Archive for August, 2017

Bhutan’s mobile market continues to expand

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The number of fixed telephone lines in Bhutan is gradually declining from a very small base as the mobile segment continues to expand. Bhutan had been isolated from the rest of the world for a long time, both generally, and particularly in terms of its telecommunications. Its mountainous landscape made it especially difficult to build the necessary telecoms infrastructure.

Penetration is predicted to drop further by 2019 as this declining fixed-line trend continues.

Bhutan also came late to the internet. Development continued down a slow path, as the country embraced online activity cautiously. Fixed broadband penetration in Bhutan is increasing moderately from a very relatively small base. The fixed broadband market is predicted to continue to grow moderately over the next five years to 2022. The limited and declining number of fixed lines in Bhutan is restricting more widespread development of fixed broadband.

The mobile market in Bhutan has grown strongly over the past few years however the growth rate has subsided over the past few years as the mobile market begins to mature. Slower and declining growth is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2022 as the mobile subscriber market further matures.

B-Mobile is the leading mobile operator in Bhutan. TashiCell is its only market competitor, and has been bridging the gap over the past few years.

Mobile broadband has seen strong growth in Bhutan over the past five years and this strong growth is predicted to continue over the next two years to 2019.

The mobile networks have provided a major boost to internet access in the country, largely on the back of EDGE/GPRS, 3G and more recently 4G platforms.

4G LTE networks are now gaining traction in Bhutan with both major mobile operators offering 4G services.

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

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Various drivers are propelling Smart City developments

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

The impetuous towards developing Smart Cities can be driven by a number of factors. It may be that citizens, who have increasingly becoming accustomed to the convenience of services being made available through the internet and through apps on their smart phones and tablets become frustrated when ICT services and infrastructure aren’t keeping up. This in turn places pressure on Governments and operators to improve the situation which leads to looking at the infrastructure issues of a community from a holistic view.

The economy is another driver of Smart City initiatives. In many areas the cost of running the society and the economy has risen to unsustainable levels. At the same time, modern technology can reduce these costs and the organisations, companies and cities that are harnessing this are able to be far more competitive. On a city level, cities will need to be able to facilitate this in order to attract new investments, new jobs, new citizens and new developments. Modern technology provides citizens, companies and investors with far greater flexibility to choose between cities, both nationally and internationally. We see what can be achieved – for instance, in Glasgow in the UK and Newcastle in Australia.

Perhaps the best illustration of a Society being the main driver is China, where there is enormous investment in smart cities occurring; simply because many of these cities are perceived by their citizens to be unacceptable places to live. The increase in health costs and economic losses is now such that smart city developments are at the head of the list of most of the top 100 cities in that country.

Social, technological and economic developments have accelerated over the last 200 years to such an extent that they are moving faster than the ‘normal evolutionary processes’. Technological advances in M2M, IoT and data analytics are perhaps the only developments that will be able to keep pace with these changes, creating a world with more intelligent and smarter communities.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Global Smart Infrastructure – Paving The Way for Smart Nations

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The mobile sector gains momentum in Cambodia

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Despite its status as a lesser developed country and remaining one of the poorer countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s efforts to expand and upgrade its telecom infrastructure are bearing fruit.

There were previously between eight and ten mobile operators vigorously competing with each other in a market segment that was growing at a rapid rate. A process of rationalisation followed, reducing the number of operators to six.

The mobile subscriber market peaked in 2015 with mobile subscriber penetration of 133%, however since then has seen penetration fall due to maturing market as well as market consolidation amongst the mobile operators. Over the next five years to 2022 the market will gain momentum again but at a relatively slow rate.

Limited fixed-line growth that had come about in Cambodia earlier on had mainly been through investment under foreign assistance plans, focusing on the capital Phnom Penh. Subsequently, geographical coverage did not increase significantly for a decade or more.

The number of fixed telephone lines in Cambodia is slowly declining from a very small base as the mobile segment continues to expand and fixed broadband penetration remains extremely low and under-developed. Penetration is predicted to drop further by 2019.

In 2017 Telecom Cambodia has inaugurated its Greater Mekong Telecom Backbone Network project, which included the installation of a 467km fibre-optic cable connection between Sihanoukville and Kampong Cham.

The fixed broadband market remains highly under-developed in Cambodia. Over the past five years fixed broadband penetration has increased moderately from a very small base.

Mobile broadband has seen very strong growth over the past five years from a small base driven by mature mobile market. Penetration is predicted to continue to grow strongly over the next two years to 2019.

