

PEACE (=Pakistan East Africa Cable Express) -- In early January 2018, Huawei Global Marine Systems Ltd announced that working with Huawei Technologies it was about to start the submarine route survey for this initially 6,200km, 60 Tbit/s, 200G DWDM-based cable system connecting Pakistan (in Gwadar and Karachi), Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya which would eventually span 13,000km, reaching South Africa and Egypt.

DARE (=Djibouti Africa Regional Express) --  In early January 2018 it was announced that a contract had come into force with TE SubCom as supplier for this 5,400km, two fibre-pair(150ch x100Gbit/s per pair) submarine cable system which will connect Djibouti and Mombasa, Kenya, with branches to three major coastal cities in Somalia, respectively Mogadishu, Berbera, and Bosaso, providing an alternative high-capacity and low-latency route to the Horn of Africa and East Africa. The DARE consortium is composed of Djibouti Telecom, Africa Marine Express(Kenya), TeleYemen and four Somali operators namely: Somtel Network, Golis Telecom Group, Hormuud Telecom, and Telesom. An additional optional branch is available to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania).

Monday, February 19, 2018

Google agreed to acquire Xively for enterprise IoT

Google agreed to acquire Xively, a division of LogMeIn, for an undisclosed sum.

Xively offers an enterprise-ready IoT platform with advanced device management, messaging, and dashboard capabilities.

Xively, which was formerly known as Cosm and Pachube, is built on LogMeIn's cloud platform Gravity, which handles over 255 million devices, users, and customers across 7 datacenters worldwide.

Google said the acquisition will be paired with the security and scale of Google Cloud. The solution will also be augmented With Google Cloud’s data analytics and machine learning.

Megaport adds direct connectivity to Salesforce

Megaport launched its elastic interconnection service for direct, scalable connectivity to the Salesforce Platform.

The connectivity to Salesforce is available in two markets from North America (San Jos and Ashburn) and one market from EMEA (Frankfurt). Additional data centers are in the planning phases for 2018. Megaport users will be able to provision private, secure, and direct connections to the Salesforce Platform services from 185+ Megaport enabled data centres.

As a Salesforce Express Connect Partner, Megaport can boost performance, increase application reliability, as well as help meet industry regulatory and compliance demands by establishing a direct, private connection to the Salesforce infrastructure through its global SDN.

“Salesforce has revolutionised the way that businesses go to market and has fundamentally transformed how companies build digital relationships with customers,” said Vincent English, Chief Executive Officer, Megaport. “This agreement enables both companies to help drive protected, private, direct connectivity. Megaport has developed a set of tools and features that make it very easy for organizations of all sizes and varying technical capabilities to directly connect to the Salesforce Platform.”

Intelsat and SES agree on joint use of C-band by satellite and mobile operators

Intelsat and SES last week both agreed to back a proposal to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the seeks to protect satellite services in the 3700-4200 MHz C-band downlink spectrum while opening a specified portion of that spectrum for terrestrial mobile use.

The companies said their joint proposal sets a commercial and technical framework that would enable wireless operators to quickly access approximately 100 MHz of nationwide C-band downlink spectrum in the United States, speeding the deployment of next-generation 5G services. The idea builds on an innovative model first put forward to the FCC by Intelsat and Intel in October 2017 for spectrum sharing.

Under the proposal, a consortium of satellite operators would be created to oversee the governance of the initiative, define and implement the methodology for spectrum clearance, and serve as the sole interface for market-based transactions with parties interested in deploying terrestrial mobile services in specific portions of the C-band.

“The C-band is and remains a critical component of the U.S. network architecture. Space and ground segment operators have invested billions of dollars in U.S. C-band networks and connectivity and generate important value out of it. It is, therefore, our duty and mission to protect the C-band in the U.S. from any form of disruption and preserve its use,” stated Karim Michel Sabbagh, President and CEO of SES.

"Our proposed market-based solution provides a speedy resolution to the U.S. objective of accelerating deployment of 5G services. With Intelsat and SES now in agreement on major tenets of the framework and with the support of Intel, we are confident in our ability to implement this proposal quickly and efficiently, ultimately to the benefit of American consumers and the U.S. economy,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler.

