African market realities continue to bite Vodafone’s regional partner Afrimax Group, as a second of the operator’s business units hit difficulties.

  • Another setback for Vodafone’s diminishing Partner Markets federation as flagship sub-Saharan African commercial and operational collaboration is reduced to just one territory.

Vodafone’s three-and-a-half-year Partner Markets relationship with sub-Saharan African wireless specialist Afrimax Group continued to appear in disarray after the collapse of a second of the provider’s Vodafone-branded businesses in less than six months.

Vodafone Uganda, a small local wireless broadband provider launched by Afrimax in 2014 (as Afrimax Uganda), which subsequently adopted the Vodafone marque after its 2014 Group tie-up, appointed administrators in mid-February 2018 to “help better restructure the business”.

Afrimax said the unit was shifting to a “new strategy that will involve a significant realignment of its commercial focus and operational model”, and the decision to place it in administration was deemed necessary after its Board decided to “make further changes to turn around the company much faster”.

Reuters subsequently reported the unit had gained a three-month protective order from creditors — which are said to include passive network provider Eaton Towers — and that there had been expressions of interest from potential buyers.

The Ugandan business has long struggled commercially, only attracting around 40, 000 of the country’s estimated 16 million internet users since its formation.

Its entrance into administration followed a series of technical problems with its TD-LTE network, prompting the business in January 2018 to apologise for the “deterioration in the quality of our services over the past few weeks”. The cost of transmission capacity has been mooted as a major factor in the business’s problems, and, notably, the unit had blamed its technical issues on “transmission outages at a number of our network sites”.

Local reports suggested recent cuts in data fees by Uganda’s main mobile operators, including Airtel Uganda, MTN Uganda, and Africell Uganda, had exacerbated Vodafone Uganda’s issues, and that its restricted footprint (covering only the capital Kampala) had played against it as well.

Hints of broader problems at Afrimax

The move came amid further hints that Afrimax’s difficulties reach more widely.

In a separate February 2018 statement focused on the sale of its BusyInternet Ghana unit, Afrimax Chief Executive Lars Stock indicated that Afrimax Group itself was also “restructuring”. He was cited by Citi Business News as saying that the “successful sale of our business in Ghana is in line with our restructuring strategy aimed at building a next-generation 4G business in Africa”. No further detail was offered.

Afrimax did not get back to Vodafonewatch on the Group agreement’s broader status, and its official website for joint activities with Vodafone (www.afrimaxvodafonepartner.com) was unavailable when Vodafonewatch made repeated checks during March 2018.

Uneasy spot versus Vodacom remains a further question mark

The demise of Vodafone Uganda follows the November 2017 closure of Vodafone Cameroon, another Group-affiliated Afrimax business, after a licensing dispute (Vodafonewatch, #159 and #160).

This leaves only one Afrimax operation — Vodafone Zambia — within the Partner Markets umbrella, and questions linger over how that operation will navigate potential conflict with Vodacom Group’s local wireless business Africonnect Zambia (Vodafonewatch, #145).

There also remains the broader issue of how Vodafone’s Afrimax tie-up fits with revived regional expansion ambitions at Vodacom, as seen with its recent take over of Vodafone’s interest in Kenya’s Safaricom.

When first tying with Vodafone in 2014, Afrimax had indicated it was seeking to expand into as many as 15 African territories, supported by a “strategic framework agreement” with the Group in select markets. The business last announced a funding round in September 2015, saying it had gained $120m (£86.6m/EUR97.5m) of “growth funding” from investors including Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., Spanish investment group Torreal, a private equity outfit called Four G Capital, and the International Finance Corporation.

