Improved satellite infrastructure expected to make a vast difference in Tuvalu

September 27th, 2016, by

Tuvalu has a very small population on a global scale, with less than 10,000 inhabitants on the remote and scattered group of nine inhabited coral atolls. Mobile subscriber penetration sits at around 40% in Tuvalu, compared to fixed broadband at only 10% penetration. Surprisingly, this fixed broadband penetration is comparatively quite high when compared to most other South Pacific nations.

Tuvalu Telecommunications Corporation (TCC) is the government-owned and sole provider of telecommunication services. While it holds the monopoly in Tuvalu; in 2012 an amendment to the Telecommunications Act paved the way for government to license a second operator in the future.

TCC is working to improve telecoms services across Tuvalu which is heavily based on satellite technology. TCC has signed deals with Kacific Broadband Satellite which will see increases to high-speed bandwidth capacity over the next few years.

In addition, in 2015 Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) and TTC announced they had signed a 5-year contract to improve capacity and offer higher speed Internet for schools, hospitals and banks as well increased IP backhaul capacity for the mobile network.

These developments will go a long way to improve the telecoms services for citizens of Tuvalu.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Tuvalu – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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Hello from Amsterdam

September 27th, 2016, by

This time to report, not on developments in the Netherlands, but on the progress of the Dutch Smart City mission that will be arriving in Australia at the end of October.

This year is the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dirk Hartog in what is now Shark Bay, Western Australia. He placed an inscribed pewter plaque on a pole at what is now known as Inscription Point). This was the first European historic artefact on Australian soil.

To celebrate the anniversary the King and the Queen of the Netherland will make an official visit to Australia, and they will bring with them a trade delegation that will include a 25-person smart city delegation. The group includes representatives from local governments and private industry. I am assisting the Dutch Government to organise the mission, and for that purpose I am currently in the Netherlands.

The international group will visit seven cities during their week-long visit and meetings in these cities will be hosted by the local councils. They will start out in Adelaide and from there travel to Canberra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Sydney, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast. These cities have been selected as being among the leading smart cities in Australia.

They will meet with local mayors and council directors, as well as with local businesses involved in the building of their smart cities. They will also visit various smart city projects in each of these cities.

On 3 November the Dutch Australian Smart City Summit will take place in Sydney, organised in collaboration with the Australian Smart Communities Association (ASCA). Ministers from both countries will attend this event. There will be presentations on the national smart plans of both countries and a discussion on how to assist each other in these developments. There will be presentations on the leading smart cities in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven) and ASCA’s president, Michael Whereat, will update the visitors on developments in Australia.

Panel discussions will take place and, in the presence of the Queen of the Netherlands, Her Majesty Maxima of Orange, ministers, and Mrs Lucy Turnbull, there will be an official signing ceremony between Australian smart cities and the abovementioned Dutch cities, as well as a larger international group of smart cities from Europe, North America and Asia (the GSC3 Alliance).

The Summit will end with a networking luncheon.

So, a busy week in the Netherlands ensuring that both sides will get the most out of this event.

Paul Budde

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Macedonia’s market consolidation leaves only two MNOs

September 27th, 2016, by

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) has been a European Union (EU) candidate country since 2005. As part of the EU pre-accession process, the country has built closer economic ties with the Union: the EU accounts for 60% of Macedonia’s exports and about half of its imports. Closer regulatory and administrative ties with European Commission (EC) institutions have done much to develop the telecom sector and prepare the market for the competitive environment encouraged in the EU.

As part of EU integration legislation has implemented the principles of the EU’s regulatory framework for communications, established an independent regulator and set out a number of provisions to provide for a competitive telecom market, including wholesale access to the incumbent’s fixed-line network. Although the fixed telephony market has been liberalised, the incumbent MakTel continues to dominate the sector. Broadband services are widely available, with effective competition between DSL and cable platforms complemented by wireless broadband and a fast developing fibre sector. Into 2016 the number of DSL subscribers has continue to fall as customers are migrated to fibre networks.

