Madagascar adds to LTE range with launch from Telma
Madagascar’s exposure to the global economic crisis was amplified by political instability following a controversial change of government in 2009. The economy has since recovered, with GDP growth expected to steadily rise back to levels of around 5% by 2016/17. Plans to exploit and export crude oil, gas and other natural resources may also deliver a boost to the economy.
The period of economic decline led to weaker subscriber growth in the telecoms sector, reduced consumer spending and, as a consequence, intensified price competition between the three GSM mobile network operators – Orange, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain) and Telma, the incumbent telco. A fourth mobile operator, Madamobil, launched a CDMA-based network in 2010 but its licence was revoked in 2012. However, economic recovery now in train should lead to renewed consumer confidence, and to growth in the mobile and broadband markets as customer adopt services based on LTE technology launched since late 2014.
Positive developments in the internet and broadband sector are also materialising following the arrival of the first international submarine fibre optic cables, LION and EASSy on the island in 2009 and 2010. This ended the country’s dependency on satellites for international connections, bringing down the cost of international bandwidth and making internet access more affordable to a wider part of the population.
A national fibre backbone is being implemented connecting the major cities. Wireless broadband access networks are being rolled out, enabling converged voice, data and entertainment services. The launch of third generation (3G) mobile broadband services has enabled the mobile operators to reverse their rapidly declining average revenue per user (ARPU).
The fixed-line sector has been undergoing a revolution following the privatisation of Telma. Major investments have been made, the number of fixed lines has multiplied, albeit from a very low base. ADSL2+ broadband services have been introduced and the decline in fixed-line revenue has been successfully reversed. Despite these positive developments, the national telco is considering various divestiture options.
Penetration rates in all market sectors are still below African averages, promising excellent growth potential.
- Airtel extends mobile license for a further ten years;
- Telma launches LTE services across the Madagascar;
- Regulator replaced with the new Agency for Regulation of Technology and Telecommunication (ARTEC) under new telecom provisions;
- Gulfsat improves IPTV capabilities;
- Telma signs MPLS interconnection agreement with PCCW Global;
- Airtel extends Movirtu Share virtual SIM card platform to Madagascar;
- Lower international bandwidth costs leading to retail broadband price cuts;
- National fibre rollout continues;
- National telco considers divestiture options.
Estimated market penetration rates in Madagascar’s telecoms sector – end 2015
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Companies mentioned in this report:
Telecom Malagasy SA (Telma); Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel); Orange Madagascar; Madamobil; Gulfsat Madagascar; Blueline; Datacom; Data Telecom Services (DTS, Moov).