Broadband remains expensive despite improved international connectivity
This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Lesotho’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:
- Key statistics;
- Market and industry overviews;
- Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
- Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
- Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
- Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
- Infrastructure development;
- Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
- Internet and broadband development and growth, including 3G mobile;
- Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
- Mobile Average Revenue per User.
Telecommunications in this small Southern African country has undergone transformation from a state-owned monopoly to a privatised national operator, with competition in the mobile sub-sector between two networks, South Africa-based Vodacom and Econet. However, mobile market penetration is still below the African average.
Econet also controls the national fixed-line operator, Telecom Lesotho. Fixed-line teledensity is low, but the network gained more value when ADSL broadband technology was deployed in 2007. In parallel, Telecom Lesotho is rolling out a CDMA2000 fixed-wireless network to provide fixed-line replacements and wireless broadband services, following an upgrade to EV-DO technology. In addition, the company has introduced a fixed-mobile convergence product based on its GSM network.
Vodacom on the other hand was first to introduce 3G HSDPA mobile broadband services in the country. In parallel, the company is rolling out a WiMAX wireless broadband network. Several other Internet service providers have rolled out their own wireless infrastructure.
Although landlocked, Lesotho is set to benefit from the greater choice of international bandwidth sources that the recent landing of several new submarine fibre optic cables on the African east and west coasts has brought. However, the improved international connectivity has not yet translated to lower broadband prices on the retail level.
- Improved internet connectivity following landing of international cables;
- Retail broadband prices remain high;
- Relatively high mobile ARPU.
Estimated market penetration rates in Lesotho’s telecoms sector – end-2013
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies covered in this report:
Telecom Lesotho, Econet Ezi-Cel, Vodacom Lesotho, Eskom, Comnet.