ICT: The week in 10 stories

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Friday, August 25, 2017

THE COMEBACK KIDS

This week saw the comeback of two controversial phones: Samsung's Note series, which was withdrawn last year due its tendency to catch fire; and in Latin America the resuscitation of the BlackBerry brand.

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Samsung demonstrated its staying power and ability to recover from the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 battery failures by launching the Note 8 in New York and building on the successful arrival of the Galaxy S8 earlier this year.

And the numbers back that up.

Samsung retained its leadership in Latin America in Q2 with a 40.9% share of total sales, followed by LG in a distant second place (10.1%), Motorola (9.9%) and Huawei (8.5%).

Colombia and Brazil were the fastest growing markets, with sales hikes of 26% and 12%, respectively, the latter boosted by the entry of new brands such as Meizu, Infinix and Xiaomi.

Another brand attempting a comeback is Blackberry. The once highly successful smartphone reached a licensing agreement with Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL last year for the latter to manufacture the phones and licensing security software and services.

TCL launched the BlackBerry KeyOne, a sophisticated, stylish-looking phone based on the Android operating system. The draw to the phone, BlackBerry argues, is its physical keyboard, which will appeal to nostalgia for some, as well as its superior security and the alerts hub for productivity.

But whether nostalgia will be enough to carry this phone in a highly competitive market is the big question.

SUBMARINE CABLE

Uruguayan state telco Antel inaugurated the 2,000km Uruguay-Brazil stretch of a submarine cable that will also connect to the US.

The stretch, dubbed Tannat, has six fiber pairs and a capacity of 90 Tbps. It was built by Antel and Google and runs from Santos in Brazil to Maldonado (Uruguay).

The cable will link Monet, a 10,500km cable running from Boca Raton, Florida (US), to Fortaleza and Santos in Brazil. Partners in that stretch are Google, Algar Telecom, Angola Cables and Antel. The cable has six fiber pairs and a capacity of 60 Tbps. Monet is due for inauguration later this year.

ROAMING USA

Mexico's leading mobile operator Telcel signed an agreement with US telco AT&T for the provision of national roaming services.

Telcel signed a similar agreement with Spanish operator Telefónica last December. Now both of Telcel's competitors will be able to use its network in areas they do not cover.

E-COMMERCE

Brazil's e-commerce sector broke the barrier of 50mn products purchased online for a half-year for the first time.

The figures come from the Webshoppers report released by Brazilian e-commerce consultancy and research firm Ebit.

Overall, local e-commerce generated revenues of 21bn reais (US$6.68bn) in the first half of 2017, which was nominal growth (excluding inflation) of 7.5% compared to the same period of 2016.

Meanwhile, a study from PayPal showed the number of online stores in Argentina has grown 15.8% in the last year.

In May, Argentina posted record sales in its Hotsale e-commerce discount event, reaching 3.45bn pesos (US$200mn), up 33% compared to 2016, according to event organizer the Argentine e-commerce chamber (CACE).

THE HONDURAN IDENTITY

The Honduran government has approved the creation of an international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) database to fight phone theft and contraband.

Telecom regulator Conatel will be responsible for the registry, which will complement an existing blacklist implemented in 2014. However, malicious actors have managed to evade the blacklist by cloning IMEI numbers.

COLOMBIA MAKING STRIDES IN IT

Colombia has made strides in closing the country's digital gap through several initiatives, as evidenced by the fact that 64% of the country's households now have an internet connection.

The figure was unveiled by ICT minister David Luna during the opening keynote of the Andicom 2017 conference. Of the households that do not have an internet connection, 8% said it was because their region of residence lacked coverage. Colombia has 1,075 fiber-connected municipalities, up from 200 in 2010.

GOOD MORNING PERU

Viettel, the Vietnamese-owned telco that has operated in Peru through the Bitel brand since 2014, plans to invest US$45mn in 2017.

From 2014 to the end of 2016, the company invested US$700mn mainly in network rollout, expansion and maintenance, Bitel CEO Phan Hoang Viet said. Bitel reached 4.35mn lines in June, giving it an 11% market share. The company is the fourth biggest operator.

AT&T/TIME WARNER MERGER APPROVED IN MEXICO

US telco AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner was approved by Mexican regulatory authorities and could be the first consolidation of infrastructure and content service providers in Mexico.

Last October AT&T announced its plans to acquire Time Warner for a total of nearly US$86bn. The transaction is yet to be approved in the US.

WHAT'S IT LIKE AS AN SAP PARTNER?

One of SAP's biggest partners in Latin America, Spanish software and computer consulting firm Seidor has ambitious plans to double its revenues in the region to US$200mn in the 2015-20 period.

BNamericas spoke to Raül Cerdà, managing partner at Seidor Chile, during the recent SAP Partner Leadership Summit in Mexico about the challenges of being a partner and convincing clients of the urgency of digital transformation.

WANNAHACK?

The WannaCry incident was just one of many cyber attacks that have taken place this year, and which has led many companies to question the efficiency of their security mechanisms.