Tele2 selects Nokia WING for IoT services

Nokia and Tele2 IoT have signed a five-year agreement to enable the delivery of IoT services to Tele2 enterprise customers.

Specifically, Tele2 has selected Nokia's worldwide IoT network grid (WING) to enable the delivery of IoT services to its enterprise customers.

Nokia WING is a 'one-stop-shop' IoT managed service that includes a pre-integrated global IoT core network, connectivity management as well as dedicated IoT operations, billing, security and data analytics, along with an application ecosystem.

The five-year partnership agreement includes collaboration on various advanced technologies such as 5G, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), LTE for machine-to-machine (LTE-M), SIM management and analytics to further accelerate the global IoT ecosystem.

Rami Avidan, CEO of Tele2 IoT, said: "Nokia WING is a unique concept for worldwide IoT enablement which will allow us to serve our enterprise customers better and differentiate our offering on a global scale. We are excited about the prospect of helping our customers to easily deploy IoT services, driving new revenue growth opportunities."

Samsung sets new SSD capacity record -- 30.72 TB

Samsung Electronics announced mass production of t the industry’s largest capacity Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) solid state drive (SSD) to date – the 30.72 terabyte (TB).

The new PM1643 drive uses Samsung's latest V-NAND technology with 64-layer, 3-bit 512-gigabit (Gb) chips. It offers twice the capacity and performance of the previous 15.36TB high-capacity lineup introduced in March 2016.

Samsung said the density is made possible by combining 32 of the new 1TB NAND flash packages, each comprised of 16 stacked layers of 512Gb V-NAND chips. These super-dense 1TB packages allow for approximately 5,700 5-gigabyte (GB), full HD movie files to be stored within a mere 2.5-inch storage device.

Based on a 12Gb/s SAS interface, the new drive features random read and write speeds of up to 400,000 IOPS and 50,000 IOPS, and sequential read and write speeds of up to 2,100MB/s and 1,700 MB/s, respectively. These represent approximately four times the random read performance and three times the sequential read performance of a typical 2.5-inch SATA SSD.

"With our launch of the 30.72TB SSD, we are once again shattering the enterprise storage capacity barrier, and in the process, opening up new horizons for ultra-high capacity storage systems worldwide," said Jaesoo Han, executive vice president, Memory Sales & Marketing Team at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung will continue to move aggressively in meeting the shifting demand toward SSDs over 10TB and at the same time, accelerating adoption of our trail-blazing storage solutions in a new age of enterprise systems."

Deutsche Telekom contributes to edge computing testbed at Carnegie Mellon University

Deutsche Telekom, in collaboration with infrastructure partner Crown Castle, and vRAN solution vendor Altiostar, is building an ultra-low latency mobile testbed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh as part of the Open Edge Computing Initiative.

“The Living Edge Lab testbed is a major technology milestone towards use-case centric Edge Computing and will provide application developers with an early experience of the benefits of 5G technology,” says Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Research and Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. “It is a unique Edge Computing platform that leverages a fully virtualized end-to-end solution and the  implementation of user-tracing beamforming antennas for the first time in a live environment.”

DT said the Edge Computing setup combines a fully software-enable network with a modular Radio Access Network (RAN) platform. The wireless access in the 3.5GHz band leverages advanced LTE and 5G features such as Massive MIMO, Active Antenna Systems (AAS), and beamforming technology by Airrays, a German radio vendor, and is powered by vRAN (virtual RAN) technology by Altiostar.

The vRAN solution uses an innovative method to connect the AAS panels with the virtualized baseband unit (vBBU), a performance-optimized NFV platform running on Commercial off the Shelf (CoTS) hardware inside the CMU campus alongside the Edge Computing server “Cloudlet”. Connectivity to each site leverages extensive fiber optic networks owned and maintained by Crown Castle.

Elliott insists fair value for NXP is $135 per share

Elliott Advisors (UK), which holds an approximate 7.2% economic interest in NXP Semiconductors, is insisting that the take-out value for Qualcomm to acquire NXP should be higher than $135 per NXP share.