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

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Belarus’s wholesale mobile provider beCloud trialling 5G

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Belarus’s economic growth has stalled in recent years, with GDP showing negative growth between 2015 and 2017. Although inflation has been brought down to more manageable levels since the hyper-inflationary year of 2011, it remains high while the value of the Ruble has fallen in relation to other currencies, including the Euro. This prompted the government to re-denominate the currency in July 2016, with BYR10,000 becoming BYN1. The poorly performing economy has impacted on operator revenue, particular for the subsidiaries of Turkcell and Telecom Austria. The local currency was devalued by 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016 alone. These ongoing economic difficulties have also reduced customer spend, contributing to lower revenue and investment.

Nevertheless, there remain many opportunities for growth in coming years, particularly in the broadband segment where the incumbent telco Beltelecom is migrating its PSTN network to a fibre-based network. This will better position the company to offer a range of bundled services. Although the sector has been reformed, this has not yet resulted in the privatisation of the incumbent Beltelecom Although the government is keen to control the company’s assets, there is greater pressure for it to sell state enterprises generally in a bid to reduce overall debt. Growth for Beltelecom has been adversely affected by the poor economy, though growth is expected in the FttP sector, where much of the company’s capex is directed.

The mobile sector has also experienced some growth, with a rise in mobile penetration attributed to effective competition which has helped drive down consumer prices. Operators have concentrated on developing mobile broadband and data services with a view to capitalising on such services to increase ARPU. Recent spectrum auctions have facilitated the development of mobile broadband access, particularly in rural areas, while the state-sponsored operator beCloud, charged with developing a wholesale-based LTE network, has enabled commercial LE services to be launched by MNOs.

In early 2015 the government decreed that the 1.5% tax on revenue derived from telcos (which was put in place in 2007) should be channelled to developing universal telecom services, particularly aimed at rural areas. In mid-2016 the cash-strapped government increased the tax on all telecoms services from 20% to 25%.

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

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Digital Tunisia 2020 plan encouraging investment in fibre and G.fast

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Tunisia has one of the most sophisticated telecommunications and broadband infrastructures in North Africa. Penetration rates for mobile and internet services are s among the highest in the region. Stimulated by the Digital Tunisia 2020 program, a number of regulatory measures have been instituted aimed at improving internet connectivity to underserved areas. These in initiatives will also see the auction of spectrum in the 800MHz band for IoT and mobile services. For its part the incumbent telco Tunisie Telecom is investing to expand the reach and capabilities of its LTE network and build up a vectoring VDSL and fibre infrastructure. The company is also in the process of migrating internet traffic to its new Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) platform.

The events of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution in 2011 drove the country into a brief recession, but GDP growth soon returned to pre-crisis levels. This encouraged growing confidence in economic recovery, though GDP growth has been modest, at only 1% in 2015 and 2016 and an estimated 2.5% for 2017. Political difficulties in recent years have also had an impact on the telecom sector, notably causing the delay in the planned sale of EIT’s 35% interest in Tunisie Telecom. Despite this, the government is pressing on with plans to list its 65% stake in Tunisie Telecom on the Tunis stock exchange, in part to help the company raise funds to enable it to pursue its expansion plans. These plans saw the company acquire the Maltese quad-play operator GO in August 2016. The government has also considered plans to offload its interests in Orange Tunisia and Ooredoo Tunisia.

The mobile sector experienced exceptional growth following the introduction of a second GSM network in 2002, operated initially by Egypt’s Orascom under the name Tunisiana and now by Qatar Telecom (Qtel) which rebranded it to Ooredoo. Orange Group entered the market as the third operator in 2010 and launched Tunisia’s first commercial 3G mobile service, followed by Tunicell in 2011 and Tunisiana in 2012. HSPA+ services are also widely available. In March 2016 the regulator accepted bids from all three MNOs for LTE licenses. Extensive LTE trials were carried out in late 2015, and commercial launches were made in late 2016.

Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie are also licensed as fixed-line operators and have launched DSL and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) services. In addition, a dozen public and private ISPs compete in this sector, supported by a nationwide fibre optic backbone network and international access via submarine and terrestrial fibre.

A reform of the country’s Telecommunications Act was initiated in 2013 and government internet censorship was officially abolished. In addition, laws supporting e-commerce and digital signatures have been passed, which has led to one of the most active e-government and e-commerce sectors in Africa.

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

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