Image: ilf_ / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

Deals

Qatar latest for chop in Group retrenchment [p6]

  • Table 1: Vodafone Qatar and Ooredoo Qatar comparison
  • Vodafone continues to struggle to cement MENA relationships
  • New backers sought for Vodafone Qatar 2.0

Liberty talks get DT boss höt under the collar [p9]

  • Vodafone deal for Unitymedia “close”
  • Table 2: Vodafone and Liberty Global footprint comparison
  • Protective DT boss goes full bore
  • Colao bites back
  • Liberty’s Fries sizzles over negotiations heat
  • Table 3: People movement highlights
  • Table 4: Partner/supplier people movement highlights

GROUP COMMERCIAL

Afrimax partnership takes another blow [p14]

  • Hints of broader problems at Afrimax
  • Uneasy spot versus Vodacom remains a further question mark

Vodafone flags convergence-focused Secure Net upgrade [p17]

  • Further developments in pipeline

Vodafone invites Samsung into smart-home [p18]

  • More Things coming
  • All part of an over-arching consumer IoT plan

GROUP TECHNOLOGY

Vodafone sharpens 5G street cred with vendor buddies [p19]

  • Another sign of Group eagerness for quicker 3.4GHz-3.8GHz action
  • Backhaul to the future
  • Slicing and dicing with Cisco
  • Nokia on Milan’s door

Heeran fires cloud-native warning shot at NFV vendors [p23]

  • Netcracker sweet
  • Netscout reconnoitres another Group win
  • More VMware vim
  • Agile cloud-native with Huawei

Lack of bustle for JCDecaux street-cell tie-ups [p26]

  • A hard cell
  • Vodafone small-cell plans remain a notable unticked box

Vodafone motors to the edge with Saguna and AWS [p28]

  • Colao’s Lamborghini

EUROPE REGION

Germany

Vodafone teams with Telefónica for fibre backhaul [p31]

  • Serving 5G and the greater good
  • Vodafone picks up short-dated spectrum as part of deal
  • Nine years later, Groups’ sharing effort reaches Germany
  • Table 5: Major, publicised Vodafone network-sharing initiatives, to early-2018

Netherlands

VfZ on notice to open up cable network for first time [p34]

  • Risk of ACM being EC trend-setter played down
  • A regulatory war on many fronts for challenged JV

Romania

VfR snaps up fleet management player [p37]

  • More bottom-up than top-down

Spain

VfS seeks to switch up on FTTH with push beyond cities [p38]

  • Show us the money
  • A big playa
  • Table 6: Major Spanish operators, NGA position comparison (including February 2018 Orange-Telefónica wholesale deal).
  • Three’s a crowd for VfS after Orange-Telefónica deal

UK

VfUK launches 4G small-cell in-building solution [p42]

  • Opencell formally joins Vodafone small-cell ecosystem

AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST & ASIA-PACIFIC REGION

Australia — Vodafone Hutchison Australia

Hutchison still “strongly” behind VHA [p46]

  • Figure 1: VHA end-year mobile customer base, 2009-2017
  • JV’s user recovery continues, but not complete or unique

Vodacom Group

Consultancy drops call for Safaricom break-up [p48]

  • Actually, there’s not that much dominance…
  • …especially if there’s money-platform interoperability
  • Not much of a public consultation, CA

Safaricom launches music streaming service [p50]

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 19, 21
5G Automotive Association 8

A

Aditya Birla Group
– Idea Cellular 33
Africa 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 45, 48, 50
– Congo 13
– Ghana 15
– Kenya 12, 15, 48, 49, 50
– – Central Bank of Kenya 49
– Libya 7
– North Africa 7
– South Africa 12, 13, 21
– Sub-Sahara 12, 14
– Tanzania 33
– Uganda 14, 15
– Zambia 15
Afrimax Group 14, 15
Agile Software Inc. 23, 26
Airspan Networks 43
Alcatel-Lucent 12, 23, 27, 43
Allot Communications 31
Altice Group 14
Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH)
– Vodafone Fiji 8
Amazon.com Inc. 25, 28
– Amazon Web Services 25, 28
Americas
– Brazil 27
– North America 27
– USA 9, 12, 20, 27, 34, 42
– – States
– – – New York 9
Analysys Mason 48, 49
Apple 38
– iOS 50
Arqiva 33
Asavie 35, 36
Asia-Pacific 20, 27
– Australia 33, 46
– – National Broadband Network (NBN) 8, 46
– China 7, 8, 19, 21
– Hong Kong 50
– India 33
– Japan 24
Asstel, Italy 13, 37
AT&T 35, 36
Axiata Group Bhd (TM International)
– India (Idea Cellular, see also Aditya Birla) 33