Elliot published a presentation in which it argues:

  • NXP is currently one of the most attractive companies in the semiconductor sector
  • NXP has a track record of consistent outperformance versus market expectations over the past year 
  • NXP top-line growth came in above consensus expectations in each of the past four quarters with growth in 2017 Q4 of 16.0% outpacing consensus by 5.8 percentage points;
  • NXP's performance has been driven by impressive results of “Core NXP” (i.e., the Automotive and Secure Connected Devices segments contributing approximately 69%2 of NXP total revenues)
  • In 2017 H2, NXP’s revenue growth was higher than the median growth for its peers, signaling NXP’s potential and giving credibility to consensus expectation that the company should grow faster than peers at 5.3% CAGR (1.5 percentage points ahead of the median for NXP’s peers);
  • NXP is uniquely placed to radically enhance Qualcomm's long-term strategy

Broadcom sweetens its bid for Qualcomm

Broadcom boosted its unsolicited bid to acquire Qualcomm to $121 billion, or $82 per share, consisting of $60.00 in cash and the remainder in Broadcom shares. Broadcom described the bid as its "best and final offer", saying that it is prepared to pay to Qualcomm "a significant "reverse termination fee" in an amount appropriate for a transaction of this size in the unlikely event we are unable to obtain required regulatory approvals." Several conditions...

Elliott comments on Qualcomm's extended tender for NXP

Elliott Advisors (UK) published an advisory letter to investment funds that now collectively hold an increased economic interest in NXP Semiconductors N.V. of approximately 6.6%. The advisory argues that that NXP is of significant strategic importance to QUALCOMM Incorporated (“Qualcomm”) and that such a transaction will deliver substantial value to Qualcomm shareholders at prices meaningfully higher than Elliott’s own assessment of standalone intrinsic...

Acquisition still not done - Qualcomm extends cash tender offer for NXP shares

Qualcomm extended the offering period of its previously announced cash tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding common shares of NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI). The tender offer is now scheduled to expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on February 9, 2018, unless extended or earlier terminated, in either case pursuant to the terms of the Purchase Agreement. American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, the depositary for the tender...

Elliott Advisors says Qualcomm's bid for NXP is too low

Elliott Advisors (UK), which advises funds that collectively hold an economic interest in NXP Semiconductors of approximately 6%, published an open letter stating that Qualcomm's offer to acquire the company is too low. Elliot believes NXP is worth $135 per share on an intrinsic standalone basis – far above the $110 offered by Qualcomm. Elliott states Qualcomm’s offer of $110 per share is acting as "a ceiling on NXP’s valuation", noting that NXP’s...

Profile of the telecommunications market in Kenya

Preamble: On January 30, 2018, Kenyan authorities ordered the nation’s three leading television stations off the air for their attempts to cover the alternate and unsanctioned "inauguration" of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who claims to have prevailed in last year’s disputed election against President Uhuru Kenyatta.  The High Court of Kenya has ordered the government to allow the stations to resume operations but as of February 03, 2018 the mass communications market remains disrupted. As of Sunday evening, the censorship remains in place and tensions are high, however, telecom and Internet services appear to be operating normally.  In this series of articles, we profile the vibrant telecommunications market in Kenya.

See part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6\

SECTION 1. General political, social, physical and economic overview of Kenya

The total population of Africa according to the U.N. Worldometer as of Friday, January 31st, 2018, was circa 1,274,779,000 and the annual growth rate of this population over the last five years has been about 2.56% per annum. Population density for the country is 42 persons per sq km and the median age of the population is 19.4 years. The level of urbanisation is 42%. According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook estimates of October 2017, the nominal GDP of the 54 countries sovereign nations in Africa in 2016 was $2140.621 billion.

Kenya’s population is almost exactly 4% and its nominal GDP 3.2% of the respective African totals.

