Archive for June, 2017

Czech government proposes laws to reduce mobile voice and data charges

Friday, June 30th, 2017

The Czech Republic has a sophisticated telecom market, with effective competition in all sectors provided by a number of alternative operators. The incumbent telco O2 Czech Republic remains the dominant player though alternative operators are gaining market share, partly through organic growth and partly though merger and acquisition activity.

O2 Czech Republic, majority owned by the investment firm PPF Group, is facing a challenging task of stabilising revenue in the wake of a gradual customer migration from fixed-line to mobile networks for voice and data services. The company has transitioned itself to face these market challenges, having split into separate divisions and created the CETIN unit to manage the fixed and mobile networks while also operating as a wholesale network provider.

Growth in the Czech Republic’s fixed-line broadband market has slowed in line with higher penetration. The sector has more recently seen stronger growth in the cable sector as the key player UPC continues to upgrade its network to provide far faster services than are available with DSL. UPC’s parent Liberty Global is investing in DOCSIS3.1 technology: 1Gb/s services are expected to be available by the end of 2017. The migration away from DSL has also been prompted by the expansion of fibre networks, which are being built out by a number of telcos. Fixed wireless broadband remains strong, with penetration among the highest in the EU. Widespread broadband access has laid the foundation for a developing internet society, with a range of online services and activities taking place.

The mobile market has attracted investment from a number of major European telcos, including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Group and Telefónica. The mobile services provider U:fon was acquired by Nordic Investors and now trades as Nordic Telecom.

All telcos have focused on growing revenue by marketing mobile broadband and other value-added services such as mobile content and applications. To this end they have invested in LTE infrastructure and technologies. LTE coverage reaches about 98% of the population, while technologies including LTE-A and tri-band carrier aggregation are being widely deployed. T-Mobile and O2 are both active in developing services and applications based on 5G.

The Czech Republic’s media market is evolving under the weight of digital TV and convergence trends, with over half the population now receiving TV services digitally. The uptake of IPTV services is growing on the back of more affordable broadband access while the cable TV market has undergone consolidation to create a major player sizeable enough to compete effectively against the telecoms incumbent.

Analogue switch-off is continuing on a regional basis in the free-to-air broadcasting market as the uptake of digital terrestrial TV improves. In March 2017 digital TV was broadcast using the DVB-T2 standard, initially from two transmitting towers.

Covering developments in the market and regulatory environment, this report gives an insight into the evolving Czech fixed-line telecoms and IT markets, offering valuable statistics, profiles of the major operators and infrastructure deployed. The report details the mobile market, providing an overview of the network operators Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and Nordic Telekom, as well as developments in technologies and regulatory affairs. In addition the report covers the fixed broadband market, profiling the key players, assessing access platforms and market trends and delivering a variety of insightful statistics as well as a forecast for broadband take-up to 2022.

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

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Cuba prepares for 3G services launch

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Cuba’s telecom sector remains a peculiarity, with state control having stymied rather than promoted the development of all sectors. The country has the lowest mobile phone and internet penetration rates in the region, while fixed-line teledensity is also very low. Fixed-line and mobile services remain a monopoly of the government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETESCA Cubacel).

Although there remain substantial state controls over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the internet, a thawing of relations between the US and Cuba has encouraged the government to improve access to services. Since 2015 Wi-Fi hotspots have been put in place, numbering some 317 by the end of 2016. Connectivity is slow, and in many public areas a thriving black market has emerged in which connections are duplicated using software or nano routers. This allows a greater number of people to access the internet, given the high price imposed by ETESCA, though low connectivity means that accessible services are often basic.

The cost of internet access was reduced to CUS1.50 per hour in December 2016 though it is still prohibitively expensive for most Cubans. Access to sites is also tightly controlled and censored. A nascent DSL service is being developed in areas of Havana, though again with costs set too high for most Cubans. Similarly, 3G services are being prepared for launch, perhaps by the end of 2017. To this end ETESCA has installed a number of base stations while a US-based telcos have signed interconnection and roaming agreements to facilitate services, aimed at US tourists.