B

Bharti Group 8, 33
– Airtel 8, 14, 33, 49
– – Africa
– – – Kenya 49
– Indus Towers 33
BT Group 7, 39, 40
– Openreach 40

C

China Mobile 8
Cisco Systems 19, 21, 43
CityFibre 40
Comcast Corp. 14

D

Dell 12
Deutsche Bank 11
Deutsche Telekom 9, 10, 11
– Europe
– – Netherlands 35
– – UK (EE) 7, 39
Digicel 13
Dixons Carphone 43
du (Emirates Integrated Telecommunications) 7

E

Eaton Towers 14, 33
EE (see DT, FT) 7, 39
Electricity Supply Board (Ireland) 36
EMC 12
– VMware 23, 24, 25
Enel SpA 13, 22
Equity Bank Limited 49
Ericsson 12, 20, 28, 43, 46
Etisalat 13
– Etisalat Misr (Egypt) 13
Europe 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 27, 30, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41
– Albania 9, 17
– Austria 9, 11
– Czech Republic 9, 31
– Denmark 40
– Finland 21, 22
– France 13
– Germany 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 20, 31, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41
– – Bundesnetzagentur für Elektrizität, Gas, Telekommunikation, Post und Eisenbahnen (BNetzA, RegTP, FNA, or German Federal Network Agency) 31
– – Länder
– – – Berlin 34
– Greece 9, 17, 33
– Hungary 9, 20
– Ireland 9, 17, 33, 35, 36, 40
– Italy 9, 10, 13, 17, 19, 21, 22, 28, 33, 37
– – Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) 37
– Latvia 40
– Malta 9, 20
– Netherlands 9, 13, 25, 26, 27, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38
– Poland 9
– Portugal 6, 9, 17, 33, 40
– – ANACOM 6
– Romania 9, 17, 20, 33, 37, 39
– Spain 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 33, 38, 40, 41
– – Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia 38, 40
– Switzerland 9
– Turkey 7, 8, 13, 17, 33, 43, 47
– United Kingdom (UK) 6, 7, 9, 12, 17, 33, 39, 40, 42, 43, 48
– – Advertising Standards Authority 39
– – Office of Communications (Ofcom) 6, 12, 39
European Aviation Safety Agency 11
European Union 22, 35, 36, 38, 39, 42
– Council of the European Union 38
– European Commission 6, 20, 22, 34, 35, 36
– European Court of Justice 36
Euskaltel S.A. 13, 40, 41
Expedia 50

F

Facebook 11, 39
– WhatsApp 11
Ford Motor Company
– Jaguar 13

G

Globalia Corporacion Empresarial
– Pepephone 40
Goldman Sachs 20
Google 11, 38, 46, 50
– Android 38, 46, 50
– Google Play 46
GSM Association (GSMA) 11, 33
– Mobile World Congress 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 28

H

Helios Investment Partners
– Helios Towers Africa, Ltd. 33
Huawei Technologies 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 43
Hutchison Whampoa 46
– Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Ltd 46, 47
– Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Ltd (Hutchinson Telecom/HTHKH/3 Hong Kong) 46
– Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd (VHA, (see Vodafone) 13, 33, 46, 47

I

Indus Towers 33
Infobip 11
Intel
– McAfee 31
International Finance Corp. 15
ip.access 43

J

Jazztel 40
JCDecaux Group 26, 27
Juniper Networks 24

K

KPMG International 48
KPN 33, 34, 35, 36, 38

L

Land Rover 13
Largo Ltd
– WIND Hellas 33
Liberty Global 9, 14, 25, 31, 34, 35
– UPC Germany GmbH
– – Unitymedia GmbH 9, 10, 31
– Ziggo 34, 35, 36, 38

M

Mango 9
Market segments
– Fixed broadband 46
– M-payment 49
– Network-sharing 32, 33
– Outsourcing 33
– Small- to medium-size enterprise (SME/SMB) 35, 36
– Voice 18, 26, 34, 39, 48
Middle East 7, 8, 13, 14
– Bahrain 7, 8
– Iraq 7
– Israel 17
– Kuwait 7
– Qatar 6, 7, 8, 33
– – Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development 6, 7, 8
– United Arab Emirates 7
Millicom International Cellular
– MIC Tanzania Limited (tiGO/ Mobitel/Buzz) 33
– Tigo Ghana 33
MTN 12, 13, 14
– Uganda 14

