Swaziland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Executive summary

Second mobile licence to be offered under new regulator

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Swaziland’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • The impact of the global economic crisis;
  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Market liberalisation and regulatory environment;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
  • Infrastructure development;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
  • Internet and broadband development, including 3G mobile;
  • Mobile money services;
  • Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).

Swaziland is one of the last countries in the world to abolish an almost complete monopoly in all sectors of its telecommunications market: Until 2011 the state-owned posts and telecommunications operator SPTC also acted as the industry regulator and had a stake in the country’s sole mobile network, in an uneasy partnership with South Africa’s MTN. A new independent regulatory authority was established in late 2013 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged the government to issue a second mobile licence. SPTC had temporarily entered the mobile market independently using its CDMA network but was challenged about this by MTN in the courts.

In early 2014 the government initiated a new organisational structure for SPTC, by which it would focus on maintaining and operating the national telecom backbone infrastructure while a new subsidiary would operate the telephony business.

Despite the lack of competition, mobile market penetration in Swaziland has been well above the African average, but subscriber growth has slowed in recent years. The average revenue per user (APRU) is one of the highest in Africa. Real competition is now required to take the market to the next level.

The Internet sector has been open to competition with four licensed Internet service providers (ISPs), but prices have remained high and market penetration relatively low. ADSL was introduced in 2008 and 3G mobile broadband services in 2011, but development of the sector has been hampered by the limited fixed-line infrastructure and a lack of competition in the access and backbone network. LTE fourth generation (4G) mobile services are expected to be introduced in 2014.

Swaziland has a relatively well-developed fibre optic backbone network. However, being landlocked, the country depends on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth which has led to high prices. Improvements have resulted from several new submarine fibre optic cable systems that have reached the region in recent years.

Market highlights:

  • New independent regulatory authority;
  • Second mobile licence expected;
  • Mobile market growth slows under monopoly;
  • One of the highest ARPU levels in Africa;
  • Uncertainty over national backbone and international gateway regulations;
  • New international fibre connections increase internet bandwidth;
  • LTE launch expected in 2014.
  • SPTC sells stock after closing down its mobile services business;
  • Government initiates three-year program to structurally separate SPTC into network and services divisions;
  • The Mbabane Internet Exchange Point (MB-IX) is launched, as part of a drive to route 80% of local traffic through local IXPs;
  • ITU and EC criticise high MTRs in Swaziland.

Estimated market penetration rates in Swaziland’s telecoms sector – end-2014

Market
Penetration rate
Mobile
86%
Fixed
5%
Internet
27%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:

Swaziland Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), Swazi MTN, Africa Online, Posix, Real Image, Viettel.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Overview of Swaziland’s telecom market
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Overview
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
  • 5. Fixed network operator in Swaziland
    • 5.1 SPTC
      • 5.1.1 Services
      • 5.1.2 Fixed network infrastructure
      • 5.1.3 Fixed-line statistics
      • 5.1.4 Wireless local loop (WLL), CDMA2000 and WiMAX
      • 5.1.5 Next Generation Network (NGN)
      • 5.1.6 National fibre backbone
      • 5.1.7 Fibre to the Cabinet (FttC)
      • 5.1.8 International infrastructure
      • 5.1.9 Financial results
  • 6. Internet market
    • 6.1 Overview
      • 6.1.1 Internet statistics
    • 6.2 Public Internet access locations
    • 6.3 Computer Education Trust (CET)
    • 6.4 E-banking
    • 6.5 Swaziland’s ISP market
      • 6.5.1 Africa Online
      • 6.5.2 Posix
      • 6.5.3 Real Image Internet
      • 6.5.4 Swazi.net
    • 6.6 Swaziland Internet Exchange Point
  • 7. Broadband market
    • 7.1 Overview
    • 7.2 ADSL
    • 7.3 EV-DO
  • 8. Mobile communications
    • 8.1 Overview of Swaziland’s mobile market
    • 8.2 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
      • 8.2.1 Mobile statistics
    • 8.3 Swazi MTN
      • 8.3.1 Shareholders
      • 8.3.2 Licence conditions
      • 8.3.3 Network rollout and coverage
      • 8.3.4 Services and tariffs
      • 8.3.5 Distribution channels
      • 8.3.6 ARPU analysis
      • 8.3.7 Second mobile licence
      • 8.3.8 SPTC mobile services
    • 8.4 Third generation (3G)
    • 8.5 LTE (4G)
    • 8.6 Mobile banking
  • 9. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Swaziland – 2014
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2014
  • Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2014
  • Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2014
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2014
  • Table 6 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Swaziland – 1999 - 2004
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Swaziland – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 8 – Fixed-wireless subscribers in Swaziland – 2006; 2011 - 2012
  • Table 9 – SPTC financial results – 2004 - 2012
  • Table 10 – Internet users and penetration rate in Swaziland – 2000 - 2014
  • Table 11 – International internet bandwidth in Swaziland – 2009 - 2013
  • Table 12 – Real Image ADSL pricing – 2010 (discontinued)
  • Table 13 – SPTC ADSL pricing – 2012 - 2014
  • Table 14 – SPTC EV-DO wireless broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2012
  • Table 15 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Swaziland – 1999 - 2004
  • Table 16 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Swaziland – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 17 – Swazi MTN messaging prices – 2009; 2010; 2012; 2014
  • Table 18 – Swazi MTN ARPU – 2001 - 2013
  • Table 19 – Swazi MTN 3G mobile broadband pricing – 2014
  • Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Swaziland – 2005 – 2014
  • Chart 2 – SPTC financial results – 2004 – 2012
  • Chart 3 – Internet users and penetration rate in Swaziland – 2000 – 2014
  • Chart 4 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2014
  • Exhibit 1 – Map of Swaziland
  • Exhibit 2 – International submarine fibre optic cables in southern Africa
  • Exhibit 3 – Swazi MTN licence conditions

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