Social, economic and political overview

Kenya, located in East Africa with an over 500 km long coast on the Indian Ocean is the world’s 28th largest country in terms of people with an UN-computed population as of the end of January 30th 2018 of 50,420,895. The country’s official languages are Swahili and English but it is extremely diverse ethnically, hosting around 42 different communities including (according to the CIA Factbook) Kikuyu 17% Luhya 14% Luo 11% Kalenjin 13% Kamba 10% Kisii 6% Meru 4% Other African 13% Non-African (Asian European, and Arab) 1%. (NB There are many different versions of this analysis with some claiming Kikuyu represent up to 22% of the population— but this does not change the general ethnographic picture).

The country is of average size for the region, ranking 20th in Africa and 48th in the world. It is not very densely populated (apart from the capital Nairobi and its huge slum of Kibera, located 4 miles from the city centre and described by Wikipedia as “ the largest urban slum in Africa”though estimates of its actual size seem to vary ludicrously from as low as 170,000 to as high as two million people ).

Kenya  is roughly bisected by the Equator, and is geographically very diverse with features that include Mt Kilimanjaro in the extreme south, (the highest mountain in Africa, about 4,900 metres from its base to 5,895 metres above sea level), Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake in the far east, Mt Kenya, (only 12% lower than Kilimanjaro) on the Equator and Lake Turkana in the northwest. Due to its position, the majority of Kenya consists of arid or semi-arid plains and hills including a major desert in the north of the country. These areas offer sparse grazing and habitats for a variety of wildlife as well as tough local breeds of domesticated animals.  6% of the country is forested and about 15-20% is said to be suitable for agriculture.

According to the IMF, Kenya in 2016 with a GDP of $68.919 billion and a nominal GDP per capita of only $1,370 was the world’s 71st richest country. In October 2017 in its World Economic Outlook,  the IMF said it expected the Kenyan economy to grow by 5% in 2017, slightly lower than their projected growth of 5.3% in April and well below a 6% forecast in January 2017.

Political mess in Kenya after two disputed elections

Kenya is a federal democracy with separation of powers of the judiciary, the parliament and the executive run by the president and a degree of autonomy for its 47 counties each of which has its own governor.

However this theoretically democratic political system remains in a difficult state following a disputed August 2017 election nominally won by the Jubilee Alliance under incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu, followed by an October 26th 2017 unopposed election rerun (in which Kenyatta received 96% of the vote) which was boycotted by the National Super Alliance( NASA) opposition under ethnic Luo Raila Odinga, (previously PM of Kenya from 2008 to 2013) and over five months of electoral chaos and bad-tempered arguments between the two factions.

On November 29th, 2017, Uhuru Kenyatta was officially sworn in for another term. However, the NASA opposition has consistently refused to recognise the results of either election and in a dramatic show of defiance, Raila Odinga announced that he would carry out a separate duplicate ceremony on January 30th, 2018 in which he would be sworn-in as president. To support that action NASA have fabricated a case that had the election been fair Raila Odinga would have actually beaten President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 election after garnering 8,104,744 (50.54%) votes to Uhuru's 7,908,215 (48%) votes. On January 30th Odinga did, in fact, carry out this ceremony but it seems it was not very well attended and even Odinga himself was muted in his behaviour and altogether the event was something of an anticlimax. At the same time, the government switched off five TV stations and several radio stations to avoid giving Odinga free publicity.

Relative to its rather limited resources and wealth Kenya has quite a sophisticated social environment not least due to probably one of the most competitive and innovative telecommunications markets in Africa

Telecommunications market overview

Kenya has a strong mobile communications market with around 40 million subscriptions but only a tiny fixed-line market of around 70,000 lines. Traditional copper line subscriptions continue to decline steadily but there has been rapid growth from a low base in demand for optical fibre connections.

Based on the fact that the main operator Safaricom has around a 70% share of most markets and the fact that its annual sales are around $2 billion the total Kenyan services market would appear to be worth around $3 billion or almost exactly 4% of the country’s projected 2017 GDP. This is a little on the high side compared to global norms but can be partially explained by the unusual extent to which Kenyan citizens have taken up mobile banking, mobile payment and e-commerce, with Safaricom being a particularly strong supplier of the first two services.

to be continued