N

NEC Corporation 24, 42
Netcracker Technology 23, 24, 25
Netflix Inc. 14
NetOne 13
Netscout Systems 25
Nokia 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, 34, 43
NTT 46

O

Oger Telecom
– Avea 33
Ooredoo 6, 8, 33
Open Network Automation Platform 8, 24
Orange
– Kenya (Telkom Kenya, see separate) 49
– Orange 14, 33, 38, 39, 40, 41, 49
– Romania 33
– Spain 33, 38, 39
– UK (see EE) 7, 39

P

Polkomtel 8
Proximus Group
– Belgacom Mobile NV/SA (Proximus) 8
prpl Foundation 18

Q

Qatar Foundation Consortium 6, 7, 8

R

Reggefiber 36

S

Safaricom 8, 12, 15, 46, 48, 49, 50
– M-PESA 12, 46, 48, 49
Samsung 18
Singapore Telecom
– Optus (Australia) 33, 47
SoftBank Corp. 8
– SoftBank Mobile 8
Sony Corp. 50
– Sony Music 50
– Sony Music Entertainment 50
Spartan Capital Holdings
– Polkomtel 8
SpiderCloud Wireless 42, 43
Sprint Nextel 12
Swisscom 8
– Fastweb 22, 37
– Swisscom Mobile 8

T

Technology
– 2G 33
– – GSM 11, 33
– 3G 20, 32, 33, 42, 43
– – Evolved HSPA (HSPA+/I-HSPA)
– – – MIMO 22
– 4G 11, 15, 19, 22, 26, 27, 28, 34, 39, 42, 43
– – Long Term Evolution (LTE) 19, 26, 31
– – – LTE TDD 14
– – VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE) 26
– 5G 7, 8, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 31, 32, 39, 46
– Cloud computing 12, 13, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 35, 36
– DSL 41
– Ethernet 13
– Fibre 10, 13, 20, 22, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41
– – FTTP 40
– FTTH 38, 39, 40, 41
– GPS 37
– IP 20, 21
– Mobile TV 47
– NGN 41
– RAN 42
– RBT 50
– R&D 7
– RF 20, 21
– SIM 8, 11, 35, 36
– Smartphone 17, 18, 22, 31, 38
– SMS 49
– Spectrum 19, 20, 22, 27, 31, 32, 34, 39
– – 1800 MHz 34
– – 3500 MHz 20, 32
– – Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 28
– Submarine 12
– Tablet 38
– Telematics 12
– W-LAN 18, 27, 46
Tele2 35, 36
– Netherlands 35
Telecom Italia 12, 22, 37
– Telecom Italia Mobile 37
Telefónica Group 20, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41
– Europe
– – España 38
– – Ireland 33
– – UK 32, 33
Telenor ASA 11
TeliaSonera 11
– Yoigo (Xfera) 40
Telkom Kenya Ltd (Orange Kenya) 49
Telstra 47
Texas Pacific Group (TPG) 46, 47
Twenty-First Century Fox
– Sky
– – Sky Italia 37