The ongoing normalisation of relations with the US promises to have considerable economic benefits for Cuba. This is particularly important given the dire economic difficulties of the country’s chief sponsor, Venezuela. In January 2016 the FCC allowed US firms to do business directly with the Cuban telecom sector. In addition, the government has looked favourably on proposals for a new subsea cable to link Cuba directly with Florida, which would supplement the only direct international cable access, via the ALBA-1 cable from Venezuela.

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

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Mobile licence of Jamaica’s third operator under review

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Jamaica’s telecom sector is largely propped up by the maturing mobile sector. The merger between Digicel and Claro’s Jamaican business in 2012 strengthened Digicel’s dominance of the sector. Both Digicel and is only rival, Flow (supported by its new owner Liberty Global), have extended their 3G network across the island and have also invested in developing their LTE services. This progress has considerably improved access to broadband services, with mobile internet accounting for the vast majority of internet access. The regulator has endeavoured to develop the MVNO sector in a bid to improve competition. Although it had intended to licence up to 12 operators, only one licence, to Symbiote Investments, has been made thus far. The licence award was under review in early 2017 in relation to the company’s association with a bribery scandal.

In early 2015 Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) acquired Columbus Communications, so consolidating its leading market position in the region. The existing Flow brand for pay-TV services in Jamaica was extended to all of Cable & Wireless’s Caribbean footprint by May 2016. This also affected CWC’s LIME brand, which has come under the Flow moniker. The acquisition of CWC by Liberty Global, agreed in November 2015 and which received approval by Liberty Global’s shareholders in April 2016, has placed additional pressure on Digicel, given that both operators are pursuing a converged services strategy for their businesses in the region.

This report contains overviews, analyses and statistics of the Jamaican fixed-line, mobile and broadband markets together with information on convergence issues and on the country’s fixed line incumbent and major mobile operators.

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

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Mobile broadband penetration in Armenia to reach over 50%

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

The Armenian telecom market continues to attempt to put an effective national telecommunications service in place. With its relatively small population and low GDP per capita, it does not offer a hugely lucrative market opportunity. However, the government and the operators have been systematically building telecom networks and offering services.

The number of fixed lines Armenia levelled off by 2012 and started a slow decline in the period from 2013 to 2017, driven by strong growth in the mobile broadband segment.

The fixed broadband has grown strongly over past decade from a small base but still remains low by international comparisons. There has been a steady increase in penetration has increased from 2008 to 2016. Further strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2021.

After a run of strong growth in mobile subscribers in particular, the market in Armenia experienced a major slowdown triggered by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2009. There has been some strong overall recovery since then, although growth has been somewhat erratic. By 2017 there had been considerable improvement in both the economy and the country’s telecom market.

Mobile broadband subscribers have grown strongly over the past five years supported by widespread rollouts of 4G infrastructure and the release of a growing range of mobile broadband packages by the major mobile operators.

Growth has been relatively flat in the mobile market over the past five years with penetration actually declining slight over the past two years. Mobile subscriber growth is expected to remain fairly flat over the next five years to 2021. The Orange Group signed an agreement with Ucom to sell 100% of its mobile subsidiary Orange Armenia. The sale to Ucom effectively created a new converged player able to offer a range of fixed and mobile services.

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

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Telecommunications revenues rising in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Monday, June 26th, 2017

There are many positive developments occurring in the liberalised telecoms market of Bahrain. The major telecoms operators include Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco), Mena Telecom and Zain Bahrain and also operating in the mobile sector is Viva Bahrain (owned by Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC).

Telecommunications industry revenues are rising, mobile subscribers continue to grow and mobile broadband subscriptions dominate. There are now well over 2.8 million mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom and penetration sits at over 200%.

Consumers are reaping the benefit of competition which has led to a decline in prices for services.  While this has led to a drop in licensed revenues – it is the unlicensed sector, led by handset devices, which has resulted in a revenue growth of 88% between 2014 and 2015.

With mobile subscribers accounting for the majority of broadband subscriptions in Bahrain, the operators are focusing heavily on mobile infrastructure. LTE networks are well established and the operators are looking towards new services like VoLTE, M2M and the potential of 5G in the future.

Bahrain’s Fourth National Telecommunications Plan was prepared by the end of 2015 and given approval by the Ministry in May 2016. It will focus on fibre-optic infrastructure and affordable prices for high-speed access. It also includes 5G development and readiness.

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

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