Macedonia’s mobile market is now served by only two mobile network operators, MakTel and Vip, the latter being formed by the merger of the local business units of Telekom Slovenije and Telekom Austria. Vip in May 2016 was also merged with its sister company Blizoo, and so has been able to provide a full suite of converged services. Mobile data services are becoming increasingly important following investments in LTE network rollouts and in upgrades to LTE-A technology.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Macedonia – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media – Statistics and Analyses

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Islamic militias in Libya undermine investor confidence

September 26th, 2016, by

Libya’s civil war has crippled the country’s economy and disrupted its telecommunications sector. Considerable telecom infrastructure has been destroyed or stolen, including about a quarter of the country’s mobile tower sites. Reconstruction efforts continue to be stymied by political and military disturbances which affect much of the country, while with two opposing administrations, in Tripoli and Tobruk, there is no consensus as to how to rebuild infrastructure on a national scale despite attempts to reach a political solution in December 2015.

As a result of these difficulties, and heightened insecurity, prices for internet connections and SIM cards have increased dramatically, while telecom services have been regularly disrupted, particularly in the eastern region of the country. Benghazi was cut off from all telecom networks for a number of months in 2015.

In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to Malta, and since then both rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts in an attempt to assume control of the company. The collapsing economy, which saw GDP fall dramatically in recent years and looks set to continue into 2017, has stymied the ability of telcos to invest in infrastructure, ,.

Under the Gaddafi regime, virtually the entire telecom and internet sector was in government hands, with the unique situation of three government-owned mobile networks supposed to compete with each other. One of these networks, Libyana, was to have been privatised through an IPO in late 2014, though instead elements of the operator’s mobile network were split off to create a separate operator serving the eastern part of the country.

A new Telecommunications Law has been drafted and the government is in the process of establishing an independent regulatory authority. Since the downfall of the old regime, 25 ISPs have already been licensed to compete with the government-owned former monopoly, as well as 23 VSAT operators.

Despite the destruction, Libya’s telecommunications infrastructure is superior to those in most other African countries. Massive investments had been made by the former government into a next-generation national fibre optic backbone network. There was considerable expansion of DSL and WiMAX broadband services, and new international fibre connections and upgrades made to existing ones. Libya also had one of Africa’s first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments. The first terabit international fibre optic cable landed in the country in 2010, followed by a second in 2013. Investments into telecommunications infrastructure totalling S10 billion were earmarked for the 15 years to 2020, though given the civil strife in recent years it is difficult to say how much of this will be put into effect.

With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. So far only one of the mobile networks has launched third-generation (3G) broadband services. Fixed-line penetration has fallen significantly as a result of the war but is also expected to see a renaissance, including fibre, as the demand for very high-speed broadband increases.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

Libya – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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South Sudan’s mobile players scale back operations in face of civil unrest

September 26th, 2016, by

Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011and became an independent nation. Having been deprived of investment for decades, it inherited one of the least developed telecommunications and internet markets in the world, while other infrastructure is also lamentably poor. Although this potentially can create investment opportunities for infrastructure and service providers, such developments largely depend on a negotiated end to the protracted civil war which erupted in December 2013, and which has caused considerable mayhem and bloodshed, particularly in the oil-producing areas. While the struggle continues, and many international workers have sought sanctuary in UN bases across the country, investors in all economic sectors have been discouraged.

There was once investment activity among mobile network operators who sought to expand their networks in some areas of the country, but by late 2016 both Zain South Sudan and MTN South Sudan had cut back their workforces in a bid to save on operating costs, while their falling subscriber bases have strained revenue, with Zain South Sudan in particular recording dire financial losses in 2015 and for the first half of 2016. Operators in the telecom sector, as in other markets, are placing themselves in survival mode and hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability.

At only around 23% penetration, one of the lowest in Africa, South Sudan’s mobile market has many years of strong growth ahead of it. The virtually untapped internet and broadband market will kick off once the country gains access to international fibre optic cables and a national backbone network is put in place. Sophisticated infrastructure solutions are needed to reach the 80% of the population that live outside of the main urban centres. With a negligible rate of bank account ownership, mobile payment and banking solutions are set to dominate the country’s financial services sector as well.

The limits to growth are currently defined by widespread poverty and a low literacy rate, but the government recognises the positive feedback loop on development that access to information and communication technologies (ICT) can have and is providing a range of investment incentives. The international community has provided $4 billion in aid to strengthen governance and institutions in the young nation.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: South Sudan – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses

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