U

UPC 9, 34, 35, 36

V

Verizon Communications 8, 27
– Verizon Wireless 8
Vivendi
– SFR (Société Française de Radiotéléphone) 8
Vodacom Group 12, 13, 15, 21, 33, 46, 48
– Congo 13
– Group 12, 15, 46, 48
– South Africa 12, 13, 21
– Tanzania 33
– Vodacom Business 12, 13
– Vodacom Service Provider
– – Africell 14
Vodafone
– Africa, Middle East, and Asia Pacific Region (AMAP) 7, 45
– – Africa 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 45, 48, 50
– – Asia 20, 27
– – Australia 33, 46
– – – VHA Pty. Ltd (see Hutchison Whampoa) 46, 47
– – Egypt 7, 8, 13
– – Ghana 15, 33
– – India 8, 33, 46
– – – Indus Towers 33
– – Kenya (see Safaricom) 8, 12, 15, 46, 48, 49, 50
– – Middle East 7, 8, 13, 14
– – Pacific 27
– – Qatar (see Vodafone and Qatar Foundation and Vodafone Qatar) 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 33
– – South Africa (see Vodacom) 12, 13, 15, 21, 33, 46, 48
– – Turkey 7, 8, 13, 17, 33, 43, 47
– Europe Region 25, 30
– – Albania 9, 17
– – Cable & Wireless Worldwide 42
– – Czech Republic 9, 13, 31
– – Germany 9, 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 40, 41
– – – KDG Holding GmbH (Kabel Deutschland) 9, 10, 35
– – Greece 9, 13, 17, 33
– – – Victus Networks 33
– – Hungary 9, 20
– – Ireland 9, 13, 17, 33, 35, 36, 40
– – – Netshare Ireland 33
– – – SIRO 36
– – Italy 9, 10, 13, 17, 19, 21, 22, 28, 33, 37
– – Malta 8, 9, 20
– – Netherlands 9, 13, 26, 27, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 43
– – – VodafoneZiggo 9, 25, 27, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38
– – Portugal 6, 9, 17, 33, 40
– – Romania 9, 13, 17, 20, 33, 37, 39
– – Spain 7, 9, 11, 17, 18, 19, 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41
– – – Grupo Corporativo Ono (ONO) 35, 40, 41
– – UK 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 17, 20, 32, 33, 39, 40, 42, 43, 48
– – – Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd 32, 33
– – – Talkmobile 13
– Executives 12
– – Ametsreiter, Hannes 32
– – Bisio, Aldo 13
– – Brundidge, Blake 12
– – Colao, Vittorio 9, 10, 11, 18, 20, 28
– – Dawe, Steve 12
– – Gray, Ian 8, 13
– – Guindani, Pietro 13
– – Heeran, Fran 23
– – Iskos, Lampros 13
– – Kovaios, Leonidas 13
– – McGrath, Andrew 12
– – O’Leary, Anne 36
– – Pavese, Alessandra 12
– – Peacock, Matt 12
– – Read, Nick 12
– – Reynolds, Lucy 13
– – Roberts, Nick 12
– – Rodrigues, Miguel 12
– – Ryan, Andrew 12
– – Sdralia, Vaia 12
– – Sennaroglu, Ugur 13
– – Tenorio, Santiago 19
– – Tomoum, Haitham 13
– – Valente, Rui 12
– Ex-executives
– – Burke, Chris 43
– – Combes, Michel 12
– – Geldmacher, Jan 12
– – Jhamb, Vivek 12
– – Rook, Ivo 12
– – Shuter, Rob 12
– Group 12, 13, 43, 46
– – Americas (see Verizon Wireless) 13
– – Partner Markets 6, 7, 14, 15
– – – Africa (Afrimax) 14, 15
– – – Bahrain (Zain) 7, 8
– – – Belgium (Proximus) 8, 9
– – – Fiji (Vodafone Fiji) 8
– – – France (SFR/Vivendi) 8
– – – Hong Kong (Hutchison Telecom) 46
– – – Kenya (Safaricom) 8, 12, 15, 46, 48, 49, 50
– – – Poland (Polkomtel) 8
– – – Switzerland (Swisscom) 8
– – – United Arab Emirates (du) 7
– – R&D 28
– – Vodafone Carrier Services 12
– – Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) 12, 13
– – Vodafone Ventures
– – – SpiderCloud Wireless (see separate) 42, 43
– Investments & Associates
– – Americas (see Verizon Wireless) 8
– Products
– – Auto Manager 37
– – Europe 12
– – Family 31
– – Liberty (Malta) 9, 11, 14, 25, 31, 34, 35, 36
– – marque 14
– – MyVodafone (Romania) 39
– – Red 17
– – V by Vodafone 18
– – Vodafone Pass 6
– – Vodafone Protect 31
– – Vodafone TV 47
– Project Spring 27
Vodafone and Qatar Foundation 6
Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C. 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 33
Volkswagen 34

W

Warner Music 50

Z

Zain (MTC) 7, 8

About

About Vodafonewatch

Report: #163
Published: March 2018
Next report: April 2018
For more information visit: Vodafonewatch